“Machines” is an intersection of sculpture, music, and performance. Large metal machines powered by motors, solenoids, pneumatics, and hydraulics, built from the waste of post industrialism. Booming percussives, low frequency vibrations, and howling pipes – all operated to create sounds by musicians poised at control panels.
There is a dialog that coincides with the machines. The project has an aesthetic that speaks to early inventions of the industrial revolution, but the machines themselves are made possible by the decline of industrialism from this country. I will be working from my studio, which is located inside an old 300,000 square-foot furniture factory in Hudson, NY. In fabricating these machines, I will use parts from decommissioned manufacturing equipment, and my sculptures will incorporate recycled parts and industrial surplus.
I will start each sculpture from an industrial machine that has been taken out of use. I will travel to scrap yards, auctions, and industrial suppliers to seek out machines that have a combination of visual appeal and functionality. Grinders, shakers, lathes, presses, mills, compressors, saws, and specialized machinery will be the starting point for my works.
I will modify these machines to make them both sculptural and musical. Some machines will be percussive, acting as large automated drumming machines. I will fabricate large wind instruments that have pipes like a church organ, and machines that create multiple tones by changing length, like a trombone. I will also create machines that make resonant sounds in the way that string instruments work. I will take the machines down to bare metal and give them a patinated finish.
I have begun working with musicians to make the machines more musical. Some of these artists include Tommy Stinson (founding member of The Replacements, bassist for Guns N’ Roses and Soul Asylum, and solo artist), Melissa Auf der Maur (former bassist of Hole, Smashing Pumpkins, and solo artist), Brian Dewan (artist, musician, and acclaimed creator of the Dewanatron), Gideon Crevoshay (folk artist and composer), and Elvis Perkins (acclaimed folk rock artist). I will work directly with these musicians as I modify the machines to create sounds to their liking. When all of the machines are complete we will work in my studio to create musical compositions. The compositions will be performed on August 10th at Basilica Hudson for the 2012 Hudson Music Festival. The Basilica is a 10,000 square-foot, reclaimed 19th-century factory converted into a 1,500-person art and performance venue. Originally, the Basilica was a railway wheels factory; in the past year, the space has become the city’s largest cultural center.
I expect to fill the venue. The reputation of the Basilica and the fan base of the collaborating musicians will help to accomplish this.
Many things have inspired the project. I wanted to do something new and fresh. As a visual artist, I was struggling for an outlet to collaborate with many of my friends who worked in music. The idea for “Machines” largely grew out of this desire to collaborate. The industrial landscape where my studio is located inspired the aesthetic of the project. The project is influenced by the work of Mark Pauline and Survival Research Laboratories, Marcel Duchamp, Jean Tinguely, and the work of Harry Partch. The collaborative nature of the project is exciting and creates a learning experience for all involved.
Check out the Gallery for updated pictures and video of the project.