Using random objects to build homemade hand drums or maraca-style instruments isn’t new, but the team behind the ongoing Electronicos Fantasticos project takes the idea of repurposing unwanted materials to an imaginative level. Led by Ei Wada (previously), the Japanese musicians have spent the last few years recycling retail scanners and their barcode counterparts into synthesizer-like instruments, capitalizing on the product’s original function to produce rhythmic tracks and samples. Their recent design adds a playful twist to the concept by attaching the plastic devices to miniature skateboards that roll across ramps and down flat surfaces printed with black-and-white stripes. In addition to the musical component that’s similar to scratching an LP, it’s worth watching the group’s performances as they slide and riff on different barcodes, which you can find on Instagram and YouTube.
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A Mesmerizing Animation Spins Through Banknotes From 23 Countries in a Hypnotic Look at What Cultures Value
An endless loop of lines, ornate motifs, emblems, and historical figures converge in a hypnotic animation by Los Angeles-based director Lachlan Turczan. Paired with Blake Mills’s subdued track “Money Is The One True God,” the music video is comprised of high-resolution scans spliced together in a mesmerizing rotation. The compilation reveals colorful snippets of currency from 23 countries dating from the 1800s to the present day—these include a portrait of rebellion leader Samuel Sharpe on the Jamaican 50 dollar bill, an engraving of —that show how notions of value have evolved over time.
Turczan writes that he used replacement animation techniques to highlight the guilloché patterns embedded within the bills. While much of the animation focuses on the abstract, it’s also indicative of cultural trends and shifts. “The age of exploration leads to industrialization, wonders of the world are replaced by office buildings, and icons of freedom stand in stark contrast to images of slavery,” he says. “The project culminates with the collective eyes of all world leaders staring back at the audience.”
Having worked with talents like Phoebe Bridgers, Sam von Horn, and Flock of Dimes, Mills’s “Money Is The One True God” is just one of Turczan’s music videos, which you can watch on Vimeo and Instagram. You also might enjoy this stop-motion short at the intersection of culture and economics. (via Booooooom)
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Through Totemic Sculptures and Sound Art, Guadalupe Maravilla Explores the Therapeutic Power of Indigenous Ritual
In 1984, eight-year-old Guadalupe Maravilla left his family and joined a group of other children fleeing their homes in El Salvador. The Central American country was in the midst of a brutal civil war, a profoundly traumatic experience that’s left an indelible impact on the artist and one that guides his broad, multi-disciplinary practice to this day.
Now based in Brooklyn, Maravilla works across painting, sculpture, and sound-based performances all veiled with autobiography, whether informed by the Mayan architecture and stone totems that surrounded him as a child or his cancer diagnosis as a young adult. His pieces are predominately therapeutic and rooted in Indigenous ritual and mythology, recurring themes the team at Art21 explores in a new documentary.
“Guadalupe Maravilla & the Sound of Healing” follows the artist as he prepares for his solo exhibition on view through September 6 at Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City. Titled Planeta Abuelx, or Grandparent Planet—Maravilla expands on the often-used idea of Mother Nature to broaden its scope—the outdoor show is comprised of the artist’s trademark Disease Throwers, towering headdresses and shrines made of recycled aluminum. Allusions to Central American culture bolster the monumental works, with imprints of corn cobs, wooden toys, and other found objects planted throughout.
Covering the surrounding grass are chalky white markings, a signature component of the artist’s practice that delineate every space where he installs a piece. The abstract patterns evoke Tripa Chuca, one of Maravilla’s favorite childhood games that involves players drawing lines between corresponding numbers to create new intertwined motifs.
In Planeta Abuelx, Maravilla pairs his visual works with meditative performances that are based on the sound baths he used for pain management while undergoing chemotherapy. These healing therapies are designed to reduce anxiety and tension that often trigger stress-induced diseases. Using gongs and glass vessels, the palliative remedy has been the foundation of workshops the artist hosts for undocumented immigrants and others dealing with cancer that more deeply connect his totemic artworks to the viewers.
“Having a community that has gone through similar experiences can be really empowering,” he says. “Making these elaborate Disease Throwers is not just about telling a story from my past, but it’s also about how this healing ritual can continue in the future, long after I’m gone.”
If you’re in New York, Maravilla is hosting a sound bath to mark the close of Planeta Abuelx on September 4, and you can see more of his multivalent projects on Instagram. For a larger archive of documentaries exploring the lives and work of today’s most impactful artists, like this visit to Wangechi Mutu’s Nairobi studio, check out Art21’s site.
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Sound Waves from Contemporary Music Become Traditional Chinese Landscapes in Du Kun's Scroll Paintings
“Playing music is my only hobby,” says artist Du Kun, who pairs his longtime passion for the auditory art form with the traditional Chinese landscapes his father taught him to paint as a child. This compilation takes shape in his sprawling, layered scenes that follow lush groves and steep rock formations across silk scrolls stretching nearly nine meters. Each one of the natural features is the artist’s translation of a sound wave, which turns an eccentric array of tracks into wide, serene landscapes.
In a short video detailing his multi-faceted process, Du (previously) strums an acoustic guitar and taps percussive beats that he then digitally manipulates to form arched bridges or a whimsically rendered cloud that blows the length of the scroll. He combines multiple instruments and tracks for greater perspective and depth than a single recording would provide, rendering rich works that transform sung melodies into birds and clouds or the repetitive rhythms of electronic music into segmented architecture.
There’s an implied conversation between the visual and audio elements, Du says, describing how he uses “the mood of the painting as an initial guiding foundation to break away from the conventional routines of music arrangement.” Painting styles typically associated with the Song Dynasty and contemporary audio converge in the works in a seamless mix of time and sensory experiences, which he explains:
By using painting to influence music, the elements of music are transformed into these landscape paintings, becoming a new kind of music score. This series of works bring traditional Chinese paintings and modern music together, where ‘static’ and ‘noise’ are simultaneously present in the works—causing mutual influence, interdependency, and translation with one another. Just like two people who speak different languages but find a special way to communicate with each other.
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Flip through a treasured record collection and you’re likely to find tattered covers and faded, bent corners on the most played albums. Artist Erik Burke displays these signs of a well-loved LPs in a new mural that amplifies music’s outsized impact to a monumental scale. Tucked into a corner at Reno’s Record Street Brewing, the towering artwork gathers a vintage collection—The Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die is slotted next to The Velvet Underground & Nico and Johnny Cash’s Live At Folsom Prison is side-by-side with Give ‘Em Enough Rope by The Clash—that’s an eclectic mishmash spanning genres and decades. “A large part of it was sourcing the original vinyl and choosing the most worn-and-torn covers to show how these records are a big part of our life and tell unique stories,” the artist tells Colossal.
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Turn that Root Down into a meltdown with the first-ever candle replica of the boombox so iconic it’s simply referred to as “The King.” Cent LDN just released a retro design modeled after the legendary JVC RC M90 boombox—you might recognize this iconic device from LL Cool J’s Radio album cover and multiple photoshoots for the Beastie Boys. The hand-poured candle weighs more than four pounds, which is just a fraction of the actual electronic’s 22, burns for 100 hours, and is molded in cream-colored soy wax that’s both biodegradable and vegan.
Pick up one of the hip hop classics in the Cent LDN shop, where you’ll also find a Spalding basketball, and follow the London-based company on Instagram to watch for new releases. (via Plain Magazine)
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Editor's Picks: Music
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