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Twelve Artist Staments #3 | Ken Vandermark - musician & composer

Twelve Artist Staments #3

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-12 ARTIST STATEMENTS: #3

1. “We hear sounds from everywhere, without ever having to focus. Sounds come from “above,” from “below,” from in “front” of us, from “behind” us, from our “right,” from our “left.” We can’t shut out sound automatically. We simply are not equipped with earlids. Where a visual space is an organized continuum of a uniformed connected kind, the ear world is a world of simultaneous relationships.”

-Marshall McLuhan (1967), from “The Medium Is The Massage,”
(Corte Madera: Gingko Press, 2001), 111.

2. “We have all let anthropologists, philosophers, historians, connoisseurs and mercenaries, and everybody else tell us what art is or what it should be. But I think we ought to very simply let it be what the artist says it is. And what the artist says it is, you can see by his work. I would like to leave it just like that.”

-David Smith (1952), from “David Smith By David Smith, Sculpture and Writings,” edited by Cleve Gray (New York: Thames and Hudson Inc., 1988), 139.

3. “Years ago, back in 1914, the people who were then identified with jazz had had practically no training, but they did some very wonderful and very interesting things. I believe in the personalities very strongly, in the great personalities of jazz. But today, when you have people coming into it with tremendous academic backgrounds, I can’t help feeling that the music has outgrown the word “jazz.” It’s necessary for some people to study, but others don’t have to go to school to learn how to think. Beyond writing which is more or less elementary and that which is a little further advanced in harmonic devices and so forth, it’s a matter of studying what someone else has done. If you have an inclination towards a new approach and you go to school, then in my opinion there’s a risk of the original thought being modified by scholastic training, because then you’re apt to apply the devices of someone in the past in order to express what you have to do.”

-Duke Ellington (1960’s), from “The World of Duke Ellington,” by Stanley Dance, (New York: Da Capo Press, 1970), 22.

4. “You are lost the instant you know what the result will be.”

-Juan Gris, from “The Collected Writings of Robert Motherwell,” edited by Stephanie Terenzio (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University Of California Press, 1992), 256.

5. “With known criteria, the work of the artist is difficult enough; with no know criteria, with criteria instead in the process of becoming, the creative situation generates an anxiety close to madness; but also a strangely exhilarating and sane sense too, one of being free- free from dogma, from history, from the terrible load of the past; and above all a sense of nowness, of each moment focused and real, outside the reach of the past and the future…”

-Robert Motherwell (1983), from “The Collected Writings of Robert Motherwell,” edited by Stephanie Terenzio (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University Of California Press, 1992), 257.

6. “New music: new listening. Not an attempt to understand something that is being said, for, if something were being said, the sounds would be given the shapes of words. Just an attention to the activity of sounds… It goes without saying that dissonances and noises are welcome in this new music. But so is the dominant seventh chord if it happens to put in an appearance.”

-John Cage (1957), “Silence,” (Wesleyan University Press, 1973), 10-11.

7. “Criticism must come from those who are around it, who are not shocked that someone order viagra should be doing it at all. It should be exciting, and in a way that excitement comes from, in looking at it, that it’s not that fall scene you love, it’s not that portrait of your grandmother.”

-Franz Kline (1958), from “Franz Kline, 1910-1962,” edited by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev (Milano: Skira Ediore S.p.A., 2004), 120.

8. “Yet we cannot speak of the breakdown of a linguistic system with Mallarmé, or the decline of French. The “breakdown of tonality” is similarly a fiction. Between Mozart and Schoenberg, what disappeared was the possibility of using large blocks of prefabricated material in music.”

-Charles Rosen (1974), “Arnold Schoenberg,” (New York: The Viking Press, 1975), 20.

9. “You know, I’ve been making records with Max Roach and Eric Dolphy and them cats lately… They hit this chord and all the time they got this other thing goin’ down there… then they say, “Go, you got it, Bean.” Got what? What the hell can you get? What can you play between these two things? But it’s interesting. That’s what music is- interesting. That’s what music’s all about anyway. Finding those things; the adventure.”

-Coleman Hawkins (1961), from “Eric Dolphy: A Musical Biography & Discography,” by Vladimir Simosko and Barry Tepperman (New York: Da Capo Paperback, 1979), 54.

10. “Art is a paradox that has no laws to bind it. Laws set can always be violated. That confuses the pragmatic mind. There may exist conventionalized terminologies and common designations for periods, but no rules bind, either to the material substances from which it is made or the mental process of its concept. It is created by man’s imagination in relation to his time. When art exists, it becomes tradition. When it is created, it represents a unity that did not exist before.”

-David Smith (1947), from “David Smith By David Smith, Sculpture and Writings,” edited by Cleve Gray (New York: Thames and Hudson Inc., 1988), 133.

11. “At the Merce Cunningham recital we did that one number with only drums and the dance. It was something like my solo work but, of course, here was someone else I had to keep up with. Sometimes I’d have to hit the cymbal on the jumps and on the turns I would make a roll. Of course the dance was all his idea and I didn’t know exactly what he would do next. That’s like other shows, too, because you can never depend on what an actor will do. He may do something altogether different from what he rehearsed if he thinks it will make the act go over. That is, if he’s versatile. And I had to be versatile enough to change with them. But I followed Merce Cunningham’s routine quite easily. That came naturally to me. When you have drummed as long as I had you just sort of feel those things. You don’t have to know exactly what you’re going to do but it just works out that way. I got a big kick out of playing for that dance recital and the number went over very big, too.”

-Baby Dodds (1953), from “The Baby Dodds Story,” by Larry Gara (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1992), 90-91.

12. “You see it in Barney Newman too, that he knows what a painting should be. He paints as he thinks painting should be, which is pretty heroic.”

-Franz Kline (1958), from “Franz Kline, 1910-1962,” edited by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev (Milano: Skira Ediore S.p.A., 2004), 119.