Out Of This World

Out Of This World, 1999, 72dpi for website

Out Of This World 2001, oil on hessian with inserted speakers, record player, amplifier, 12″ acetate, cabinet, paintings 91x76cm, 36x30in

A sample from a John Coltrane recording from 1965 is looped so that the saxophone appears to sustain a high note for ten mintues. It plays through three speakers embedded in the paintings. These depict details from an Ungaro design of the late 1960s. Visitors can put the needle on the record, or take it off, as they wish. Of the two Coltrane versions of “Out of this World” that I know, I use the shorter and more rehearsed version (the “Live in Seattle” recording is altogether wilder). I want to consider here how the performance of improvisation comes to be valued. At the end of a brief melodic intro Coltrane holds a high note on the saxophone for a few seconds before returning to the melody. Applause rises as the note fades. The paintings employ traditional paint mediums—Venice turpentine, Damar varnish, Sun-thickened linseed oil—to cultivate an appearance and smell of something old-fashioned. In this sense the piece pays homage to a culture of improvisational painting and music that is implausible, or at best nostalgic.