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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Tim Hawkinson needs Notes!


The LA artist Tim Hawkinson is featured at the Getty Museum in LA. In one room, titled Zootopia, he has an array of fantasmagoric creatures made out of unique materials: a skeleton creature made out of formed sitting men, an octopus whose suckers are different sized photographs of mouths and teeth. But what intrigued me the most was his sound machine in the main rotunda of the building pictured above. It has huge bladders of air suspended high in the atrium connected to foil-wrapped tubes and pipes that jut this way and that beneath the bladders. They bellow and moan, groan, and humm. To walk in an out of the building quickly would leave the impression of undifferentiated sound. But while Martha and Isaac were in the gift store, I stood in the atrium and listened to the tune unfold. I recognized it. It was a variation on "A Mighty Fortress."
Over in the corner of the room was this contraption with painted spots of paper. The paper rolled through a reader that electronically actuated valves at the pipes that released toned air. It was a pipe organ working like player piano that looked like a sea-creature! But, it was note-driven. As I watched the paper slide through the reader I began to read ahead and could identify the notes on the scale.
In today's chord-driven, ear-trained musical environment, I still have a lingering love-affair with notes. Notes carefully placed in relation to other notes. Notes of varying lengths of time with designated rests and pauses, accents for pace and volume. It is complicated and many enjoy music by ear only. But I love the notes...and so does Tim Hawkinson.

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