Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Kurt Schwitters' Ursonate by Jack Ox

(Installation shot of the Fourth Movement of the Ursonate, photographed at the Contemporary Art Center in New Orleans, 2004.)

This is from a painted interpretation of Kurt Schwitters' sound poem The Ursonate (written 1922-32.)

The paintings were made in 1993 by Jack Ox for each of the sounds used in the poem, then chopped up to fit in the visual time that the sound should take. 

Click on this link for more images and information:

This link was sent to me by the amazing Jeff Benham (who is a contributor to my Snow Stories anthology.) His friend Kristen Loree has performed the sound poem while showing projections of the paintings. 

(and yes, Andrei, I do remember your talking Yam Seal comic "For Kurt Schwitters".)


  1. it feels really linear, a moment-by-moment unfolding in time. in other words, the sense of a sequence is really strong.

    dunno why people are so obsessed with the same old historical sound poems, though. it's like a band playing Beatles covers.

    Henri Chopin's throat noises would be fun to make this kind of score for.

    some sound poets who make comics of some sort are/were bpNichol, Mike Cannell, me, probably there are others.

  2. Actually, Mike, I perform a rockin' (figuratively speaking) version of the Ursonate myself. I've been told it's much more musical sounding than Schwitters' own, though I try to not, you know, sing it.

    I should scan and put up my Schwitters homage.

  3. I want to hear that, Andrei!

    I have a few all-vocal pieces I recorded that I should dig up.

    I did find some screenshots from an old software program which played image files as audio but I can't find the actual program or even the name of it. Here are four image-audio files (combined as one file) and two screenshots:

  4. damn, i'm just jawdropt.

    that's seriously eyesum.

    oh, & if any of y'all out there are
    collagists or whatnot, always stooping down
    to pick up bits of rubbish off the sidewalk
    or whatever, have no shame! -- the next time
    somebody gives you shit for being a weirdo,
    just tell 'em you suffer from "Schwitter's
    Syndrome" : an uncontrollable neccesity to
    get all the little pieces, trash is so good
    because it's whats left over after someone
    has used it, a residual energy remains, &
    inna way, it's like archeological sociology
    as well...his Merzbau stands alone as only
    a pyramid can, somehow, it seems appropriate
    it was destroyed, however sad that may be,
    but Merzbau only lives while Schwitters lives,
    truly, he was one of the alltime greatest.


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