Still Something Old…

Stethoscope Fiddle

Your sound volume is normal!

You can hardly hear the sound because the fiddle was so made– it is meant to be “Silent”. (You are lucky because you don’t hear my poor execution)

Although instrument is unplugged, the stethoscope’s earpieces are plugged into my ear holes, giving me a pain and distraction while playing… (It’s a good excuse for my terrible performance)

More photos on my blog:

Until now, I have made several “fake musical instruments” most of which were electric. I call them fake because there aren’t such things like “Electric Solid-Body Morin Khuur”, “Silent Electric Evenki Shaman Drum”… One day, a musician asked me to make a pochette fiddle, which was supposed to be a serious project. I managed to finish it and consequently had an additional orders by the other musicians.

Then I asked myself “hey! Can you really make those “real” musical instruments without being able to play them?” and also thought “if only I had one, I would be playing it… Yeah, I must make one for myself”.

My first fiddle had a laminated carbon FRP body and a gourd to enhance low sound, and of course electric pickup for plug-in play.

As you know, the screeching noise made by a violin novice is intolerable to bystanders but the player must listen to it… My first fiddle had a resonance body, so that it is impossible to get rid of the sound. Then I had to make another one without sound amplifying structure yet can supply ample sound to the player.

Stethoscope is the solution. The fiddle without body produces very soft sound that cannot annoy neighbors even in the middle of night. Along with bone conduction, the stethoscope conveys sound loud enough for the player. Also, good thing about it is that  you don’t have to deal with electric stuff such as shield line, amp and headphone/speaker. Well, there is always a drawback when you make something new… Stethoscope is not meant to be worn for long time, and gives you a pain in your ear holes if you keep using it even for few minutes.

When I began practicing to play the violin, I couldn’t hold it under the chin, so I had to invent a “violin strap” something similar to a guitar strap. The strap turned out very useful– for a short period of time. As I get used to playing the instrument, the contraption has become a nuisance every time I wear it.

My dream is to play J.S. Bach’s Suites for Unaccompanied Cello, which was not for violin– but anyway, my fiddle is a fake instrument and I myself am a fake player without a formal training of violin at all, so who cares!

Something New…

“Great Purification Rite Doll”

Katashiro_on_BlueprintS[The word “blueprint” is a metaphor for a drawing to dream up a bright future.

However, this blueprinted plan discloses the bowels of the evil device that have taken away the future of many people.

If the nuclear power plants also have the indwelling spirits, I would like to relocate them, along with their sins and defilements, to the katashiro (paper figure), and offer a fervent prayer to have them pass into the nether world so that none shall return through all eternity.]

for higher resolution, click here

(tracing paper on blueprinted paper, 3’9″x2’3″, exhibited in the “No Nukes Art Exhibition” at Sakaimachi Gallery, Kyoto, Sept., 2013)


GreatPurificationRiteDoll2LowSaturationSphoto with higher resolution is here

Something Old… 3

Prostrating Figure on the Mani Wheel   (mixed media, c1995)

五体投地マニ車 拡大In Tibet and its surrounding regions, the Buddhists exercise two completely opposite styles of praying– one with the physically hardest way with prostration– the other with the most easy-going rotation of a prayer wheel which contains a sacred transcript.

One person does both, though not necessarily at the same time. It is technically difficult to pray in these ways simultaneously for apparent reasons… but why not? My idea to combine mutually extraneous styles of prayer has found a shape in kineto-mechanical contrivance– or simply a gadget, if you prefer.

This piece is one of my “Pseudo-Tibetan Articles” (fake Tibetan tools).

ProstratingFigure-ManiWheel ProstratingFigure-ManiWheel2

Something Old… 2

Twittering Machine / Die Zwitscher Maschine   (iron, copper, plexiglass, 1987)

Homage to Paul Klee’s “Twittering Machine”

TwitteringMachineThis is the very first piece I made in UW-Madison in the 80s when I was a grad student and the second kinetic toy after “the Kick-Ass Device”, my last piece in MSU-Moorhead, my under-grad school.

Paul Klee’s drawing “Twittering Machine” was something I really wanted to possess–a replica, of course– and I looked for a poster or postcard in the museum shop of MOMA but couldn’t find one.

The simple solution to obtain a replica is either cut out a plate page of an art history book or draw a copy by myself– I instead thought it would be killing two birds with one stone if I could make a three-dimansional representation of the Twittering Machine– to satisfy my personal longing and a project to be submitted.

Image file from Wikimedia Commons

The original “Twittering Machine” has cuteness and eeriness juxtaposed in the picture frame where odd-looking mechanical birds are twittering. Its strange atmosphere is derived from the mismatched combination of birds and mechanism (or birds of mechanism). I thought I could make its 3D version with welding rods and copper plates, and somehow managed to realized it but never anticipated what would become of the piece after a quarter century; now the piece– with its iron rods rusted and the feathers tattered– has become something more close to Klee’s original in terms of eeriness.