Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wednesday Wonder: The Auerglass

Highly creative artist Tauba Auerbach and her friend, musician Cameron Mesirow (aka Glasser) are the inventors of an unusual instrument, the Auerglass. A type of pump organ, constructed for the artists by Parsons Pipe Organs, Canandegua, New York, the Auerglass is made of white pine, plum, maple, southern yellow pine, blood wood, white oak, and walnut, and acrylic, steel, copper, leather, and felt. It is 15' 10-1/2" long, 2' 7-1/2" wide, and 9' 8" high. The instrument requires two persons to play; each has her own keyboard with alternating notes of a four-octave scale, and for either player to perform, the other must pump to supply the wind for the player's notes. 

In the 10-minute video below, Auerbach and Cameron Mesirow perform on the Auerglass, which was included in a New York City exhibition of Auerbach's work, "Here and Now/And Nowhere", at Deitch Projects in September 2009. The composition was written specifically for the Auerglass, and combines music Auerbach wrote as a child, songs from Mesirow's band Glasser, and new material. Because the composition was half-scored and half-improvised, every performance during the exhibition at Deitch was unique.

Note the platform shoes the players wear; they're interlocking.

Auerbach is an inventive, often compelling painter and drawer, photographer, and sculptor; her conceptual work focuses frequently on ideas about order and disorder, pattern and randomness, and draws on graphical systems (e.g., morse code) and typographic design as well. In addition, Auerbach is the author of [2,3] A Pop-Up Book (Printed Matter, 2010), comprising six individual pop-up volumes, Chaos (Deitch Projects, 2009), 50/50 (Deitch Projects, 2008), and How to Spell the Alphabet (Deitch Projects, 2006), among other artist's books. She also has created Math Functions Suits, a limited-edition deck of playing cards whose suits are math function symbols (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division); Auerbach created a custom font for the deck and also drew the backside patterns. The slipcase is hand-numbered. 

Auerbach in Whitney 2010 Exhibition

Selected Works by Auerbach at Deitch Projects

Ken Johnson's New York Times Review of Auerbach Show at Deitch Projects


Unknown said...

I love the quiet way the Auerglass plays. And it looks like a good workout too! Just lifting those shoes on the pedals must require some conditioning :).


Louise Gallagher said...

The whole piece, including the instrument, has such beautiful grace and tranquility to it.

And I agree with Laura -- quite the workout!

I love how it looks like a ship -- it reminds me of one of those devices on train tracks where you pump up and down to move along. This makees me think of a boat on a river being pumped along as it sails smoothly atop tranquil waters.

Thanks Maureen for sharing this -- it's lovely!

Joyce Wycoff said...

Fascinating to watch two young women turn their idea into reality. And the interdependence required to play it is a refreshing note. It's lovely to hear and to watch ... and an inspiration. Thanks for this find.

Kathleen Overby said...

In the beginning, I was being tortured as they withheld giving each other air in the bellows. Loved the dovetailed shoes! My, my. This was playful and fun.

Ruth said...

Maureen, I am moved by this woman. The details you've shared in the post are just astonishing. I mean to write the music as a child, invent the instrument, make her dress (she must have), design the shoes (?), create the art with the mathematical patterns, the playing cards, all of it is a stunning oeuvre. And she looks young yet.

I am touched by the instrument, needing the other to pump air, a true duet, which reminds me of "Love Poem" by Rilke, in which he says . . .

But all that touches us, you and me,
plays us together, like the bow of a violin
that from two strings draws forth one voice.
On what instrument are we strung?
What musician is playing us?
Oh sweet song.

Thank you, I am just blown away.

Hannah Stephenson said...

Holy crap.

This is so fantastic. I would definitely wear those shoes. This is GREAT.

Anonymous said...

it sounds very much like a woodwind instrument.
also, one could get winded from all the pumping.
reminds me of my grandmother's old singer sewing machine... the pedal action to make it sew.

Robin Arnold said...

It's musical, mathical, architectural, sulptural, and woodworkical. My family is going to love this! Thanks Maureen!