The massive wildfires burning today in Northern California gave our morning sunlight a beautiful rosy hue. But the air is quite smokey. Sending thoughts for all our friends in the surrounding areas and hope everyone stays safe.
We at CatSynth spent the better portion of a recent afternoon at the Whitney Museum of American Art, taking in the entire museum top to bottom. In the first of our reports, we start at the top with a survey of the work of artist Mary Corse.
The exhibition – Corse’s first solo survey at a major institution – focuses on her work in the mid-to-late 1960s as part of the West Coast Light and Space movement. Like many of her contemporaries, Corse was very interested in the use of light as a medium in itself, but her output of light works was almost entirely focused on flat art, i.e., the kind you can hang on walls. This made her a bit of an outlier in the movement.
At first glance, it might be tempting to dismiss her work as “another round of white-on-white paintings from the 1960s.” But what makes it interesting is that light is at the center, rather than texture or pigment; and that she delved into emerging technologies and media to move beyond painting.
The most intriguing pieces in the exhibition were those that used plexiglass and lighting technologies. Corse studied physics and engineering in preparation for this body of work. We see this in her series where custom Plexiglass elements of different depths are juxtaposed next to one another allowing different amounts of light to pass through.
It is a subtle but fascinating set, and I found myself moving back and forth and looking from either side in my own exploration.
Corse also made her own light elements with a variety of technologies, including this piece from 1968 which employed an argon light and frequency generator, once again with her own custom plexiglass. I would have loved to have seen it in
Looking at the bands within the light, I immediately found myself thinking of the amplitudes in a time-varying sound wave, or perhaps a frequency-domain spectrum. It would have been quite interesting to “hear” it.
The final set of work in the exhibition takes an abrupt turn, making the end of this period in Corse’s career. In 1970, she moved from Los Angeles to Topanga Canyon and embarked on her Black Earth Series of paintings.
Beyond the obvious switch from white to black, there is a break from technology and a return to working with more traditional materials and textures. The “black” in the Black Earth Series are ceramics made in her own kilns. The glossy material is reflective, but also thick and covered in bumps and curves. This is in stark contrast to the plexiglass surfaces of her earlier work and makes a fitting bookend for the survey.
Unfortunately, the exhibition is closing this weekend, but if you happen to be in New York I recommend checking it out. It makes a fine escape from the overwhelm and sensory overload of holiday season.
The 19th annual San Francisco Electronic Music Festival concluded yesterday, and we at CatSynth were on hand for the final concert. There were three sets, each showcasing different currents within electronic music, but they all shared a minimalist approach to their musical expression and presentation.
The evening opened with a set by Andy Puls, a composer, performer and designer of audio/visual instruments based out of Richmond, California. We had seen one of his latest inventions, the Melody Oracle, at Outsound’s Touch the Gear (you can see him demonstrating the instrument in our video from the event). For this concert, he brought the Melody Oracle into full force with additional sound and visuals that filled the stage with every changing light and sound.
The performance started off very sparse and minimal, with simple tones corresponding to lights. Combining tones resulted in combining lights and the creation of colors from the original RGB sources. As the music grew increasingly complex, the light alternated between the solid colors and moving patterns.
I liked the sound and light truly seemed to go together, separate lines in a single musical phrase, and a glimpse of what music would be if it was done with light rather than sound.
OMMO, the duo of Julie Moon and Adria Otte brought an entirely different sound and presence to the stage.
The performance explored the “complexities and histories of the Korean diaspora and their places within it.” And indeed, words and music moved freely back and forth between traditional and abstract sounds and Korean and English words. Moon’s voice was powerful and evocative, and quite versatile in range and she moved through these different ideas. The processing on her voice, including delays and more complex effects, was crisp and sounded like an extension of her presence. Otte performed on laptop and analog electronics, delivering a solid foundation and complex interplay. A truly dynamic and captivating performance.
The final set featured a solo performance Paris-based Kassel Jaeger, who recently became director of the prestigious Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM). Sitting behind a table on a darkened stage, with a laptop, guitar and additional electronics, he brought forth an eerie soundscape.
The music featured drone sounds, with bits of recognizable recorded material, as well as chords and sharp accents. The musique concrète influence was abundant but also subtle at times as any source material was often submerged in complex pads and clouds over which Jaeger performed improvisations.
It is sometimes difficult to describe these performances in words, though we at CatSynth try our best to do so. Fortunately, our friends at SFEMF shared some clips of each set in this Instagram post.
Much was also made of the fact that this was the 19th year of the festival. That is quite an achievement! And we look forward to what they bring forth for the 20th next year…
For Weekend Cat Blogging and the Photo Hunt, we preset this photo of Luna with stripes of light.
This was once again taken with the Hipstamatic on the iPhone, using relatively simple lens and film effects that bring out the light.
Weekend Cat Blogging #340 is hosted by Pam at Sidewalk Shoes, with help from Coco.
The Saturday PhotoHunt has a new home. This week’s theme is Lights. Thank you to tnchick for hosting over the past years.
The Carnival of the Cats will be hosted this weekend by Samantha, Clementine and Maverick at Life from a Cat’s Perspective.
And the Friday Ark is at the modulator.
This weekend we have some interesting “bright” photos:
It is amazing how the diagonals in both photos seem to line up.
In the first we have Luna peering off one of the balconies, as she is wont to do . The second could be an “easy like Sunday” photo, but one can also see the bases of Luna's paws, which is the theme of this weekend's Bad Kitty Cats Festival of Chaos. No chaos here, of course.
Some sad news this weekend from our friend's at What Did You Eat. Upsie has being diagnosed with cancer. Her prognosis is pretty grim. She does at least get to go off of her diet and enjoy some of the pleasures of life for last few months. We at CatSynth extend our thoughts to Upsie and to our friend sher – they also lost Sundance last summer.
Weekend Cat Blogging #145 will be held at the The Cat Blogosphere.
The Bad Kitty Cats Festival of Chaos will be hosted this weekend by Pet & The Bengal Brats at Pet?s Garden Blog. The optional theme this weekend is “toes and claws.”
Carnival of the Cats will be on this Sunday at This, That and The Other Thing.
And of course Friday Ark #182 will be at the modulator