Arts / Music / Technology

Turning the Tables with Evan Holm

Pool with record grid _ The Making OfEvan Holm is an American sculptor who uses the sounds and imagery of musical equipment and instruments in his work. Using the visual aesthetics of the turntable, Holm has created some truly beautiful pieces over the years including the Submerged Turntables one of Holm’s most famous pieces. The vision came to him while at a show where Brazilian electronic art Amon Tobin was performing. The image of a record quietly turning, submerged under dark, murky water quickly crystallised in his mind and he set to action to make this a reality.

‘’The pool is filled with 50 gallons of water, tinted with Sumi-e Ink until opaque,” Holm explained. “Making the water opaque allows me to obscure some of the underwater mechanisms. This helps produce a sense of wonder and mystery.  Aesthetically the ink mimics the black vinyl of the record so that the border between liquid and solid dissolves into motion. I felt the inky, unknown water was a good metaphor for the subconscious as well.’’

Holm has always been envious of musicians, stating that their art form is so immediate compared to mediums that he is used to using. “I’ve started including sound and musical equipment in my sculptures,” Holm said. “In some ways to get closer to being a musician, I suppose.”

Another of Holm’s pieces, the Crystal Turntables, was never publicly displayed but is another example of his work utilising records. This piece is slightly more active, a record plays surrounded by a crystalline structure, the vibrations of the speaker controlling a string and an inked nib which draw patterns down reel of fabric. This beautifully streams across the ceiling and back down to the floor.


Holm experimented with different types of records that would suit the tones of the art he was creating, deciding the best match for the mood of the Submerged Turntable is Jan Jelinek. “ He just an amazing and talented German electronic musician,” said Holm. “I’ve collected most of his vinyl albums and remain mesmerized by his compositions. The Crystal Turntables exists only in video documentation, so that record by Nate Dogg, is the only song it sung.

“With both these pieces I try to set a mood of wonder, calm and of a magic that I think is being lost in the present world,” Holm explained. “Sound and music is very important. It’s immediate, engaging and flexible.  As a sculptor it is an excellent medium to include in my work.”

Currently Holm is working full time in West Oakland based studio, producing one of the more ambitious installation pieces he has attempted yet. “I’m making an analogue cassette tape player – 20 ft long, eight ft wide, with 150 pounds of flour and 10 wooden carriage wheels. The ten wooden carriage wheels will be set up as gears and the cassette tape will be looped around and throughout the wheels,” Holm said. “They will act as gears, or pulleys of sorts and ever so slowly move the cassette tape across the reader heads of tape players so that sound, voice and story can be pulled from the loops of cassette. The flour is there for aesthetic and metaphoric reasons. This will be a sculpture designed to tell poetry and stories, using the beautiful sound of human voices”



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