link - issue 15: March 2015


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a journal of art + culture(s)  




Picnic Basket

Emily Gustafson

Picnic Basket
Picnic Basket is a 33-minute composition woven of the sounds of 23 solitary Picnic Club picnics that occurred on Sunday, November 23rd, 2014 separate in space, together in time.

sometimes a picnic is just a picnic sometimes a picnic is not a picnic sometimes a picnic is not just a picnic because sometimes a picnic is not a picnic when the idea of picnicking is so that the place doesn't matter  just a blanket and food in space sometimes a picnic is not just a picnic at all  picnicking has that sneaky k  picnicking is a state static we just can't get there from here sometimes is a synonym for picnic like legs on a potato symbolizing is also a word for picnic eating outside is just not that much fun like party clothes are always itchy it's my fantasy picnic where you bring cloth napkins and there are no plastic cups the basket is heavy always forgetting something important thinking the object will complete the dream and so on we forget transcendence for salt and pepper on a moonlit night see how easy it is hauling our things and calling it home I want to include you because I picnic alone to the sound of beach waves or wind through beeches breaching beseeching licking my fingers no matter how much I try to share the characters get mixed up in my head and I find it difficult to think to sort apples are picnics crisp linen sharp and the sound it's like cracking but in a good way as if a crack could be a good thing a breach a brake a pause applause sounds like apple eating too clapping is something you do together I have a picture of us all eating apples together  we are standing and sheepish laughing at our audacity to share the sounds of eating cracking us up holding our sides sticky juicy fingers glad it's not soup the path is a little bit open today and I am rushing around procrastinating unwinding my gut I am glad the door was open for a little bit all my writing seeks the same rhythm the 4/4 as I struggle for 6/8 it's just breathing I'm not gonna make it tonight  the  frenzy will wear off  this is my fort my prison protector smelling scratchy damp wool remember? it is always just me Eastside Lansing featuring the harvesting of a backyard carrot, with chickens providing color commentary. These sounds were captured on a short walk from our house on Vinewood Street in Southwest Detroit to empty the compost bucket at the Hubbard Farms Community Garden; then back home and inside of our house where we were followed upstairs and into our room by our cat. I was happy to hear the rain holding me inside. Michael and I wandered around the house looking for sounds that caught our fancy with his tape recorder. As he transferred the sounds to a digital file I played my old Ukulele.  I also sent you a recording from a walk I took with Banjo. Beautiful sunny Sunday morning in rural Rhode Island, taking advantage of the last nice days of fall to work out in the old orchard composting and mulching apple trees before winter. Fields are filled with birds dart to and fro, gliding on the breeze a turkey vulture. Digging, raking, shoveling in compost and mulch, moving tools & wheelbarrow to the next tree. Blue Jay being territorial. Distant sound of mower... Alone in my temporary, century-old, uninsulated attic, hearing rain outside, feeling wind breeze through cracks in surrounding wooden walls, and watching plastic crinkle on the floor, as I dreamily contemplate the work of Hans Rosenström. Inspired by the Picnic Club and such seminal field recordings as Sounds of a Tropical Rainforest in America, Sounds of North American Tree Frogs, Sounds of the Junkyard, the Environments series, The Voice of the Turtle, and the Golding Institute's Sounds of the American Fast Food Restaurants, I recorded some whistling plants. I also captured some of the ambient sounds of the search, and a bit of appropriate theory and conjecture that I happened to discover on television later in the evening. These particular plants were found not too far from where Vinewood dead-ends into the north side of I-96. Me and Baby Bunny as Interrupted by My Neighbor Rachel and homecoming after a long and cold walk through my neighborhood. I made this recording while working in the studio yesterday, putting a construction together while studio mates (The HE/BOPS) worked on their latest album.  The construction used copper wire, drywall, 2x4s and a ladder, as well as a flight of stairs. 17:24, Tape Recorder. A walk on Moran Street with Emily Piellusch, 7PM  Michael_Collino  It was a lonely night where I put on music at random (Beirut, Zap Mama, Iron & Wine, amongst others, I don't remember) and built a prefab dresser. There were moments of feeling empowered, and moments of frustration. I had been anticipating this project, but as it arrived the day escaped me and I found myself late in the evening sullen that I was unable to record any of the day's activity- time just went by as it often does, too fast. As my day drew to a close I went outside to have a cigarette before bed, and heard the rain on the maple and oak leaves scattered in my backyard.  The percussiveness and cacophony of this subject (though often recorded) was such that I knew it was a worthy ingredient. Sounds of snoring fill the air while I unsuccessfully try to sleep. Jessi talks about the pigs she is raising and preparing for slaughter, while we eat out in the burbs. Hearing music drift through the heating vents when we get home. Trying guitar out of tune. Sometimes you want to have a picnic, it rains. Sometimes when it rains, you want to listen to the rain. Sometimes when you listen, it sounds like music. Recorded in my Hamtramck backyard while I listened to the rain. I brought along an old Swiss music box to keep me entertained. Sadly, there were no snacks. Recorded during a walk in Roger Williams Park in Providence, Rhode Island, this experience was about the sometimes impossibility of solitude or the ability to be solitary in inhabited space. Taken in the middle of the day: a shower. A peaceful picnic for a shy person, an oasis of solitude in the midst of a hectic holiday schedule. Crunchy Train Snack. A bend in the line draws some interesting noises from the passersby. Free of eyes, ears make a hearty feast in the dark. 25 years ago this piece of land in Berlin was the crossing to the American Sector. Checkpoint Charlie became a symbol of the Cold War, representing the separation of East and West. There are no borders anymore today, just the sound of constantly passing cars and all different kinds of languages from tourists from all over the world. I forgot that I was recording on the second one.  Really interesting at the end. Here is a recording of me at my studio desk, doing a blind contour drawing with pencils.

Amy Kelly


Klinger Street, Hamtramck, MI

Michael Tosto


Magnolia Avenue between Michigan & Kalamazoo, Lansing, MI

Lauren & Ryan Harroun


Vinewood & Porter Street, Detroit, MI

Bridget Quinn


Pare, Walper & Bellevue Street, Clawson, MI

Neil T. Walsh


rural Rhode Island

Emily Gustafson


Hancock & Avery Street, Detroit, MI

Greg Baise


where Vinewood dead-ends into the north side of I-96, Detroit, MI

Emmy Bright


Williams & Huron Street, Pontiac, MI

Hamilton Poe


Rosa Parks Boulevard, Detroit, MI

Augusta Morrison


Moran & Carpenter Street, Hamtramck, MI

Michael Collino


Pare Street, Clawson, MI

Collette Czarnecki


Vinewood and Porter Street, Detroit, MI

Adam Pierce


Manistee Street & Oak Park Boulevard, Oak Park, MI

Michele Pearson


Joseph Campau & Edwin Street, Hamtramck, MI

Tom Friel


Telegraph & Fairfax Avenue, Bloomfield Hills and Voorheis & Myra Avenue, Pontiac, MI

Caitlin Drinkard


Gallagher & Carpenter Street, Hamtramck, MI

Anne Reinhardt


Roger Williams Park, Providence, RI

Vinnie Massimino


Agnes & Van Dyke Street, Detroit, MI

Jacqui Au


Vinewood & Risdon Street, Detroit, MI

Jule Osten


Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin, Germany

Joey Landis


Lincoln, Willis & MLK, from Cass to Grand Boulevard (in motion)

Chris Reilly


Eastern Michigan University, Ford Hall, Ypsilanti, MI


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This text is by Emily Gustafson in her capacity and does not, necessarily, reflect the views of different infinite mile contributors, infinite mile co-founders, the authors' employers and/or other affiliations.  




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