Abstractions can hide as much as they reveal. In our cover image for this issue, artist, musician and post-conceptualist Stephen Prina has sprayed a can of black enamel spray paint onto one half of a two-part work from his series Exquisite Corpse: The Complete Paintings of Manet. We promise, however, that this work is not actually obscured. Layers of process on top of one another do take on a new form, but we also yearn for, delight in, and forget about what we thought was so perfect about the work before the transformation. As it came out, Prina was probably thinking about what that stream of spray paint sounded like. When chaos does surround or even motivate our actions, we still find something to say.
Issue 3 breathes a little bit of fire. For the past three months, our writers, editors, and musicians have reflected on the past and/or future of sound in L.A., Berlin, New York, and the United States generally. Their approaches rotate around the concepts of remembrance, control, forgetting, lapse, disorientation, and representational order, frequently moving from one polarity to the next. Jack Taylor’s take on both Maryanne Amacher and Julius Eastman acknowledges that sonic incomprehensibility has been incorporated into the arsenal of a few musicians. Johnson Smith, in turn, describes his impressions of the techno scene in Berlin, and provides in the process a poetic reflection on the productive powers and destructive potential of social delirium.
Memories and identity can only bend so far, and that limit is at the core of several of these pieces. Emma Kemp’s article on XXXTentacion and SoundCloud rap explores the abstraction of identity that is so prevalent in an Internet-infused United States. As Lyle Daniel interviews artist and archivist Alan Nakagawa about the history of experimental music and sound art in Los Angeles, Nakagawa gets at some of the recurring shapes and colors of this history and some tricks to manipulating them.
Celia Hollander’s (aka $3.33) mixtape crowns the issue with lush meditations on the steady imagination. The multimedia piece, Dropped Calls, reminds us that the power of language and music is not necessarily in their polysemy. We always knew that beauty could arise in the narrowest of contexts; each of these pieces, after all, began with one gesture and in one sitting.
- Roaming through Berlin on the brink of forming an order that could scare anyone
- Spirit Moves: Amacher and Eastman
- Alan Nakagawa, Ear Meal, and the Necessary Preparations
- X: Part One of a Discussion
- Mixtape: Dropped Calls
Exquisite Corpse: The Complete Paintings of Manet
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Portrait de Marie Lafébure à Cheval
(Portrait of Marie Lafébure on Horseback)
Museu de Arte, Sao Paolo, July 18, 2015