|Every Island Fled Away and the
Mountains Could Not Be Found
The Score: Rust and Renewal by Christopher DeLaurenti
In the 20th century, composers embraced decay. Not the cultural
decay alleged by various polemics declaring the "end
of music" that hounded Beethoven, Berlioz, and Wagner
in the 19th century, but sonic decay: The dissolution, deterioration,
and disintegration of sound itself became a means of discovery
and, ironically, creation.
Recording technology enables the exploration and mechanization
of decay by filtering and repeated layering. Piled on top
of each other, sounds abrade and partially erase each other
into something new. Jim Haynes encapsulates his own approach
to decay succinctly: "I rust things."
In his installation Every Island Fled Away and the Mountains
Could Not Be Found, the Bay Area–based artist juxtaposes
five wall-mounted sets of four-by-four panels against a buffet
of wine glasses filled with rusty water. The panels feast
on rust. One set suggests a trail of smeared, brandy-colored
chromosomes smudged with carbonized fingerprints; my favorite
panels hint at a gold-painted Klimt gone wrong, a forgery
betrayed by polluting bits of ocher and amber.
Arrayed on four pedestals, the wine glasses sit atop speaker
cones, smothering crackles into the quiet fizzing chatter
of a Geiger counter, another sign of (radioactive) decay.
Haynes calibrated the volume masterfully. The vibrations gently
disturb the innards of each glass. Translucent flakes, particles
of rust, and plain old dirt move slowly, slightly. Yet to
hear the sound fully, you must peer into the glasses themselves.
Otherwise the sound only mumbles.
While rust obviously denotes decay, more detrimental forces
work secretly. As the installation ages, the speaker cones,
weary of such unusual weight, will wear out, slowly changing