Amoeblog

Happy Birthday Marcel Duchamp

Posted by Whitmore, July 28, 2009 09:25am | Post a Comment

Composed by John Cage in 1947 for prepared piano, Music For Marcel Duchamp was originally created for Duchamp’s segment in Hans Richter's surrealist film Dreams that money can buy. Other collaborators in Richter's movie included Max Ernst, Man Ray, Alexander Calder, Darius Milhaud and Fernand Léger. The film, with a budget of $25,000, won the Award for the Best Original Contribution to the Progress of Cinematography at the 1947 Venice Film Festival. Duchamps' segment is entitled "Discs" and consists mostly of his rotoreliefs; flat cardboard circles with painted designs spinning on a turntable. Later, in 1999, Music For Marcel Duchamp was choreographed by the late, great Merce Cunningham.
 
The composition evokes timbres and harmonies of Asian music, as well as the music of Erik Satie: static, meditative and timeless. Using just a few tones, muted by weather stripping (seven pieces), and a piece of rubber and one metal bolt, the soft materials create a less metallic sound and avoid disruptive fluctuations in resonance. The rhythmic structure is eleven times eleven (extended); 2-1-1-3-1-2-1. One of the new ideas Cage worked on in this piece was the concept of silence used systematically. This can be heard, or not heard, in the last part of the work, where seven times 2 bars of music are followed by 2 bars of silence. This repetition creates tension as the work mostly builds on a single melodic line.
 
Joyeux Anniversaire Monsieur Duchamp!

(During which the author continues to unpack.)

Posted by Job O Brother, May 17, 2009 10:20pm | Post a Comment
hard work
The author decorates his new Study.

It’s late. I’m tired. And earthquaked. I’d no sooner finished up my final box of bric-a-brac placement, when the latest in seismic waves rocked my little piece of Los Angeles.

What occurred in my imagination was far more dramatic than what actually took place. In my mind, my bookshelf toppled over on me and I was knocked unconscious by my collection of creepy, antique clowns and monkeys. Naturally the wound would cause me to fall into a coma, and since the boyfriend is in Vegas for the weekend, I wouldn’t be discovered until late tomorrow. Although he’d rush me to the hospital (taking time to wolf down a Cliff Builder Bar – this candy bar masquerading as a protein supplement he’s addicted to) and I’d be put on life-support, my vegetative state would last for days.

By the time I came out of the coma, I would have lost 180 pounds (making me a very fashionable 5 pounds) and my speech would sound like a recitation of Dada poetry. For some reason I’d be scared of celery, too, though the doctors would never understand why.

The strange bedfellows of Hugo Ball and Marie Osmond

Posted by Whitmore, February 22, 2009 07:56pm | Post a Comment

Today is the anniversary of the birth of one of the creators of Dada, Hugo Ball -- Feb 22nd, 1886. In 1916 he co-founded the Cabaret Voltaire club in Zurich along with the likes of Jean Arp, Emmy Hennings, Tristan Tzara, Marcel Janco, and Richard Huelsenbeck, where the anti-art movement of Dadaism began. The same year Ball wrote his poem Karawane, which consists of nonsensical words, I like to think they’re German nonsensical words. Another poem, Gadji beri bimba, was later adapted by David Byrne and the Talking Heads for the song entitled "I Zimbra" on their 1979 album Fear of Music.
 
Marie Osmond is of course a member of the legendary show business family the Osmonds. She has also had her share of hit records like “Paper Roses” besides working with her big brother, Donny, on the hit TV variety show Donny & Marie back in the 1970’s. Most recently she’s been a spokesman for the Nutrisystem brand of weight loss meals. And to be perfectly honest I think she’s looking pretty good -- a side note, I think she also got hosed on Dancing with the Stars back in 2007 (sure she received the lowest scores ever in a Dancing With the Stars finals history, but her ridiculous attempts were sort of ...dadaistic. Well, anyway ...)
 
But once a long time ago, in a distant galaxy, in a bright neon yellow bathrobe befit for perhaps Arthur Dent on Xanax washed down with a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, Marie Osmond was also a spokesman for the Dada Movement. Believe it or not, here is some footage of Marie talking art history, Dadaism, good ol’ Hugo Ball and reciting his sound poem Karawane. First, a warning-- don’t look too closely into her eyes...
 
Happy birthday Hugo, and a happy gadjama affalo pinx gaga di bumbalo bumbalo gadjamen back to you....
 
Gadji beri bimba (1916)

gadji beri bimba glandridi
laula lonni cadori  
gadjama gramma berida
bimbala glandri
galassassa laulitalomini  
gadji beri bin
blassa glassala
laula lonni cadorsu sassala bim

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White Noise for Channel Identification

Posted by Whitmore, October 5, 2008 07:08pm | Post a Comment

Stereo Test albums and Stereo Dynamic records almost always have great graphics. My all time favorite album cover could very easily be To Scare Hell out of Your Neighbors. My Dad has that record; not only does it look great but it also sounds pretty incredible … well, if not actually incredible, at least bigger then friggin’ hell itself. As a kid I used to play it at full volume over our more then adequate state of functional-furniture-by-way-of-Sears-1967-winter-catalogue stereo console. To Scare Hell out of Your Neighbors features a couple of the finest room-clearing tracks you’ll ever hear, like Bach’s Toccato in D Minor -- aka the Rollerball theme --and the first cut, "Adolph Hitler" from Edmund De Luca's Conquerors of the Ages, where we hear several members of the London Philharmonic forthrightly shouting "zeig heil!" Pieces like these literally disturbed the holy crap out of my grandmother. Perhaps it was I who drove her to those late morning/early afternoon gin and tonics.

Anyway, there is something about the secret language and technical diatribes on the back of these albums I absolutely love. All the numbers and graphs and arrows point you, the listener, in the direction of an aural climax.

And in fact from an early 20th century Dadaist or Surrealist perspective, the complex narratives on these back covers could be viewed as truly modern poetry: polemic critiques of technology, ready to bugger all of our puny, inconsequential romantic rhymes. Reason and precision annihilates passion and unprotected sex. Nonsense belittles the hollow logic of bourgeois capitalist society, producing nothing more than an insane spectacle of collective slaughter … Eat your heart out André Breton … eureka, I have found you!

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Man Ray

Posted by Whitmore, August 27, 2008 11:55am | Post a Comment


Often cited as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, Man Ray, was born Emmanuel Radnitzky on this day, August 27, 1890 in Philadelphia. He significantly contributed to the Dada, Surrealist and Avant-Garde movements of the 20th century and was a significant voice in the Parisian art world after The Great War. Though he mostly considered himself a painter, it’s as a photographer and film maker he is best remembered, not only for his experimental photography and films of the 1920’s and 30’s but for his fashion and portraiture work also.

A side note, during the Second World War, Man Ray returned to America, settling in Hollywood from about 1940 until 1951 at 1245 Vine Street-- the Villa Elaine apartments, across the street from the old Hollywood Ranch Market, right around the corner from present day Amoeba Records in Hollywood.




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