sound elements: from rust to dust

For the month of September visual and sound artist Jim Haynes was in the MoKS residency. Towards the end of the month we made an excursion with Jim and fellow artist Toomas Thetloff to one of my favorite “lost” places in Estonia, the former Soviet collective farm site known as “Avangard” (yes, that was its name). Avangard is about a 20 minute drive north of Tartu and is now mostly a collection of old barns, decaying structures and small local industries. Nonetheless the place provides us with a number of possibilities for site-specific sound activities. Last year we made a special performance evening at Avangard on the occasion of the traditional Estonian “jaanipäev” or mid-summer day as well as several earlier recording sessions.

On this visit I was particularly drawn to the abundance of decaying and rusted metal on the numerous structures around the site. It may have been because of Jim’s interest in rusting and corrosive processes that are prevalent in his visual work of which I have an interest but have never worked with directly. Interestingly one of the stories told by Jim at his artist talk at Y-Gallery in Tartu, was about attempting to translate the rusting process into sound by somehow recording it. Although he explained his attempts were not entirely successful the idea is intriguing. The next best thing then, is to maybe use rust itself as a sound element in exploring the surfaces and textures of resonant objects. This is part of what was happening in our last session at Avangard. So besides the macro images I captured with my camera (above), there was a certain degree of rusted textures that found their way into our sonic explorations. I’m posting a few excerpts from our recordings below.

Avangard Rust 1, site-specific sound actions with Jim Haynes, John Grzinich and Tomas Thetloff (4:25) Estonia, September 2007:

Avangard Rust 2, site-specific sound actions with Jim Haynes, John Grzinich and Tomas Thetloff (2:50) Estonia, September 2007:


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2 thoughts on “sound elements: from rust to dust

  • Tim

    These fragments are beautiful, stunning. I’d love to hear the results of these released in a full length format, rather than just repeating them over & over here. Are they actually a collaboration between you & Haynes? They seem by composition to have elements of both yours & Haynes’ work/ideas in their intention & attention. Faith, as a difficult salvation in rust…

  • jgrzinich

    The recordings on I put up were made with Jim and another colleague here Toomas Thetloff. They were basically spontaneous improvisations made on site. We didn’t discuss much and mainly spent our time just playing and listening.

    Jim just got back to the states and said he hasn’t had time yet to listen to what we did. After he does we can discuss what to do with the material. We have several hours of collaborative material made from his (short) time here. So its quite possible something may come out of it.

    Jim also put some notes up on the MoKS blog from his experiences in Estonia.