Archive of posts tagged with "art"

April 13th, 2010

Paper Like Skin


Dr. Lakra in his studio — photo by Daniel Hernandez

I’ll be playing some music tonight at the Good Life, from 9-11, as part of the afterparty of the opening of a new exhibition at the Boston ICA, the first US solo show of the work of Dr. Lakra. A tattoo artist who goes well beyond the canvas of skin, recently extending to vintage pin-ups among other pregnant texts, Lakra’s work is really interesting and provocative, gathering influences and styles from all over, and I’ll be doing my bestest to offer something in the way of sonic counterpoint. (Smearing guacharacas on unlikely audio partners seems one possible route, but I’ll take less obvious paths too.)

To learn more about Lakra, check out this profile of the artist by the prolific Daniel Hernandez. Here’s a quick pull:

“It is particularly fascinating that Dr. Lakra began his career as a tattooist and treats paper like skin,” says Friedhelm Hütte, the [Deutsche] bank’s Global Head of Art. “He makes use of images from popular culture in a very unique way, combining Appropration Art with folk elements. By ‘tattooing’ and overpainting 1950s glamour photos and nostalgic postcards, Dr. Lakra transforms them into bizarre studies of beauty, Eros, and transience.”

Indeed, at the core of his output lies the concept that any surface-literally, any at all-can be tattooed. Which is precisely what he does: on dolls, on coffee cups, on vintage magazines and posters that he digs up at flea markets, on any “skin” of his choosing. The result is what Mexican art theorist and longtime friend of Dr. Lakra, Mariana Botey, calls “displacing meaning in the chain of industrial cultural production.”

“Lakra has a very sophisticated understanding of popular culture,” Botey says. “In particular with certain kinds of low culture, where issues of taste are marking an interesting class subaltern structure. So there is a kind of logic in his work that makes him one of the best in the genre.”

In other words, as Lakra himself puts it, “low” vintage pin-ups and advertisements become altered time warps under his tattoo gun and border on the “high.”

“It’s the transformation of the object,” the artist says. “It is something that someone for whatever reasons considered valuable, or wanted to save. So the person saves it, archives it, and it acquires this other value.”

The ICA show runs from April 14 to September 6. The Good Life jam tonight is open to the public. Come on out & tattoo the floors with your feet.

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June 1st, 2009

ART

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May 19th, 2009

Seeding the Sound Cloud

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all the soundscape recordings people have made and are making — from soundwalks, to radio captures, to ambiences — were available as GPS-pegged audiostreams that could be accessed, say, on one’s phone, a la the “locative art” in Gibson’s Spook Country?

A step further (if away from the curatorial), the right software application, given a decent pool of geo-tagged audio files, could offer quite a realtime collage of places’ past soundscapes. Assuming, that is, that this is something one would want to do: to listen in/to two (or more) moments at once.

I think I would. I’ve attempted similar exercises, seen.

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Anyone working on this? Or some piece of such a project?

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March 5th, 2009

Music Unites Us, Gets Under Our Skins

I couldn’t be more thrilled to announce this —

At a time when the arts community at Brandeis is feeling rightly beleaguered, it brings me no little satisfaction to know that we will be putting on a rather art-ful residency later this month, sponsoring the US premiere of such an exciting, provocative, and relevant group as Nettle. It brings added satisfaction that we’ve been able to pull this off at all, especially since we thought we had to call it off back in October. We have some dedicated fundraisers and generous donors to thank for that.

For those who don’t know, Nettle is the brainchild of Jace Clayton (aka DJ /Rupture), someone who is no stranger to readers of this blog. He started the group when living as an ex-pat in Barcelona along with several other ex-pats (from Scotland & Morocco), all of them speaking second or third languages in order to converse with each other. There’s a lot to like about the group, starting with their unique sound but branching out into the myriad questions their collaboration seems to pose about cultural & social life in our contemporary, globalized cities.

Jace has quite a way with words, though, so I’ll let him tell you more himself (via) —

Nettle originated in my fascination with the concept of an album heavily influenced by Middle Eastern ideas, but not necessarily at the audible level. I was unsatisfied with the narrative poles of electronic music — loop-based dance pieces or abstract/ambient pieces without storytelling force. A suite of rigorous modal improvisation in Arabic music called taqasims offered the solution: I knew and loved their internal play between free-flowing improv and strict technical guidelines. I spent a year or two translating these ideas into pieces for samplers and laptop. Two albums later I still wasn’t satisfied: one-way cultural flows aren’t good enough. I wanted community, two-way translations, the squeal of a feedback loop.

Earlier this year I was commissioned by a British arts council to transform Nettle into a proper live ensemble. Violin, oud, percussion, electronics, realtime sampling. I’d been involved in Barcelona’s Moroccan music community for a while, but the Nettle project has upped the intensity of collaboration. A few days ago, Nettle’s violin and oud player, Abdelaziz Hak, brought up taqasims to explain his response to a beat I’d prepared for him.

I broke into a silly grin.

This is working. We’re starting to get under each other’s skin.

When I met Judy Eissenberg last year and she told me about the MusicUnitesUS program & how she was inspired to start it in the wake of 9/11 as a way of embracing and exploring cultural difference, I almost immediately thought of Nettle.

Whereas MUUS residencies in the past have offered an opportunity for intercultural exchange, bringing representatives of some ‘non-Western’ society to share their traditions with the Brandeis community, what is wonderful about Nettle is that the group already embodies that process of encounter and exchange. What especially attracts me to the group’s sound and spirit is their eschewal of easy fusion cliches, choosing instead to embrace moments where they “get under each other’s skin,” as Jace puts it.

Electronic beats rumbling beneath folk and pop idioms from North Africa and avant-garde cello, Nettle represents the sound of New Spain, but they also, to my ears anyhow, offer pregnant musical metaphors for our ‘Nu World,’ to put a zeitgeisty spin on it: they seem to revel in the cultural ruptures — and spaces — created by today’s rapid circulation of people and media, in which some things have an easier time crossing borders than others. (On that point, INSHALLAH that Abdel & Khalid don’t get tripped up by customs agents, even in the age of Obama.)

I’m further delighted to report that Nettle will be joined by their occasional percussionist (aka Filastine!) and visual artist Daniel Perlin (aka DJ N-RON!) who will be providing realtime visual accompaniment. It’s gonna be quite a show.

If you’re in the Boston area (or not!), you’re welcome to attend any of the on-campus events, which, aside from the concert Saturday night, are all free and open to the public. I expect tickets for the concert to go quickly, so you may want to snap some up ASAP. I’ll be giving a brief talk in the Rose Art Museum directly prior to the concert, exploring the ways music expresses selfhood and neighborhood in our globalized, if perhaps not quite (yet?) cosmopolitan, cities.

Hope you can join us!

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December 7th, 2008

Frass Tea

  • "what i want to do by writing the names of anything connected with the 2.0 life we are living in the slums of the third world is to point out the gap between the reality we still live in and the ephemeral world of technologies."
  • ethan z offers some thoughts on the importance of "bridgebloggers" and "xenophiles" (as opposed to, as ethan often considers, homophiles) :: 'It’s been a challenge for me to define xenophiles as a category without falling victim to definitions that are trivial or superficial. It’s easy to dismiss the idea by suggesting that everyone who eats sushi and listens to world music is – or considers herself to be – a xenophile. Too loose a definition and “xenophile” ends up sounding like a synonym for “liberal”, “multicultural or even “politically correct”, which isn’t what I’m intending. Xenophilia is about connecting with people, not with cultural artifacts or other things. Liking Japanese food or Senegalese hiphop doesn’t make you a xenophile – xenophilia is about making connections across language and cultural barriers motivated by your interest in making better sushi or translating Daara J lyrics.'
  • on the ghanaian "invasion" of nollywood in the wake of the global financial crisis (h/t rachel) :: "In Nollywood, money is everything just like in any other show business. Nigerian marketers hold the ace because they fund most movie projects. Long before the global cash crunch became pronounced, Nollywood has been experiencing it own kind of cash crunch. Money has been scarce. And that is why it is real hard today to find a blockbuster movie featuring as many as four to five A-list artists in Nigeria."

videyoga ::

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November 21st, 2008

Skin Care Adventure

  • Mark Anthony Neal — 'Never before has a First Lady's body been subject to the amount of scrutiny and surveillance as is the case with Michelle Obama; she has been rhetorically poked, prodded and groped. Many would have found such a line of coverage unfathomable and even offensive if applied to women like Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, or Roselyn Carter, as was rightfully the case with depictions of Sarah Palin as the Vice-Presidential "MILF." … Underlying this notion of "realness" that Michelle Obama embodies are notions of accessibility and availability. If there is anything that the history of black women in this country should teach us, is that the idea that black women's bodies were accessible and available to any–and all–concretely frames our understandings of black women's histories whether it be the spectacle of the "Hottentot Venus" (Saartjie Baartman), the tragedy of Crystal Mangum or the nameless and faceless victims of sexual violence and rape.'
  • this happened — 'The largest of these exhibits [at the 1904 St.Louis World's Fair] was the Philippine village, a 47-acre site that for seven months in 1904 became home to more than 1,000 Filipinos from at least 10 different ethnic groups. The biggest crowd-drawers were the so-called primitive tribes — especially the Igorots, whose appeal lay in their custom of eating dog.'
  • "NYAHBINGHY ORDER IS THE ORDER OF THE DAY RAS TAFARI IS LIFE REGGAY IS DEATH" :: bobo dreads explain why reggae is too enmeshed in babylon / "the world" for true/turbaned rastas to participate :: some thoughts about reggae — "satan music that" "reggae more bring crime and violence" "music is food for the soul, but which music … man say you have a right music and a wrong music" "reggae promote sex and oralism" "it water down and a turn streggae" "it's distracting to the nation … it elevate the rest of the nation, the indians, the chinese" "death music" "reggae is satanism" "it nuh teach no one nothing" "reggae could only provide the material thing" "bun reggae"
  • interesting reasoning about 'interesting reasoning about reggae by bobo ashanti' — including some discussion of racism in partic rastafari mansions :: plus, this interesting bit at the end — 'As is pointed out in the comments of the Bobo interviewed at Bull Bay, even if you are a very true and good Rastafarian, and your lyrics are very true and spiritual, if you are involved in the Reggae industry you will have to compromise your livity at some point. … That doesn't mean that for many of us the Roots/Rastafarian side of the music isn't an inspiration and a positive thing in our lives still. Just have to be honest about it, coz even then, of course it is not a pure thing untainted by "Babylon".'
  • radiolab is back, with an episode on choice :: can't wait to listen, but i can't decide when/where would be best (thx again, forestfruits)
  • on the use of music as torture by the US military — and more banally by the author & his mom (h/t forestfruits)
  • fascinating profile of a fascinating thinker re: culture & ownership, gifts and value (thx, dominic) :: (non)money quote — 'The literature on gift exchange — tales, for example, of South Sea tribesman circulating shells and necklaces in a slow-moving, broad circle around the Trobriand Islands — gave him the conceptual tool he needed to understand his predicament, which was, he came to believe, the predicament of all artists living “in an age whose values are market values and whose commerce consists almost exclusively in the purchase and sale of commodities.” For centuries people have been speaking of talent and inspiration as gifts; Hyde’s basic argument was that this language must extend to the products of talent and inspiration too. Unlike a commodity, whose value begins to decline the moment it changes hands, an artwork gains in value from the act of being circulated—published, shown, written about, passed from generation to generation — from being, at its core, an offering.'

videyoga ::

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November 9th, 2008

Babylon Spit Shine

c/o Ivanna B (aka DJ Philomena), one of my fave “local” DJs / dancers / artists / people, don’t miss this month’s stateside / tri-city showing (NYC, Boston, Providence) of politically & culturally charged art (drawings, prints, sculptures, photographs, mixed media, video and more!) from Chile & Argentina —

more info:
www.glaciersofnice.com/labestia/
escupidodelapanza@gmail.com

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November 2nd, 2008

Palingenetic Ultranationalism

videyoga :: (h/t kevin)

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October 24th, 2008

Vulture Shark Sculpture Park*



A few weekends ago, me & B & the Neeks visited the Decordova Museum in nearby Lincoln, MA. It’s a favorite spot of ours for taking a stroll or having a picnic, and we were gassed to bring Nico to a place filled with such marvels.

I was pretty amused, actually, by her bemused reactions to things like giant concrete cats, and it made me wonder how she assimilates stuff like that into her consciousness right now. I mean, she’s only been to so many parks at this point, and she must be trying to figure out — if only subliminally — how often she should expect them to be filled with giant sculptures of every conceivable make and medium. It’s not going to be the same (relatively high) proportion that it is at this point, I’m sorry to say.

Anyway, on the crisp, sunny autumn day we visited the park, lots of the pieces were quite captivating (and I snapped shots of several), but one piece stood out as absolutely stunning: Pine Sharks by Kitty Wales. The shot above captures the three figures together, floating in the pines; the three below offer some details and different angles —






* the title of this post comes from prolly the most self-referential MC Paul Barman track title I could possibly imagine — sums up his style in six simple syllables

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October 21st, 2008

Flee Market

  • o u mad? :: tight-pants wearers of the world, unite!
  • 'It is a well-attested fact that one day, usually between six and eighteen months, a child that has not been able to recognise its image reflected in a mirror will abruptly recognise itself and express jubilation. The child’s delight in taking this for itself is in part caused by the image having an apparent unity and coherence which the child has thus far failed to achieve – the image is therefore an anticipation of what it will become, an ego which is constituted as “another”. … The image in the mirror provides a compensation for the loss of this original unity but is in itself a misrecognition (méconnaissance) since the image is always only a specular image. Taking such an image into ourselves is, however, necessary for the formation of our ego, our sense of self, but it will also leave us with a sense of lack (la manque) since the image is never anything other than a sign or symbol, not the real in itself. … This process of misrecognition inaugurates “the Imaginary”. '
  • "A piece of art by Damien Hirst has set the new record for a single item at auction. The piece entitled ‘Oh Shit’ fetched £2.3bn after frantic bidding by an anonymous investor. The work, which features a Merrill Lynch employee suspended in a tank of formaldehyde secured the highest price yet paid for a single piece of banking history."
  • steven pinker on colorful, regulated language: "….over time, taboo words relinquish their literal meanings and retain only a coloring of emotion, and then just an ability to arouse attention. This progression explains why many speakers are unaware that sucker, sucks, bites, and blows originally referred to fellatio, or that a jerk was a masturbator. It explains why Close the fucking door, What the fuck?, Holy Fuck!, and Fuck you! violate all rules of English syntax and semantics—they presumably replaced Close the damned door, What in Hell?, Holy Mary!, and Damn you! when religious profanity lost its zing and new words had to be recruited to wake listeners up."
  • more bean research, in audio form! :: "Boston is one of those east coast cities that's a bit of an enigma. Although it's not far from the epicenter of New York, Beantown isn't known nationally for its hip hop scene. Of course there are a few notable exceptions but the hip hop output of the city was mostly distributed and recognized locally. After a few years of searching earnestly, my boston collection is modest at best. Nonetheless, there are some amazing gems and I want to share them here. Here are a couple boston compilations I put together."

videyoga :: compin’ w/ sarah edition!

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October 2nd, 2008

Pimp My Piragua

El Ganso Gris has a nice lil piece today (w/ video!) about Miguel Luciano‘s “Pimp My Piragua” project.

I’ve talked about Miguel’s work here before. It’s stunning stuff, and I’m thrilled to report that a shot from his “Pure Plantainum” series is gonna grace the cover of our reggaeton book (due out this spring!)!

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Wayne&Wax

I'm a techno-musicologist, internet annotator, imagined community organizer.

I left my <3 in the digital global, but I reside in Cambridge, MA, where I'm from.

I represent like that.

wayne at wayneandwax dot com

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