Back to THE HISTORY OF THE FUTUREFall 1999/ Winter 2000

Friday, November 5, 1999   Music as Art:

Ken Butler, Voice of Anxious Objects

My hybrid musical instrument sculptures, collage/drawings, performances, and audio-visual installations explore the interaction and transformation of objects, sounds, and altered images as function and form collide in the intersection of art and music. A spirit of re-invention and hyperutility attempts to reveal hidden meanings and ssociations, momentarily creating a striking and re-animated cultural identity. String instruments become body, phallus, tool, weapon, toy, symbol, machine, creature, sculpture, icon, and voice. Keyboards become cybernetic architecture. Anxious objects speak in tongues.

Contemporary urban life is a bewildering collage of multiple images, ideas, sounds, and objects in a constant state of flux as information overload becomes the touchstone of our age. As we move from the mechanical to the electrical, this churning mass chews up and spits out material with re-assigned priorities and updates. The resulting detritus is a living corpse- a random and chaotic body of juxtaposed and deconstructed items and associations. From this storehouse of forsaken objects and hardware I, the urban bricoleur, further dismantle and reassemble the consumer society into functional assemblages in the form of musical instrumental/objects, then coax them to sing for their supper. Hybrid household exotica.

"The capitals could have been in the chicken runs before they were in the temples, the marble urns could have been planted with basil before they were filled with dead bones. Only this is known for sure: a given number of objects is shifted within a given space, at times submerged by a quantity of new objects, at times worn out and not replaced; the rule is to shuffle them each time, then try to assemble them."
     -Italo Calvino,Invisible Cities

"...profound analogies between humanity, the animal, vegetable, and mechanical worlds... all the significations of light, sound, noise, and language.... luminously explains the governing laws of life: the necessity of complication and varying rhythem: a synthesis of speed and transformation... a perpetual dynamic of thought, an uninterrupted current of images and sounds, is alone able to express the ephemeral, unstable, and symphonic universe that is forging itself in us and with us."
      -Filippo Marinetti, The Variety Theater

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