Chalet Comellas-Baker and Clint Sleeper
The Lonesome Cut Up, is a conceptual sculpture that consists of an LED programmable sign, that displays a scrolling poem on loop. This poem was composed by deconstructing and reassembling the words included in the song lyrics, ‘I’m so lonesome I could cry’ written in 1949 by Hank Williams Sr.
Creating a new song through the process of collage and omission is referred to as the “cut up” technique and has been traditionally used by song writers, including Williams for many years. It’s done to reconfigure lyrical structures and musical arrangements and spark an idea towards creating a new song. For this piece, we referenced this technique and added an additional factor of technological mediation. The lyrics were run through an html program hand coded to randomly break apart the lyrics of the song and reconfigure them.
Within our separate art practices our work intersects with issues relating to the environment and climate change. In this work there is a compelling relationship between the use of birds and birdsong in Williams’ lyrics which evoke a feeling of loss and the environmental issue of “loss of habitat.”Famously the song begins, “Hear that Lonesome Whippoorwill”, and the research for this piece began with tracking down the number of Whippoorwills sighted in Nashville, home base for the country music industry, ranging from 1949 to present. We looked for a correlation between urban growth and population numbers of the Whippoorwill; research from the Tennessee Ornithological Journal points out that as Music City has grown over the years the population of Whippoorwills has steadily declined. Heart breaking.