Bruce Nauman

Soundtrack from first violin film

(Vinyl LP)

Limited black vinyl edition of 100 numbered copies
Individually hand-signed by Bruce Nauman


- High-quality vinyl pressing;
- Outer slipcase made with high-quality yellow-glo Perspex with laser-etched typography.
- Sleeve printed on heavy cardboard with a “stocastic” raster, to preserve the quality of the original video still.
- Each cover individually hand signed and numbered by Bruce Nauman.
- Insert with original text by Jay Sanders, curator of Whitney Museum of American Art.
- Shipped in a custom-made protective package to avoid any possible damage.

Bruce Nauman - Soundtrack from first violin film

During the late 1960s, San Francisco based artist Bruce Nauman started to film himself playing a recently acquired violin. In his first venture, subtitled “Playing The Violin As Fast As I Can”, concern for musical content was clearly secondary to concentrated physical action. Nauman’s attempt to bow four strings simultaneously was a stimulus to expressive bodily movement rather than an aesthetic end in itself. All the while a camera framed and captured the event, and the resultant soundtrack shares the representational ambiguity of a shadow which, in the film, Nauman’s performance casts on his studio wall. Still, in 1969, Tanglewood Press in New York boldly issued a vinyl pressing of that soundtrack in a wooden box that also contained minimalist and conceptual works by artists including Richard Serra and Eva Hesse.Now Milan’s Die Schachtel label is making that rare recording available again, as a signed artist multiple, to be followed by a plain and less limited edition on Blume. Heard in isolation from its source, Nauman’s pugnacious and untutored sawing of his instrument has a certain raw appeal. Abrasive sounds, steered by obsessive gestures, etch out a series of rough and fragmentary patterns, the residue of a performance that gave priority to the body and its activity. A second track on the first side, abstracted from a 1968 film, finds the artist sounding two notes very close together and generating audible beats in the harmonics. It’s a chunk of sonic primitivism that strays, perhaps consciously, onto terrain being explored with more explicitly musical purpose by contemporaries such as La Monte Young and Tony Conrad.
Side Two preserves “Rhythmic Stamping (Four Rhythms In Preparation For Video Tape Problems)”, a recording that follows Nauman as he walks around his workspace in a choreographed and highly emphatic fashion. A daily routine of movement is distilled and exaggerated into a prolonged stomp, sustained until exhaustion sets in. The tension between the immediacy of these sounds and their mediated status as documentation touches on the essence of Nauman’s artistry, and that remains both provocative and compelling.

Julian Cowley
The Wire, October 2016


1. Soundtrack from first violin film
Playing all four strings on the violin
2.Violin problem two
Playing two notes very close together


Rhythmic stamping
Four rhythms in preparation for video tape problems

Recorded 1969

Bruce Nauman - Soundtrack from first violin film

Bruce Nauman - Soundtrack from first violin film

Bruce Nauman - Soundtrack from first violin film

Bruce Nauman - Soundtrack from first violin film

Often in liner notes, the task is to promote the obscure – picking up history’s threads to weave a detour that might bring a hidden gem into view. In artist Bruce Nauman’s case, his early video art works of the late 1960s are categorically among the masterpieces that defined their form. Yet for collectors of sound art and avant-garde music, his one published LP, a “soundtrack” to three of these endeavors, barely existed — available only as an element within 7 Objects/69, a set of art multiples produced in an edition
of 100 by Tanglewood Press (the other artists were David Bradshaw, Eva Hesse, Stephen Kaltenbach, Alan Saret, Richard Serra, and Keith Sonnier).

Nauman has often said he makes his art with just enough happening in it that, when successful, it is approachable on any level. His spiraling neon sign from 1967 which reads “The true artist helps the world by revealing mystic truths” rings, well, true – an eye-rolling joke but also a powerful affirmation in its coy simplicity. Choreographing himself alone in his studio, Nauman’s activity-based videos create a kind
of intellectual feedback loop where actor and administrator, task and articulation, creativity and torture, the rote and shamanic, amateur and consequential – as binaries, rollick around each other in a hypnotic spiral like laundry being tumble-dried.

The Fluxus art of the early 1960s put forth the “event score” to radically define any conceivable daily activity as musical performance, always implying the potential for a live interpretation of these written directives. For Nauman, the objective was not the idea nor the activity but the document – the demarcation, framing, naming, and occurrence, committed to video. Citing musicians Philip Glass,
Steve Reich, La Monte Young, and Meredith Monk; Andy Warhol’s early films; and dancers Simone Forti and Merce Cunningham as important antecedents – for their single-minded compositions, long durations, or employment of everyday movements – Nauman effectuates his own new twist by slipping off the yoke of medium specificity. Neither compositions nor performances, these liminal recordings are more “captures” than productions. Shot from a fixed-perspective camera and microphone, his scraping and sawing on the violin or rhythmically pounding footsteps, snapping as he marches toward the recording set-up and muffled as he moves away, locate him clearly within the echoing space of his studio.
None of this is actually music, dance, or filmmaking though all three take place.

Around this time, Nauman extended his sound explorations to haunt the environs of his exhibition spaces. In Six Sound Problems for Konrad Fischer (1968), he installed a sequence of audiotape loops stretched across the gallery to playback various unseen recorded activities (walking, bouncing two balls, violin sounds, and these activities in combination). Threat and paranoia became increasingly real through his forebodingly narrow dead-end Performance Corridor (1969) or, within Get Out of My Mind, Get Out of This Room (1968), a space pervaded by a recording of the artist’s voice that makes demands, pleads with, and scares its visitors. On this LP one hears Nauman’s own body with extreme intimacy – his fingertips, muscles, weight, and personal rhythms broadcasting as he conducts these exercises. Indeed that’s what his subsequent art often does, provoking a formal space of intimacy by whispering in your ear, displaying a cast limb, or pressing on you, the viewer, with blankly disguised menace.

– Jay Sanders

Engell Speyer Family Curator and Curator of Performance,

Whitney Museum of American Art


Bruce Nauman

Bruce Nauman is considered one of the most influential contemporary artists today, having created numerous genre-defining works through the exploration of the body and language, as well as performance over the past 50 years. His innovative and provocative ideas are expressed in a wide range of media and materials, which makes it difficult to categorize his work as inhabiting a single style. Even throughout his sixties, he has continued to work primarily in sculpture and video, exploring language and the physical body with unusual themes based on animal and human body parts.
Nauman was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, but his father's work as an engineer for General Electric meant that the family moved often. He studied mathematics and physics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (1960–64), and art with William T. Wiley and Robert Arneson at the University of California, Davis (1965–6). In 1964 he gave up painting to dedicate himself to sculpture, performance and cinema collaborations with William Allan and Robert Nelson. He worked as an assistant to Wayne Thiebaud. Upon graduation (MFA, 1966), he taught at the San Francisco Art Institute from 1966 to 1968, and at the University of California at Irvine in 1970. In 1968 he met the singer and performance artist Meredith Monk and signed with the dealer Leo Castelli. Nauman moved from Northern California to Pasadena in 1969. In 1979, Nauman further moved to Pecos, New Mexico. In 1989, he established a home and studio in Galisteo, New Mexico, where he continues to work and live along with his wife, the painter Susan Rothenberg.

Confronted with "What to do?" in his studio soon after graduating, Nauman had the simple but profound realization that “If I was an artist and I was in the studio, then whatever I was doing in the studio must be art. At this point art became more of an activity and less of a product.” Nauman set up a studio in a former grocery shop in the Mission district of San Francisco and then in a sublet from his university tutor in Mill Valley. These two locations provided the setting for a series of performed actions which he captured in real time, on a fixed camera, over the 10-minute duration of a 16mm film reel. Between 1966 and 1970 he made several videos, in which he used his body to explore the potentials of art and the role of the artist, and to investigate psychological states and behavioural codes. Much of his work is characterized by an interest in language, often manifesting itself in a playful, mischievous manner. For example, the neon Run From Fear – Fun From Rear, or the photograph Bound To Fail, which literalizes the title phrase and shows the artist's arms tied behind his back. There are however, very serious concerns at the heart of Nauman's practice. He seems to be fascinated by the nature of communication and language's inherent problems, as well as the role of the artist as supposed communicator and manipulator of visual symbols.

Nauman began in the 1960s with exhibitions at Nick Wilder's gallery in Los Angeles and in New York at Leo Castelli in 1968 along with early solo shows at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum in 1972.

His Self Portrait as a Fountain (1966) shows the artist spouting a stream of water from his mouth. At the end of the 1960s, Nauman began constructing claustrophobic and enclosed corridors and rooms that could be entered by visitors and which evoked the experience of being locked in and of being abandoned. A series of works inspired by one of the artist's dreams was brought together under the title of Dream Passage and created in 1983, 1984, and 1988. In his installation Changing Light Corridor with Rooms (1971), a long corridor is shrouded in darkness, whilst two rooms on either side are illuminated by bulbs that are timed to flash at different rates.

Since the mid-1980s, primarily working with sculpture and video, Nauman has developed disturbing psychological and physical themes incorporating images of animal and human body parts. In 1988, after a hiatus of nearly two decades focused on time-based media, he resumed his work with cast objects.

Bruce Nauman - Soundtrack from first violin film
© 2016 Bruce Nauman / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NewYork

DSART13 - 2016 - Die Schachtel /Tanglewood Press
Produced by Fabio Carboni, Bruno Stucchi
Mastering by Giuseppe Ielasi
Design: Bruno Stucchi - dinamomilano.com



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Bruce Nauman
Soundtrack from first violin film
(Vinyl LP)

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