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Subjectively Speaking

Read our interview with the artist, below.

Describe the presentation, all of its different components and how they inform one another.

First I wrapped the walls of the gallery with butcher paper in three levels, circling like a spiral. I listened to a piece of music and did a live abstract linear interpretation of what I was hearing. Next, I photographed the walls and organized the images into ‘sheet music’ that could be read left to right and in the same order as my flow. I sent the ‘sheet music’ to Jake Falby, a composer who’s amazing at the violin (among other instruments), to create a recording based on his own interpretation of the music. I’ve also turned this ‘sheet music’ into a poster that I will make into limited Risograph prints available for sale at the show.  

What will the opening involve?

The opening involves a few different elements. I have four performers coming in including Alex Knost (one of CMCAC founders), Verge Bliss, ENTRANCE (Guy Blakeslee), and Abby Banks. Each performer will do a live improvised interpretation of the transcription on the walls. I’m excited about this group because everyone will be doing something different: noise, guitar, voice. The performers don’t know anything about the original piece of music I transcribed from. The choice of instrumentation and length of their performance is up to them and their own interpretation. In the back room of the gallery there will be two listening stations, one with the original piece of music I did my transcription from and one with the interpreted recording from Jake Falby. There will be a monitor showing a video of my live painting performance and a station to view prints of the ‘sheet music’ that I gave Falby.  After the opening, another monitor will be set up showing the four performances from opening night.

Where is the initial message that's to be transferred coming from?

I chose a piece of classical music, specifically Mozart, because to me it is one of the most visual. Mozart’s symphonies also tend to not be too dense, but still have multiple instruments. At first, I wanted to do something from Mozart’s Jupiter symphony, said to be one of his weirdest compositions, but after mapping out my timing for drawing and seeing what my pace was, I realized I needed something around eight minutes to have just the right amount of paper to cover. I also wanted something at a mid-to-fast tempo so my movements would be more reactionary. It ended up being Mozart’s Symphony No.34 in C Major, Part III.  

What inspired the idea for the show?

I’ve had this idea for awhile. Now that I’m not touring I have time to do all these art projects I’ve wanted to do!

For years one of my friends ran an anarchist college called Corvid College. Anyone could teach a class or take a class and the way the class was run was up to whoever was organizing it. My friend did a class on sensory deprivation and Beethoven’s symphonies where we smoked a bunch of weed and went into a room with all the light blocked out and laid on the floor and listened to the music. It created so many visuals for me and sort of like synesthesia, I was able to trace the music visually in my mind using shapes and space.  

Oh wow that sounds amazing. How did it evolve from there?


I thought about seeing that in a tangible, visible form, and then what people might make of it if they didn’t know what it was. It’s like reading a language where you don’t know the letters and try to create meaning from it, but in this case the characters have no rules because it is abstract. We’ve created a musical language and notation to be able to pass on musical information without having to actually hear it. But the way music is created a lot of time is super abstract and a lot of musicians can’t even read written music. Language, written or spoken, can sometimes be restricting because you have to follow certain rules. With art and music so much more is left open to interpretation and is based on subjective experience. That’s also true with how we communicate, especially today. Things are so impersonal and indirect that even a text message can be interpreted completely differently than the sender intended.  

Tell me about the CMCAC and why you chose to showcase the presentation there.

I wanted to do this show in LA mostly as an excuse to skip winter and because the music and art scene out here are thriving. I was looking into where to have the show and hit up Alex Knost, a friend of mine through the music scene, and he passed on my proposal to his partner and girlfriend Daniella Murphy who co-founded CMCAC. They were both into the proposal and invited me to come be their artist in residence for the show. I’ve been staying at the gallery with my dog while I’ve been installing and working on all the pieces for the opening. They set me up with a super cute room and have been really helpful in organizing all the elements and things I need while I’m here. I’m very grateful for them.

Do you really think that news has become like the game Telephone?

I think it’s always been like that. Think about the ‘Extra! Extra!’ kid seeing some crazy event and running into the city to tell the guys running the newspapers, and then them spinning the story somehow to fit a political or socio agenda—there’s always been a spin on news. I think it’s just that now anyone can create these stories and put them out into the world. It’s not just reputable news outlets—I’m sure there’s always been partisan papers and then maybe a few objective ones but at least you used to know what you were getting into by picking up one or the other.  Everything is so saturated now and information moves so quickly that it’s easy for important details to be omitted or unintentionally left out. I’m sure a huge percentage of people take their news from Tweets. How much information can you really get from 140 characters?

I think that people who get their news from Tweets must not respect real journalism or have much use for the truth. Do you regularly keep up with the news?

I really don’t. Especially in this political climate. It makes me mad and sad and depressed. Sometimes I scroll to the news app of my phone and see if there are any headlines that seem super important. Politics is such a shit game and I try not to take part, while still doing my own part to be a responsible and moral human being on planet Earth.

You also have a solo music project coming up. Can you tell me about that?

I started recording a full length with some songs I’ve been working on and that had laying around for the last three years or so. I’ve tracked some basics with Jay Heiselmann (Grooms, Roya, Habibi), and plan on spending some time recording at my favorite place in Topanga with Kyle Mullarky, who did the last BOYTOY record as well as a lot of California bands (The Growlers, Allah-las). I’d love to start playing some shows with this project in the spring.  

‘Subjectively Speaking’ is on view at the Costa Mesa Conceptual Arts Center through March 2.

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