When I saw this at Idolator yesterday I knew I had to file it away along with my otherturntables: the artist Simon Elvins has made a turntable entirely out of paper. You have to turn the crank manually to make the record move, and the paper cone serves as both needle and speaker.
City of Sound has a great post up on the work of Len Lye, an experimental film artist working from the 1930s through the 1980s. Rather then doing traditional animation using stop photo techniques, Lye drew, stenciled, or etched directly onto his film.
His 1935 film A Colour Box.... was made by painting vibrant abstract patterns on the film itself, synchronizing them to a popular dance tune by Don Baretto and His Cuban Orchestra. A panel of animation experts convened in 2005 by the Annecy film festival put this film among the top ten most significant works in the history of animation (his later film Free Radicals was also in the top 50).
In Free Radicals [1958, revised 1978] he used black film stock and scratched designs into the emulsion. The result was a dancing pattern of flashing lines and marks, as dramatic as lightning in the night sky.
Here they are together, thanks to youtube:
CoS has one more, Rainbow Dance. Meanwhile here's a third, Swinging the Lambeth Walk (1940):
I posted once before about Mingering Mike, but now that the book is officially on shelves I thought I'd plug it one more time. NPR's Day to Day did a two-part story on Mike: the first part is an interview with the book's author, Dori Hadar; the second is with Mingering Mike himself. It's really great to hear the story told this way; for one, you get to hear some of the actual songs in the background, plus this is the first time I've heard the story from Mike's mouth.
But of course the best way to get the full story—and to see all the great artwork—is to buy the book. I was the book's editor, so I've read it just shy of 183 times, but I can tell you that the more time you spend with the story and looking at all the details on the album art, the more endearing the whole thing becomes.
Last year was our first chance to check out High Desert Test Sites since moving to Los Angeles, and it's coming around again May 12–13. My brilliant wife and I had a great time, even if we spent more time in the car than seeing the art, and when we did see the art, guess what—it was hot outside! But it was fun nevertheless, the community spirit of it all. Strangely enough the highlight was doing laughter yoga with a bunch of art snobs. It was a nexus of lame cliches somehow coalescing into a lot of fun. It was almost like we were initiated into California once and for all.
HDTS, if you don't know, is put on once a year in Joshua Tree and Andrea Zittel is one of the organizers. One of the best parts of HDTS is that you get to roam around her property—and if you know anything about her work, you know that that is her work. Her show, currently up at MOCA, is terrific; but it's even better in person.
Last year involved something like twenty or thirty artists or groups, spread miles apart. We therefore missed most of it because we tried to cram it into one day. This year purports to be "more like the early days," with fewer artists (including Zittel, Ann Magnuson, and David Shrigley, among others). Check the site for more details. If you're in Southern California then you should make the trip. For the art, for the fun, for the outdoors, for the sake of getting out of town for a day or two.
And if you're thinking about traveling anywhere else—really, anywhere else—you may do well to check in and see if she's got some suggestions for you. Croatia? India? Kentucky? Madrid? Seriously, she has some suggestions for you.
Aside from Mingering Mike, the other bit of turntable-related posting I’ve been meaning to do concerns Sean Duffy. Back in November I did a post about one of Duffy’s pieces (above left), which as you can see is a turntable with three tone-arms. In that post I mentioned Janek Schaeffer, who has also been using tri-tone arm turntables for ten years now. Here’s the relevant bits:
…I hope Duffy [is] familiar with Janek Schaefer, a sound artist/DJ who has been using a Tri-Phonic Turntable (above right) since 1997. Two of the tone arms on Schaefer's turntable face one direction and the third plays in reverse; he can also reverse the direction of the turntable itself and therefore invert the 2:1. What's more, he can stack records on top of each other, playing three records simultaneously on one turntable.… I'm not familiar with Duffy's work, and a cursory google seems to point to many other projects (turntable-related and not), but this one, at least, has been done (and better). Duffy's looks better, but on a purely functional level Schaefer's is far more interesting.
Well, two months after that post, Duffy came across it and he emailed me. With his permission—myself two months late!—here is his response:
Yes, I know who Janek Schaefer is. I discovered his work a year or so after I made my first turntable in 1999. Although I've never see it in person, it looks interesting. And I agree his work is definitely more functional and mine looks better.
I don't know who else knows about Schaefer but it seems like every time I show one of my turntables someone brings up a different person whose done something along these lines. Maybe it'll become a movement all it's own.
Well, I’ve now made three posts about turntable art—so you may be right! I hadn’t realized that Duffy had been making his turntable pieces for such a long time. And we both agree the purpose of Duffy’s work is very different from that of Schaefer. Duffy also pointed out an error in my post: just because one of Schaefer’s tone arms is reversed does not mean that the sound comes out reversed. My mistake. And that wasn't all! He continued to school me.
The multi-tone-armed turntable goes back to the 1940s when people would put extra tone-arms on their turntables for different cartridges (78, mono and later stereo). Most radio stations had them and some companies manufactured them. Actually most audiophile turntable made today are set up to use more than one tone-arm. I first played with one of these machines in the 1980s.
Here are a couple of photographs of these turntables.
Duffy pointed also pointed me to this website. Thanks Sean for the response. Those of you in Arizona can see Duffy's installation, The Grove, on view at the ASU Nelson Fine Arts Center beginning June 2.
Lately I've encountered a lot of turntable and record–related art. I'd been meaning to post about a couple things but have been procrastinating. But I keep seeing more and more turntables! So today's the day: here's the first of two posts. [Update: second post here.]
The newly redesigned Art Fag City pointed me to the above piece (via vvork) by Kim Tae Eun, entitled Circle Drawing (2006). The crank in the middle of the table is connected only to the right-hand turntable. Turning the crank makes the pen/“needle” draw circles on the rotating paper, creating “grooves” on the paper. The left-hand turntable is there because… I don’t know why the left-hand turntable is there. According to the artist’s statement, there is no actual sound associated with the piece, so I guess the left-hand turntable is there for symbolic value. The piece is visually interesting but I wish there was a relationship between the drawing and the sound. As it is I'm not sure if there's much depth to it.
If you want to see some records with drawn-in grooves that do have depth—or at least a story with a lot of heart—you may want to check out the book Mingering Mike, which will be published next month. (Full disclosure: I was involved in the making of this book.) Mike spent about ten years of his life during the 1960s and 70s imagining himself to be on a par with James Brown, Marvin Gaye, etc. He and his cousin would write and record songs on their boom box, then Mike would create the album artwork. His level of detail was sick: he’d make a full-color gatefold sleeve, with lyrics, thank-yous, liner notes, catalog numbers, and much more. He would take the shrinkwrap from other albums and put it over his so that they’d feel like they came straight from the store. He made actual “records,” also out of cardboard, to fit inside—and he would draw in the grooves, in correspondence with the length of the songs! And he did this over about ten years, from his mid-teens to early twenties. Here are a few:
There’s a whole long story behind it all, including when Mike dodged the draft (yet never left Washington D.C.), plus a ton of albums (with details) in the book, which comes out in early May from Princeton Architectural Press.
Archlog points to this map of the world as floor plan. The map was done by Louisa Bufardeci, who has some other great works at her site. Another map-inspired piece is Governing Values, from 2004. The maps are created by substituting longitude and latitude with the x and y axes of statistical data.
Check out her site for a more detailed explanation, more maps, and other works.
In the wake of a drastic economic collapse in 2001, in which Argentina’s currency was devalued and prices for nearly everything skyrocketed, paper became a luxury many publishers could not afford. Enter Eloísa Cartonera, a small press based in Buenos Aires comprised of a handful of artists. They’ve published more than fifty books, available in stores throughout the country, with interior pages simply Xeroxed, then hand-bound between covers made from cardboard (a cartonero is someone who scavenges cardboard to sell for cash). Each cover is hand-stenciled and drawn, making every single copy a unique object in itself.
Other Latin American publishers are apparently following Eloísa Cartonera’s lead as cardboard books have begun sprouting up all over the region. A little more information can be found in this article from Arizona State University, which recently had a small exhibition of the books.