Two pieces designed as a left-hand and right-hand pair. Constructed from bamboo and surplus hardware and potentiometers/knobs from a tuning module for helicopters from Pearl Harbor. Non-electronic but acoustically active. After dialing up the desired frequency and talking to God one hears their own voice reverberated slightly and environmental noise filtered by the bamboo chamber. Approximately 2" in diameter and 15" long including antennae.
These 6 pieces are a representative sample of a series of over 100 small objects constructed in the past 5 years; most done between 1993 and 1995. While the size of the pieces range from an inch long to four feet, most are the size of hand tools, implements, and table sculpture: 8" to 18". Some took five minutes to make, some five hours. Only a few have been exhibited.
In constructing these works I improvise...period. When I lose my focus - or regain consciousness I stop. In this sense my piano works (blues-phrase deconstructions) and my current object-making are produced from the same process; simple, painless, improvised deconstruction followed by reconstruction. The integrity of the resulting work is a direct ratio of the intensity of focus during production. The open- ended structures which tend to frame these mini-performances are determined responsively and impulsively.
The overall working structure is quite literal:
Gather industrial surplus from the dumpster outside oceanography - deconstruct, reorganize.
Gather already cut bamboo - trim, re-organize
Re-construct using what's in front of me - (no power tools or adhesives)
Apply titles of the weekly oceanography lecture series to the work.
There is no mystery to this procedure. The magic results from the integrity with which the procedure is carried out.
This work responds to the contrast between nature and technology that is so omnipresent on Oahu. Recycled technological fragments are combined with fragments of bamboo...fragments of nature. Each part retains a strong cultural sign which takes on a new significance in its re-combination. I am curious about the way various parts and various layers of meaning interact symbiotically at various levels of synergy. I am curious about the way these objects linger between logic and absurdity and somehow avoid the predictable clash between antithesis (can nature and technology "work" together?) I am curious about the resulting esthetics of ritual implement...of artifactness rather than artness. Still, it is the process of constructing these pieces that excites me.
Two structures assembled from cutural debris; one 6 feet tall and one 3.5 feet. Based on recognition and lament that the analog knob is disappearing from our techno-culture. Maturing during the pioneering days of analog electronic music meant endless hours of gently and precisely tweaking knobs of all types and sizes with a pleasure or distaste determined by the quality of the knob and the potentiometer it was attached to. Now we press expressionless digital buttons. These sculptures afford the participant a variety of tweaking experiences. Some of the knobs and pots are German-made in the 60's, some from classic Fender rock amps, some simply found, and others from the US Military (no expense spared). While a bit tongue-and-cheek and farcical in that the knobs control only themselves, the lack of an electronic response to the tweaking emphasizes the aesthetic of tweaking for tweaking's sake
Guitar recreated from Hagstrom junker.
"Nami" is Japanese for "wave". Rotating speaker constructed from 1966 Baldwin organ parts and lab debris.
Guitar amp/12" speaker, 16" x 20" (60's salon perm-dryer, 60's Sears tube amp)
San Rin Sha
This series of works began with the simultaneous pondering the way we meter time (relative to the millenium's end) and subsequent discovery and aquisition of some old tube-based electronic metronomes that clicked and flashed. They were made in Hartford Connecticut in the early sixties and perhaps the late fifties. I took them apart and reassembled them so they would fit inside units of these sculptural assemblages.
These clean electro-mechanical designs incorporated only one tube run by a small transformer and just a couple capacitors and resistors that caused a neon bulb to blink simultaneously with the activation of a small electro-magnetic solenoid that "tapped" a small metal plate attached to a larger thin sheet of wood/veneer. No actual speaker-type transducer is involved.
The assemblages that were built to house these analogue meters of time evolved from a process of "search and re-stroy" that has become my primary mode of composing. I had skateboards in the stash because they were solicited from my students to mount some 50-pound tube amps onto but I never got to that project.
The ceramic armadillo was a gift about 8 years ago and has been sitting in my office with a set of blinking Christmas lights shoved inside. It is a piggie-bank ("armie-bank"?) so it has the slot-shaped hole in it perfect for the light...as was the hole in the stomach of the Budha-guy (originally for incense?)
The dancing Budha-not-really-a-Budha and the fencing mask are garage sale debris that have been floating around in various personal tableaux for more than a few years.
In short, visual elements of these pieces were determined argely by practical considerations.
While very well crafted, these pieces emit the rawness of step-by-step improvisational construction - as best witnessed by the backs of the boards and the internal layout of electronics components and wiring. For better or worse, I am a sculptor, not an electrical engineer or machinist.
Given the approaching transition between millenniae, and given the indexical richness of possible "readings" of this work due to the unlikely juxtaposition of diverse cultural debris, these works seem to evoke all manner of personal decodings. That's great. As for "the artist's intentions"... it's about time and recycling and recomposing the stuff of life as an improvisational act. What you get is what you see.
Series of 4 self-contained audio/sculpture devices....consisting of a 10w amp, a 30w speaker, and a cd player.
Original installation incorporated 4 mono copies of WAR END PEACE cd, a collection of activist Hawaiian spoken word and music improvs recorded at Mokaki Lounge.... Primary voice is Imaikalani Kalahele.
Note that this is a variable content installation system that could employ other sonic content.
Three Turkeys in NY
Buffalo GoofHaus Clock
Bamboo Mouse Interface
Bamboo Sound System
Toddler Toyz for the Reagan Years
Sculpture at Waters Gallery
Autistic Automoton Armada (in GRID exhibition)
Why Artists Don't Get Bored
!n 1977 I bought a wood frame church built in 1880 about 1 mile from the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Racetrack. I wanted to leave the original feel and have a space for recording, performing, and making sculpture so I built a split level second floor over about 3/4 of the space and left windows to view down below. My wife then, Leslie Altman was a dancer so the 30 x 40 foot dance floor was important too. I built it mostly myself with some help from hired students and Leslie. When I left to come to Hawaii I gave it up to Iris and her mom (via divorce). Iris (daughter) grew up here and put together this set of then/now pictures.