SiteWorks: San Francisco performance 1969-85

63 Bluxome Street at 4th Street, now 63 Bluxome Street Gallery

Tom Marioni, Drum Brush Lecture (25th November 1974)



I made my first drum brush drawings in 1972 and I continue to make these drawings, which are inspired by the automatic writing of the surrealist movement. The drawings are the result of rubbing and beating with steel wire drum brushes ( like jazz drummers use) against a large sheet of sandpaper. The steel is transferred to the paper over a long period of time and the brushing on the sandpaper makes a rasping sound. The action is repetitive like that of a knife against a sharpening stone. The left hand makes a single arc, up and down, while the right hand moves in a circle-like motion in the shape of a violin or an artist’s palette. Over the years the drawings have changed only slightly, like handwriting changes as personality evolves. This becomes a kind of talk drumming, played on a hollow core drawing board. The result is a pictorial record of the sound activity, a marriage of art and music. During a drawing/drumming session, because of the repetition of sound and action a trance state can occur and I can see elements of fantasy in the marks. To most people the results look like birds flying to the left. (Marioni 1997: 24)