Monday, July 16, 2012

Guest Post: Cody Edison on Origins Anthology, 2012

In the run-up to "America Changed Through Music": Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music at 60, we're hoping to feature a variety of guest posts which explore different ways in which the influence of the Anthology is still felt and experienced in contemporary culture. The first post, below, comes courtesy of artist Cody Edison. Enjoy, and remember to book your place.

Cody Edison is an emerging American artist from California. He recently received his BFA from California Institute of the Arts for studies in Photography and Media. Cody is developing a photographic studio project which adapts folk songs from Harry Smith's Anthology and Arhoolie‘s release of the first recorded Mexican–American Border songs. He shoots large format negatives and overlays them with a vintage typewriter's text to apply the songs' lyrics to his images. In March of 2012 The Center for Photographic Arts (Carmel, CA ) included Cody's work in the group show "Unexpected Aesthetic: The Search for New Directions". Most recently Cody (in collaboration with Jake Faulkner, who's presenting a paper at "America Changed Through Music", and Sam Kauffman–Skloff) produced the final installation of a multimedia interdisciplinary CalArt event in homage to Harry Smith titled "Re–Envisioning America." Cody is currently focusing on Origins Anthology, a multimedia documentary of post WW II American music in California. Origins Anthology is currently on exhibit at Galerie Der HBK Braunschweig in a show titled, "Artist as Traveller." 

An introduction - Origins Anthology, 2012.
"For centuries, Western knowledge has tried to look upon the world. It has failed to understand that the world is not for the beholding. It is for hearing. It is not legible, but audible." - Jacques Attali
In the age of cyberspace, what is the potential of a link to a network of musical anthropology? Origins Anthology, 2012 is the first volume of an evolving multi-media documentary located on the Internet and catalogued with collectable lithograph cards.

Harry Smith broke the barrier between high and low culture with the Anthology of American Folk Music. The videos of Origins Anthology are separate stories, which coalesce into a history of post WWII California through the humanism and cultural bridges of music. I believe music is transitive through social networks in ways other forms are not. The premise of my thesis was to layout the foundation of my vision for Origins Anthology, as an undergrad studying photography and media at CalArts (California Institute of the Arts). This project began to fully take form by re-examining Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music (especially his liner notes), Mexican-American broadsides and UbuWeb. My intention is to seek songs and stories that restore the social context in the aesthetic experience of music. 

The packaged lithograph cards, designed in collaboration with Kaylan George, have links and passwords to music performances and interview style films online. I want them to be perceived as tokens and to be collected with a different value than purchasing a record. The cards function as an invitation to distribute information existing in cyberspace. Harry Smith's liner notes serve as indexes of each song and performer, while these cards index chapters of individuals' stories and songs that define their lives. Kaylan and I wanted the cards imagery to be archetypal, so she developed the chair series. The chairs can be seen as a point of reflection, for the beginning and end of a story. Kaylan discussed how sitting in a chair is a place of suspended time. To Kaylan the shadows take on an eerie intensity depending on the light being shed on the reflection. The absence of a body in the chair connotes an out of body experience, a moment that one is physically not present. A memory. Time is present, and invisible.

I believe the social network is not the only defining language of cyberspace.  UbuWeb is an archive online self-proclaimed as the Robin Hood of the avant-garde that gives to all. It is a rabbit hole that one, like my self, cannot escape. I first understood the concept of “over the web” by exploring the archive for the first time. It was addictive and offers an alternative state of mind on the web with academic potential.UbuWeb is completely free, all materials are made available for noncommercial and educational use only. Thus, I wanted to explore using the Internet as a site for my project, and giving the lithographic cards away for free, funded by grants. Vimeo is a temporal website location for the films, in the future I would like to build and develop my own site for the project.

I chose to incorporate my own Origin, A Soldier's Lens, as the first chapter, which was the moment of genesis for this project.  The Japanese American network of musicians was the first community outside of my own that I could enter. One can better understand their own story from listening to the stories of others and the songs that define them.


Cody + Origins.
The Songbird of Manzanar. Password: songbird

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