I dropped in for the October 9 presentation of Sound Art Cinema (as part of the Christian Marclay artist residency) and it was quite an assortment of films. There were a couple of early Disney pieces, some Fluxus-inspired work by Sonic Youth, and two other works that look at the incorporation of sound and image. Curator Christian Marclay spoke about his interest in these connections between pop music, pop culture, and high art.
Piano Piece #13 (Carpenter’s Piece, for Nam June Paik) was a favorite of mine. Produced by Sonic Youth in 1999, it’s a rough-looking video of the band members pounding nails into the keys of a shabby little upright piano. Each key in turn lets out a mournful last note, and then all you hear is the pounding of the hammer on the nail. At first, each band member approached the piano alone, and then it swelled into a crescendo will all the members nailing away so that the notes of the piano combined with the percussive elements of the hammers.
I think it would have been interesting to see the Global Groove piece, produced by Nam June Paik, when it was first aired on WNET-TV, New York, in 1973. The video is comprised of so many different aural and visual elements – TV cello performances by Charlotte Moorman, Japanese Pepsi commercials, Native American chanting and drumming, John Cage reading a lecture – that I felt a bit overwhelmed by all the color smears and effects. I wondered if this is the kind of film that, rather than popcorn, people would opt for illicit drugs instead? Just how much psychedelia and tap dancers can be crammed into 29 minutes of film? I’ll get back to you on that one.