Ubuweb is a non commercial resource for sound files, books, texts and videos. All material is completely free (as well as the site is available in Italian, German and Spanish), – they state: “If it’s out of print, we feel it’s fair game. Or if something is in print, yet absurdly priced or insanely hard to procure, we’ll take a chance on it. But if it’s in print and available to all, we won’t touch it. The last thing we’d want to do is to take the meager amount of money out of the pockets of those releasing generally poorly selling materials of the avant-garde. UbuWeb functions as a distribution center for hard-to-find, out-of-print and obscure materials, transferred digitally to the web.”
I’m a huge fan of their philosophy, and over the years I’ve found a lot of material on Ubuweb I otherwise couldn’t get my hands on.
For instance I had many nice hours company with these guys:
Ellen Fullman playing The Long String Instrument
Ellen Fullman is an American composer (1957), working with performance and music played on self invented instruments.
I have copy of her recording “The Long String Instrument” from 1985 – so if anyone wants to try out the nice sound of fat vinyl, give me a poke. I have also been lucky enough to see some of her music instruments; they look like subtly crafted little (or big) sound machines, which they basically are. Among them a “water-drip-drum” that makes beats out of, well, drops of water, making use of the speed and weight of them to create rhythm and pitch. Another one is the “Amplified Metal Skirt”, which is exactly what the title says. “The Long String Instrument” is amazing. It is played by walking along the around 30 m. long strings, rubbing them with rosined hands and is tuned by capo-like clamps. Model wise her instruments are really beautiful and interesting while all little widgets have carefully designated functions that shows as is and the fact that the body in a time-space relation to the sound is crucial to playing most of the instruments, intrigues my architectural attention. Her notation system is based on the numerical relationships between the tones, also with indications of the movement and location of the performers, she often used in her performances. She have said that her interest in sound began with contact microphones, which are little devices (easily made) able of amplifying the sound of almost any object, maybe even not instantly audible sounds. I have also been playing around with CM’s, resulting in a broom stick sounding like the twitter of thousands of tiny birds, and burning coals resembling church bells when the recording was played back at half speed. It’s really a fun toy, very recommendable!
Gertude Stein. You might know her already. She is the mother of the often quoted phrase “A rose is a rose is a rose” which Hemingway in frustration, later on, knocked off to “A bitch is a bitch is a bitch”…(somewhat emphasized in a Momus song saying: “I’ve got a mouth like Ernest Hemingway’s ashtray”)
She lived with her partner Alice B. Toklas, who made a wonderful cook book, simply named Alice B. Toklas Cook Book. I have always wanted to make the roast injected (yes, injected!) with orange juice and cognac for long seven days. But thats another story. The cook book is full of fine anecdotes of the life in the Parisian kitchens in the mid 20th century and is worth reading just for them.
Back to Gertrude. I first read “Tender Buttons” which is probably her most famous. You can get the full text here (also available in Danish translation by Borgen). It may not be pleasure reading, but then again it depends on what pleasure means. I find my pleasure very much within the language itself and how it becomes incredibly spatial, sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly. Like this:
“A large box is handily made of what is necessary to replace any substance. Suppose an example is necessary, the plainer it is made the more reason there is for some outward recognition that there is a result.
A box is made sometimes and them to see to see to it neatly and to have the holes stopped up makes it necessary to use paper.(…)”
“(…)Lax, to have corners, to be lighter than some weight, to indicate a wedding journey, to last brown and not curious, to be wealthy, cigarettes are established by length and by doubling.(…)”
Or this one:
“If the speed is open, if the color is careless, if the selection of a strong scent is not awkward, if the button holder is held by all the waving color and there is no color, not any color. If there is no dirt in a pin and there can be none scarcely, if there is not then the place is the same as up standing.
This is no dark custom and it even is not acted in any such a way that a restraint is not spread. That is spread, it shuts and it lifts and awkwardly not awkwardly the centre is in standing.”
“Paris, France” I found really interesting, because it’s simultaneously fun (read: the Steinian way of being funny) and imposing an Americans view on the Parisian lifestyle – there’s a nice passage where she describes how the fierce French cats suddenly jump onto people’s backs – whereas an American cat would never do that…
JODI is an internet based art collective consisting of Joan Heemskerk and Dirk Paesmans. One of my favourite pieces is their modification of the game Wolfenstein. It is cut down to a bare minimum of basic geometrical forms though still maintaining the gameplay. You also find references to the crude graphics of Commodore 64 and other oldies but goodies. I remember a similar graphics feel from the early 90’s, when playing a racing car game on a computer I inherited from my brother. It had a B/W screen, impressive 4Mb RAM, humongous floppy disks and you would type in the paths in DOS to start the game. It was also on this computer I had my first experience with a drawing application, called DR11, that I reckon would actually still do a decent plan drawing, all though it would have a slightly uncanny feeling to it…
Wolfenstein mod. Download the Sod.zip file on top of the page, Mac or Pc. When you’ve unzipped the file, run the .exe file. Enjoy! (Remember you can always return to the desktop by pressing esc)