Curated by Astria Suparak
For The Knitting Factory, New York, NY
1999. Tour through 2003.
Sonic Youth and Chris Habib, Christian Marclay, Steina Vasulka, Voice Crack, Barry Schwartz
Breaking records, converting light into sound, making a guitar out of a turntable and a turntable with dry ice… Musical instruments are destroyed and technology is applied in peculiar ways. These are de-compositions made for video by both contemporary and historical figures, with a nod to Jimi Hendrix and the Fluxus movement.
[Editor’s Note: This program was named in consultation with Koen Holtkamp, in homage to Fluxus artist Milan Knížák’s performances and recordings of damaged records (beginning in 1965) and the book of the same name (ed. Ursula Block and Michael Glasmeier, DAAD, 1989).]
Record Players, Christian Marclay (New York, NY), 1984, 4:00 min.
New York multi-media artist and vinyl saboteur Christian Marclay with a group of almost anonymous players including Shelly Silver, Pat Hearn, and Zed using records as instruments.
Piano Piece #13 (For Nam June Paik), Sonic Youth and Chris Habib (New York, NY), 1999, 4:25 min.
S.Y. performs a Fluxus composition by George Maciunas
Violin Power (excerpt), Steina Vasulka (Santa Fe, NM), 1978, 7:10 min.
A “Demo tape on how to play video on the violin” by video pioneer and The Kitchen co-founder, Steina Vasulka.
Ghost (I don’t live today), Christian Marclay (New York, NY), 1985, 4:00 min.
From a performance at the Kitchen made for video in homage to Jimi Hendrix.
I-Beam Music (excerpts), Barry Schwartz and Nicolas Anatol Baginsky (San Francisco, CA and Hamburg, Germany), 1995, 11:30 min.
Schwartz’s work incorporates metal, mechanics, computer-controlled hardware, chemically-reactive agents, high-voltage electricity, and live video feeds. Creating an auto-electronic environment, he stands in fountains and waterfalls of non-conductive fluid manipulating various mechanical devices. The components generate an audible environment through various types of audio transducers and amplification. Listen and look.
Kick That Habit, Voice Crack (Switzerland), 1990, film on video, 43 min.
Swiss electronics duo Voice Crack’s only film, with live footage playing their signature “Cracked Everyday Electronics”. “After years of collaboration, participating in the free music/ free jazz scene on winds, strings, and homemade instruments, the duo of Moslang and Guhl began to move into electronic and synthetic sounds, preferring “the usual and habitual, in everyday utensils from the household, the trades and industry” to commercially built instruments. By the time they recorded the LP Voice Crack, their only instruments were the bits of modern debris that they called “Cracked Everyday Electronics”: electric and electronic second-hand waste material in the form of microphones, record players, toys, tape recorders, radios, and the like.” – Gino Robair
Total running time: 75 minutes
Past versions of this program included:
Ghost, Hanzel + Gretzel, 1998, English spoken, French subtitles, 5:30.
Hanzel + Gretzel’s video music project on techno voyeur Scanner alias Robin Rimbaud, who accesses phone conversations with a scanner to use in his DJ performances and recordings. Scanner defines himself as an ‘electronic flaneur,’ saying, “Human kind is just a 12-inch monitor.”
DJing beforehand by Koen Holtkamp, Chicago-based sound artist.
THE SEATTLE STRANGER:
This selection of experimental shorts lives up to its title right from the get-go with RECORD PLAYERS, which simply depicts a bunch of records being scratched, bent, wobbled, and smashed. Then SONIC YOUTH destroys a piano in PIANO PIECE #3. Other standouts in this program include the elegantly transmuted video work VIOLIN POWER, in which the vibrations of the violin’s strings twist across the screen like a humidity graph or a sine wave. Then there is I-BEAM, a fascinating documentary of a mad performance in some Euro warehouse, in which the musicians play dry ice, aluminum plates, steel beams, and liquid nitrogen…
On the whole, [the program] is strong of theme, and a must for visual music fanatics.
– Jamie Hook, Film Editor, “Broken Music“
THE CHICAGO READER:
New York film curator Astria Suparak assembled this wonderful program of videos on experimental music in which a variety of artists put familiar instruments and objects to unusual uses, showing that the seen world is alive with sonic possibilities.
In CHRISTIAN MARCLAY’s RECORD PLAYERS vinyl records are scratched, rubbed together, broken-everything but played on a turntable-and the forest of sounds beautifully matches the dense images of bodies and discs. The crazed intensity of MARCLAY’s live performances is also captured in GHOST (I Don’t Live for Today), for which he strums a phonograph as if it were a guitar. In KICK THAT HABIT, by the Swiss duo VOICE CRACK, musical images like a bow being applied to a very long string are paired with nonmusical ones like a train or a ski lift, encouraging us to hear everyday sounds as music too. SONIC YOUTH performs a composition by George Maciunas in PIANO PIECE #13 (For Nam June Paik), nailing down the keys of a piano and creating an unusual mix of sounds. In an excerpt from STEINA VASULKA’s VIOLIN POWER, simple violin tones seem to generate wavy alterations in the visuals, heightening our awareness of the vibrations. Some of the excerpts from BARRY SCHWARTZ’s videos and performances seem too brief, but there are still magical moments, such as dry ice causing a metal disk to resonate. It’s a pretty noisy program, but true to the ideas of John Cage, noise is redeemed as music. Chicago sound artist Kean Holtkamp will spin experimental music before the screening, and Suparak will attend.
– Fred Camper, “Critic’s Choice“
PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER:
Visiting curator Astria Suparak presents a 75-minute program of experimental shorts in which various conventional objects are conscripted to make music in unconventional ways. Included: Christian Marclay’s Record Players (1984), in which vinyl records are flapped, slapped and scratched with fingernails; and Piano Piece #13 (1999) in which Sonic Youth make a piano shut up with finishing nails. The bulk of the program is the 43-minute Kick That Habit (1990), in which Swiss electronics duo Voice Crack deploy everyday materials and electronic implements to their own ends. The music is sparse and intriguing, while the camerawork and editing are supremely artful.
– Bill O’Driscoll
April 21, 1999
Pratt Film Series
@ Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY
October 12, 1999
@ The Knitting Factory, New York, NY
December 11, 1999
Verti-Go! Go! WFMU 91.1 FM Benefit
@ Smack Mellon Studios, Dumbo, Brooklyn , NY
March 22, 2000
Eye & Ear Clinic
@ The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Oct 21, 2000
Cinematexas International Short Film + Video Festival,
@ Texas Union, Austin, TX
Nov 4, 2000, 7pm & 9pm
Nov 5, 2000, 3pm
@ The Aurora Picture Show, Houston, TX
April 19, 2001, 7 & 9:30pm
@ The Little Theatre, Seattle, WA
Oct. 3, 2001 (cancelled due to Lux shut down)
@ The Lux Centre, Hoxton Square, East London, UK
Oct. 4, 2001
@ The Cinematheque, Brighton, UK
March 28, 2002, 8pm
@ Echo Park Film Center, 1200 N. Alvarado Street @ Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA
April 24, 2002, 8pm
Black Box Series
@ Argos Arts, Brussels, Belgium
April 28, 2003, 8pm
@ Pittsburgh Filmmakers, Melwood Screening Room, Pittsburgh, PA