The Real Paul Jones

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Accidentally Adding Sound to Ono’s Mirror

Paul, · Categories: General

Circa 1958 at the Ackland
While at the Ackland Museum for the Circa 1958 show, we came upon special recreations of four wonderful participatory pieces in the same room.

Allan Kaprow’s untitled piece, which dominates the room, is made from chicken wire, a step ladder and newspaper — the idea is that the piece exists only for the length of the show then is gone, except for notes about its creation.

Robert Morris’ Box with the sound of its own making is a sealed crafted smooth box with a long tape loop inside. The sound on the tape loop is the sound recording during the construction of the box itself.

George Brechtís Three Chair Events (1961) places three chairs in the museum in various places. Originally one outside, one in the gallery and one in the bathroom, but for this show in various rooms in the museum. The public is invited to sit on the chairs and “observe” what’s happening around you.

The fourth and most fun is Yoko Ono’s remake of her early Painting to hammer a nail in. The reimagined version is not much like the recreation seen here on the blog, but is a special Ackland Circa 1958 version.

The Ackland version is a gold framed mirror film covered piece of wood with the invitation “Yoko Ono invites you to drive a nail in the mirror.” This opportunity is made realizable by a wooden handled hammer attached to the easel by a gold chain and a box full of nails built into the easel frame.

More like the original than the Ackland version

The tilted mirror was pretty well full of nails of all sizes and shapes by the time we arrived (the show ends January 4th). But we managed not only to get our nails in the mirror but whilst driving them in, we discovered a secret sonic dimension to the Yoko Ono mirror piece.

By dropping a nail, from the top of the piece, you get some very nice random but not unpleasing tones as the nail bounces among its secured cousins like a musical Pachinko ball. Two to four nails released together still give musical results; any more and you attract the negative attention of the room’s guard.

Note: I’m interested in doing an homage/recreation/reimagining of Allan Kaprow’s 18 Happenings in 6 Parts within the next year and am planning now. Join me here and bring your ideas.

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