Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Dynamism Dog: Mockup

I've been movin' along with the Dynamism Dog without much planning—just thinking/sketching an idea for a day and then doing it. So, I thought it might be a good idea for me to pause and make sure it's coming together. As it turns out, it's shaping up very nicely. I'm excited because with this Fender-style bridge I should be able to get this up to 37" scale. My dilemma for the this week: where to put the controls? First I thought the side, then make the cutaway a panel, now I'm thinking a kind of tailpiece… also, where's the sweet spot for pickup placement on a 37" scale is it still 6" from the bridge? The harmonics are different so I suppose not—wish I took physics.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Bowie on Dolphy

Much like whiskey, cigarettes, Indian food, you need to build up a tolerance when it comes to the avant garde. So as I stood in the first room of David Bowie is at the MCA Chicago last year I was happy to hear Bowie say in an old interview talking of Eric Dolphy: "I understood nothing of his music, but I persuaded myself that I was a fan until I ended up liking him."

In high school I had a similar experience with Ornette Coleman. I started with Change of the Century, which I really took too, but then struggled with his later work. (Coleman's later work would have been everything after Change of the Century which was his first album). I started listening to Eric Dolphy a decade or so after first hearing Coleman and it felt a bit like a happy middle ground—sound exploration within the framework of a song. This, opposed to Coleman which feels like sound exploration with intermittent suggestion of song.

There is something fantastic about the saxophone and maybe Bowie hits it with, "For me the saxophone always embodied the West Coast beat generation… It became a sort of a token, a symbol of freedom." Hot rods and hot dogs, cowboys and Kerouac, self-sovereignty and saxophones—America. Sounds good to me.

Friday, March 13, 2015

A Cubist introduction to "The Dynamism Dog."

This week I found myself thinking back on Giacommo Balla’s Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash and Umberto Boccioni’s Unique Forms of Continuity in Space. Through the onslaught of art thrown at me 15-or-so-years ago in Art History 102 these Futurists stuck with me.

At Curio’s Cobra Lounge show in January, my bass didn’t work. This has proven to be a singular anomaly—working the next morning onward—planting a seed of doubt in that there was nothing to fix (but a problem occured).

Futurism is often treated like a footnote to Cubism—a transitional art movement towards Dada, Constructivism, eventually Pop Art, etc. Perhaps their maniacal desire for war leading into World War 1, resolving in a fascist Italy sullied the movement. Or maybe it was their misogyny, or just their emphatic contradictions. Young men and their manifestos—absurdities and ultimatums to be reconciled later.

Next to the seed of doubt, a seed of inspiration was planted: build a backup bass. Of course, I had no interest in building the same bass. Fretless, electro-acoustic—definitely, but how could I do something new? For one I wanted a magneto pickup option (my main bass is piezo) and after some research (on double basses and listening to the tangential Carl Thompson on YouTube) I decided to go into extra-long-scale territory.

I had an immediate gut reaction (of appreciation) to Boccioni’s Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, but didn’t dig deeper until last week. I found I share a lot of similar interests with the Futurists, although obsessively writing manifestos is not one of them. However the Futurist’s manifestos and specifically Boccioni’s manifestos were more or less rules and guidelines—problems to solve through art. Boccioni wrote a manifesto, created a work of art and then moved on. This is something I identify with and wrestle with: given these parameters are you in perpetual forward motion, intent on breaking new ground, or elaborately fickle?

As I think of the future I end up studying the past. Norse mythology… David Bowie… somehow feel connected. As I hurl down 94, Diamond Dogs cacophonizing, like a futuristic Berserker I have to think “There’s nothing to match the splendor of the sun’s red sword, slashing for the first time through our millennial gloom!”

I’ve pondered on the bass for some time now—coincidentally, also about 15 years. And in that time I’ve tried a whole bunch of strings. The only strings that felt like yea this is what I want to sound like are La Bella tapewounds. Not wanting to reopen that problem, I decided to base the scale length of this bass on the length of La Bella extra long strings. I had hoped to get up to 38”, but the strings will only allow for 36”, which should be just fine.

The present is in constant transition to the past. The beginning of this century much like the last is advancing (technologically) rapidly and the Futurists sought to describe this with dynamism, simultaneity and speed through paint, sculpture, sound and word. Many of them working in all these mediums—not in a jack of all trades sense, but in not distinguishing between them—opera d’arte totale.

Most importantly with this bass I want to sculpt a piece of art that will make art. This feels like the year of synthesis: design, illustration, fine art, music, building, performing. …now I’ve gone and done it, I’ve written a manifesto. Down with the Futurists! Long live the future! —spruce moose, space bastard.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Aromatic Cedar

Aromatic cedar smells so wonderful, but a couple lungfulls of sawdust isn't so wonderful. I think I'll be getting a bunch of use out of my respirator as I carve away my upright top…

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Ghoul

In the evening, T and I like to sit on the couch and draw with the TV on. Last Sunday she was like you should draw a ghoul and then zonked out while HBO's show on Bob Durst came on. So I started drawing a ghoul and then it became Durst—either way really… pretty creepy.