Jesse Jarnow

new art by ned lagin.

The California musician and artist Ned Lagin returns with his first public work since his 1975 Seastones LP, collecting art, photographs, and writing from the past decade of his long and decidedly non-public career. With a long series of poetic Notes acting as deeply psychedelic grounding texts for the visual works, Lagin’s art (and words) tease out the threads between his circuit drawings in the sand and natural landscapes, his nude self-portraits and light-time geographies. Together, they make for a kind of personal ecology of creation, a worldview whose component parts reflect on one another and cast a light backwards on the sounds and concepts behind Seastones.

I’m pulled most strongly to Lagin’s sand drawings, a personal miniaturized form of land art, ecologically sustainable if artistically ephemeral (and a bit similar to some of my father’s recent work). It’s not hard to feel the connection between beaches and time, from the metaphoric standard of an hourglass, to the long and short-term change of tides, erosion, and other natural forces. And it’s through Lagin’s overt threads between his beach-works and his 1970s recordings (right down to the LP’s title) that his opaque-seeming music begins to make more sense as (in Lagin’s phrase) “moment-forms” realized and washed away by time, memory, and a half-dozen varieties of organic and synthetic obsolescence. At least, that’s part of what I got out of reading through Lagin’s 30 pages of carefully considered Notes, which are probably worth going through in conjunction with the work.

For those curious about Ned Lagin’s music, the website presents some answers, too, but also questions. Alluringly, there are hints of future releases, both of a new album and of an expanded and remixed Seastones. But Lagin’s art and writing will have to do for now, materials that (when absorbed) might provide some kind of conceptual remastering on his music for anyone who cares to look/listen/read, new moment-forms waiting to be found in the listening. Ned Lagin’s SpiritCats.com is an unexpected hello from a long silent voice.

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