Thursday, January 31, 2013

Douglas Kahn | Noise Water Meat

Douglas Kahn
Noise Water Meat: A History of Sound in the Arts
Cambridge, USA: The MIT Press, Cambridge, 1999
455 pp., 24 x 19 cm., hardcover
Edition size unknown


Listening Through History; Prelude: Modernism; Explanations and Qualifications
Part I: Significant Noises
1. Immersed in Noise
Sentient Sound; Interpolation of Noise; Protean Noise; Oscillator Noise
2. Noises of the Avant-Garde
Bruitism; Noise and Simultaneity; the Future of War Noises
Part II: Drawing the Line: Music, Noise, and Phonography
3. Concerning the Line
Resident Noises; the Gloss of the Gliss; Beethoven at Fifty Times Per Second; "I, the Accelerated Line"
4. The Sound of Music
Demarcated Sounds; Drawing the Line in Theory; Synesthesia as Noise Abatement
5. Ubiquitous Recording
The Rotary Revolution; Russian Revolutionary Film
Part III: The Impossible Inaudible
6. John Cage: Silence and Silencing
Much to Confess About Nothing; Canned Silence; Silencing Techniques; Cage and the Impossible Inaudible
7. Nondissipative Sounds and the Impossible Inaudible
Inaudibly Loud, Long-Lasting, Far-Reaching; Machines of Nondissipation
8. The Parameters of All Sound
Loud Sounds; Conceptual Sounds
Part IV: Water Flows and Flux
9. A Short Art History of Water Sound
Water Music; Dripping; Surrealism and Submerged Women
10. In the Wake of Dripping: New York at Midcentury
The Object of Performance; Allan Kaprow: Immersed Noisician; George Brecht's Drip Music
Part V: Meat Voices
11. Two Sounds of the Virus: William Burroughs's Pure Meat Method
A Culture for Growing Viruses; Schlupping; on Goo Behavior; the Cancer Virus; Cellular Phones
12. Cruelty and the Beast: Antonin Artaud and Michael McClure
Artaud in America; Musical Artauds: Tudor and Cage; Beats Language; Beast Language; Affected and Afflicted Screaming; Seraphic Screams and the Tortuous Blast

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Broken Music

(Ursula Block, etc)
Broken Music 
278 pp., 26 x 21 cm., softcover
Berlin, Germany: Daadgalerie: 1992
Edition size unknown

From (the English translation of) Block's introduction: "Broken Music shows works of visual artists created with and for the medium of the record: records, record-covers, record-objects, record-installations. In contrast to the composer or musician who perceives the record first and foremost as a vehicle transpoting his musical ideas, the visual artist is especially interested in the optical as well as acoustical presence." 

A curator and dealer, Block is one of the leading authorities on the subject and the proprietor of the artists' record store in Berlin called Gelbe Musik. She is married to curator and publisher Rene Block.
The book is a compendium of artists' recordworks, many of which are illustrated, and the volume also includes a chronology, bibliography, and a flexi-disk record by Czechoslovakian Fluxus artist (and progenitor of altered records in art) Milan Knízák. 

The artists featured in the book include Vito Acconci, Joseph Beuys, Laurie Anderson, Guillaume Apollinaire, Karel Appel, Arman, Hans Arp, Antonin Artaud, John Baldessari, Hugo Ball, Claus van Bebber, John Bender, Harry Bertoia, Jean-Pierre Bertrand, Mel Bochner, Claus Böhmler, Christian Boltanski, K.P. Brehmer, William Burroughs, John Cage, Henri Chopin, Henning Christiansen, Jean Cocteau, William Copley, Philip Corner, Merce Cunningham, Hanne Darboven, Jim Dine, Jean Dubuffet, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Peter Fischli, David Weiss, R. Buckminster Fuller, Allen Ginsberg, Philip Glass, Jack Goldstein, Peter Gordon, Hans Haacke, Richard Hamilton, Bernard Heidsieck, Holger Hiller, Richard Huelsenbeck, Isidore Isou, Marcel Janco, Servie Janssen, Jasper Johns, Joe Jones, Thomas Kapielski, Allan Kaprow, Martin Kippenberger, Per Kirkeby, Milan Knížák, John Lennon, Sol Lewitt, Roy Lichtenstein, Anna Lockwood, Paul McCarthy, Meredith Monk, Hermann Nitsch, Frank O'Hara, Claes Oldenburg, Yoko Ono, Dennis Oppenheim, Nam June Paik, Robert Rauschenberg, Dieter Roth, Kurt Schwitters, Richard Serra, Robert Smithson, Michael Snow, Keith Sonnier, Jean Tinguely, Tristan Tzara, Ben Vautier, Andy Warhol, William Wegman, Lawrence Weiner, Emmett Williams, and many others. 

Considered one of the most important catalogues on the subjects, this volume is difficult to find on the secondary market, and typically sells for between $400 and $600. I used to plead with former employers to sell me their copy, but was told by one (Don Lake) "I can't sell that book. That book makes me money." I then would constantly check for it on Ebay, until Sting published a memoir with the same name, rendering searches futile. I met Block in Berlin a few years ago and, after initially telling me "no, no, I don't have copies of that to sell", I traded her a copy of Sound By Artists (see forthcoming post, this week) for a still-sealed copy of Broken Music

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Germano Celant | The Record as Artwork

Germano Celant
The Record as Artwork: From Futurism to Conceptual Art
Fort Worth, USA: The Fort Worth Art Museum, 1977
121 pp., 17.5 x 17.5 cm., softcover
Edition size unknown

An exhibition catalogue published in conjunction with the show held at the Fort Worth Art Museum, Texas, December 4, 1977 - January 15, 1978. The exhibition, which also traveled to the Moore College of Art Gallery in Philadelphia, the Musée d'Art Contemporain in Montreal and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, featured artists' records from the personal collection of Germano Celant (who had previously published a book with a similar title, in 1973: The Record as Artwork). Artists featured include Kurt Schwitters, Yves Klein, Allan Kaprow, Jan Dibbets, Sarkis, Topor, Jack Goldstein, Jean Tinguely, etc.. Includes a discography and a list of works. Text in English and French.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Michael Nyman | Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond

Michael Nyman
Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond
New York City, USA: Schirmer Books, 1974.
154 pp., 25 x 15 x 1.8 cm., cloth
Edition size unknown

Michael Nyman remains best known for his score for Jane Campion's The Piano, and for his longstanding creative relationship with director Peter Greenaway. Nyman scored films all of Greenaway's features from The Falls in 1980 to Prospero's Books in 1991, after which they had a falling out over what Nyman saw as a disrespectful use of his music.

Six years prior to their collaborations, Nyman published this early look at experimental music. The book looks at composers and musicians (John Cage, John Cale, Gavin Bryars, Earle Brown, Cornelius Cardew, Henry Cowell, Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, etc.) as well as artists (George Brecht, Robert Ashley, Dick Higgins, Alvin Lucier, Nam June Paik, Robert Rauschenberg, etc.).

The chapters include:

1. Towards (a definition of) experimental music
2. Backgrounds
3. Inauguration 1950–60: Feldman, Brown, Wolff, Cage
4. Seeing, hearing: Fluxus
5. Electronic systems
6. Indeterminacy 1960–70: Ichiyanagai, Ashley, Wolff, Cardew, Scratch Orchestra
7. Minimal music, determinacy and the new tonality

Many scores are reproduced, though it is noted that copyright issues prevented the inclusion of notation by Cage, Christian Wolff or Morton Feldman. The second edition includes a new forward by Brian Eno (who included Nyman as one of the ten artists in his Obscure Records series in the mid-seventies) an updated discography, and a historical overview by the author.

The first ten pages of the reissue can be viewed here.

*Nyman was unavailable to provide music for the 1987 Greenaway film The Belly of an Architect, which was scored by Wim Mertens, who has also published a book on 'experimental music': American Minimal Music, 1988

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Ruth Ewan | Liberties of the Savoy

Ruth Ewan
Liberties of the Savoy
London, UK: Bookworks, 2012
136 pages, 16 x 32 cm., soft cover
Edition of 1,000

East London reportedly has amongst the highest concentration of artists and 'creative businesses' in Europe, but a strikingly low level of cultural engagement. The organization CREATE was founded a few years back to "bridge the traditional divisions of class, culture, education, and social background between our creative community and local people."

Scottish artist Ruth Ewan (who, incidentally, made one of my favorite pieces for Nuit Blanche last fall), was the recipient of the 2012 CREATE Art Award. She used the £50,000 to invite 200 teenagers from east London to take over The Savoy’s Lancaster Ballroom for an event called Liberties of the Savoy.

While researching the Peasants' Revolt, or the Great Rising of 1381, Ewan was struck by an event in which 1,500 marchers burnt down what was known then as the Palace of Savoy. "Instead of looting it, the peasants destroyed everything in it," says Ewan, "they saw it as a symbol of corrupt wealth and had a moral objection to it."

Thirty years prior, Henry of Grosmont, a great-grandson of Henry III, was made the 1st Duke of Lancaster and given special authority and autonomy from the rest of a kingdom of England. All properties attached to the Duchy of Lancaster, including the Savoy, became subject to the laws of the Duke. The rioters of 1381 were executed and the Savoy area continued to benefit from the special jurisdiction, granting the wealthy residents special privileges, such as immunity from prosecution.

Responding to this history of opulence, indulgence and privilege, Ewan began working with over 200 kids (aged 11-16) from the six Olympic host boroughs. They designed a menu, selected bands and other entertainments, chose the lighting and decor and the means of transport for the event. They also assisted in the documentation of the proceedings, which was recorded for both this book and a documentary film. On July 17th of last year they travelled by cable car and boat to The Savoy's Lancaster Ballroom for the culmination of the project.

"The excessive gap between rich and poor that existed in the Middle Ages, we are still seeing that now," Ewan told ARTINFO UK, "a lot of young people don't leave their postcode. When we came on trips here preparing for the event, some of them had never seen the Thames. They live in a very closed area, and people who come to The Savoy also live in a very closed area, they see the class of their own and maybe they don't see another, so it's about bringing these two things together."

"When I first explained the project, they got it straight away. One of the boys at Lammas School said: 'Miss, they are never going to have seen people like us before.'"

The book collects the plans, drawings, photographs, interviews and texts led from the students,  alongside commissioned essays, and recipes from the executive pastry chef at The Savoy. It's available from the publisher, here, for £10.00.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

David Shrigley | Passport Photo

David Shrigley
Passport Photo 
Toronto, Canada: Nothing Else Press, 2008
1.5" x 2"
colour photo in card sleeve
Edition of 100 signed and numbered copies.

I noticed on Ebay today that the David Shrigley photograph published by the Nothing Else Press a few years ago is being offered for 200 pounds. Copies are still available here, for the original price of $85.

The NEP published works by Shrigley, Jonathan Monk, Paul Butler and Alex Snukal and then took an unexplained lengthy break. Forthcoming projects (in the coming days and weeks) include two new works by Micah Lexier, a sculptural piece by Michael Dumontier, a bookwork by Karen Azoulay, a 'zine by Jimmy Limit, etc. etc.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Stanley Brouwn | Bulletin 63

Stanley Brouwn
Bulletin 63
Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Art & Project, 1972
4 pp., 30 x 21cm., folded
Edition size unknown

One of seven bulletin's Brouwn produced for Art & Project (more than any other artist, I believe), Bulletin 63 was issued to coincide with an exhibition from the of 25th November until the 15th of December, 1972. Brouwn's text, 'Construction', consists of a series of measurements in millimetres.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Stanley Brouwn | Bulletin 69

Stanley Brouwn
Bulletin 69
Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Art & Project, 1973
4 pp., 30 x 21cm., folded
Edition size unknown

A bulletin issued to coincide with an exhibition from the 4th of September until the 26th of September, 1973. The text consists of 3 measurements - 872, 877 and 873mm.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Allen Ruppersberg | Poster Remainders: Who Remembers Where They Are From?

Allen Ruppersberg
Poster Remainders: Who Remembers Where They Are From? 
Toronto, Canada: Art Metropole, 2012
Set of 4 posters, 56 x 36 x cm., each
Edition of 55 signed and numbered copies (+ 10 APs & 3 PPs)

Available at Art Metropole for $280.00 and at their booth at the LA Art Fair next week.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

George Maciunas | Same Card Flux Deck

George Maciunas
Same Card Flux Deck
New York City, USA: ReFlux Editions, 1983
6.8 x 9.3 x 2.3 cm.
Unlimited Edition (though no longer in production)

An opaque white plastic box containing fifty-two plastic coated, commercially produced, playing cards, each of the same suit. The work is undated by was first mentioned in correspondence as early as 1966.  The ReFlux edition uses boxes from the original Fluxus source (presumably on Canal Street) and vintage Maciunas labels.

The work is typically credited to George Maciunas (and likely a response to Ben Vautier's Missing Card Deck) but an unused label design by Maciunas in the Silverman collection suggests that the work might have come from Jeff Berner. Not only is it listed by him on the front of the design, but Berner signed the verso, with a copyright C and the word yes, suggesting that he approved of the design.

Monday, January 21, 2013


On January 31st, Printed Matter presents the LA Art Book Fair at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in downtown Los Angeles. The fair is a companion to the NY Art Book Fair, held every fall in New York, which last year had a reported attendance of over 20,000.

The free event is dedicated to artists’ books, art catalogs, monographs, and periodicals, and this year features a special focus on 'zines. Over two-hundred booksellers, artists, and publishers from twenty countries will present work. 

Featured projects include an homage to Mike Kelley, an installation by John Armleder with Three Star Books, Untitled Originals by Richard Prince, and a Larry Clark pop-up shop and an installation of t-shirts and skateboards from the photographer/filmmaker's extensive collection, including items used in the films Kids, Bully, Ken Park and others.

Preview: Thursday, January 31, 6–9 pm
Friday, February 1, 11-5 pm
Saturday, February 2, 11 am–6 pm
Sunday, February 3, 12 am–6 pm

The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
152 North Central Avenue
Los Angeles

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Maurizio Nannucci | Words

Maurizio Nannucci
Parole / Mots / Words / Wörter
Florence, Italy: Recorthings & Zona Archives, 1979
7" vinyl record, 33 ⅓ RPM, 13:30
Edition of 500

As the cover graphic illustrates, Nannucci took the streets like a reporter, with a microphone and recording crew and asked passers-by (outside the International Cultural Centre in Antwerp, on the streets of Florence, etc.) to tell him the first word that came to mind. The words are then isolated out of context, and often posed as a tentative or confused question. The list of words is printed on the inner sleeve.

Recorthings and Zona Archives (along with Exit & Exempla) were publishing companies that Nannucci used for his self-published publications (including books and multiples) as well as those of other artists (Dick Higgins, Terry Fox, Bern Porter, and more recently Carsten Nicolai).

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Christian Marclay | Untitled (Record Without A Groove)

Christian Marclay
Untitled (Record Without A Groove)
Geneva, Switzerland, Ecart Editions, 1987
Edition of 50 signed and numbered copies

Marclay's second record object (and the most difficult to find) is a black vinyl grooveless record housed in a black suede bag with gold lettering that reads "Christian Marclay Ecart Editions Geneva New York 1987". It follows Record Without a Cover (1985), and precedes Footsteps (1989).

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Openings Press

The Openings Press, initiated by Dom Sylvester Houedard and John Furnival in 1964, and based out of Gloucestershire, was a very small press dedicated to publishing concrete poetry. As well as self-published projects, the Press also published the work of Ian Hamilton Finlay, Tom Phillips, bpNichol, Stephen Hoare, Julien Blaine, Eugen Gomringer and several others.

The above prospectus provides a statement of intent:

"We aim to produce a series that is a complete integration of graphics and texts, ie. not an illustrated poem or a captioned drawing."

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sol Lewitt | Brick Wall

Sol Lewitt
Brick Wall
New York City, USA: Tanglewood Press Inc, 1977
32 pp., 26 x 22.2 cm., soft-cover, glue bound

"Brick Wall consists of sixteen, two-page prints that vary slightly in exposure. The piece surveys the repetition of form and texture to create a more complex whole, and exemplifies the utility of the camera to document processes and series, themes central to conceptual art."

The title is valued at between $750 and $1350, depending on condition. Signed copies sell for between $2000 and $4000.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Gordon Matta-Clark | Walls paper

Gordon Matta-Clark
Walls paper 
Buffalo, USA: Buffalo Press, 1973
144 pp., 25.5 x 18.5 cm., staple-bound (split horizontally in halves)
Edition of 1000 (of which 100 were signed and numbered) currently has a copy of this rare title on Ebay, with a starting bid of $3600 (it's available on for $4385). Bid on it, here.

"Wallspaper is an artist’s book published in 1973 which relates to Gordon Matta-Clark’s multi-part installation Wallspaper 1972. The book comprises reproductions of the coloured prints that the artist used to make the installation, which were themselves derived from black and white photographs.

Wallspaper is a multi-part installation comprising photographs and newsprint, which Gordon Matta-Clark presented at the artist-run space 112 Greene Street in New York in 1972. Earlier that year, he took various black and white photographs of derelict and semi-demolished project houses in the Bronx and the Lower East Side of New York City. As only the facades of the buildings had been taken down, the photographs reveal the interior walls of the houses. Some of these walls were covered in paint that was flaking away; other walls were covered in wallpaper. Matta-Clark used the photographs to create his installation. First he heightened the colours of the photographs to abstract the images of the derelict houses. Next he printed the photographs on long strips of newspaper and hung these strips on a large wall from ceiling to floor. The wall consequently looked as if it were ‘wallpapered’ with images derived from walls in another part of New York City. The installation also included a stack of newspaper booklets which viewers were able to take away. These booklets were made of individual sheets of newspaper, each presenting one photograph of the Bronx walls. A number of the original black and white photographs from which the installation derived also survive.

Matta-Clark only presented Wallspaper once during his lifetime, and the long strips of newspaper hanging from the wall were destroyed some time after the Greene Street show. The work now consists of seventy-two individual sheets that had originally been in the bundles of newspapers placed in front of the wall.

Wallspaper was one of the first works in which Matta-Clark’s interests in photography come together with his explorations of the built environment. For art historian Thomas Crow, the crucial significance of the work is the way in which the photographs distort the images of derelict housing, and therefore conjure a space of reverie. Crow implies that the piece produces a new means of representing dilapidated architecture, quite distinct from traditions of socially-concerned documentary photography in New York City:

He hung strips of paper printed with close-up photographs of peeling and crumbling walls from derelict buildings in the Bronx and Lower East Side. With the delicacy of watercolour or Japanese prints, he subjected cropped and enlarged segments of his photographs to a newly free manipulation of colour and tone. [The work] registered a gritty streetscape while simultaneously conjuring some other, imagined space closer to reverie and dream. While another bundle of prints lay on the floor as an object analogue, the cascade descending from the ceiling points to [Matta-Clark’s] growing readiness the manipulate the photographic document in the direction of suggestion and secondary illusion.

Art historian Pamela Lee has a different approach to the work. For her, what is most interesting is the way in which Matta-Clark transposed images of one set of buildings onto the walls of another building. Encountering the piece involved not only thinking about the buildings pictured on the newspaper strips, but the building in Greene Street where the work was presented, and the relationship between the gallery and the derelict house. Lee has written:

Picturing the exposed walls of lower income housing, the photographs present the buildings’ ruinous state as a gridded, blank-faced visage. [At Greene Street] Matta-Clark registered an acute correspondence between walls and wallpaper, not unlike the floorpieces exhibited before. Its effect was to throw the still functioning site of the gallery into a certain relief, locating the outmodedness of a building elsewhere by reproducing the structures of its walls on another building’s surface. As such, the relationship between the respective sites was not conditioned simply by the place of art and architecture, but by the uneven temporalities of both. The timeliness of each building – one now ‘alive’, the other now ‘dead’ – spoke to the virtual ‘speed’ of the built environment, the endlessly fluctuating historicity of its architecture.

Much of Matta-Clark’s work addresses public space and the built environment, often drawing attention to the ways in which architects failed to address the housing crisis in New York in the 1970s. Having trained as an architect himself, he created an artistic practice that targeted this discipline. His best known works are the ‘cuts’ into buildings which he made in New York, New Jersey and in Europe. These actions led to related films, photocollages, drawings, and sculptures." - Tate Modern site.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Volume: Hear Here

Sound artist and curator Christof Migone has put together a two-part exhibition around the idea of presence and absence, called Volume: Hear Here. The Blackwood Gallery component opens tomorrow, and the JMB Gallery the following evening.

The artists featured at the Blackwood space include myself, Alexis O'Hara, Darsha Hewitt, John Oswald, Ian Skedd, and Charles Stankievech. Artists showing at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery include Mitchell Akiyama, crys cole, Marla Hlady, Neil Klassen, David Lieberman, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Sylvia Matas, David Merritt, Ryan Park, Juliana Pivato, Alexandre St-Onge, Chiyoko Szlavnics, and John Wynne. When I visited her studio Marla was at work on a rotating floor that would also serve as a speaker.

The opening reception is tomorrow night (Wednesday January 16th) from 5 to 8pm. A free shuttle bus service is offered, which will depart at 5:30 pm from Mercer Union (1286 Bloor Street W.) and return for 8pm. The Justina M. Barnicke Gallery opening is the following night, from 7 to 9pm.

For more information, including photos and an extensive curatorial statement, visit the Blackwood site, here.

I am showing two works, both of which were made as editions (of sorts). The first is called Nothing (for Robert Barry), which consists of a powerbar and ultra-sonic pest control devices. It was originally part of a solo exhibition called Room Tone, in which all of the works emitted a faint or inaudible sound, though I always thought of the piece as being more about a room empty of mice and rats.

The second piece is Untitled (Headset) in which a simple pair of headphones sits on hook on the wall. They have been discreetly altered with the stereo cable split and quarter inch jacks soldered to each wire. These are then plugged into a amplifier, one as input and the other as output. This turns one of the earpieces into a microphone, which picks up the signal of the speaker headphone, and creates a screeching feedback. The headsets sits on the wall, humming away, until someone picks it and puts it on. The viewer's head blocks the signal and nothing is heard. I've always likened it to putting two mirrors up against one another as a way to understand infinity, which you cannot because your head gets in the way. A nice blunt metaphor.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Rutherford Chang: We Buy White Albums

Rutherford Chang has a collection of more than 650 copies of the initial pressing of the Beatles' eponymously titled double LP, also known as the White Album. When asked to participate in Recess' Session program, which invites artists to use their public space as a studio or exhibition venue, he proposed creating a record store, but one that would carry only one title, which would not be for sale. Starting last Monday (January 7th) and continuing until March 9th, Chang will have the 41 Grand Street, New York, location open for business, which will consist of him buying used copies of the LP.

Visitors will be also be invited to browse his collection and listen to the records. During this Chang will digital record each copy of the record with their unique scratches, warping and general wear and tear. He will document the patina of the 'white' albums, each distinct with its own history of scuffing, dirt, record rings, etc. A new double LP will made of the accumulated layered sounds and images will be released shortly after the exhibition closes.

For more information, please visit 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Richard Artschwager | Hair Box

Richard Artschwager
Hair Box (for Parkett no. 23)
 Zurich, Switzerland, Parkett Editions, 1990
26 x 38 x 13 cm
Multiple of rubber, paint, and wood