Sunday, December 20, 2009
Thumb Piano: TypeDrawing images for Geof Huth and Nico Vassilakis
Nico Vassilakis and Geof Huth have been creating great images via the iPhone application TypeDrawing. Since I just was given an iPhone for Channukah, I couldn't resist trying out some of my own. I had some vague notion, when I got the phone, that there would be a constant incoming stream of vital communications, inspiring, important, and causing both me and the phone to vibrate incessantly. However, this didn't happen. I found myself checking to see if my settings were correct, if something was amiss. Somehow, though, pressing matters of intergalactic safety and global aesthetic emergencies haven't made it into my inbox, at least, not any more quickly that they make it onto my computer.
However, there's something remarkably pleasant about rolling over from sleep, reaching for the phone and creating these little images. The software feels more like playing an instrument: it suggests things by its design and it seems to call for certain idiomatic moves. But that's just a beginner speaking.
I just bought a Bela Fleck album, Throw Down Your Heart, recordings he made with fantastic African musicians. The album is a wonder. And Bela Fleck doesn't just play what you'd expect any old banjo player to play when they first got their banjo. So that's what I strive for. Pick me up and drop me down by a fireside in Zimbabwe. Give me a little while and my thumbs'll go as virtuoso crazy as any mbira player's, tapping out mesmerizing, lilting beauty while the night insects sing.