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I Listen to the Wind That Obliterates My Traces: Music in Vernacular Photographs 1880-1955 Hardcover – August 2, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


I listen to the wind feels like something altogether different, though, more like a silent movie, a collection crafted from crumbs of the past. Tucked within the simple, minimally designed book's front and back covers is the music, which Roden organized into a two-volume mix of similarly excavated documents culled from flea market 78 rpm discs. --Randall Roberts, Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic July 31, 2011

A book of coffins; a book of openings to the sky. Americana but something more than that - a collection of aged photographs, brief literary texts and 51 recordings haunted by melancholy, not just the corrosive scour of time on photographic plate and shellac surface or scenes and distant art from another world; also a record of displacement and loss from times when ancestral memories hung close and poignant, each blemish on the surface of a photographic print a scar of war and poverty, great depression. dustbowl and epidemic, Steinbeckian passages of migration and loss, and all the while a ruthless thrusting of progress to liquefy the solid ground. --David Toop, Wire Magazine August 2011

The vintage photos inside this 184 page book are completely lovely... Pages and pages of interesting images to provoke curiosity and evoke reverie. Altogether, Roden has compiled over 150 photos and 51 tracks for this stunning document of sonic obsession from Dust-To-Digital! Hard to imagine NOT wanting this. --Aquarius Records August 12, 2011

About the Author

Steve Roden is a visual and sound artist living in Pasadena, California, his work includes painting, drawing, sculpture, film/video, and text. He has been exhibiting and performing his works in museums and arts spaces internationally since the mid 1980 s, including: Centre Georges Pompidou Paris, San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, UCLA Hammer Museum Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art Athens Greece, Serpentine Gallery London, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Walker Art Center Minneapolis, Singuhr-Horgalerie in Parochial, Berlin. Recently, the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena mounted a 20 year survey of Roden s visual and sound works, the exhibition was picked by the LA Times and ArtForum Magazine as one of the best of 2010. Roden has released over 20 solo recordings on various labels internationally, and has received numerous grants and awards, including a recently announced grant from the Foundation of Contemporary Arts in the Sound/Music category. Steve Roden has previously co-authored Krazy Kid s Food (2002), Taschen; and co-edited Site of Sound (1999), Smart Art Press. He has written numerous articles for various publications related to art, sound and design - such as: The Wire, Musicworks, Echoes, Open for Design as well as numerous exhibition catalogs. His text works have been published in various literary journals such as: Twenty Six, Errant Bodies, Drunken Boat and others. Some of his writing was included in the recently-published MIT Press anthology Sound as part of the Documents of Contemporary Art series.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Dust-To-Digital; First Edition edition (August 2, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0981734243
  • ISBN-13: 978-0981734248
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #802,357 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

steve roden is a visual and sound artist from los angeles. his work includes painting, drawing, sculpture, film/video, sound installation, performance, and writing.

he has been exhibiting his visual and sound works since the mid 1980's, and has had numerous solo and group exhibitions internationally, including: susanne vielmetter LA and berlin projects, studio la citta gallery verona italy, the mercosur biennial porto alegre brazil, centre georges pompidou paris, the san diego museum of contemporary art, the ucla hammer museum los angeles,the museum of contemporary art EMST athens, singuhr-horgalerie in parochial, berlin, center for book arts new york, pomona college museum of art, claremont ca, la casa encendida madrid, IMO projects copenhagen denmark, and others. he has also performed at various arts spaces and experimental music festivals worldwide including the serpentine gallery london, the san francisco museum of modern art, the walker art center, minneapolis, the dca dundee scotland, redcat theater los angeles, as well as performance tours of brazil and japan.

roden has also released over 20 cds of his own audio work on labels worldwide. he received an mfa from art center college of design in pasadena, ca in 1989, and a bfa from otis parsons in los angeles in 1986. grants and awards include: chinati foundation artist in residence, foundation for contemporary artist grant, california community foundation & getty foundation mid career artist fellowship grant; nimoy artist in residence grant; city of los angeles cola award; city of pasadena individual artist grant, durfee foundation grant; california arts council visual artist grant.

over the past 10 years, writing has become a larger aspect of roden's work with essays and poetic texts for numerous online and print journals, anthologies and sound art histories including MIT press, rizzoli, smart art press, and others.

roden's most recent publication is "i listen to the wind that obliterates my traces" published by dust to digital. the book compiles selections from the artist's collection of music related photographs circa 1880 - 1940, literary quotations regarding sound and silence, and includes 2 cds of 78 rpm recordings, also from roden's collection. it has been praised by the los angeles times, the chicago reader, the wire magazine, and numerous blogs and indie record stores.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Damon Cleckler on December 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover
have you ever picked up a photograph of something or someone you didn't know at all, and wonder, "what was happening here?" or "why is this a photo?" and then imagine that you can hear and see what was actually going on by letting yourself go for a moment? have you ever held a record in your hand that has no information other than a label and two side and wish that you could just run your hand over the grooves to feel the sound contained within? through his own successful career as both a visual and sound artist for the last 20 years, mr. roden has made a life's work out of such inquisitions. with the release of this book on the dust-to-digital imprint, roden has used his mastery as an artist with a knack for not exactly knowing what he sees or hears into an acutely poetic and gracefully informed journey back in time to something that may or may not have existed. it's purely revisionist in its assembly, yet not because it is interested in presenting any theory or narrative by which we are supposed to be informed of the facts of what these photos or sounds were doing in their place and time. rather, roden curates a revisionist fantasy in which another time is created where spirits and souls are completely alive and frozen in time at the same instant. there is no academy here, rather matter of fact presentation of things not intended to ever be seen or heard together and in succession. it becomes a narrative of emotion that cannot be translated or transcribed. sound is impossible to describe, as are visuals. one must hear and see each to full comprehend. and here, both sound and visual are presented together in such a way that yet another indescribable sensation is beckoned: that of the spirit. look at the book without listening to the cds. listen without looking at the book.Read more ›
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Ed C. Fields Jr. on September 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bob Dylan said, as misquoted by me from the essay included in The Basement Tapes, that mystery is a fact, a traditional fact. Every part of this marvellous book is proof positive of that statement. The music is real and can be heard, the photographs are real and can be seen, but whenever I look and listen, I feel as if I have visited the land of spectres and phantoms. Steve Roden opens the book with an essay which actually gives insight into that swirling mist he has set in front of us and presents us with epiphanies, which is appropriate and useful when the journey is intuitive and not necessarily logical. He has assembled a collection of songs and sound effects from what Greil Marcus calls the old, weird America, back when media had discovered that world but had not yet homogenized and destroyed it. Every selection sounds as if it had been floating around in the ether with no clue as to how it got there and Mr. Roden just happened to snag it as it drifted past. On one level, the songs have no earthly connection. At the same time, each of them is firmly grounded in space and time and human experience. People clear their throats, they sing sharp and flat and slide off the notes, the timing and tempos are ragged. Nothing here has been prettied up and polished for the hit parade. A trained linguistics/dialect expert could probably tell, within one hundred miles, where each singer grew up. Two of my favorite tracks are Montana Calls and Yes I Know. The arrangement for Montana Calls is a jazz/Nelson Eddy hybrid that makes Montana look and feel like a dreamland floating in the clouds. Rev. Calbert and Sister Billie Holstein-what a wonderful name!-sing their gospel selection with such fervor and passion that you've got to believe their message.Read more ›
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Once a soldier... on June 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I went four or five times thorough the Cd's already. The sound is excellent. I looked at the pictures a number of times already. They are excellent, and rare. The feel of the book in the hands is top notch. Great cardboard, great paper. Excellent quality and presentation. Grade ten design. I like Old Time Music but I am no expert. I have a number of collections(JSP, Yazoo, Blues..., the usual suspects)but most of the songs here are new to me. They are all marvelous. I'll single out two that are beyond belief to me: Xango, by Roland Hayes and Reaching for the moon, by Roy Smeck. OK, this is unfair for the rest of the songs so I take it back.
I can't think of any reason why anyone with even minimal interest in OTM wouldn't buy this. I feel like I have crossed a line here. Something happened. See it(and hear it) for yourself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael Engel on January 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Turn off your iPhone. Stop twittering. Stop Facebooking. Turn off the TV--and if the Country Music [sic] Awards are on, throw a rock at the screen (OK, maybe just a pillow). Tune out the whole 21st century. Sit back and close your eyes, or leaf through the book and study the amazing pictures. Then put on one of these CDs. Go back to the time when popular music was an actual expression of real people (although if you're reading this review, you probably do that a lot anyway, like I do). Enjoy the wonderful combination of natural sound effects, blues, religious exhortations (thank you, Mr. Roden, for one of my favorites, Alfred Karnes), folk songs, and homemade recordings. This book and its CDs are a wonderful spiritual/meditative/time-travel remedy for all the ills of modernity, even if only temporarily. It is a truly unique audiovisual creation. So what are you waiting for? Buy it.
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