Emmanuel Witzthum, a Jewish artist, went from embassy to embassy trying to get in touch with different artists from different cultural backgrounds. When he reached the American embassy he was told “Sorry, we don’t support culture.” Oh god, our cowboy hats and spurs are showing as some old kranky guy yells from a bar, “We don’t take too kindly to your type…” Luckily, this image faded, or dissolved really, through Witzthum’s artistry.
On a Thursday night at the Magnes museum, another barrier was broken: the barrier between young students and old Jewish art enthusiasts. Everyone turned out for a chance to hear from the great Emmanuel Witzthum. He is a famous composer, violist, curator and lecturer, who is the artist behind the piece Dissolving Localities (details here). It is a mix of sounds, and sites from Berkeley and Jerusalem that is a pleasure for the senses. This night was particuarly special because we got to see how this masterpiece was created.
Witzthum described his work as a “framework between daily life and the arts.” It takes sounds and scenes that we take for granted as we walk down Telegraph, such as cars whizzing by, shouts of slightly crazed individuals and many more, to create something beautiful. The artist showed us how he takes certain frequencies in a sound, combines them with other frequencies and creates a unique, harmonized music. It is a treat for the ears. Not to toot our own horn, but the Clog creates a similar effect on its reader. We take everyday events, combine them with the art of writing and each of our sarcastic voices to create these amazing blogs each day! Wait…you don’t find them to be amazing works of art?… oh. Well, nevertheless, the words of the artist touched us deeply, and the sounds he created sent shivers down our spines.
These sites and sounds, created by Witzthum, were actually designed to be presented to a live audience. During live shows, DJs take sounds from Witzthum’s collection and combine them in whichever way inspires them artistically. This is a revolutionary way to see an artistic creation take form right before your eyes. It also means that this piece is continually changing and shaping, just like the societies it depicts. Witzthum believes that “art is to be shared and communicated.” What a beautiful concept.
Commenting on the title of his piece, Witzthum said that the word “dissolving” implies that the process of accepting and identifying with another culture takes a while. It may be a while before we see that lonely foreign exchange student walking from International House and say “Hey! He is so cool just like me!” (Ok. We may never say that exactly). Instead, we may look at his strange athletic gear, and wonder why he does not at least try to dress like the rest of the Berkeley community. But, eventually this barrier of prejudice will dissolve as we realize that we are all human (insert a bunch of hippies joining hands here). Berkusalem is here to stay! Let us hope that many other cities can be combined into such funny portmanteaus in the future!
Image Source: Kara King, Daily Cal
Tags:art, Berkeley, culture, free lectures, Jerusalem, judah l magnes museum, music, professors, walkable cities
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