Saturday, December 18, 2010

Captain Beefheart's 10 Commandments of Guitar Playing

1. Listen to the birds.
That's where all the music comes from. Birds know everything about how it should sound and where that sound should come from. And watch hummingbirds. They fly really fast, but a lot of times they aren't going anywhere.

2. Your guitar is not really a guitar Your guitar is a divining rod.

Use it to find spirits in the other world and bring them over. A guitar is also a fishing rod. If you're good, you'll land a big one.

3. Practice in front of a bush
Wait until the moon is out, then go outside, eat a multi-grained bread and play your guitar to a bush. If the bush dosen't shake, eat another piece of bread.

4. Walk with the devil
Old Delta blues players referred to guitar amplifiers as the "devil box." And they were right. You have to be an equal opportunity employer in terms of who you're bringing over from the other side. Electricity attracts devils and demons. Other instruments attract other spirits. An acoustic guitar attracts Casper. A mandolin attracts Wendy. But an electric guitar attracts Beelzebub.

5. If you're guilty of thinking, you're out
If your brain is part of the process, you're missing it. You should play like a drowning man, struggling to reach shore. If you can trap that feeling, then you have something that is fur bearing.

6. Never point your guitar at anyone
Your instrument has more clout than lightning. Just hit a big chord then run outside to hear it. But make sure you are not standing in an open field.

7. Always carry a church key
That's your key-man clause. Like One String Sam. He's one. He was a Detroit street musician who played in the fifties on a homemade instrument. His song "I Need a Hundred Dollars" is warm pie. Another key to the church is Hubert Sumlin, Howlin' Wolf's guitar player. He just stands there like the Statue of Liberty-making you want to look up her dress the whole time to see how he's doing it.

8. Don't wipe the sweat off your instrument
You need that stink on there. Then you have to get that stink onto your music.

9. Keep your guitar in a dark place
When you're not playing your guitar, cover it and keep it in a dark place. If you don't play your guitar for more than a day, be sure you put a saucer of water in with it.

10. You gotta have a hood for your engine
Keep that hat on. A hat is a pressure cooker. If you have a roof on your house, the hot air can't escape. Even a lima bean has to have a piece of wet paper around it to make it grow.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Fall Semester '10 reflection

I read back through my writings of this semester and pulled out my list of vocabulary words I chose.

Body Awareness

If I put them in a row together they actually read as a linear encapsulation of my process of how I get internally from the framework that makes a resonance into an actual act of art work.

Resonance Pattern Space Body Awareness Direction Love Desire Curiosity Dialogue Intuition Perception Infinity Play Surrender Work

This semester has been very good for me in terms of how I am able to consider structuring how I work. Or what sort of structures I work best within. Seeing what it looks like to have play my games with dots and lines within the framework of the mapshapes has given me a lot to think about in terms of how I relate colors together and what sort of patterns resonate emotionally within me.

It has also shown me how much I love rivers. I have learned so much about what they evoke for other people either through discussions or in reading books that philosophize/spiritualize rivers. Its really made my world very beautiful to be living by a metaphorical river.

And has also been a good spiritual practice to help me to feel like I am in some way having a sacred relationship with the Earth around me by celebrating her shapes. It made me want to make the paintings as perfect as I could. Which drove me to really want to complete many months of painting particular dot and line shapes onto canvases. It was an interesting blessing. And now I have these most interesting paintings to look at. AND I have a group of people who have been involved in their involvement because having this cohort space has been very inspiring for me and has also made me want to make my art as perfect as I could.

I am going to put them up on my wall in my bedroom after this and let them live there for a few months. I think after a while Ill need them out of my space, but for a while I want to take them in as a finished group.

Next semester I am going to just get to play and experiment and not force a theme. I am sure one will develop because I am very engaged in that idea in my work right now. And see what it is I make if I am not TRYING to make something. Just let it flow like a river…

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Uniqueness of Being Human: Notes on Alonzo King

Reposted from CIIS MFA blog:
By JENELLE CAMPION, student in the Creative Inquiry, Interdisciplinary Arts MFA program

On Saturday, Sept. 11, Saturday Night @ CIIS launched its fall presentation series with a talk by Alonzo King, artistic director of the LINES Ballet Company. I am in my first year of the MFA in Creative Inquiry, Interdisciplinary Arts program, working as a mixed media artist. In one creative inquiry class with Professor Randall Babtkis we were asked to describe our reaction to meeting Alonzo King and how that interaction influences our hopes for our MFA projects. This is what I wrote:

Notes and reflections on Alonzo King: 9/12/10
  • Remember the uniqueness of being human
  • Be interested and enthusiastic
  • Create a safe environment
  • Art is a synthesis of what is good and bad in the self
  • Beauty = Truth
  • Vulnerable = Generous
  • Love is above the Law
  • Don’t think about “self”
  • Mind is plastic and has no limitation
  • Nature = The Informant
  • Art transforms us into a finer human being
  • If you inhabit it, it will inform you
My hope for my MFA project begins with a desire to more fully integrate myself into a larger human community. I appreciated the freedom and fluidity of self that came across so easily when Alonzo talked about his work.  He seemed to exemplify the fact that being as authentic a human being as possible was a way to bridge the gap between impulse and the actualization of an idea, thereby creating a form for one’s art.

He stressed putting away the “self” and all judgments; to get out of your head and into your work. I find all of this very comforting—a reassurance to allow myself to keep playing with forms, as my impulse drives me. I want to allow that process to shape my understanding of my work as I strive to construct a vessel into which I can pour my many threads of experience and understanding and intuitive knowings.