Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Wind-up Bird - S/T (Alone, 2002)

The Wind-up Bird, Joseph Grimm, is a contemporary multimedia experimental composer. I know of him thanks to Vincent's Ear (legendary Asheville, NC nightclub, show ca 2002). This is a truly important album in my life, launching an obsessive interest in ambient / drone / experimental A/V hybrids.

His installation concept comes to life before your eyes and ears creating near synesthesia. Swirling sounds of looped violin, guitar and trumpet delicately create drones of beautiful and cinematic melancholy. 16mm projections snake around the room, enhancing the sanctuary that is his ghostly narrative. This music offers passionate and heartbreaking moods unparalleled by most other modern ambient motifs, in a hyper-sensory experience. As striking as it is subtle, the album is high on my list of all time favorites.

His artist statement:

My medium, properly understood, is not objects in space; nor is it light and sound. Instead I interrogate the human body’s psycho-sensory apparatus, exposing its blind spots, glitches, errors. Taking sense experience as my canvas, I make work that exposes the support; I show where the canvas ends. In my recent performance and installation work, I use modified 16mm projectors, sans film. Micro-controllers algorithmically vary the speed of the projectors’ motors. At slow speeds, the shutter’s passing before the bulb generates intense flickering patterns. But as motors accelerate, flickers become so fast that they disappear to the human eye. At this threshold, ephemeral forms with unexpected color and movement are generated by the viewer's body. In certain pieces, I use handmade electronics to translate these shifting light patterns into sound waves which are at times audible, but at other times ultrasonic or infrasonic. Projecting into corners and onto domestic fan blades, I create illusions of dimension and motion that paradoxically negate illusion, prompting the viewer to negotiate a direct, problematized confrontation with space, matter, and time: what you see is not what there is. To encounter an artwork that exists partially beyond sensory thresholds is to face the limits of one’s ability to apprehend the ontologically real. When a phenomenon like sound vibration or flickering light moves back and forth across the border between the perceptible and the imperceptible, the fragility of the body is exposed in its limited ability to know its physical surroundings. Through this experience, I hope viewers will obliquely access the ultimately inaccessible world of things in themselves. I make art that, in Jean-Francois Lyotard's words, "bears witness to the incommensurability between thought and the real world."

More at his Website.

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