Written by Michael Ashman
Indeed, while the nature of music and what it does for us has not changed over the centuries, the way we listen to it certainly has. Live music is always the best, but ever since we created the technology to record music, we have always tried to improve upon it. Today, the diversity of music storage is numerous. But when one way becomes more convenient, the old way quickly becomes obsolete.
In his new work “Music for the Soul,” GMONIK captures the evolution of music technology throughout the years by painting a tower of music devices representing just about every popular medium of the past century. Starting with a turntable and vinyl records at the base, he builds up from there with 8-track cartridges, cassette tapes, and CDs. One can even feel a pang of nostalgia for the mix-tape generation, as GMONIK recreates handwritten labels on the cassette tapes—one for “Slow Jams” and one for “Punk Rock.” All the music devices in the work surround the central skull like a memorial.
However, it is at the very top that the new digital format reigns: the iPod mp3 player. Its wires wrap around the 8-track cartridges and past the CDs and appear to connect into the headphones of the skull at the center of it all. Is the skull listening to music from the past, or is it remembering what used to be the “new way” to listen to music? It must be some good mind-melting music because the grey skull looks like it is dripping down the canvas, over the cassettes, over some music making accessories. The cool pinks and blues and acid purples give the painting a melancholy vibe, suggesting the deep and meaningful ways that music impacts our lives.
Whoever this skull belonged to definitely loved music. And music is a big part in GMONIK’s other works, which are on display at Thumbprint Gallery at 920 Kline Street in La Jolla. The “City Dreams” exhibit by GMONIK features surreal mixed media art about music, technology, and wild beasts. The gallery is open Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 12pm to 4pm. The show will be on exhibit until February 3. We will also be hosting a second reception for GMONIK on January 25 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.