Someone said there was going to be washing machines

Someone told me that there were some avant garde washer-people with custom washing machines playing at the Foundry the other day.

When I arrived I discovered it was someone playing a banjo.

Since my disappointing visit to the Foundry I’ve been preoccupied by thoughts of hotwired Hotpoints circuit bent Bosch Classixx 1000s.

But where is all the washing machine noise at? Sometimes it is hard to tell.

So far I’ve tracked down the following examples of washing machine related sound art – but I’m not really satisfied by either. If anyone can point me in the direction of a washing machine musician – do it.

A. SPACE Age Sirens

This choir of middleaged mentalists sing excerpts from washing machine manuals.

B. Wally Hendrick – Chirstmas Tree

Wally used parts of a washing machine to create a noisy kinetic sculpture of distruction. Amazing.

Festive sounds of distruction

The Christmas Tree Sculpture…. “I started collecting stuff which was in ’54. I had the idea of building this Christmas tree. I was going to have a wooden Christmas tree and I was going to hang things on it, like American things, junk. But then I decided I had so much stuff that I might as well just build a Christmas tree out of junk. It had two radios and two phonographs and flashing lights and electric fans and a saw motor, and, these were all controlled by timers. Well, John Humphrey can tell you about it because it became kind of a celebrity at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. I don’t remember when it was, probably ’57 or ’58, some where along in there. They had a show and they invited me to have a piece in it. I took this thing down there and rehabilitated it. It had these timers out of washing machines, you know how they cycle them selves. Well, I hooked it up so it would cycle all these things. Like one of the record players played, “I Hate to See Christmas Come Around.” It was a very big tune at the time. Any way, I got it all going and I plugged it in, but I set the timers so they wouldn’t go off until the opening of the show, which was later that evening. So precisely at eight o’clock when the show opened up, the thing started up. At the beginning (now I’ve been getting this second hand because I wasn’t there) it just flashed its lights, honked it horns, played its records, while the people were standing around with cocktails in their hands. One lady with a fur coat was standing close to it drinking and talking to her friends. It had a horn out of a very old automobile, and it only went off about once every twelve hours. Well, it went off right next to this woman and she backed right into it and got tangled in the mechanism because there were machines going around in it all the time. Her fur got tangled in it also gave her a shock. She was going to sue the museum. Then it just blew up. I wasn’t there.”


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