Tuesday, February 26, 2013

"A Hellish Sensorium"

Andy Warhol.
The Velvet Underground.

Exploding Plastic Inevitable.

Andy Warhol collaborates with the electronic, intermedia Velvet Underground and German model, singer Nico to create a show that influences late 60's media culture drastically. 
The performance travels for a year after police interventions, unhappy audiences, and tragic mishaps like the suicide of the lighting designer.

EPI was a transformation from Andy Warhol's original idea, Up Tight,  which was a showing of some of his films at the New York Society for Clinical Psychiatry. As the reels were rolling a filmmaker used flood lights and shoving cameras in people faces to record reactions from audience members as they were asked "blunt and embarrassing sexual questions."

Warhol's desire to push his ideas so far that they become their own type of mainstream brought him to working with Velvet Underground and Nico in expanding this performance.  Many more artists assisted with lights, dancing, and advertising of the show. Eventually the show became: Velvet Underground playing a set, large speakers all around the room blaring different pop music, Nico performing, different colored lights flashing, dancers dancing around showing hall's space (this is how the audience participated) and, of course, showing reels of 3-5 of Warhol's films simultaneously all around the performance space.(drugs). Shadows being casted onto the film and distorting the images with the human form was an important element to the event as it went along with the live performance aspect of it. It is a multimedia party. 
McLuhan ate this idea up. The social rebellion, abnormal music/sounds, and multiple focal points (the films along with the performers) create an artwork that conforms to McLuhan's ideas of the 'antisocial' groups. The 'amateurs' that should be rewarded for their raw/original ideas and for lacking the training provided in order to be a 'professional.'

Joseph, Branden W. ""My Mind Split Open": Andy Warhol's Exploding Plastic Inevitable." Grey Room. 08. (2002): 80-107. Print.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sounds and Sounds

Making this song was rather enjoyable and musically stimulating. I was able to play around with songs I was fond of when I played piano years ago.  I included the song "Tides" that I wrote when I was 16 years old and "Pretty Women" in C major by Stephen Sondheim. During "Tides," I began improvising with the style and chord progressions of "Tides". It is almost entirely played on the black keys of the piano, just as "Pretty Women" is entirely on the white keys except for one F-Sharp.   Everything I recorded I played without being able to hear what I was playing.  I did not edit for mistakes, nor did I record more than once.  I left the mistakes because they did not harm the intention of the music, disregarded accuracy, and added a bit of surprise.  In McLuhan's book he mentions precision. "'Precision' is sacrificed for a greater degree of suggestion." I decided to sacrifice my accuracy in my playing when I chose to use only my visual senses to record the piano music. When I was recording the voice parts I only recorded each part once.  Singing is never a medium I have used in making music, so this song displays my musical amateurism and professionalism (the piano). McLuhan may not have agreed with this tactic of using visuals to make the song, but the music I made can still "fill the air."

Mcluhan, Marshall Mcluhan. 

He discusses how people are quite reliant on their vision and less likely to trust what they hear. He even extrapolates this to as why we refer to wise men as "visionaries." As I chose to rely solely on my vision to create the piano pieces of my songs, it was to affirm and support the contention that human's rely heavily on their vision for everyday expressions, explaining what we hear, and for ways of life in general.  Why have the use of our eyes and neglect to use them their full use? This does not mean we are neglecting the use of our hearing at all. It is all in all much more pleasant when our senses collaborate. 

Youtube insisted I pair an image or video with my audio upload, so I chose to do so.  I picked an etching by K├Ąthe Kollwitz called "Death and the Woman."   I chose this image because it shows a lot of movement and a woman's dance with death and a child. The song has somewhat of a somber, struggling tone and the image portrays similar feelings. The ambient noises of rain and thunder fit the stereotypical gloom and doom paired with death, especially in seeing someone fight with it so dramatically as the woman does. 

(This is an edited version of the song) "Pretty Women Guitar Tides"

Although I already used multi-track recording fairly heavily in my original piece, I chose to get a bit ridiculous with it and add some guitars and snare drums (to replace the bongos).  The photo of Hitler blindfolded being danced around by nymphs was sent to me by a friend (it can be found on sites such as Reddit.com). The content of the photo is a bit comical yet annoying, just like the guitars in the song. The drums also give the song a more militaristic feel fitting with the subject of the photo. The style of singing juxtaposes the mood overall in the photo.  The line "pretty women dancing" sounds dreary and almost like the singer is about to cry, but the women are enjoying themselves and are quite playful. I enjoyed this juxtaposition. 

McLuhan would not have agreed with me pairing my songs to a photograph, because then they become short films, maybe? Cage's focus on sounds that humans make as music paired trumps McLuhan's  contentions that most humans basically depend  on visual stimuli and references to get through life.