California State University, Long Beach
Inside CSULB Logo

UAM To Highlight Reed, Bitner Works Jan. 27-April 15

Published: January 17, 2012

Beginning Jan. 27, the University Art Museum at CSULB will hold a pair of events, highlighting work of musician Lou Reed and photographer Rhona Bitner. The Reed event is being held in conjunction with the Carpenter Performing Arts Center, where there will be a conversation with the musician and producer Bob Ezrinon at 8 p.m. on opening night. The cost of the event is $45.

In 1975, RCA Records originally released Reed’s “Metal Machine Music” as a double album. It was seen as a radical departure from previous Reed recordings of the time as it had no songs or even recognizably structured compositions. Drawing more from minimalist American composer La Monte Young’s avant-garde compositions and drone music than from conventional rock and roll, “Metal Machine Music” is now seen, in retrospect, as a groundbreaking foray into industrial music and sound art. “Metal Machine Trio,” a 2009 live performance with John Zorn at the Blender Theatre in New York, was recorded by the sound engineers at Arup Engineering.

Lou Reed
Lou Reed

The UAM will present the world premiere audio installation of “Metal Machine Trio” as an ambisonic 3-D re-creation. In collaboration with the acoustic specialists at the Arup Engineering SoundLab in New York, Reed has been able to recreate, for museum visitors, this groundbreaking composition from exactly the same acoustic perspective he had while performing it onstage. The event will run from Jan. 27-April 15.

The installation in the Project Room at the UAM will use 12 loudspeakers in an ambisonic arrangement to create a fully immersive 3D sound lab. The complete Metal Machine Music in four parts with run continuously with each composition lasting around 16 minutes. Each of the four parts are unrecognizable as structured compositions and include over an hour of over-modulated feedback and guitar effects, intricately mixed at varying speeds by Reed himself. Chairs strategically placed in the room will allow museum visitors to experience the work in full comfort for the duration of the work.

Front facade of the CBGB 2005
The front of CBGB circa 2005

STATIC NOISE: The Photographs of Rhona Bitner will be presented by the UAM, also running from Jan. 27-April 15.

In 2006, CBGB—New York’s definitive music club—closed its doors on Manhattan’s Bowery. CBGB & OMFUG stands for “Country Bluegrass Blues and Other Music For Uplifting Gormandizers” and while the club took its name from the musical genres of country, bluegrass, and blues, it eventually became the epicenter for American punk rock and New Wave bands like the Ramones, the Misfits, Television, the Patti Smith Group, Talking Heads and Blondie.

It was the closing of this iconic venue that prompted Bitner, a New York-based photographer, to explore the myriad clubs, theaters, stadiums, concert halls, churches and recording studios where American rock ‘n’ roll was recorded and performed. This ongoing project titled LISTEN is the most recent in Bitner’s continuing two-dimensional exploration of performance, theater and spectacle. Over the last five years the artist has created a different kind of musical recording—that of the silent image which speaks to the raucous history of popular music.

STATIC NOISE is Bitner’s first West Coast museum exhibition to present a glimpse into this new series. Focusing primarily on the seminal punk clubs and concert venues from the late 1970s and early 1980s, the exhibition captures this history through its landmarks—New York City’s Electric Lady Studios where Smith recorded her debut album “Horses,” Detroit’s Grande Ballroom where the Stooges and the Cramps were regulars, San Antonio’s Randy’s Rodeo where the Sex Pistols concert (one of only seven in the U.S.) ended in a general riot, and Los Angeles’ Whisky a Go-Go and Masque—two clubs that were central to the early L.A. punk scene. The artist’s large scale, richly cinematic photographs isolate the often innocuous places where history was made, many in a dilapidated state that belies their cultural and historical significance.

Bitner’s photographs transpose the fascination with the staged or constructed image that preoccupies many of her contemporaries, focusing instead on the performance venue itself and the construction of history. Decontextualized and devoid of affect, the often unrecognizable landmarks under her gaze rely on memory for their reconstruction. Though silent, they speak eloquently of the raw and rebellious music of a new generation.

The exhibition is accompanied by a brochure with an essay by musician Lenny Kaye, author, composer, and long-time collaborator and guitarist for the Patti Smith Group who spent many nights performing at CBGB.

This exhibition is made possible by a grant from Pasadena Arts Alliance. Additional thanks go to BFAS Blondeau Fine Art Services, Geneva, Switzerland.

For more information on either event, contact the Arts Ticket Office at 562/985-7000.