Action Painting, Performance Art and Music

Jon Silpayamanant as Noiseman433 and DJ Leprakon doing a collaborative experimental noise and action painting performance at Va Va Vegas Burlesque show in Louisville, Kentucky at the Art Sanctuary (June 18, 2010)

A recent post by Eric Edberg, Painting to Music, reminded me of some of my past experiences in this interesting collaborative genre.  I mentioned a performance painting done by David Garibaldi (which I didn’t get to see, sadly) at DePauw while I was in school at his blog. A brief warning before scrolling down to some of the video documentaries as these are probably not safe for work (NSFW).

Here’s a video similar to what was described to me by a friend who did happen to see the performance:

I think that live painting (in performance) can be traced at least as far back as the 50s and 60s (maybe earlier, but I haven’t really researched this much and am just going on my general knowledge of the modern arts scene).  Jackson Pollock, who wasn’t necessarily a performer in the sense that David Garibaldi is, might possibly considered the first.

Often referrred to as “Jack the Dripper” those who have seen his painting live often describe it as a ballet or dance because of his method of placing the canvas on the floor and dripping, throwing, splashing the paint directly onto it.  Some of this can be seen in the 1951 documentary, “Jackson Pollack 51” (Hans Namuth and Paul Falkenberg – directors; Morton Feldman – composer; 1951) an excerpt of which follows

The Czech artist, Yves Klein, can be considered the nodal point in painting when the actual process or performance becomes more important the the actually ‘work of art’–or rather, as is the case with the Performance Art tradition, the ‘Object of Performance’ (ala Henry Sayre) or performance itself becomes the work of art.  The following video, “Blue Women Art” (1962) shows how Klein uses painting as part of a total multi-media performance with live musicians and nude women as living paint brushes or ‘canvases’ (warning again: Not Safe For Work):

Pollock represents what might be the end of the high art modernist tradition that would be shattered in the 60s.  In Post-Modern Art, we find that artists tended to shatter the long traditions and explore new ways of making works or turning the fine arts into a new kind of performative Medium as Klein did.  In the former, the work of art is the centerpiece and the performance is just an interesting side-effect of the process of making the work.  In the latter, the Performance itself (“The Object of Performance”) is the centerpiece and the crucial component of the work.

Needless to say, and as I’m sure many of you who know me, I’ve done both and have also been on both sides of the performance (as painter/artist as well as musician).

As I was getting heavily into experimental music and performance art in the mid 90s I had the opportunity to work with another classmate, Lynda Arnold, who had set up an Art Gallery called simply, The Art Loft, in Indianapolis in 1998.  I

Kate Mura and Christee Koberle performing Christine Olson's "RUB" to the music of Jon Silpayamanant (as Noiseman433)

became Performance-Artist-in-Residence during the short period the space was open.  In March of 1999, Lynda put together an event titled “Future :: Primitive” (if I’m not mistaken) which involved the musician, Brian Paulson, performing live; Lynda performing live improvisatory dance; and me doing live painting simultaneously.  This was more the Jackson Pollock model where I lay large sheets of paper on the floor and painting while standing.

In 2004 I provided recorded music for one of Christine Olson’s performance art pieces, “RUB,” which involved two dancer/performance artists (Kate Mura and Christee Koberle), chocolate and flour. The performance was a part of an event titled HIVE at a performance space in Madison, Wisconson.

A couple of years later, Christine used my audio in a blueberry inspired piece, “Guzzle.”  A video of which is included below (you might have to view it on facebook if it doesn’t embed correctly below).  This was also done to pre-recorded music by me (as Noiseman433).  Later next November (2012) I will be working live with Christine in another multi-media performance art piece (details forthcoming).

These pieces were a bit more in the Yves Klein model, especially regarding the involvement of the female body as the centerpiece of performance.

The first time I had the opportunity to perform live music for action painting would have been last year (June 18, 2010) during a burlesque show.  DJ Leprakon and I (as Noiseman433) did a series of three performances at the Art Sanctuary to help draw interest to last year’s Gothalyptic which featured The Enigma and I did live noise while he performed his paintings.  A Vid of that may be seen here (it starts around minute 2):

This was a nice trip down memory lane and am glad Eric posted his recent post and I really wish I could see the performance he will be doing.  What I would love to see, however, is Ukrainian artist, Kseniya Simonova, do one of her live Sand Art performances!

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