Coherent Cacophony

The Daily Pic (London edition): Euan Macdonald tests a piano's endurance—and ours.

I caught this video by Euan Macdonald at the Hayward Gallery on London’s South Bank. (Click on the image to see a clip from the video, or watch the full thing at The work combines banal footage of a piano-testing machine in China, and a soundtrack that could be the most radical of modernist music—but which is in fact just the sound that the piano makes when it is being tested. Close your eyes, and you’re in a hip downtown music space; open them and you’re back in factory land. (The title comes from the number of parts in your average piano.) One of modernism’s most astonishing achievements was how it let us see art in almost every aspect of the everyday, from peeling billboards to crude folk pictures to shiny machine parts. Macdonald’s achievement lies in preserving the everyday crudiness of the everyday, while also letting it take on the gloss of art. He doesn't let one collapse into the other. (For some other readings of his piece, check out curator Ralph Rugoff’s text about it.)

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