I am hard at work on my series of prints about the Alaska Way Viaduct. Big Bertha, our sensitive and emotionally overwrought digging machine is helping me out by quitting on the job. We may have several extra years to contemplate incipient ruin, the subtleties of patina and the beauty of going nowhere.
This morning I started on a new collage with Pandora in the background set to my favorite station, which I am guilty, guilty, guilty of listening to instead of finding each song individually or listening to mixtapes made by friends 30+ years ago. The station, wouldn’t you know, is named for the father of music for airports Brian Eno. I do like this phrase from the Rolling Stone review of 1979, “...there’s a good deal of high craftsmanship here, but to find it, you’ve got to thwart the music’s intent by concentrating.” The trick of collage is often to concentrate while not concentrating, a sleight of hand through which something interesting may appear. Mr. Eno and his friends are the perfect soundtrack to encourage this state of mind.
As I was working, shifting layers back and forth and on and off and testing all the ways two simple images can converse and transform each other, I thought about driving and the visual emotional space of the car, which is so entirely married to music. I got my first and only car, a gray Toyota Corolla, in 1989. I will never take it for granted. The first time I sat on a lookout at sunset and turned on the radio I had a kind of American Satori experience: so this is what they were talking about! I get to sit here in my room on the street and just turn the dial and look out at the view?
The view of course is what the lovers of the viaduct will miss the most when it comes down. It is the last populist vista, where you don’t have to pay big dollars to see The Mountains and the Sound which make us want to live here. When it is gone we will have to buy a multi-million dollar penthouse condo or use binoculars to peer across the six to eight lanes of traffic they propose to go on top of the tunnel, which by then will cost 10 dollars per trip and which no one will use because who wants to drive in the dark?? Hmmm.
The music of this situation is both requiem and anthem, weaving its modal intervals in and out in lane changes and near-misses and ultimately onto the great offramp of what-it-is. Requiem for what is to be lost, anthem for what we can still see if we ditch our worries about gas and earthquakes and just go for a drive. I checked Pandora to see what lovely song was transporting me: “Ballad of Distances” from The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid, and “Requiem for a Dream” by the Kronos Quartet. Gotta love this many-splendored synchronistic modern life.
Stay tuned for details on my upcoming show, “Excavations,” at Zeitgeist, opening the first week of April.