glassychord (edition)

the glassychord was created for the exhibition hidden city, which occurred in various historic sites in philadelphia, in the spring of 2009.

the book was part of a larger installation that also contained several wooden sculptural works, watercolor paintings, and two sound works; and everything was installed on the top floor of thomas u. walter’s 1835 building for girard college, a space that had not been open to the public for nearly 100 years.

the book was a collaborative work with artist adrienne wong, who designed and printed the book in her letterpress studio. the text is a “mash up” of several sources including thomas u. walter (the architect of the building), alexander girard (the man who commissioned the building), benjamin franklin (in relation to the glass harmonica), and lorenzo langstroth (in relation to his revolutionary hives). the book was displayed on a long turn of the century desk that was found in the building’s archive. it was in a large open space, alone,  offering an intimate experience within a grand-scaled space.

because the book was originally adjacent to several related works, it seemed that the edition of the letterpress book should contain elements related to the entire project. thus, the edition includes not only the letterpress book, but several hand worked letterpress prints (each unique), a small booklet documenting my first visit to the site for a performance, a year before the exhibition; as well as documentation of the final works. the letterpress book is accordion folded, and is 20 pages, plus endpapers.

the piece was done in an edition of 20, with 5 artist proofs.

here is the entire text of the glassychord letterpress book:

among the large mass of books and papers.
an entirely different sensation.
and all would at once be awakened to activity.
and tuned by putting into them water.
as there were stones.
and believe me.
bird in hand.
a number of objects as by one alone.
beyond those of any other.
brought together in a narrower compass.
by a single glance of the eye,
by passing a wet finger round.
it is clear.

clap might follow clap.
during a period
that he built the splendid fleet of vessels
which he principally named
after distinguished french philosophers.
executed in minute parts,
formed of these tones.
and piled story on story
like enormous houses built
of little temples.

extension step.
go towards the spot whence the sound comes.
grass literally grew in the street,
and nothing disturbed the silence.

he had nothing.
he daily stretches forth his invisible hands.
he might quite similarly decide
that thunder was to us inaudible.

considers these
as the organs of hearing.
holes which become more numerous
towards the end.
wrapped up in a labyrinth.

I have borrowed from it the name.
i have made my way alone,
with means gained
from my nurse,
the sea.
i shall not murmur.
i am box maker and box crushing.
ideas may therefore be called the atmosphere.

in flight,
each have a peculiar and easily.
its own peculiar tongue,
the wisdom.
in search of that which is
in the drones,
insects take note
of these vibrations.

looking glass.
many of the bricks
have inscriptions.
material forms to throw around us
a shelter.
new suit of clothes
by declaration.

nothing but what is therein contained.
nothing he says can possibly be imagined
more simple.
on one of the inside beams.
on the trolley car.
scratched his name.

organs of hearing.
a bee hive in a very dark room,
their humming.
small holes. discovered

swelled and softened.
telegraphs by which the distant past is borne.
that bees can hear.
the glassychord.
the broad lights, the deep shadows,
the sparkling.

the hive is entirely unnoticed.
the sound that bees produce by the vibrating
of their wings
the tremor,
i think
no one knows.
their most inconsiderable structures.
there is none that equals.

these small holes
surrounded with that which is beautiful,
harmonious or vast.
therefore all the horizontal lines.
i know nothing of him
and i do not know anything about him.

this consecrated pile.
this moveable building.
this peculiar expression thus arising
from accidental circumstances.
the first continuous record which is to be found.
very much i remain.
the first I saw or heard.

who has studied the nature,
or watched the operations of their own mind?
with honeysuckles and ivy,
with tiny voice
your musical language.