On artistic supercession

Thursday, 30 July 2015

On Tuesday, July 28, I gave a lecture on Aesthetics and Cultural Bias to a Cultural Anthropology class being taught by a friend of mine at the local community college. I decided against publishing the full lecture, as it is kind of an amateurish work on the whole. To give a synopsis: it calls out cultural pre-conceptions about art as having a white male bias, discusses aesthetics from a perspective hostile to dualism (Kant / Hegel), criticizes Capitalism as a dominant force in culture, discusses objecthood and fuzziness in terms of framing & the White Cube, discusses aesthetic arrest & the illusion of separation… all in the course of an hour. Yeesh. TOO MANIC. You shouldn’t wonder why I don’t want to share it.

At any rate, I finished the talk with a discussion of the Restoration of Ecce Homo by Cecilia Gimenez. In case you don’t recall, it looks a little something like this:



The talk pointed out the ethnocentrism inherent in the wide, public response to the work, seen in news reports and funny internet memes. One of the questions in the discussion led to some further thoughts, which I do think might be worth consideration (maybe because this is less scatterbrained than the whole lecture??)

This was sent as an email to the professors in charge of this class on the evening of July 30.

I’ve had some further thoughts on the discussion in class that followed my lecture on aesthetics and cultural bias. I was impressed that the discussion brought out a good deal of the complexity of the issues surrounding the restoration of Ecce Homo by Cecilia Gimenez. My prepared remarks covered primarily the implications of the judgments of whether the piece was “good” (a moral judgment) or not from a standpoint of whether or not it met cultural ideals of beauty, and also the fascinating phenomenon of the public shaming of Gimenez for not meeting those ideals (ideals which, I pointed out, are arbitrary and are used by the elite to exert influence over culture.)

The discussion, however, raised another very important aspect, and that is the act of superceding the previously existing artwork, and how one is to view that act from an ethical or even moral stance. Supercession, in art, results in a complete or near complete erasing of the previously existing work, as opposed to an appropriation wherein a previously existing work is incorporated into a new one and, in the process, given a new context, (an artistic tactic that is made easier and therefore more common in the recent age of mechanical reproduction.)

Supercession is another form of transformation in art, albeit a very severe one. Art has a long history of this, taking many guises. These supercessions can be interpreted as benevolent such as the friendly erasing of a De Kooning drawing by Robert Rauschenberg,
or malevolent, as in the case of the Taliban or Isis destroying historically significant artworks and monuments,
or ambiguous as in the non-consensual (usually due to the original artist’s death) erasing of previously existing frescos and murals (a practice which is most certainly not isolated to the case of Ms. Gimenez’ restoration – in fact much has been learned, both artistically and anthropologically, by X-Ray analyses of previously existing frescos that changed radically in form over the centuries, like peeling back layers of previously laid wallpaper in an old house.) I might even describe street art / graffiti as a kind of supercession: a safely ambiguous space, free of meaning, is superceded by filling the space with imagery that often aggressively demands a response. These street murals are quickly superceded again and again by new works. This is certainly rebellious, and a “loss of control” as I pointed out in my lecture, but is it “bad”?


How one may interpret artistic supercession as “good” or “bad” on a moral or ethical scale depends a great deal on one’s views about ownership (to possess an object) and legacy (the perceived ability to have one’s memory endure in perpetuity, to gain “eternal life”). As a budding Marxist who has been enculturated into and currently operates in this hyper-Capitalist society, I can say my opinion is, at best, mixed. Intellectually, I understand that one can never truly own something, and that every remark and action is ultimately forgotten, and every object returns to dust… but emotionally I do still feel a stir at imagining my own work destroyed by someone.

On the other hand, (intellectually again) I think that the pursuit of legacy is ultimately ego driven, and may even be an expression of territorialism. In my view, any moral or ethical consideration must heavily weigh the context. The context in Gimenez’ case is complex and muddled by the fact that much of what we know about the case comes from reactions after the fact of public shaming, when one can assume that people’s attitudes have been reformed in the flames of ridicule. I would certainly like to know what the church community thought about the work before the internet-empowered public found out about it, that seems to be one key missing piece of information in making any kind of moral or ethical determination. At this time all we really know about it is that her intentions were not malicious, they were in keeping with the values of that community. Given that and the history of remaking religious artworks to update them when old symbology no longer is appropriate, I would be inclined to issue a judgment of “good”, while still acknowledging that I am not really a member of that community and so it is not for me to make that judgment.


Conversation about 4’33”

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Email from LibriVox Reader

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

When you use public domain (and CC) recordings to make your music, sometimes you get nice emails from the people you sample!





I used Michael Westra’s voice on the track “Fast Hands” from my album Awkward Hugs on the BumpFoot netlabel. You can find that work here:
https://archive.org/details/foot229

His reading from “Complete Hypnosis” can be found on LibriVox here:
https://librivox.org/complete-hypnotism-by-a-alpheus/


Fan art

Friday, 8 May 2015

Little David Porter (16, Portland, Oregon) sent in this cool fan art:



That’s cool David!
Look for your free subscription to Boy’s NoiseLife to start arriving soon!


Two new compilations

Sunday, 3 May 2015

I have tracks on two cool new comps.

One is put together by Tom Ellard, re-igniting his old Terse Tapes imprint.

It’s called Oompa Loopma Riot, named after a riot at a darts competition.



I rather like my track on that one, hope you do too!


I also have a track on this compilation of Taylor Swift cover versions. Yes for real.

SwiftNoise




diggum


Noise / Drone jam April 25, 2015

Saturday, 25 April 2015


Who comes up with these sounds, I wonder?

Saturday, 14 February 2015

The second feature was a fairly normal sex flick, which meant it was even more boring than the first. It had lots of oral sex scenes, and every time they started doing fellatio or cunnilingus or sixty-nine the soundtrack would fill the theater with loud sucking or slurping sound effects. Listening to them, I felt strangely moved to think that I was living out my life on this odd planet of ours. “Who comes up with these sounds, I wonder,” I said to Midori. “I think they’re great!” she said. There was also a sound for a penis moving back and forth in a vagina. I had never realized that such sounds even existed. The man was into a lot of heavy breathing.


– Haruki Murakami – “Norwegian Wood”


Review in Avant Music News

Saturday, 7 February 2015
    Not Subliminal

was reviewed in Avant Music News.

Daniel Barbiero writes:

C. Reider’s Not Subliminal, a collection of five mostly real-time improvisations for multiple cassette decks, is an essay in post-acousmatic sound art carrying echoes of an age of mechanical reproduction past.

Reider’s sound sources are cast-off audio tapes he found in thrift stores as well as a video tape cut down to play on an audio cassette deck. One or more tapes were run and manipulated while a separate deck recorded the resulting sounds, in addition to any ambient sounds present. Underneath the hissing of tape and the humming of the decks’ playback machinery some of the sounds of this audio salon des refusés jump out and identify themselves: Various talking heads, bits of now-unpopular pop music, scrambled fragments of a theatrically delivered monologue on Scientology.

As with much of Reider’s work process is brought to the foreground, in this case as embodied in the sounds of the machines constructing the work—the squeal of spindles turning, the general rattle and buzz of moving parts. The artist’s hand is also audible, snapping cartridges onto sponsons, pressing buttons, picking up the next tape to go into the deck. In the end what isn’t subliminal here are the immediate, explicitly indicated sonic traces of the conditions and means of these improvisations’ production.



    Not Subliminal

can be downloaded for free from the Control Valve netlabel.


End of year list mentions

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

David Nemeth’s excellent roundup of his favorite netlabel releases of the year is worthy reading for anyone into free experimental music. Load your computer or iPod or whatever up, tons of good stuff here:
Interesting Albums of 2014

I was pleased to see a mention of Daniel Barbiero’s “After 30 x 12 (for C. Reider)” (to which I contributed electronic sound),

my first release of 2014 “Distressing“,

and also to Martin Rach’s excellent 2014 release on Vuzh Music, “Mongrel Drone Set“,


There’s also some crossover with my list of recommended netlabel releases from 2014, so there ya go.



Finally, somewhat stunningly, my album “the Plangents” was nominated for the Brainwashed end of year reader’s poll, and actually received enough votes to place on the list. I’m very pleasantly surprised about that. Dig it:
17th Annual Brainwashed 2014 Reader’s Poll


A little love for “Not Subliminal”

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

David Nemeth wrote a piece about “Not Subliminal” in the latest blog post from Acts of Silence:

I was very pleased when I heard that C. Reider had released a new album based on experimenting with cassettes and cassette recorders. Not Subliminal cries out to be released on a cassette, but Reider bucked that trend and went digital. Don’t get me wrong, if he released a cassette of this type, my PayPal account would be all over it.

The premise of the Not Subliminal, Reider writes, “involved recording some stuff onto one tape while playing back previously recorded stuff on the other tape players, and letting it all mix together out loud … recording everything onto the shitty little onboard microphones that these handheld tape recorders had.” Not Subliminal‘s dissonance and self-referential audio recordings point the work into the genre of manipulated field recordings as well as the experimental. Genre lines are usually quite gray with Reider.

Over the last year, Reider has been releasing a lot of older work which bordered on “real music” [see my review of Malaventura’s Malaventura04], so this reviewer was quite happy to read that Reider will be releasing more of this cassette work in the future.




“Not Subliminal” is still available for free download from Control Valve netlabel.



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