Jazz in Art (developing exploration)

The below text provides a para-form for a line of enquiry or research program that I think you might be interested in in-essence if not pragmatically. It should be noted that the enquiry is immature in that a great deal is presumed in absence of empirical research. The research project gravitates around the idea that Jazz aesthetics and the ideologies that sustain Jazz as a practise may have applications outside of a musical context. Not only could this be true pragmatically but it may already be true within the history of the arts. As it stands the presence of jazz within the other art-fields is not easily accessible which leads to the thought that this subject, and the repercussion of applying a jazz theory/aesthetic within other art-forms, is difficult to quantify.
What I am trying to get at are the purposes or theories underlying either the notation and the architecture of the notation or the acoustic phenomena as it is experienced through music in flow. This is because the affect of music upon creative thinking, i.e. the visual/sensory manifestation of ideas into “work”, cannot realistically end exclusively be with those pieces that are made whilst listening to jazz (or music) or are weighted upon the idea of creating a response that might have lead to a discourse of intentions through two different expressive mediums. If this were to be the case then non-musical art would have a serious short-coming in the way of being unable to really engage with musical form and also the critical applications of jazz within the existing musical canon. This seems like an unrealistic probability to me. There are visual art forms that I know can appropriate methodologies from jazz, for example film can use time signatures to orchestrate the manner in which an audience is lead through the film. This itself could immediately be applied in two different ways – in terms of plot or in terms of camera changes. Another application of jazz may exist in the way in which a track is composed acoustically, for example sounds that are particularly discordant with an underlying track may be comparable to abstract painters, maybe Roberto Matta Echaurren, maybe the abstract expressions like De Kooning or Pollock? If such a parallel could be made within this context, as dismal a proposition that might be, then it is equally plausible to make a parallel between the architectures of jazz pieces and perhaps more symbolist works because then it is then a matter of coherence, juxtaposition, contrasting, and this is the same in any spectacle. Whilst a performative approach might seem the more logical angle to approach this work I know almost nothing about theatrical performance so I can’t comment.
Something that strikes me as I write this is that a good spectacle will direct the viewer’s gaze around itself, like how the hands might guide attention around ones body (with the accompaniment of other movements, subtle and overt). This observation could lead to the conclusion that even a painting can have a timescale, i.e. the amount of time it takes for ones eyes to navigate the work and then how long it takes the mind to comprehend it. If it is too abstract then most people leave it be, but this is true for jazz too, music is subject to the same dialectics of taste. If we take this as our timeline then we can make a comparison to the timescale of a musical piece, as much as it is compressed one ought to be able to create a narrative that functions in a particular way to guide the expectations of the viewer: could that become a tasteful experience if what is expected is becoming the audience? How does that work in Jazz circuits? Does one play into the predefined ways of playing or try to subtly remove things that might be categorically defined as being ‘limiting’.
I know that nothing from the above could be taken as a revelation, the intention of this was purely to open up a subject that could be explored in the future.
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London and Elsewhere

I’m beginning to realise the scale of the back log of things that I mean to do. However, rather than going on about that which has no existential form of which we might discuss the nature of the undone, here are some images and words relating to real events.

After arriving in England late last year (2010) I paused in London briefly and participated in a experimental sound art noise ensemble that was organised by the London based Austrian artist Thomas Eisele (false name supplanted to hide identity).

Thomas demonstrating the propensity his home-made instruments have for creating noise

So we all sat and improvised that day.

Later in the week Charlie Hope and Jamie Hamilton exhibited “The Black Balloon” under the Blackfriars Bridge on St Paul’s Walk. This piece used three projectors displaying three different bird’s eye views of London. Each of these screens could be seen separately through windows that were set in the wall. An electro-acoustic sound-piece accompanied the work, making use of the partition wall façade, that separates St Paul’s walk from the installation space under the overpass, and induction speakers to create a sound that resonated straight into any passer by. The installation was kitted with sensors that activated the light and sound show whenever a pedestrian came into the vicinity of the installation.

As well as providing audiences with alternative perspectives and vistas, this piece of work seemed to very much about passing moments in time. As members of the public pass this piece of work they are provided with the choice to stop, to watch, to listen, and to think. Of course this means interrupting a rhythm, it means breaking a stride, or it means considering public spending or seeing how long it takes to put everything in its place: I.e. how fast can I lose the illusion?

In regards to what this piece really meant, one felt as though it meant very little, instead it seems the joy was in the making, in the discovering what happens next. In this context then the work was not about saying anything more profound than, “you can take a little time out and you can live a little”. But this is a difficult ethic, and it is an ethic, to portray without either offending the morals of another or putting forward an unrealistic ideal. Where is the line drawn and how does the artwork effectively speak its mind? Whether this artwork had a mind to speak is another question entirely, however, as was insinuated before, I felt as though the work had nothing clear to articulate to an audience. On the other hand, the intentions of the gallery, to use a space that was otherwise not being used for the purposes of exhibiting, was perhaps the most fully realised concept of the day.

Members of the public looking through windows at projection screen

The installation from behind with the road beneath it

Of course then there is a discourse about what it means to live a little.

Details regarding the work can be found at the following sources:

Hive London

TheWhatWhereWhen, CreativeEveryoneFadwebsiteArtlystTimeout, RemoteGoat, ArtCalendar, Ents24, ArtReview

And then, completely unrelated, I hear about this:

Hengist: Call of the Horse

Recently, the Hengist series written by Jacky Gray has been demanding my attention. Not that I am currently reading the book or writing for it for that matter, I am actually developing the book’s covers, and that is plural because each book is being released more than once. Since book two in the Series, Rory, the covers have been split between “the green” and “the white”. The green has what I would say is a more textbook appearance whilst the second crafted in a more playful and imaginative parody of the 1970’s “Live and Let Die” poster by Robert E. McGinnis.

Reagan: The Green Cover 2011 pre-release

Each design is specially constructed to suit the content of the book that it has bound in its parenthetical grip: It is a cover after all. The latest book, Reagan, is the third in the series and follows the exploits of Reagan, the young but capable protagonist. The books two primary target demographics appear at first glance to be polar opposites but given the success of the series so far, as I have heard it, to appeal to both young teenage and adult readers and those women of a particular disposition for teenage romance. Apparently there is a similar phenomenon taking place in regards to a particular teen vampire film and book series. Its not comfortable to stomach I know.

Reagan: the White Cover 2011 pre-release

Apart from this I have not had time to do much else. The New Year was a failure to comply issue as my body arrived at the pub to late to see the new year come in. What a shame. Instead I re-learnt how to mosh into the early hours whilst the man operating the pubs compact disc player flicked his way through the metal hits of the naughties.

As it stands I am packing away my belongings, the sheer quantity of technical apparatus is now beginning to out-gun the fabrics that are to adorn my back. A sure sign of the times.