Sunday, June 2, 2013

Rock & Roll Pt.2


How a Buddhist deity and a taiji master go rock’n roll, appear printed on top of the unmentionable NYN and what Gary Glitter has to do with it.

NADA flyer ca 1982

NYN flyer 1980

East of Eden flyer 1985

Flyers outside T&V 1979

In the spring of 2006 I took J. W. Junker’s class A History of Rock & Roll (MUS 477) at the University of Hawaii’s music department. It was probably the most fun class I ever took in college, undergrad or grad school. Part of it was the subject of course, but for the most part it was the combination of Jay Junker’s infectious personality and knowledge of the subject. It was in a good-sized auditorium with great acoustics, and a grand piano. Jay showed video clips and played lots of songs as he lectured, often standing next to the piano pounding the top of it with his palm to make a point. Most students were classical or ethnic music majors and when Jay asked questions I was usually the only one raising my hand. I still learned a lot, for example that the term rock’n roll was used as far back as the 19th century. Yes, it could be a ship rocking and rolling back and fourth as some dictionaries suggest, and yes the name of the popular music developed during the 40’s and 50’s called rock'n roll, but making love is probably much closer to the original meaning and that’s really how I see it. I knew for a long time that Bo Diddley took his beat straight from the church, but I learned much more about the influence of gospel on rock’n roll. 
Attitude print

Guan-yin 1st print

T-shirt rack inside T&V print

My field research project was to write about and document my time in New York City (May 1978-November 1988), my bands, recordings, band posters, record covers, videos, basically all my creative activities. I called it Dieter’s Rock’n Roll Revelation. Artist book publication soon. This looking back inspired me to take some of my band posters and transform them into woodblock prints in the fall of 2006. I was also working on a print of my taiji master’s grandfather and one of the wooden Guan-yin sculpture at the Honolulu Academy of Arts. I carved eight blocks all together. After pulling some prints of the individual blocks, I printed the taiji master on top of the New York Niggers. It opened up a massive flow of creative energy.

Dong Yin-jie over attitude 1st layer prints

NYN over taiji master

Eastern and western angels meet

 I started to print the different blocks on top of each other, often using the ghost print technique, or partially blocking off the plates. I quickly realized that the prints reproduced the singular aesthetic of walls or fences covered with posters, aged by rain and sun, and partially ripped off. I created about 20 prints, each different from the other.  When I showed them to my graduate adviser Yida Wang, she suggested I print 40 more. I went to the bookstore and got 40 more sheets paper and went to work. I worked fast and spontaneous. The printmaking process itself became rock’n roll. The subject of the images became identical to the process. I hung all 60 prints, three on top of each other on a 25’ wall and another 10’ around the corner. Later a few were framed and hung in different shows. Some of the prints now hang in Hamburg, Berlin, New York, San Francisco, Honolulu and Telluride. 27 prints will appear this month at a pop-up show in Honolulu’s Kaimuki. Details on that later.

corner at UH graduate show 2006

corner different side

group of prints

Rock & Roll Pt 2 refers then to the revisit of my life as a rock’n roller in NY through printmaking with a nod to Gary Glitter, not to exonerate him of his personal downfalls, but to point to the essence of rock’n roll. Check out the videos below, two drummers, barely any instrumentation or lyrics. Rock’n roll in its essence is tribal. It is for this tribal element that I always strive for when I play, and I aim for that essence with intelligence, humor and spiritual uplift.

                      60 Woodblock prints on RFK Reeves, 22” x 30”, Dieter Runge, 2006

carved wood plates

List of plates: 1. Dong Yin-jieh, taiji master, 2. East of Eden rock & roll revelation,
3. East of Eden, Peppermint Lounge, 4. Nada at A7, 5. NYN, org photo by Alex Kayser,
6. Guan-yin, 7. Flyers on wall outside Trash & Vaudeville, 8. T-shirt rack inside Trash & Vaudeville

framed. Contemporary Museums cafe 2009/10

 Short clip from the opening at the Contemporary Museum Cafe December 2009 with Stephen Niles and ausdience participation.

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