Times Square by Max Neuhaus

March 11, 2008 at 10:57 | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

I’m not sure when I first heard ro read Max Neuhaus’ name, but it was most likely in conjunction with John Cage’s name. I had seen it again periodically when reading about avant garde music from the United States in the 50s/60s/70s et cetera.

One of the books that I’m reading right now is Background Noise by Brandon LaBelle. In the book he lays out his genealogy–both in terms of people and ideas–of the devlopment of sound art in the Euro-American art/music tradition. The book really ranges from interesting stuff that I hadn’t considered to discussing things that have already been discussed enough. Apparently it’s his thesis.

The chapter on Max Neuhaus really got me going. I remember reading about his installation in Times Square, and I remember reading that it had been removed. However, in Mr. Labelle’s book he mentions that the installation was installed, removed, re-installed, re-removed, and finally re-installed again. I was thrilled at this, and decided that I would make a trip to go and hear it.

I happened to go to the library on Saturday. I spent my time there looking at art books. While I was in teh stacks I just so happened to stumble upon one of Max Neuhaus’ books. Inside were drawings of installations that he had done, along with thoughtfully arranged, and succinct–I hesitate to say poetic because the word is imbued with things that don’t apply here–textual summations/accompaniments. I prompty headed to McNally Robinson in the rain. I stopped on the way to get an umbrella at Uniqlo. At McNally Robinson I drew out an audio installation.

Getting to the title now. Yestedray it took me a while to get out of the house and get going in spite of the fact that I was determined, and directed. I walked to Unio Square and took the N up to 42 Street. When I got out I walked North on Broadway towards 46th because Max’s installation is on a pedestrian island between 45th and 46th on Broadway. When I arrived it was a great experience. Below the Subway ventialtion grate in the pedestrian island is a typical Metropolitan space. It is the kind of space that is adjoined to a space where loads of people are, but where people generally are not (save some type of maintenance of inspection figure semi-annually). In this chamber below street level is a general atmosphere of detritus–there is much grey, brown, and cigarette butts. However, unlike most of these spaces this one is equipped with a drone, the source of which is out of site. The drone is well-tuned because its elements blend in with the types of sounds that might emanate from such a space where energy, is expelled in industrial increments through heavy metal machinery such as a subway train. The drone fluctuates more than industrial machinery though, its frequency palette is more diverse and distinctly composed, and it is impossible to miss if you know that it’s there. However, I had a good time watching other people and trying to figure out if they noticed it. the grand heigh of this experience was facing South on Broadway towards the point where broadway bifurcates. I was, in a sense, in the pocket of an apex of uptown/downtown traffic. On both of my sides cars and trucks moved past, and below me was a swell of sound, sloshing around in a space below ground, and flowing upwards diffusing into the sonic environment. The drone from Max’s installation created a relief–making me think of the fundamental of the drone in Indian Classical music–that truly altered my experience of the sounds of the city. Everything seemed crystalline, and pristine as if behind glass and grinning lovingly at me. I consider myself to be an attentive and active listener, but this sound installation gave me a wholly new experience. Thank you Max.

Finally, my apartment has an interesting sound hole. The ventilation in the bathroom is connected rather directly with someone else’s apartment–I think, above mine. I have heard television and sex through it before. Last night as I was going to sleep screams came through it. It was a couple fighting, a typical domestic ego trip. The gentleman carried on about it being his birthday. He was not a gentleman at all. The big brother in me listened to be sure that no one was being held against their will, or harmed physically, and then I attmepted to go to sleep. I couldn’t. So, I decided to record my less than civil neighbors. Here for the online world to consume are my fuckneighbors, on some fuckshit (idiots related):

Real Manhattan Trash, Talking.

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1 Comment »

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  1. I don’t know much, but I know the dude in that recording is a fucking whiny little toy.


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