Thursday, March 18, 2010


The performance is over, but this project is not. The actual result was a little too glitchy for my liking, so I'm pushing to have this on my senior composition recital to work out the kinks. The basic problem was in the glasses: those damned things have been giving me trouble from the start. The feedback increased way too fast because the patch I built was getting signals from the glasses at the wrong times. BLAH.

However, my goal was accomplished. I gave people an experience they'd never had. Now if I can execute it perfectly, it might even provoke some thought as well. But at least I made some magic.

To sum up what I did throughout this course:

a) I downloaded and cut down clips from "A Girl's Guide to 21st Century Sex," a British mini-series. I removed only the shots taken from inside the vagina and ame up with exactly 3 minutes of footage. Here's the show:

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b) I worked with John Mayrose to put together this Max patch:

the counter is for the performers (Chris Dorn and Elyse Lucas). In the top left are the "start" and "end" buttons. The inputs can be seen in a row on the top and the green boxes below those are the sensors that recognized signal from the 1/4" cable and the contact mics.

c) I put together the domestic scene with plates, glasses, silverware, tablecloth and meatloaf all included. Chris, Elyse and I had a few rehearsals (without too much glitch) before finally putting on the show last night:

I wrote in the course evaluations for the course that it represents everything I thought I would be getting when I signed on for four years of a liberal arts education. Freedom of expression, inspiration, and expert guidance. Thank you John and Julie for giving me an experience I've never had.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Life Down Under

Librarians and collectors are the most important people for the arts. At the very moment things are happening, it is impossible to sift through the endless piles of music and photographs and paintings and general artistic output. Every day more crap (I'm using this term in the most positive way) gets dumped into the 'cultural atmosphere.' It can feel like white noise...pollution. How can you even come close to getting a grasp on the world's artistic output in as little s a day, much less a year or decade.

That's why we have people like James Danky. They collect things so we can sift through them later. Or other people can sift through them for us. But all of this sifting, none-the-less, is made possible by people who take that initial interest and deem something "worthy of collecting."

I think "best of" lists are pretty funny. Especially one's about the year we just came through. Basically, the only artistic output the writers of such lists have to go off of is the most advertised. Whether a particular item has been blogged about the most, or been sold in the most stores, the most popular items of the year always get dubbed the best of, regardless of their actual artistic merit.

Later on, though, things get "rediscovered" and artists that weren't so popular during their prime are shot up to the pedestal. It's way hip.

It's hip to know the most popular artists of our time but it's hipper to know the unpopular artists from before our time. Funny. I'm not sure which is more obnoxious.

Sunday, February 28, 2010


Check out this cool video. The whole movie is actually in our library...

Zizek is the philosopher I was assigned to look into. He has a lot of ideas about global capitalism and the little (and big) conundrums that come with it. I watched a talk he gave about consumer charity. I've noticed that funny notion, buy this and we'll fold in a charitable act. It just gets easier and easier to keep spending, and boy do we. You used to have to set aside money at the end of the day for charity, but why do that when you can make the act of charity much more obviously selfish by getting something solid out of it in the process. Get away from my door, you UNICEF kids. I drink Starbucks every day. Check it:

"It’s our commitment to do things that are good to each other and the planet. From the way we buy our coffee, to minimizing our environmental footprint, to being involved in local communities. It’s doing things the way we always have. And it’s using our size for good. And because you support us, Starbucks™ Shared Planet™ is what you are a part of too."

Selling ethics. That's ripe.

Moving on. Folks, I'm starting to get worried about or friend Nicolas and his "radicant" cultural atmosphere. He had me with the global cuture thing, but now it seems like he wants to eat the cake too. So we're in the veritable cesspool of culture. This is art. This isn't. But it is. Anything is. Blah blah and back and forth and constant change, etc. Things are disposable. Trends are disposable. I don't feel like he's helping us move out of this. Sure, sure "alter" is different than "post," I get it. You're supposed to combine elements of inspiration from across a very broad field. It's supposed move beyond the white western world's concept of rootedness. COOL. But it sounds to me like things are just going to get blander and blander.

And things are already pretty bland. It takes kind of a lot for me to be shocked anymore. And even when I am, I'm like "pff. is that all you're relying on? shock value?" And no one likes a preacher. It seems to me that no one actually likes anything, we're all just pretending so we'll look cool on the playground.

I say: make stuff. Then die. Let other people talk about it later if they want to.

More like Matthew BLARNEY

The more I look into Matthew Barney, the more I regret using him as my muse. He seem to take this stuff way too seriously. If there were at least a hint of a smirk on his face I would know he gets the joke, but it seems to me like he's just trying much too hard. There's just no need to come up with that many layers of meaning. No one actually cares. And those that do simultaneously make my stomach churn and the corners of my mouth lift because it's just funny to see people try so hard when it doesn't have to be that difficult. So there I went. I sold my muse out.

The videos themselves are very good-looking, don't get me wrong. But I think I have to disconnect the artist from the art because his bullshit is really starting to get to me.

This is what I should've used for my mentor:

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Batter's Up

It's heartening to see someone so enthusiastic about anything as Prof. Sedlock. It doesn't really matter what for. She puts out a positive influence, which is what art is all about. I don't mean positive in the way of smiley faces and hearts, but more in the way of plus signs. Creativity is about adding things to the world. Even if what you're adding is terrible or is influenced by something terrible, it is still adding, not subtracting. War is subtraction. Humans love to subtract. Science is addition. Science is a slow accumulation. Art is addition. Music is addition. Philosophy is stasis. Religion is subtraction. Politics are subtraction. Prejudice is subraction.



I'm meeting with Chris and Elyse on Wednesday to do a first test.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Update and Away

I'm at the point now where I'm just chuggin away at the max patch. It's slow going and I haven't been able to devote enough time to it just yet to really make it work.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Andy Warhol:

Don't pay any attention to what they write about you.
Just measure it in inches.

Don't pay any attention to what they write about you.
Just measure it in inches.

Don't pay any attention to what they write about you.
Just measure it in inches.

Don't pay any attention to what they write about you.
Just measure it in inches.

Don't pay any attention to what they write about you.
Just measure it in inches.

Don't pay any attention to what they write about you.
Just measure it in inches.

Don't pay any attention to what they write about you.
Just measure it in inches.

Don't pay any attention to what they write about you.
Just measure it in inches.

Don't pay any attention to what they write about you.
Just measure it in inches.

Don't pay any attention to what they write about you.
Just measure it in inches.

Don't pay any attention to what they write about you.
Just measure it in inches.

Don't pay any attention to what they write about you.
Just measure it in inches.

Don't pay any attention to what they write about you.
Just measure it in inches.

Don't pay any attention to what they write about you.
Just measure it in inches.

Don't pay any attention to what they write about you.
Just measure it in inches.

Don't pay any attention to what they write about you.
Just measure it in inches.

Don't pay any attention to what they write about you.
Just measure it in inches.

Don't pay any attention to what they write about you.
Just measure it in inches.

Don't pay any attention to what they write about you.
Just measure it in inches.

Up(date) Yours

This week I got the video done. I was gonna post it up here, but I'm going to show you all in class on Tuesday, and I don't want to ruin the surprise. (That is, I want y'all to save up your vomit.) I was initially worried about the quantity of footage I was going to be able to squeeze from the documentary (I spent the last 2 weeks downloading every episode on rapidshare). Miraculously, after I had already set a time limit of 3' on the piece (I'm not sure people could handle much more), I discovered that after stripping down all the unnecessary footage I was left with exactly 3:01. Perfect.

All I have left to do is finish the max patch (which is half done), get some costumes for chris and elyse (I'm thinking of asking them what clothes they already have in grey), and do a test run. I also want to add a prerecorded part to the piece, which would play while they drink. Maybe just some white noise mixed with the sound of the gulping.

You Don't Nomi

How far can someone take a stage persona? Klaus Nomi's entire career was based on pushing the limits of a single persona.

Does changing your persona mean you need to change your music? David Bowie is a classic example of this...every new musical idea has a new persona connected to it. The chameleon becomes his persona.

Tom Waits is a performer that's kept the same persona throughout his career, yet his music changes fairly significantly with each new album.

I'm just throwing things out there...

I'm interested in the fact that Klaus made up his character and lived in the limelight, died in the limelight and will forever (for as long as he is remembered) be known as Klaus Nomi. What was his goal in keeping such a rigid persona? His costume, his voice, his emblem, his music all stayed consistent during his career. The documentary made it seem like fame was his ultimate goal. I guess to reach this goal, you need to remain fairly consistent so more and more people grow accustomed to your particular form of strangeness. If you have only a few tics, people will recognize them the more you do them publicly.

Whether you like it or not, the more famous you get, the more you're pigeon-holed. People need categorization to keep them sane. Our entire way of thinking is based on different levels of categorization...

Some intriguing Pop Personas:


John Lennon


50 Cent

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Officer Crupdate

This week I wrote out a score for the piece and have retitled it "Duet for Two Humans." The score is loose, every 15" is blocked out and the performer is asked to take a bite or a drink from the glass a specified number of times within each time-frame. The whole piece will be about 3' long.

Each bite will trigger an action with the video. The first bite will turn it on, the second off (the third on, fourth off, etc.) The video will progress along in this way (each clip in slo-mo). Each drink will trigger a different action: the video will play for the duration of the drink (from lifting to placing the glass back down). This video will play in normal time (or maybe sped up). There are 5 times that each performer takes in a drink during the whole performance. The first raises the feedback from the contact mics to 20%, the second to 40% until, at the very end, the feedback is at a howling 100% right before everything gets cut off.

I've thought a lot about the end of this piece, and I'm a little indecisive about it. If you're reading this and you care to comment, you should tell me what you think. The most obvious ending is the orgasm. This seems like it might undercut the experience, however. Imagine, if you will, the sonic atmosphere at the end. The whole piece has been saturated with munching and chewing sounds, but once the feedback is at 100%, it will just be a mess of noise. Here are some other endings I've been throwing around in my head:
  • everything goes black (including screen) before orgasm
  • I found a clip where the action is really intense and then the man pulls out (which could imply orgasm without all the visual mess)
  • the performers get up and walk offstage leaving the sound to fade out on its own with a black screen

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Totally radicant, dude

Thank you, OED:


A theory advocating the teaching, on traditional lines and to everyone, of certain ideas and methods supposed to be essential to the prevalent culture.

"Gayatri Spivak defends the idea of a 'strategic essentialism,' in which minority individuals or groups lay claim to the cultural substance on which they found their identity, which permits these 'subalterns' to gain a voice in the context of globalized imperialism."

Of a body in respect of its elements: Composed of diverse elements or constituents; consisting of parts of different kinds; not homogeneous.

"The more that contemporary art heterogeneous artistic vocabularies deriving from multiple non-Western visual traditions, the more clearly there emerge the distinctive characteristics of a single global culture."

The process of making or becoming homogeneous; the action of homogenizing.
Of one thing in respect of another, or of various things in respect of each other: Of the same kind, nature, or character; alike, similar, congruous.]

Once you cut through the pretentious bullshit of the language in this book (the above words are mere small fry), you find that many ideas are actually quite enlightening. In fact, I'd say this book has opened my mind a bit.

It got me thinking about my own goals and aspirations. My initial plan for after school was to find a city and root myself down, spend 2-5 years trying to make rent while trying to find time for my art and then somehow break into a scene. My goal was to eventually support myself with my art so it was all art all the time (I'm lumping music into art). This is the Bob Dylan (Robert Zimmerman) ideal. Show up in a city, become a god.

That seems to be an old ideal. Cities are only getting bigger and people are less and less willing to listen to you what with all the information that's thrown at them.

After reading these first few pages of the Radicant, I had a thought. What if I helped pull together a group of artists interested in the beauty of a creative world? We could provide out art for free online while keeping a rooted presence in many different areas around the world.

In many ways this would seem to be exactly like the metaphor: roots extending to other roots. Each artist in the collective would be connected to many different artists and traditions in their respective regions. Bringing artists from one region to another would only get easier and in the end, the world stops seeming like a vast hole and more like a cozy cabin. All I want is to snuggle up with my friends and make sweet sweet music.


This week I did these things for my project:

  • Went to the Shoppe and got matching plates (white), a set of clear tubular (phallic?) glasses and a matching vase to put flowers in (I'm thinking daisies).
  • Got myself some actors: Chris Dorn and Elyse Lucas, the art department's favorite couple (beside Johnny and Julie, of course). I thought of them because a) they love meat b) they're a couple so they'll be comfortable with the whole sex thing c) they're artists so they'll be comfortable with the bullshit and d) I just think they're aesthetically pleasing (cute, right?)

  • I started the max patch and have been thinking of a way to trigger the video. I want it to be a physical motion on stage that connects to the thrusting portrayed in the video.
  • I got some contact mics from amazon.
  • I searched forever online until I found the actual original production of the video I'm stealing from. It's called "A Girl's Guide to 21st Century Sex" and it was produced in 2006 for British Television. There are eight total episodes, of which I've downloaded 3 (they're big files, AVI broken up into four parts for each episode). The video is really good quality. And the show is kind of silly, but there are some educational facts to be learned (apparently penis creams actually do work). I've started editing a bit already.

I no longer love the color of your sweater

Laurie Anderson makes art. Laurie Anderson needs media technology to make her art. Laurie Anderson's art often comments on human dependency on media technology. My critique is also apparently dependent on IT. It's impossible to know how to use all of IT, yet we use IT everyday. Sculptors know marble and wood and metal. Laurie Anderson attempts to know IT. She's got a valiant mission.

More practically, I was thinking about how I don't even know how to fix my breaking down car. Or my computer, for that matter. Two hundred years ago, if your horse and cart broke, you could probably fix the cart yourself. Maybe that's not true. But I feel a bigger and bigger divide between the consuming public and the able consuming public. Maybe it's because there's just too much to try and keep track of technology-wise.

Less practically, I was thinking about how Laurie Anderson uses her hands in her art. It's like she's making another character on stage..."it's not me who's doing these actions, it's this hand."
It reminds me of David Byrne, a similar artist from a similar time. The video I'm thinking of ("Once in a Lifetime" from Stop Making Sense) was pulled from YouTube. So just watch this for fun:

Spaceship Earth

Buckminster Fuller had the right idea about people. People, in general, seem to think the world is limitless. Turns out we're actually hurtling through space all contained in one tiny little orb. And we're juicing that orb dry.

[My car broke down three times on the way home from the U.P. today.]

The problem with thinking of the world as a BIG place is that it takes the responsibility out of the hands of the individual. If there are 100 people on a spaceship, each person is responsible for their cabin--it should be cleaned and inspected daily--as well as some important function of the ship. Just watch Star Trek.

But here on earth, there are just too many human beings, and most of them don't even clean up their own shit, much less take a further conscious responsibility for the upkeep of our planet.

Either more people need to think like Buckminster Fuller, or the population needs to be greatly reduced so there are less useless people and more people concerned with keeping Spaceship Earth ship shape.

I wish there were something I could do. Oh well. I'll get to it later.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

For Those Who Need Their Porn Fix

I looked at the blogger policies and apparently adult content is accepted.

So here you go:

Somebody just took all the dirty parts out of some kinda erotic sex education video. Or maybe its porn. Who can say?

In any case, I'm using this for the first project I'm going to attempt to tackle. Just the scenes from inside the vagina. It'll be projected above a table while two people eat meatloaf or some other food.

It might look something like this:

There'll be contact mics connected to their throats that run through a computer with a bunch of delay on a Max patch.

At least that's my plan. We'll see.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Have I got a gal for you! (The Seemingly Unfortunate Love Life of Mary Ford)

While watching the American Masters documentary on Les Paul, the great man who invented multi-track recording and the solid body electric guitar, I was mostly intrigued by the life of his one-time wife and business partner, Mary Ford.

Young Iris Colleen Hatfield, just out of highschool, found work with Gene Autry as a back-up country vocalist. She was making a fine living in this position, but there was no chance of getting into the big money if she stayed there. Luckily for her, Gene passed her off to a good friend, Les Paul. Mr. Paul was looking for a girl to sing with him. Any girl with a good voice and decent enough knockers should do.

So now this well dressed guitarist with a classic midwestern face and a knack for business rolls up and what else is a poor unsuspectingly ambitious gal supposed to do? Their partnership started strickly professional. Mr. Paul chose a name for her, Mary Ford. He chose songs for her to sing. He moved her around from city to city, showing off their classic combo. I guess it just made sense to get married four years later. Good business sense. When they stopped making hits, it was only a matter of time before that partnership became obsolete.

In the end, at least she got a catchy line from one of their songs on her tombstone. Good thing Les Paul made her the way she was, or no one would even visit her grave.

Fattest Possum

It seems like most of the people who venture into unknown cultural territory are in it for the money.

Matthew Johnson may not have been in it for the money only. He claims that he wanted to bring recognition to a group of blues artists. But, of course, what good is recognition without the money?

People seeking fame (for themselves or, in Matthew Johnson's case, other people) puzzle me. I'm not really sure why it's important for an individual to gain "recognition" in the world. There are a lot of people who I recognize and they do really terrible things. I wish I didn't recognize them at all. So why was Mr. Johnson so keen to get the music out?

The guys were old. Practically knockin' on heaven's door. That's a lot of promotion to do in such a small amount of time.

Personally, if I were an old blues guitarist (ah, another lifetime) I wouldn't want some motivated college boy getting on my back about tour dates and doctor appointments. I'd just want to sit and play and drink.

But then again, there is the money. I could afford nice things and supply for my family. I get to see places I've never been. Money would be great.

I don't need a tomb full of records and concert ticket stubs. Just get me my money while I'm still alive.

And please,
See that my grave is kept clean.