Please Mister Please

Friday 19 March 2010

Big Star, “I Will Always Love You” (1975).
(3’42”, 5.08 MB, mp3)

Link fixed now.

A roundabout way of debating whether or not to pay £10 to see a performance of Monotone Symphony next week

Thursday 18 March 2010

Via, Google Street View of the street where Yves Klein “actually leapt into space one morning in 1960”. Fun fact I didn’t know: the famous photograph inspired Paul McCarthy to throw himself out of a window at art school.

I hadn’t seen the photograph, so I jumped out feet first,” McCarthy says. “In the late ’60s when I see the image of him diving, I am shocked and I think, ‘Oh god, mine is so pathetic.’ And then, years later, it comes out that the photograph is a fake. That’s what’s so great.”

Once again, I’m back onto the ideas of radical amateurism and the desirability of distortion. I can’t find the references now, so I won’t mention the story of Nam June Paik being annoyed when Joseph Byrd performed Paik’s composition Playing Music (the piece which instructs the performer to make a 10cm cut in their forearm) because, as the instigator, he then felt obliged to perform the piece himself.

Instead, I’ll mention the time I visted the Louisiana Museum and saw a small group of little kids on the floor, clustered around one of the Yves Klein Anthropométries, painstakingly drawing copies, reproducting exactly each stray fleck of paint with coloured pencils and sheets of paper.

The Nostalgia File

Monday 15 March 2010

This was inevitable. I’ve been trying to find some of my old recordings to re-edit and pass off as new recordings for someone’s project. Of course, those recordings aren’t where I thought they were and now I can’t find them. Also of course, I’ve turned up a bunch of other old stuff instead, which I’d forgotten I had.

And so I’ve spent the evening listening to music with which I’m completely unfamiliar, even though I made it myself. It’s mostly stuff I obviously had no intention of using for “end product” at the time yet, compulsive hoarder that I am, set aside for possible future salvage. Usually this activity is about as optimistic as saving a small bowl of leftovers in the fridge, but in this case it turns out I may not have been quite as dumb as usual.

There is, as I hoped at the time, some stuff in here that interests me which I couldn’t hear when it was made, because I was too close to the process. At that stage of recording I was looking for a certain set of sounds, and I had to shut out everything that wasn’t relevant to my immediate goal – whether it was “interesting” or not – lest I get hopelessly lost amongst all these distracting details. I don’t need distractions; I can wander off-topic all by myself.

This experience has reinforced some ideas I’ve been clarifying in my mind for a while, about my relationship to my music. There should be some posts about these ideas soon, and some uploads of the salvaged tracks.

Please Mister Please

Sunday 7 March 2010

The Dixie Cups, Two-Way-Poc-A-Way” (1965).
(2’42”, 2.46 MB, mp3)

Filler By Proxy LXXVIII: We connect August Strindberg with John Cage

Sunday 7 March 2010

Few outside of Sweden know that the playwright August Strindberg had periods of intense engagement with painting and photography in the 1890s, when his literary creativity had reached a deadlock. In an essay from 1894 called “Chance in Artistic Creation,” he describes the methods that he employs, speaking about his wish to “imitate […] nature’s way of creating.”* …

Strindberg distrusted camera lenses, since he considered them to give a distorted representation of reality. Over the years he built several simple lens-less cameras made from cigar boxes or similar containers with a cardboard front in which he had used a needle to prick a minute hole. But the celestographs were produced by an even more direct method using neither lens nor camera. The experiments involved quite simply placing his photographic plates on a window sill or perhaps directly on the ground (sometimes, he tells us, already lying in the developing bath) and letting them be exposed to the starry sky.

More about Strindberg’s Celestographs can be found at Cabinet, along with a translation of “On Chance in Artistic Creation“. (Found via

* A quote remarkably similar to John Cage’s “The function of Art is to imitate Nature in her manner of operation,” a thought to which he returned throughout his later life. Cage got this idea from reading Ananda Coomaraswamy’s The Transformation of Nature in Art. I don’t remember Cage making any references to Strindberg, and I don’t know how far east Strindberg extended his interest in exotic forms of spirituality.