David Jones, artist and poet (1895-1974) begins his PREFACE TO THE ANATHEMATA :

'I have made a heap of all that I could find.' (1) So wrote Nennius, or whoever composed the introductory matter to Historia Brittonum. He speaks of an 'inward wound' which was caused by the fear that certain things dear to him 'should be like smoke dissipated'. Further, he says, 'not trusting my own learning, which is none at all, but partly from writings and monuments of the ancient inhabitants of Britain, partly from the annals of the Romans and the chronicles of the sacred fathers, Isidore, Hieronymous, Prosper, Eusebius and from the histories of the Scots and Saxons although our enemies . . . I have lispingly put together this . . . about past transactions, that [this material] might not be trodden under foot'. (2)

(1) The actual words are coacervavi omne quod inveni, and occur in Prologue 2 to the Historia.
(2) Quoted from the translation of Prologue 1. See The Works of Gildas and Nennius, J.A.Giles, London 1841.

05 March 2013


Long before the mighty Grinderman of Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Martyn Casey and Jim Sclavunos thrilled team bLOGOS at The Forum in Melbourne, the nineteenth and early twentieth century grindermen of Europe daily crankd and buskd their music machine theatrics (see below) to the street.
image courtesy : Theatre of the Actors of Regard  

Below is a drawing by Pierrot c.1900 from the recently re-organised archives of our Paris Bureau. The red pencil detail we reckon is an explanatory overlay, perhaps by one of the Slave Pianolas, perhaps by a sub-ed.

The scene records an official meeting between two former adversaries from the time of the Paris Commune (1871). One is now the mayor of Paris. The other was a friend of the late citizen Courbet, and involved with him in the push to re-locate the Vendome Column. Today he is the representative of the automaton artist collective Slave Pianolas.
Courbet as Samson. 
And is that the future mayor feeling threatened?          

Grinding his SklaveKlavier (in the Commune split, he sided with the Marxists over the Anarchists) the ancient communard demonstrates and advocates for the visionary proposal of the Slave Pianolas : 
for a grand architectural project for Paris, a 
Palace of the Peoples' Projections  

collection : FIAPCE
A project in the spirit of Eiffel and the Exposition Universelle of 1889

Central Dome of the Gallery des Machines
Exposition Universelle de Paris 1889 by Louis Beroud

... and of the more recent Exposition Universelle of 1900.

Exposition Universelle, 1900  

Palais de l`Électrique : The Palace of Electricity 

A project to realise to the limit, in one architecture, all of the extraordinary recent inventions of communication and display : electricity, telephone, wireless, recorded sound and cinema.

      collection : FIAPCE
On the drawing is written :

The mayor listens to the submission.
    "One more tale spinning mendicant," he thinks

And barely restrains his contempt.
    "Perhaps you should approach some more 
          deserving place,"  he suggests.

Ignorance will always out.  
     As he walks away, the old mayor calls back
          "...in a hundred years!".

collection : FIAPCE
"...in a hundred years!".
Time passes
In Melbourne and beyond, 
Percy Grainger comes and goes...

photo by Burnett Cross (1914-1996), New York 
Cross-Grainger Free Music experiment: 
“Sea Song” Sketch, three solovoxes, played by pianola roll, 
1950 Silver gelatin print.
Grainger Museum collection, University of Melbourne.
photo by Burnett Cross (1914-1996), New York Cross-Grainger Free Music experiment: 
Gliding tomes on whistle, notes on recorders, 
produced by holes and slits cut in paper rolls, 
February 1950 Silver gelatin print 
Grainger Museum collection, University of Melbourne.

The photos and captions above are from here
The final machine, uncompleted at the time of Grainger's death in 1961, was perhaps the most sophisticated. It too worked on the principle of a moving roll, but this time made of clear plastic. Here, a row of spotlights projected light beams through the plastic roll and onto an array of photocells, which in turn controlled the pitch of the oscillators. The familiar undulating shapes, so carefully cut into the paper rolls of the Kangaroo Pouch machine, could simply be painted onto the plastic roll with black ink. Moreover the circuitry for this machine was transistorised, lending a stability which could not be achieved with the use of valves.

Unfortunately, the machine was lost in transit between Grainger's home in White Plains and the Grainger Museum in Melbourne during the 1970s. Nor did Grainger have the chance to compose with this machine, so we can only speculate about the music he would have created on it.

This leaves us with something of an enigma. Although we can form a reasonably clear conception of Grainger's intentions, Free Music remains essentially an abstract, unrealised idea. Yet the implications of this idea point to nothing less than a total renovation of Western music; to far more radical concepts than Schoenberg's 12-tone method, for example.

Grainger's search for a means to realise Free Music was frustrated by a lack of substantial resources and by the limitations of available technology. Despite the recent advances in electronic instrument design, the question posed by Burnett Cross still bears some careful consideration: are the means of realising Free Music available today?
- extract from The Free Music Machines of Percy Grainger  
  by Rainer Linz
  NMA Publications (New Music Articles)
  full article here

1952 : The Kangaroo Pouch Free Music machine

     "...in a hundred years!".
Time passes
In Melbourne, a group of mendicant artist-musician SLAVE PIANOS approach the City of Melbourne with a renewal of this century project rightly dubbed The Reproducing Building : from Bauhas to GrinderHaus, a project for an ongoing son et lumière exposition at the Design Hub,  
RMIT University, Melbourne.
a moment from the sequence XENAKIS : EVRYALI
 A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/

 someone looks at something ...