Lansky: Goodbye to Iron

Computer music composer and trailblazer Paul Lansky has given up making electronic music to concentrate on scores for live musicians, per the Times. His acoustic music (such as the Coplandesque "Odd Moments") is superb so this bodes well.

We probably could have done without the digs at his former field in the article ("I basically don’t like electronic music. I like to compose it. I’m just not a big fan of it" and "His conversion, in a sense, is a relinquishing of the need to control, the rejection of what he called an antisocial bent") but there's no denying this part:

In some ways Mr. Lansky’s shift is emblematic of the field’s disintegration, at least from the way it was constructed even a decade ago.

In the early years of making music with computers, it could take days to produce a few measures of music. Composers went to universities and congregated around giant multimillion-dollar mainframes — "big iron" — to create pieces. Mr. Lansky used punch cards to make his first electronic piece, "mild und leise," in 1973. "It was tedious, backbreaking work," he said.

Now a tiny laptop dwarfs the creative power of those behemoths. Electronic composition has left the laboratory. Any Mac user can compose, and much of music making is shot through with digitization. Composers commonly write with computer programs. Electronic music trends now lie in interactive computer programs that create sounds together with live performers or electronically alter acoustic instruments.

Again, all that's true but hardly a reason for quitting. ("Waaah, it's just not backbreaking any more.") The use of "any Mac user" as a synonym for "the boob in the street" is mightily amusing, however.

Matt Shlian - Questions

matt shlian

Lee Arnold finds this nugget (and others) at the SIGGRAPH conference [via the vertexList blog]:

Matt Shlian was at the conference as an artist in residence. He gave a fascinating talk about his intended misuse of technology to create paper sculptures and drawings. The work above was created with a digital plotter printer in which Shlian replaced the original drawing implements with Sharpie, ballpoint pen, and pencil.

Looks good. Would like to know more about the imagery, though. Is appropriated/scanned? Drawn by the artist on the computer? Based on a generative algorithm? The "misuse" of the printing tool is great, but one wonders if that same philosophy of misuse extends to the creation of the imagery somehow. Are the various low-tech writing implements causing the drawing to fail in some way (i.e., be imperfect or incomplete)? These look like contour drawings of architecture made with eyes closed--are they? The "timbres" are nice, balancing the machine- and handmade, but it would also be nice to know that it's not just an illustrational "look" that a web startup could use to make its style more "grunge." Is it possible to make bad (non-tasty) drawings with this method?

Alan Moore Won't Watch Watchmen

The lawyers are fighting about Watchmen rights, per the New York Times.

Meanwhile, Alan Moore, who wrote the comic and sold the film rights years ago, remains characteristically caustic. From IMDb:

When asked in an interview with about original Watchmen writer Alan Moore's dismissal of his movie, [director Zack] Snyder was quoted as saying "Worst case scenario - Alan puts the movie on his DVD player on a cold Sunday in London and watches and says, 'Yeah, that doesn't suck too bad.'" When this was brought up with Moore himself in a later interview in the British Tripwire comics fanzine, the writer commented "That's the worst case scenario? I think he's underestimated what the worst case scenario would be... that's never going to happen in my DVD player in 'London' [Moore very famously lives in Northampton]. I'm never going to watch this fucking thing."

The Times has a photo of Nite Owl and Silk Spectre II busting Rorschach out of the hoosegow. SSII looks more "whorey" than in the comic. Her short skirt and "neckline plunging to the navel" have been traded for Aeon Fluxy garters and thigh-high black boots. Nite Owl is supposed to be a slightly paunchy middle aged man--here he is younger and more musclebound. I'm sure Moore will be right, as he was about the V for Vendetta movie. To make it work at all it won't be the Watchmen that was so riveting in the '80s.

Jack Kirby Canines

kirby dogs

Drawing by the King saved from the trash by Jim Woodring. Sort of ancient and modern at the same time. This kind of journeyman-drawing-transcending-its-medium will disappear in the coming Pixar Bloatero era (see post on the use of line vs Ratatouille), although I refuse to get nostalgic about the inherent value of pushing a pencil across paper. Full size here.

Here's a drawing of Woodring's (and its later, buff version) and a good Vermeer joke by Justin Green (all images from Woodring's blog).

More on Harold Rosenberg

Reply to Catherine Spaeth (re: this post and this):

I'm getting a hint of criticism about posting on my commentless blog and not [in your comments]. Not everyone wants me barging onto their threads with my take no prisoners style.

After having completely open, unmoderated (and at times quite lively) comments for six years I turned them off when I moved to my current URL. Mainly because spam was making it impossible to converse in a spontaneous way and I don't want to deal with filters and "capchas." And other reasons I won't belabor.

I believe with hyperlinking it is possible to have conversations between blogs without using comments, but that's me.

The paired Rosenberg/Greenberg quotes in the Jewish Museum show consistently had the latter getting the better of the former. Another example I recall concerned Barnett Newman. Greenberg had an almost poMo observation about Newman's canvases being perfect foils for clean modern spaces; Rosenberg's quote consisted of rhetorical questions about what kind of man Newman was (a man of taste, erudition, etc., I forget the exact accolades).

I'm actually not interested in "formalism" if it means technique as subject matter. Where I am entranced with Greenberg is his engagement with history and his translation of AbEx studio talk into a critical language.* With Rosenberg I get the sense he liked talking at artists rather than listening to them. (The Naifeh and Smith Pollock bio confirms as much.) Greenberg was doing that by the 1960s but early on he was a good student.

*Addendum: that is, a language that is logical, a pleasure to read, and can to some extent be objectively measured by people working in other disciplines. It is one reason Greenberg has greater currency outside the art world, as mentioned earlier.