tom moody

Archive for September, 2007

Assorted Listening: Repetition and Not

...mp3blogging, meaning these will have a short shelf life:

Carl Orff, Wiegenlied bei Mondschein zu singen (Lullaby to be Sung by Moonlight) [mp3 removed]

(Orff-Shulwerk Vol 2 - Musik fur Kinder)

Orff's daughter Godela is reading the poem by Matthias Claudius (in German). From the liner notes: the piece "...develops its specific force not only from a rocking 6/8 rhythm but also from the rhythmic ostinato of a bass-xylophone and the lute-like chordal accompaniment of two marimbaphones which alternate between G-major and d-minor with unshakeable consistency." I EQ'd it and raised the volume from the CD, as it was barely audible. The text of the poem is here. Anyone with a better translation than Google's, please drop me a line, I am curious about this work.

Moondog, Bird's Lament [mp3 removed]

On this latest DJ Kicks release, Henrik Schwarz takes it back to the music's spiritual beginnings with 23 deep and esoteric selections. This is not a party mix. In addition to more recognizable names, the album incorporates Moondog's jazz shuffler "Bird's Lament" (which served as sample fodder for UK producer Mr. Scruff)...

Moondog in 1969:

"Lament I (Bird's Lament) was written in honor of Charlie Parker, on hearing of his death. It is a chaconne, a four-bar accompaniment that is repeated over and over with a free melodic line over it, played by an alto sax, Bird's instrument, with an obligato played on a baritone sax. Bird used to stop by my door-way back in 1951-2 and talk about music. One night I met him in Times Square and shook a shaking hand, not realizing that would be the last time we would meet."

This music is drop dead gorgeous but I'm not sure I agree that it's a chaconne. Also the term obbligato has contradictory meanings. It's interesting that the part sampled by Hendrik Schwarz on the fade is the bari sax, not the "main" melody.

The Orff and Moondog are notable for the use of repetition, which is a strong interest of this page, but Daniel Albright's description of Arnold Schoenberg's short opera Erwartung tugs from the opposite end of the musical spectrum:

But for Schoenberg--at least the "atonal" Schoenberg of 1908-13--music is not exempt from time; music is time, time given a voice. Music does not set itself the task of constructing memorable units; music instead sets itself the task of rendering the contours and discontinuities of a shifting subjectivity.


In Erwartung, Schoenberg has not surrendered the authority of musical form to the authority of literary form: he has instead employed a shattered, splintery sort of diction in order to help him investigate form at a level of improvisation almost unprecedented in the history of the arts.

If you are feeling adventurous you can listen to this piece online. I think I like Albright's writing about it more than the music, but I'm open to having my mind changed through...repeated listenings. (Albright says he listened to it 2 or 3 times a day one summer: "I wanted to assimilate its wonders, to understand its discontinuities as occult forms of continuity." That simply rocks.)

[hat tip to shm for the Moondog]

- tom moody

September 30th, 2007 at 10:31 pm

Posted in general

Add to 8 BIT Timeline

A German group called Yypasswdd Daemons released the CD-R Cracked in the Year 2000 in 2000.
The music and a Quicktime .mov are on the Mutant Sounds blog. The content is nerdy but more drony/spacy than the 8-Bit Construction Set. Song titles like "Denial of Service," "TCP Packet," "Backspace Virus Networking Transfer Protocol" lay it on pretty thick. Mentioned mostly as a prequel to the current Blipfest scene.

- tom moody

September 29th, 2007 at 9:03 pm

Posted in general

Joe McKay

Joe McKay

Joe McKay, Wofford, sculpture, 2007. Many of the works in McKay's current vertexList show are made with discarded cell phones. It's hard to escape the usage history of these ubiquitous devices and make them anything but an "artists do crazy things with the tools of the information age" statement but McKay's fuck all attitude almost escapes the Vvorklike. Don't know if this is the one described in the press release as "dog chewed"--in any case, the stuck orange pixel and its reflection makes a nice found Adolf Gottlieb.

- tom moody

September 29th, 2007 at 8:01 pm

Posted in general

Blackwater links

A couple of articles on Blackwater, the US mercenary force that is allegedly shooting innocent civilians in Iraq and was recently hired [update: dead link] by the Pentagon "to conduct global counter-narcotics operations":

Jim McDonald, A Blackwater Bouquet

Naomi Wolf , Blackwater: Are You Scared Yet?

From McClatchy news service:


Founded in 1996 by Erik Prince, a former Navy Seal, multimillionaire and conservative Republican donor, Blackwater began as a training facility for police and the military but began offering security services after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Prince, whose father helped bankroll conservative Christian organizations such as Focus On Family and Family Research Council, has given at least $225,000 to the Republican Party and its candidates.

The Congressional Research Service said that as of May there were 987 Blackwater security contractors in Iraq. The director of the Private Security Company Association of Iraq told Congress in 2006 that there were 48,000 contractors from 181 companies providing security in Iraq.

- tom moody

September 29th, 2007 at 10:13 am

Posted in general

A Short History of Carpet in Contemporary Art

Barbara Gallucci

Barbara Gallucci, Begin Again, 1999, Site Santa Fe


Rudolf Stingel, Plan B, 2004 (wall-to-wall pink and blue floral carpet for Grand Central Terminal's Vanderbilt Hall)

Judi Werthein

Judi Werthein, Corporate Logo, 2007, installation view, Art in General, NY, photo AFC

This is not a "clone attack" because each idea is good and they all make rather different points. Gallucci's recursive carpet comes with a video of itself and a not-too-oblique pop culture reference: a low angle shot recalling the steadycam behind Danny's big wheel in The Shining. The Stingel is called a "painting" and warms up the normally cold lobby architecture, while at the same time Vegas-kitschifying it. The Werthein replaces one element in the gallery's "white cube" formula--the wood or concrete floor--and profanes the sacred art space with suspect commercialism. This could be the gallery space of the future, once silly notions like “autonomy” and “neutrality” are thoroughly disposed of. In each case the carpet is functional--meant to be walked on--and treads a line between object and performance background.

Updated with some thoughts from this discussion.

- tom moody

September 27th, 2007 at 7:10 pm

Posted in general

sketch_a8 (generative clap)


The wavy pattern is by one of the generative artists recommended by dataisnature. "Generative" means a computer makes the art following parameters determined by the programmer-artist. Some of it is visual music but some of it is visual muzak. I felt this one needed a clap.

- tom moody

September 26th, 2007 at 10:10 pm

Posted in art - others, art - tm

More on Jerry Hunt

An excerpt from the Michael Schell tribute to Jerry Hunt mentioned previously:

I'll never forget the first time I saw Jerry perform. It was in 1984 at a music festival in Ohio. The curtain opened to reveal upstage a modest clump of homemade and off-the-shelf electronic instruments. Jerry appeared from behind the setup, pushed a few buttons and began the piece. The music coming from the loudspeakers was a tapestry of sampled instruments -- mainly bowed strings -- constantly churning out a dense micropolyphonic web based on clusters of slow and fast trills. This was accompanied by a host of high-frequency percussive sounds emphasizing rattles, sleigh bells, wind chimes and the like. Loud and unrelenting, it reminded me of a Texas insect chorus on a hot summer night.

While this was going on, Jerry paced the stage holding a variety of homemade hand props: staffs, rattles, different kinds of wands and bells. The rattles were shaken, the staffs stamped loudly on the stage. Some of the wands were quite phallic, and Jerry would make strange motions with them as though they had magical powers. Other wands looked like religious talismans created from junk: an umbrella handle that turned into a cross at the far end, or a stylized metal rod bent into the shape of an astrological symbol. Jerry took out some strange nightlights that he plugged into electrical outlets all over the stage. Later he brought out an old brown suitcase, sat on it like a child's hobby horse, and slapped it like a bass drum using a thick wooden stick.

The performance was redolent of shamanism, as though demons were being exorcised from the auditorium. But it came from a most unlikely persona: the lanky, bald, bespectacled Jerry Hunt, wearing his trademark unironed white dress shirt, long narrow tie, off-white jacket with unbuttoned cuffs and loose fitting trousers. It was a look I call "central Texas meat inspector" -- certainly not what you'd expect from a shaman. It was amusing to watch the spectacle of this mysterious ritual being performed by an utterly mundane-looking man.

Every few minutes Jerry retreated upstage to his equipment rack. He'd gather new hand props, press a few more buttons, and then venture out with a new collection of gadgets and a new repertory of weird motions and gestures. The sounds would change subtly at this point too, so that each part of Jerry's performance had its own timbral, as well as visual, identity. Apart from the periodic button-presses, Jerry didn't touch his musical instruments. They seemed to be generating the musical details in real time -- an impressive accomplishment back before MIDI control had become ubiquitous. Occasionally, a stage movement seemed to trigger a musical event, but it was hard to tell for sure. The piece had an obscure-sounding title, Ground: Haramand Plane, and lasted exactly 36 minutes as Jerry had promised beforehand. I was astonished.

"Central Texas meat inspector" nails Hunt's look. In later years he had an outrageous combover that would hang off the side of his head while he was performing. I loved the weird sculptural things he would pick up and shake at the audience.
His timing was excellent--I remember a spoken word duet where he and a protege kept interrupting each other that worked like the best comedy.

- tom moody

September 26th, 2007 at 10:01 pm

Posted in general

Kippenberger and the Virtual Surface

kippenberger heavy guy

heavy guy tate

heavy guy tate trashbin

Kippenberger, Taschen catalog, 1991, where the top image was scanned from:

Untitled, 1989/90...On page 140-141...18 out of a total of 51 color photographs of paintings which one of Kippenberger's assistants painted after reproductions in catalogs. The paintings are destroyed and put into three containers designed by Kippenberger. The original works consist finally of two prints and three containers.

Tate Modern website (where the bottom two photos came from--note unfortunate cropping of middle image):

Heavy Burschi [Heavy Guy], 1991, brings together many of the defining themes of Kippenberger’s practice, both in terms of media and its process of production. Kippenberger asked an assistant to make paintings based on images from all his catalogues, but he was unsatisfied with the finished canvases. He ordered all fifty-one paintings to be destroyed, but first had each photographed, reprinted to its original size and framed, exhibiting them together, with the remnants of the paintings in a skip, as a single installation.

Kippenberger plays with the idea that an artist is an isolated individual who makes autonomous objects. He frequently used assistants, but his decision to destroy these paintings throws the question of authorship into sharp relief. Even though the canvases were only produced on his instructions, they were still the result of someone else’s labour, making their destruction a vivid demonstration of the relations between employer and employee.

Kippenberger’s actions echo the heroic gestures of destruction and renewal that run throughout Modernism, particularly in the work of post-war German artists such as Joseph Beuys and Anselm Kiefer. With his familiar barbed irony, however, Kippenberger’s gesture is anything but an affirmation of the redemptive power of the artist. Heavy Burschi exposes the violence inherent in acts of destruction, emptying the gesture of its heroic connotations of cultural, political and spiritual rebirth. Instead of destroying the present to create a new future, Kippenberger creates a feedback loop. He destroys the paintings only to show copies of them, which then become yet another series of unique works, transforming the pictures, in his own description, 'into a kind of double kitsch.'

Note how the Tate curators dramatize and embellish the tale of the destroyed paintings compared to the matter-of-fact description in the Taschen catalog. Writers just love their little stories. Imagine encountering this work without a curator salivating to tell you what it means. There are paintings in frames. Whoops, closer inspection shows they're not paintings, but photos of paintings. Did Kippenberger paint them? It looks like his style, but they're a bit "off" from his usual lunacy--almost like an illustrator imitating Kippenberger. Well, what's this in the bin? Woah, ripped up paintings. Are these the same--? Looks like they are. Hmmm, now these photos are tantalizing me with something I know no longer exists. I study them more closely. Do they depict "good" (ie complex, tasty) paint surfaces? Impossible to tell, but they look OK. The idea of a tasty painting exists in my mind. Isn't that as good as an actual tasty painting? These kinds of questions and considerations are surely much more interesting than Kippenberger's relationship to "heroic gestures of destruction and renewal." Or the possibly invented story of the master tearing up the apprentice's canvases, which the Tate gives us as some kind of class struggle allegory. Curators: you can't live with them, you can't kill them.

Just ponder that sentence: "Heavy Burschi exposes the violence inherent in acts of destruction, emptying the gesture of its heroic connotations of cultural, political and spiritual rebirth."

- tom moody

September 26th, 2007 at 7:34 am

Posted in general

Automatic Update Update

Recommended reading: Paddy Johnson's review of the "Automatic Update" show at the Museum of Modern Art.
Part One
Part Two
I was happy that 8-BIT the movie got included in the film roster, not just because I'm a talking head in it but because it represented something fairly fresh in the usually dreary world of "computer shows." Including Pi and Crash made no sense to me either (b. also questions those choices in the comments to Johnson's review, Part Two)
MOMA attempted to give the show some Web 2.0, social bookmarking juice with what Johnson calls the "inactive page."
Oh, well.
It's refreshing to see a blogger doing her homework and actually calling the curator and asking for explanations of some of the weird choices, even though the answers were evasive generalities. Johnson is asking for accountability, unfortunately in an era when there's been no accountability from public institutions for things like wars and murkily conceived exhibitions.

- tom moody

September 26th, 2007 at 6:22 am

Posted in general

Jerry Hunt

Good article about Texas avant composer/performer Jerry Hunt by Michael Schell here. Didn't realize he'd died (suicide) in '93. Saw Hunt perform several times and he was always a trip. Here's a classic Hunt description of one of his pieces:

Birome (ZONE): Cube is devised as a reflex memory cabinet with transactional core: the mechanism used is item-element invariant and system transparent; the cube zone is a body-memory exerciser and operates as a continuous "other": a sexual surface trance derivative emulator. The interior surfaces of the cabinet serve as source skrying planes through access points using a system derived from the angelic tablets of John Dee; the core is a composite mannequin arrangement (homunculus) provided with interactive signature translators derived from a serialized variant of Rosicrucian chess (sigil) and is sensitive to participant skrying action. The participant/cabinet/core interaction is arranged in such a way as to cause the core assembly to generate response signatures translated as context codes along a binary interleaved multiplex transsexual spiral: the spiral contains embedded narrative whorls: each whorl generates a string of sound-image derivatives. Deep whorls (cores) use spatial reposition; continuant whorls (narratives) use temporal reposition. Sound and image sequences and stills are parallel threaded into the multiplex spirals.

The system uses an audio/video retrieval mechanism in the surfaces (monitors), sequence and stream interactive with the accumulative history of the participant/cabinet/core exercise. The mannequin artifact assembly was designed with the assistance of sculptor David McManaway.

- tom moody

September 23rd, 2007 at 11:56 pm

Posted in general