Archive for August, 2009
"Analog_Sketch_a3" [1.8 MB mp3]
"Analog_Sketch_a2" [2.7 MB mp3]
"Analog_Sketch_a1" [4.9 MB mp3]
These are minimal objects, or haikus, made with an analog synthesizer. Sketch a1 is almost entirely analog (the pulse is an LFO modulating a square wave with FM frequencies creating syncopations). The other sketches have simple melodies performed with midi note-on commands.
ink, paper, linen tape, 20" X 16 1/2"
drawn in MSPaintbrush, printed, and "lightly collaged." A dealer I showed this too thought the four sheets of paper taped together was too simple. The collaging is mostly in the computer here. The idea was to make something apparently balanced that on closer inspection was rife with small asymmetries. An artist I know who works with the computer a lot has noted that whenever you flip stuff you get sexual imagery.
Update: edited slightly.
"Great Grains" [8.2 MB mp3]
Have been wanting to do an impressionistic-style piece with analog and digital instrument sounds interwoven. So this piece has some granular synthesis as well as "fatter" subtractive analog bits. It's not completely amelodic but the tunes are as usual spare.
acrylic on product packaging, 1994
9 1/4 x 6 1/2 x 2 inches
Over at Paddy Johnson's blog, the second installment of a summer series called IMG MGMT (do we need to spell it out?) merits a look. Artists can be obsessive picture collectors and computer archiving and web distribution have advanced this formerly secondary practice to the forefront of many careers.
The eye-as-sponge approach prevails in Claudia Wieser's enjoyable dump of art, architecture, and found photo jpegs. The viewer threads connections among curvilinear (and occasionally hard-edged) utopian modernism in many guises, from not-so-famous buildings to random street views.
One of Petra Cortright's trademark ascii-meets-new-age-crystal explosions inspires until about halfway down the page, when she begins including famous artists' work on a "rainbow" theme. The New Museum's execrable "Hell Yes" logo breaks the fourth wall, but not in a good way.
Other artists have taken narrative approaches. Michaela Melián's post isn't a collection per se but a fairly focused art-and-photo essay on Hedy Lamarr, whose career ran the remarkable gamut from glamorous film actress to inventor of a patented "frequency hopping" communications protocol with both military and civilian applications. This technique, developed with avant garde composer George Antheil (Ballet Mécanique), is a rare instance of art-for-art's-sake contributing to the world of advanced technology. By interspersing her own techno-flavored paintings and collages on a Lamarr theme, Melián brings this secular story back to the realm of art.
Jon Rafman's gathering of images from Google Street Views isn't really collecting at all but solid, groundbreaking journalism. Obviously untold hours were spent perusing this recent-but-everyday tool for images in very specific, focused categories. Photos that look like art photos, photos of mishaps, photos showing the success and failure of Google's face-blurring software, photos that show class issues in a supposedly "universal" product (the down and out are more likely to be photographed unsympathetically than the up and in). As much as one hates to see more attention paid to the monopoly that aspires to put the happy face on Big Brother, this is worthwhile, thoughtful research.
"Threshold Lurker (Short)" [4.6 MB mp3]
A quieter, shorter version of "Threshold Lurker," with more dynamics. I can't find a compromise between this and the boosted-for-CD mix. One day I will have all this material professionally mastered (400 songs, ri-i-ght).
GIF by Stephanie Davidson
my own contribution to the Corgi GIF pool from five years ago (anime clip division).
"Threshold Lurker" [11.2 MB mp3]
Slightly more ambient than usual piece made with a pitched digital delay instrument called "Lurker." This is three "live" performances layered together. Live in the sense of moving virtual knobs or toggling between several semitones of pitch, in real time, recording the results, and then editing. It's "made loud to be played quiet." In many recent tunes have been using mastering "maximizers" for the final mix, but these are just quick fix ways to get the volume up to CD level. I'm not entirely happy with what it's doing to the sound balance but the alternative is a mix that sounds anemic, to my ears. Trying to compromise between concert hall and computer speaker volume is fundamentally insane.
Did the New York Times hire film critic A. O. Scott from the ranks of IMDb commenters? Many of those one-time reviewers tell us how a movie fits into their personal history (as if we care) and Scott also uses this frame.
From his appraisal of the late John Hughes, yesterday:
[John Hughes' and Michael Jackson's] deaths make me feel old, but more than that, they make me aware of belonging to a generation that has yet to figure out adulthood, for whom life can feel like a long John Hughes movie. You know the one. That Spandau Ballet song is playing at the big dance. You remember the lyrics, even if it’s been years since you heard them last. This is the sound of my soul. I bought a ticket to the world, but now I’ve come back again. Why do I find it hard to write the next line?
Awww. More references to the critic's '80s youth crop up in this earlier writing, about the movie version of Watchmen:
Indeed, the ideal viewer — or reviewer, as the case may be — of the Watchmen movie would probably be a mid-’80s college sophomore with a smattering of Nietzsche, an extensive record collection and a comic-book nerd for a roommate. The film’s carefully preserved themes of apocalypse and decay might have proved powerfully unsettling to that anxious undergraduate sitting in his dorm room, listening to "99 Luftballons" and waiting for the world to end or the Berlin Wall to come down.
Wow, did that anxious undergrad grow up to be...a film critic? Tell it again, Dad. Ironically, a much better critic than Scott, Ted Goranson aka tedg, has been quietly building an opus in the cheap seats of the IMDb comments, in the form of hundreds of mini-reviews. Compare the originality and focus he brings to the recent Transformers movie, next to A. O. Scott's muck:
In an ordinary movie, the framing and staging is expository: you are shown what you need to see to make sense out of what is happening. If it is a boxing match with Sly Stallone, you see what is essential: you see perhaps the possibility, the actor, the action and the effect. Its all there, very carefully engineered. In fact, this engineering — a very constrained subset of what can be photographed — is what constitutes the contract we have in communicating visually.
What I first saw in Black Hawk Down was an engineering of what you do not see. Some of the action happened around us, the camera eye moving as if it were panicked and seeing only a part of what is going on. You could not make out the sense of what caused what. Because we so solidly expect to see everything that causes things, when we deviate it is a powerful statement.
What we have here are transformations and fights that are only partially framed. We are denied enough information to know precisely what is happening. We know there is an exact order to how the many parts fold into an automobile or plane, but we often see just motion. The effect is most pronounced in battle scenes when the viewer would be panicked in the motion and threat of war. Confusion and lack of comprehension is part of the effect. It isn't just random noise though; we know that though the screen is filled with scores of metal shapes apparently in chaos, they belong to two beings. We cannot sort out who is who. We know that within those beings, the animators have programmed coherent bodily motion. We know that each blow is basically like those of Stallone, but we do not know any of the physics behind it, or even which way it is going.
See also tedg's review of the Vincent Van Gogh IMAX movie.
Would love to read this kind of analysis of John Hughes: how the content proceeds from the shots, the film language. Hughes is underrated on that score, and if tedg can do it with Transformers it can be done with Hughes. An area ripe for discussion is the way JH's deliberate, laid-back pacing sets us up for jokes. Farmer Ted the Geek in Sixteen Candles makes a wrong movement and a slow sequence of destruction unwinds. This seems the opposite of slapstick but it works. In Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, the almost slide-show-like progression of images leading up to the Frozen Dog. Or in Ferris Bueller, when the shattered Ed Rooney climbs on to a school bus full of stunned children after the credits: a series of tableaux vivants and reaction shots peaking when the nerdy girl in the only open seat offers him a gummi bear. The images unfold systematically, painfully (for the rageoholic Rooney); his humiliation is complete. That's what the anti-Scott might tell us about.