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Author Topic: Mark Applebaum: The mad scientist of music  (Read 5389 times)
wolfnowl
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« on: August 04, 2012, 12:35:43 AM »
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This isn't about photography, and you may or may not agree with what he has to present, but he begins with a very simple question: "Is it music?"  I won't give you the 'answer'.


Mark Applebaum: The mad scientist of music


Mike.
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bill t.
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« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2012, 02:14:45 AM »
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The greatest lesson I have ever learned is this...constraints are liberating, because when you know what the realistic limits are, you are free to efficiently concentrate your efforts within those limits and thereby get something done.  The results of that have a higher probability of being "interesting" than if one is lost and diluted in some larger exploration of unconstrained space. Which is where the presenter is now, IMHO.  If you shoot for the moon, you will never get there, but a few decent photographs a year are a realistic and productive goal.  

To my mind "interesting" alone is much less satisfying than "music."  I like to hear interesting music, but I would rather not see music stripped of its harmonious beauty on the altar of "interesting."  There are plenty of ways to go on interesting and provocative explorations besides tearing up music and the like in silly ways.

OK, I really like the idea of giving musicians free form scores to interpret as they wish.  Please note that however vague the score may be it nevertheless establishes constraints that empower the musicians to launch into a performance.

But concertos for florists or hand gestures get tiresome in about 8.5 seconds.  One can sit through such performances in the hope that some unexpected and wonderful synergy will emerge, but it rarely does.

Harry Partch is another "interesting" and much less verbal musical maverick who managed to stay a little more focused.  Worth a google search.
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luxborealis
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« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2012, 07:01:46 AM »
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Excellent - thanks wolfnowl for pointing us to it. TED Talks are always so mind expanding; I always feel energized after watching.

bill t. - you make an excellent point and one I can subscribe to. Certainly Beethoven might be a better "Desert Island" choice than Mark Applebaum.

However, through his talk, Mark Applebaum leads us down a different path and sums it up at the end by changing the question from "Is it music?" to "Is it interesting?" without worrying about whether it's music or not. Granted, interesting to some will not be interesting to all (as can be said for all art), but this mind space is a healthy place to be. In other words we need to worry less about fitting a defined paradigm, in our case, "photography" (however one might choose to define it). If we concentrated more on making what we do "interesting", we might just find ourselves in creative places we never thought we would be - and I'm speaking from a decidedly "straight photography" point of view, if you've ever seen my work.

In some respects, we can blame Ansel Adams for this adherence to straight photography. He was always critical of the "pictorialists" who chose not to use the inherent qualities of photography. Straight photography was AA's paradigm - we don't need to make it ours. In fact, if we do, we are, essentially, not artists but copy cats a camp I find myself in far too frequently (but I like it!).

In the first few moments of Applebaum's talk he made the shift from "straight" Beethoven to an improvised "jazz" Beethoven - still musical and very interesting. What he then did was to stretch the concept still further until he is in another paradigm altogether, as a true artist does. Think of what Monet and Picasso did all those decades ago and others have done since to make painting more interesting. They stretched the paradigm of the day into something we now see as being part of the "acceptable" paradigm of visual art. Applebaum is the Picasso of today, in both an auditory and visual sense. What he's doing may not be as accepted today as "music" or even "art" by the general public (just as Picasso was not accepted at first) but give it time and we might just be surprised.

I went through a similar paradigm shift last summer when I occasionally sat in the back seat of the family car on our long drive from Ontario through the western provinces to BC. I wanted to photograph but wanted to make it interesting so came up with the idea of making motion landscapes. I know it's been done before, but, for me it was a revelation. Those of you who are part of the LensWork Online community can view six of those images over in the Reader Spotlight section of the LensWork Community. I've attached a sample. It's the pattern of the landscape and the interplay of dynamic colour, contrasts and shapes that make it interesting for me - not whether on not it fits any definition of "photography".

Farmscape, Wellington County
« Last Edit: August 04, 2012, 07:04:43 AM by luxborealis » Logged

Terry McDonald
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bill t.
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« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2012, 02:29:59 PM »
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But there is a difference between paradigm shifting and simply flailing in the void.  Applebaum is looking for a paradigm shift, but as far as I cant tell he's just flailing, and in most cases in ways that aren't even original.

I can help comparing a Victor Borge routine with the Applebaum hand gestures.  Ok it's a stretch.  But Applebaum is merely different whereas Borge is both different and engaging, which is what I want from all art forms no matter how bleeding edge.  No boring art, please.
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luxborealis
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« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2012, 09:19:56 PM »
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But there is a difference between paradigm shifting and simply flailing in the void.  Applebaum is looking for a paradigm shift, but as far as I cant tell he's just flailing, and in most cases in ways that aren't even original.

I can help comparing a Victor Borge routine with the Applebaum hand gestures.  Ok it's a stretch.  But Applebaum is merely different whereas Borge is both different and engaging, which is what I want from all art forms no matter how bleeding edge.  No boring art, please.

Everything you are saying about Applebaum, people were saying about Picasso back in his time to the general public, even Picasso was "flailing". No one is asking you to like Applebaum's work or even understand it. The point is, he is not satisfied with the same-old-same-old (which we see in spades in photography). Instead, Applebaum is experimenting with new ways of thinking, hearing, expressing. Like it or not it is his art and it is unique all the more power to him because it is people like him that allows the rest of us to think beyond what we are always doing.

"If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking." George S. Patton
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Terry McDonald
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- visit luxBorealis.com.
Have a read of my PhotoBlog and subscribe!
bill t.
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« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2012, 08:15:35 PM »
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Whatever.  Should mention that Applebaum is in no way bleeding edge, or revolutionary.  Everything he showed us goes back to at least the 60's.  He's holding up the tail end of experimentations that have mostly disappeared over the far horizon.  And Concertos for Orchestra plus Whatever are more numerous than cat pictures.

But honest, I do like some of that genre, provided it's not just interesting, but also engaging.  That's my minimum requirement for the consumption of any kind of art.  It can't be boring.

Here's a Michel Plourde graphic score and performance from the 80's, which builds on a tradition much older than that.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tgkaf8gFoF4

And more recently Anita Hustas with engaging graphical musical ideas and a very nice explanation, scrub to 2:28 if it seems boring.  I think the bottom of the odd instrument is filled with liquid or sand.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idxmiY9pSSI&feature=related

OK, can't resist throwing this is in.  If anybody has the tiniest glimmer of musical inclination, this page is gonna blow you away.  Scroll down and click some of the "Play Instrument" links.  It may take a while for the sounds to load completely.  The percussion section is possibly the most fun.  Most of those instruments were built by Harry Partch in the 50's.

http://musicmavericks.publicradio.org/features/feature_partch.html#

To save some time, you can go directly to this particular Harry Partch instrument simulation.  I killed too time on this today.

http://musicmavericks.publicradio.org/features/highband/spoils.html





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