Thursday, September 17, 2009

Small Paintings Under Glass

Starting in the mid 1990's, I developed a process that creates small painted constructions. My goal with these paintings is to incorporate elements of chance & natural organic growth. The results are also about describing the process of their construction.

I construct them out of clip picture frames (5x7" or 8x10"). They come packaged in groups of 3 or more, and are made from a sandwich of glass & Masonite that is held in place with steel spring clips. I then cut tracing vellum, & thin metal to fit inside the frame. I create a drawing on the drafting velum using natural sepia ink or sumi ink. Next I draw with iron powder & sea salt on the metal plate. The drawings are then married together tightly with clamps & dipped into a salt-water bath. This final step causes the vellum to curl & wrinkle allowing the ink drawing to smudge & run into the wrinkles thus creating automatic tracings. After the sandwich is removed from the water and dried, the delicate ink lines remain visible. The water, as in nature, also activates the iron & salt to etch the metal plate in surprising & organic ways. The outcome is exactly what I was seeking. The pictures have a majestic, larger-than-life amorphous quality. They are a graphic realization of form and function, while also obscuring the hand of the creator. I hope you like them.Recently I have started making more of these. This time I am incorporating landscape & historical imagery. I have also expanded my use of materials. I am using chalk, natural pigment's, earth, as well as rust.

"Fleury from the air 1917"
5"x7" 2009 copyright R.Gould
"all that remained of the town of Fleury (once of village of 500 people) was a white smear visible only from the air" from Alistair Horne "The Price of Glory, Verdun 1916"

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Post DSR

Reflected sound patterns from a speaker 1995
Part of a series of works that dealt with visualizing, enlarging, sound patterns.

After DSR disbanded I became interested in developing natural or random controls over sound machines. In creating sculptures on my own I was again attracted to elements of chaos. I wanted to replace the human performer. I was able to build large outdoor public sculptures that were self-playing using wind power. A large sail would pull or push a series of pluckers across a piano backboard. A wind turbine would spin guitar picks and play three acoustic guitars. Indoor works used the rough surfaces of rocks to play various prepared string instruments.
Simultaneously I began to develop drawings that described sound patterns. First I created large ink brush drawings. I strive for random and repetitive markings. These were beautiful but were somehow just representations of what my sculptures were doing. What I was looking for was a technique that truly added a random outcome to the mix.

Drum Machines

These drums were triggered from a soilioid that tapped the clear Mylar surface. Contact microphones amplified the large surface & sounded like a lose kick drum. The Mylar surface rippled and though reflections and shadows that danced & vibrated like sound waves.

Sumi Ink Sound Pattern Drawing

Wind Guitars 1993
The turning wind turbine spun three plectrums that strummed the three guitars.

DSR- Don't Look Back

Douglas Durning, Simeon Samaan, Robert Gould Basel Switzerland 1988

DSR was founded in NYC in 1986 and was a collaboration of Douglas Durning, Simeon Samaan, & Robert Gould. It was created as a collective creative outlet for exploring sound, performance, & sculpture. The group together created musical instruments, sound sculptures & self-playing sound machines & art installations. Musical compositions evolved organically from jam sessions that explored the ranges (& limitations) of the sound sculptures. Often performances took place within dramatic environments such as abandoned buildings, old factories, and even a Shinto shrine in Japan. Architecture was an important element. Long piano wire strings were attached & “played” directly incorporating the building structure into our artwork.
DSR disbanded in 1993

Post Proformance Shingo, Japan 1990

Our collective psychology organically grew out of the DIY punk aesthetic. All three of us came from art school so that we felt both empowered & encouraged to seek out new paths of expression. It hardly mattered if we didn’t have proper equipment. The down side of which we came to regret much later in the form of not having quality documentation or recordings. The impulse was to explore sounds and to create exciting, dynamic, challenging realms of performance & spectacle.

Concert Basel Switzerland 1988

My primary focus became removing the human performer & creating self-playing automated instruments. /installation art. To this end I first created mechanical rhythm machines. These objects were made from large metal air ducts that were found at building demolition sites. I found that by placing a slow moving electric motor in the center of the column & attaching a metal weight to it, it would bang around inside thus creating a remarkably steady rhythm. These columns were lit from the inside & cast fantastic moving shadows that wonderfully illustrated the function of the machine. Using a contact mic on the metal duct could further enhance the sound.

Me playing the "Lawnmower" in Yamasake, Japan 1988

DSR had four main areas of musical invention. I have already mentioned mechanical self-playing instruments. Next was percussion. Douglas Durning was primarily involved in this field. Drums, using natural goat, cat, & cow skins, were fashioned out of wood barrels, bamboo, steel hoops, steel pipe, etc. Percussion elements are limitless. For example we somehow inherited a leather chair & we found that it made fantastic sounds by slapping it with various things.

Doug, Japan Concert

Next came Simeon Samaan. Simeon brought with him an in-depth knowledge of ancient & traditional instrument making from around the world. This was further enhanced by his love of world music. With this interest and knowledge we were able to reverse engineer and adapt traditional instruments using contemporary materials & techniques. Perhaps the most innovative was a large bagpipe that was created from a truck inner tube and played with the help of an air compressor. Chanter & drone pipes were made from PVC pipe with reeds made from McDonalds’ fast food straws. The next element was a vast number of string instruments. It became quite easy to attach guitar strings or longer piano strings to various objects and play them using contact mics or transducer pick-ups. We used old stand up piano boards as terrific sources of ready-made instruments.

Simeon Samaan, Basel Switzerland 1988 Playing bagpipes made from truck tires.

In the end I found it difficult to divide up my time between building objects & creating music. Also we found it difficult to get gigs & play our instruments. After 6 years of creating sounds together and tours to Switzerland and Japan we disbanded.

Last year I created a myspace site for the group. Check it out here-

Robert Gould
2009 NYC

First Post- Concept- Welcome to my Blog

Welcome to my blog! I am starting this as an experiment, both for myself & my potential viewers/clients. My hope for this public forum is to create an interactive space in which I can organize my thought process & to document visual tangents. I intend my posts to be a visual diary of thoughts, concepts, web links, and experiments in visual representation. My overarching goal is that I intend this blog to become a creative medium that my artwork can both inhabit, and be a product of. The element of viewer feed back is an important exciting element of this and it will be interesting for me to see what people think- if anything.
I hope this will also become a place that I can sell my artwork. Any artwork that I post on this bog is for sale, so please inquire about any objects that you would like to purchase.

I am an multi-media artist living and working in Brooklyn, New York.