Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Dylan's art and music hasn't had a root in ages, not since he taught himself how to read and write music. His installations look like anti-formalist assemblage made by someone who has been dumpster diving, and to an extent they are. They have no unifying form and no desire to explain articulations between one another, aesthetically speaking. The same goes for rhythmic form his instruments produce, or lack-there-of. By uprooting music from the anatomical structures of plants Dylan redefines musical time and frees it from meter, creating a non-pulse time. Determinant systems become indeterminate, like a plant rhizome (subterranean root network ), new sounds bloom off the root-sound. Creating infinite possibilities, a new cartography of sounds is mapped. Dylan's practice, is eternal, it is part-art and part-music, better understood as art-cum-music, the relationship is fluid, moving in and out of itself seamlessly, it exists in as a bit pure time.
His art re-imagines how the first instruments where constructed. I feel comfortable braving the task of calling Musiquepovera an enforced Utopianism , this is because Dylan's practice is not a vain dream of perfection like that which a Utopia suggests, but instead an ecstatic reality. I feel like Dylan has a spiritual kinship with the individualist genius Richard Buckminster Fuller.Bucky, was an architect-cum-inventor-cum-engineer who preached a gospel of technological humanism. He claimed that the world is too dangerous for anything less than a Utopia, this is part-true, part-impossible, in any case Dylan's art-cum-music lands on the shifting sands that Utopian ideals imagine. For this current body of work time travel plays a significant role, warping back to the genesis of music making Dylan re-imagines how the first instruments were constructed. Actually, rewind-selector, I'd like to correct myself and call it an enforced 'topianism, I'm dropping 'U'. This way I can avoid the conflation of the two greek words,'Eutopia ' ( meaning good place ), and Outopia' ( meaning no place )and boil it down to simply 'topia', or place, actually 'topos' is greek for place if you want to get technical, either way if your still with me we can understand Musique Povera as just a place.
So if Musiquepovera is a place we can further observe that time is halted in this place for a molecular moment, a freeze. According to Dylan 90% of his materials are acquired outside the purview of the FREE market economy. He uses all manner of objects in his practice <<>> and assembles them into his instruments. I think Bucky would have loved to go dumpster diving with Dylan, he claimed that there were quite sufficient resources to serve all humanity, the only problem lay in their deployment. Dylan redeploys, retransmits, and enforces Bucky's prescient principle of sustainable design in his art.
One of Dylan's 'World's Firsts' is an instrument called the Drill Kick , which comes with a powerful lack formal finesse, and a replaceable brush roller on the end of a drill bit. I assume it oscillates in a deviant enough radius to hit the kick drum at prescribed intervals ( maybe he's bent the drill bit ? ). Basically this drill has an isness, it looks like a drill with a paint roller on the end of it. Its an obedient member of Dylan's installation; not imitating machine but aiming to transform machine according to human ideas, to analyze it instead of abstracting it from its isness. The installation is anti-formalist, or to confuse matters more you could say putting the 'for'( as in 'what for' a.k.a 'content')back into form. However to say that Dylan's practice doesn't have a formal element is wrong, which is also safe to say !? This is muddled but its okay because 'art is the ability to think contradiction', to untangle the knot is to miss the point(see Rancierre ), so its good that we are in a knot here. Dylan's art performs the contradiction, it is the eternal soul that Walt Whitman is talking about in 'Leaves of Grass' when he said "The trees have, rooted in the ground....the weeds of the sea have ....the animals." It seems as though there is this very eternal register which Walt speaks of in Dylan's practice, the infinite fluidity of forms, the movement between corporeal to audible, his art to his music and back again, mimicking nature's shifting and distorted image in it's transversal between the lines of art and music.
The Brush Guitar is a mess of colour, all the primaries and all the tertiaries are on show in an orgy of colour. Pink and Green are definitely seen, but there's no fairy queen in sight. If this aesthetes panic attack isn't enough Dylan also has bad tableaux manners, his installations reach across and grab the salt. They almost forces themselves on viewer. They also make the viewer want to force themselves on it, to somehow be integrated in the space. Actually if a viewer were to force themselves on Dylan's installation at the Heidi , by perhaps playing one of the worlds first musical instruments, I can see Dylan pulling up the Museum security guard with a deft, 'nah its fine', then wistfully picking up the brush guitar and having a jam with the visitor-meddler (he'd probably then , diffusely, pass the affronted Seca' the aerosol mbira and say have a pluck). Dylan makes a point of the scores being super easy to read and thinks it important that the scores can be read and reproduced by a seca'. <<>>
So it can be understood the installations are against formalism, but not entirely un-formal. There is an expressly negligent attitude to the presentation of his art-instruments, they are anti-hierarchally ordered in the space. When Dylan showed at Black & Blue Gallery last year his tool shelf and matt, with all his apparatus', were left on display throughout the exhibition. There's no room for dogmatic aesthetic judgement, but it doesn't mean there isn't a beauty, it just isn't handed down to us. There is a primacy to the existing physical forms of Dylan's art-instruments, a nascent coming-into form, in a sporadic turn art will sprout into sound. This anti-foramlist approach connects Dylan's practice with the conceptual roots of the art povera movement. Germano Celant described Art povera as <<>>, this is true of Musiquepovera, I'd like to challenge any one not familiar with Dylan's art to wrap their heads around the connexion between Dylan's diagrams of plant algorithms - the appearance of the 'first instruments ever made' - and the sounds they produce; at once immersed in all three . I can assure you there would be few people who make it through the space without crossing their arms and twaddling to their chest hair (or breast hair). For instance these words are no more than twaddling to a blank-hairless-page in response to Musiquepovera. However, it can be said that Dylan's practice makes sense in connexion to the art povera movement of the late 60's. Dylan is concerned with the primacy of the physical object, in the same way artist's like Eve Hesse from the Art Povera movement were focused on creating a non-work, that went beyond pre-conceptions that formalism ascribes. This connexion explains the title of the show, but Dylan's art-cum-music has a large element of non-physical elements, it comes into an auraltered state.
Dylan seeks to discover a suitable past , to create a position of which he is the logical heir , the next voice. His musical compositions draw from a philosophical history of mega-brains like John Cage , whose writing is far more interesting than the music he produced. Cage's music was hinged on chance procedures, and expanding to the max the conditions of executions and the possible relations they have with one another. Like Cage Dylan is primarily concerned with sounds, letting sounds be sounds , although he doesn't quiet demand the sound must predate the musical score. If Cage is the pioneer of letting sounds reign , Dylan takes it to the next place. His work attempts a new material intervention on sounds through the anatomical structure of plants. Not completely discarding the use of a score, Dylan's diagrams use the chance procedures in nature's anatomy. He creates his own voice "making use of sound complexes" derived from nature , its randomness, instead of " pure sounds ". This randomness of nature is fantastic in that it connects nature with the unrooted essence of Dylan’s art-cum-music. It reinforces the fact we are in the present, but a different present of a eucalyptus tree or any of the angiosperms Dylan's biological diagram's represent. It denies any harmony , the only way to reach a near harmony is to get on with the job is to embrace the different subjective existences in nature.
In the beginning there was Rhythm, according to Pythagorus, the Slits agreed in 1980, but it was Pieface not Ari Up who theorised a cosmos in harmony. Dylan defies the Pythagorean celestial harmony, weeding out whatever regulates a cosmic whole. Dylan’s music is not a circumscribed totality but an open whole, a black hole, which sucks in cosmic expenditure in through itself allowing it to harvest a new cosmic disorder, a de-heirachisation of musical form found in nature, its got no limit. If Dylan is is the shaman, Deleuze is the departed spirit that powers the cosmic machine capable of rendering sound. For those who don't know Deleuze, he's a very becoming philosopher and imagined a non-musician's music that had no metric proportion. Dylan's sounds are made in this very black hole of formlessness, before order and proportion. His instruments accord to the botanical diagrams , delicate and subtle eruptions are made, sound complexes, come out of the instruments seeking out to retrieve the spirit of sonority. Deleuze described this non-pulse (unrhythmic) sound as not macroscopic but the molecular domain of transverse becomings. There is no strict tuning system for the molecular sounds of Dylan's body of instruments. It takes into account variants of temperature , acoustics and tuning implements (stones,glass,seedpods,rocks). Base notes can be taken from some of the fixed notes (wind pieces,sistrum pipe,multi-player recorders) or the environment , even a tram outside window or the din of a fan.
Algorithms are molecular blueprints of nature's randomness. Nietzsche was in awe of nature, he said that nature is no model ( you can't pay mother nature $150 an hour to get her kit off , or can you ? ), it exaggerates , it distorts , leaves gaps. Dylan's music makes inaudible sounds << inaudible =" Time,">> . His instruments singularly don't make music, they hear the inaudible through their material interventions on the audible landscape. Music is abstracted from the black hole. In their unforeseeable connexions , sounds happens incidentally,and through their relations create musical compositions. Cage believed that nothing is predetermined, and although Dylan uses diagrams of algorithms to conduct his compositions there is similarly nothing predetermined about them. Nature is chance. You can't plan to sit under a Chestnut Oak and have a Song Thrush shit on you between its 2nd and 3rd strophe, its implausible. Nor can you control the chance hard-wired into the algorithms of a Fuschia. I guess thats why Dylan's art-cum-music excites me so much. He recapitulates profound ideas and methodologies from artists like Cage by channeling the random chance insitu in nature and creates musical scores in the disordered gaps that mother nature cleaves. Dylan creates anti-rhythms, like a lost pioneer creating a new aural landscape , a new sub-terranean-culture ... 'AlgoRhythms'.