tom moody

Archive for June, 2017

harmonious thelonious

Listen (2012)

Talking (2010)

Santos (2015)

Info paraphrased from Discogs:

Stefan Schwander (composer, producer)
"Harmonious Thelonious is a solo-project focusing on rough and dense beats and textures inspired by american minimalist music and african rhythm patterns."
Schwander also records as: A Rocket In Dub, Antonelli Electr., Leroy Versions, Repeat Orchestra, and Rhythm Maker

The Harmonious Thelonious website describes the work as "american minimalists vs. african drumming vs. european sequencing."

In past projects Schwander has worked with grooveboxes such as the Elektron Machinedrum, which may be what's meant by "European sequencing." As for American minimalists you can hear some Glass/Reich references but also Moondog and a hint of John Cale/Terry Riley's Church of Anthrax. Not sure where Thelonious Monk fits in; non-American influences could include Carl Orff and King Sunny Ade. In each of the 24 songs linked above, a steady multi-instrumental groove is maintained, with "tribal" sounding percussion based on samples of real drums, congas, etc, and some synthetic percussion. The main connections to Schwander's earlier work are catchy melodies based on simple overlaid figures, in this sense he is more inventive and ingratiating than say, Steve Reich. The melodies may be basic but have to sustain interest over six minutes, and these all do, through variations and "dropouts."

One odd feature of the music is samples of cheering, whistling crowd noise that can be heard in the background of several tracks. Rather than the narcissism or manipulation of a TV laugh track, these sounds add grit and texture in a musique concrète or industrial manner. [Update: On further listening, the crowd noise becomes more irritating and unnecessary. The earliest release, Talking, is the worst: the same loop of an appreciative whistle is heard repeatedly throughout the LP; by the end it's a distraction from what would otherwise be excellent melodies and percussion.]

- tom moody

June 30th, 2017 at 6:09 am

Posted in music - others

soft machine sculpture


- tom moody

June 28th, 2017 at 8:04 am



- tom moody

June 28th, 2017 at 8:03 am

book quotes

E.L. Doctorow, The Waterworks, 1994, page 91, Random House ebook. The narrator, a newspaper editor in 1870s New York, talks about a talented but obnoxious painter:

Harry was a boor. It has been my experience that artists are invariably boors. That is the paradox … a mysterious God lets them paint what they will never understand. Like all those Florentines and Genoans and Venetians … who were scoundrels and sybarites, but whom this God trusted to give us the angels and saints and Jesus Christ himself through their dumb hands.

Arthur Machen Ultimate Collection, page 821, e-artnow edition, 2016, from the novel The Terror. "Merritt" is an industrialist from the Midlands vacationing in a seaside town in Wales:

Merritt gazed on, amused by the antics of the porpoises who were tumbling and splashing and gamboling a little way out at sea, charmed by the pure and radiant air that was so different from the oily smoke that often stood for heaven at Midlingham, and charmed, too, by the white farmhouses dotted here and there on the heights of the curving coast.
Then he noticed a little row-boat at about two hundred yards from the shore. There were two or three people aboard, he could not quite make out how many, and they seemed to be doing something with a line; they were no doubt fishing, and Merritt (who disliked fish) wondered how people could spoil such an afternoon, such a sea, such pellucid and radiant air by trying to catch white, flabby, offensive, evil-smelling creatures that would be excessively nasty when cooked.

- tom moody

June 28th, 2017 at 8:03 am

Posted in books

televisions (with and without recursion)

On the subject of recursive images, this post about Ken Shirriff's nested Alto computers reminded me of an earlier idea. In the late '80s I'd been invited to show in an exhibit on the theme of television, organized by some artists who did public access cable. The venue was a "major museum" so I wanted to make a statement. I had the idea of televisions in toilets receding to infinity. I couldn't make it work -- drawing a toilet seat is easy but it was hard to make a TV monitor that "popped" in the arrangement. Below is as far as I went with it:


An initial sketch:


After abandoning these I did this painting, TV Dinner (acrylic on canvas, 62 x 46 inches). The museum had a Philip Guston show up at the time and a local curator thought my painting was "derivative." One person's inside joke is another's failure of imagination.


- tom moody

June 27th, 2017 at 2:14 pm

dem russia obsession bores voters

Norman Solomon:

"Frustrated Democrats hoping to elevate their election fortunes have a resounding message for party leaders: Stop talking so much about Russia,” The Hill reported over the weekend. In sharp contrast to their party’s top spokespeople, “rank-and-file Democrats say the Russia-Trump narrative is simply a non-issue with district voters, who are much more worried about bread-and-butter economic concerns like jobs, wages and the cost of education and healthcare."

- tom moody

June 27th, 2017 at 5:38 am

Posted in around the web

recursive alto


Ken Shirriff has been restoring a vintage Xerox Alto computer (the PC Steve Jobs "borrowed" his ideas from). Using the BCPL programming language, a precursor to C, he made this image of an Alto on an Alto on an Alto [etc]

Before Wikipedia such an image would have been called infinitely recursive and everyone would have known what you meant ("infinite" within the limits of screen resolution, of course). Now the Wikipedians are encouraging us to use the term Droste Effect, after an obscure cocoa package design. Thanks, I'll pass, but Redditnerds are all over it with an online festival of recursive computer screen images they're calling Droste Week. Here's a typical example (most of these aren't very infinite):


Earlier posts on Shirriff and the Alto restoration.

- tom moody

June 27th, 2017 at 5:16 am

the resistance


via laqx
hat tip to travis hallenbeck

- tom moody

June 22nd, 2017 at 6:57 pm

overcoming "our" disillusionment

Geert Lovink's latest anti-social media rant starts out well with amusing quips:

“Artificial intelligence is not the answer to organized stupidity”—Johan Sjerpstra.
“Please don’t email me unless you’re going to pay me”—Molly Soda.
“Late capitalism is like your love life: it looks a lot less bleak through an Instagram filter”—Laurie Penny.
“Wonder how many people going on about the necessity of free speech and rational debate have blocked and muted trolls?”—Nick Srnicek.
“Post-truth is to digital capitalism what pollution is to fossil capitalism—a by-product of operations”— Evgeny Morozov.
“I have seen the troll army and it is us”—Erin Gün Sirer.

But then Lovink switches to first person plural causing me to vomit on the keyboard:

Our disenchantment with the internet is a fact. Yet again, enlightenment does not bring us liberation but depression. The once fabulous aura that surrounded our beloved apps, blogs, and social media has deflated. Swiping, sharing, and liking have begun to feel like soulless routines, empty gestures. We’ve started to unfriend and unfollow, yet we can’t afford to delete our accounts, as this implies social suicide. If “truth is whatever produces most eyeballs,” as Evgeny Morozov states, a general click strike seems like the only option left. But since this is not happening, we feel trapped and console ourselves with memes.

As the old '60s joke goes, "What do you mean we, kemosabe?" Some people didn't sign up for Facebook in 2007 -- because it smelled like a racket. Some people don't carry surveillance devices in their pockets just because everyone else does. Some people have made a good-faith look for alternatives to swiping and sharing, shy of a "general click strike."

Lovink's article appears in e-flux, which recently tried and failed to acquire the .art domain, speaking of the need for general click strikes. A Facebook for art, controlled by well-intentioned do-gooders, was narrowly avoided.

The rest of Lovink's article discusses positive uses of memes, or something. I haven't read it all. It was hard to get past that first paragraph. Will update if there is anything worth passing along.

- tom moody

June 21st, 2017 at 9:43 am

Posted in around the web, theory

personal shoppers don't get my art

You gotta love a gallery that goes out with a good rant. Am not sure if I've ever set foot inside Envoy Enterprises (87 Rivington Street, Ground Floor, New York, NY 10002) but I've received their press releases for a few years. Here's the final one:

envoy enterprises closing its gallery space

Dear friends,

As of August 4th, envoy enterprises will close its gallery space.
While e.e. will continue to exist, the time has come to take a step back and change the formula.

The reason for my decision is simple.... it is not fun anymore.

In my opinion the art industry has developed into an uninteresting, boring entity.

I have no interest in mimicking innovation. I have no interest in any kind of short-termism and I do not wish to be a part of an art industry in which a four leaf clover gets stripped of its extra leaf to make it fit into the standard idea of a clover.

I have no interest in being part of an art industry where eyes have been replaced by dollar signs; an eagerness to experience and learn replaced by hiring personal shoppers; and ambition, which once used to push the quality of art, reduced to a hunger for being listed in whatever top ten du jour.

On top of that, I find the continuous focus on 'art fairs' incomprehensible and its vulgarity staggering.
Is there really any one out there who believes people visit art fairs from a desire to improve their perceptions?

We should be improving people’s lives through art, we should be trying to create a world where art is living on every level, indivisible from life and for everyone to experience. Art should be about an attitude and about not being frightened of being thought of as uncool. It should be the antithesis of consumerism and aesthetic corruption that riddles the art world.

It should be about the idealization and aestheticization of daily life as opposed to guarding so-called critical high standards within the increasingly static art establishment and its ridiculous hierarchy.

It should be, but it is not.

Thank you to everyone who supported e.e. over the years. I appreciate your loyalty and love more than you can imagine.

I wish all of you a lot of kindness and a wonderful summer.

Jimi Dams

cf. Robert Nickas' 12-Step Program for 'Collectors'
The whole "art fair" thing got going in the late '80s/early '90s. It was a shitty trend that spread through the art world like Spanish Flu. Seems a bit late to be complaining about it but the hate is always welcome. "Personal shoppers" for art is a new one, but then I largely checked out of the gallery scene during the last period of obnoxious excess, the time of Bush Millionaires before the 2008 crash. There might also have been a brief era of reduced obnoxiousness that I missed, which would be the good old days in Envoy Enterprises' shorter timeline.

- tom moody

June 20th, 2017 at 10:00 pm

Posted in art - others