Appropriation – Amaël de Betak

by | Nov 18, 2019 | Artwork #2: Appropriate



My appropriation project came from the idea of making people create collaborative music using something that was not initially made to make music. I decided to appropriate a skateboard as the instrument as one of our guest speakers was telling us about his work which was all based around his habit of collecting toys. He took a look at Dylan’s longboard and started talking about the fact that the way he made art could be used for any hobby and used the skateboard example. Having tried to learn skateboarding since joining Northeastern and having already produced works using that aesthetic in 2D Fundamentals, I decided to try and use it for this project.

Another reason for the choice of the skateboard is that many people who do not skateboard themselves see it as an act of vandalism which tends to destroy the environment in which it is used. However, this is not the case, and skateboarding can even be considered as an act of appropriation in its self as it uses a pre-existing space and makes something new out of it by looking at it from a different angle.

My objective was to create procedural music through the use of a cadavre-exquis like approach where each participant would have to create a loop based on a metronome and the previous participant’s contribution using the skateboard. The previous loop acted as the end lines which are used in a cadavre-exquis to ensure coherence between the different parts.

My main inspiration from this piece was Duchamp’s The Fountain, as he uses an everyday object which many people would never associate with art and made one of the most recognizable pieces out of it. This idea of giving it a new life is linked to my own piece as the skateboard itself does not seem as though it could be used as an instrument, however, its different components all produce very varied sounds which could allow for diverse approaches when producing music with it.

I also took inspiration from the pieces Musical Chess and the Musical Tennis pieces as they also had this similar idea of creating music out of something which is not normally linked to it.

Overall, I was not entirely satisfied with the way in which the piece turned out as I came with the expectation that participants would use the different elements of the skateboard to create interesting sounds. However, they all took the same approach of using it as a percussion by knocking on the deck and scratching on its grip tape, even though I did show them the different possibilities prior to the recording.