Friday, June 11, 2010

Rockwell on 1980 New Music America

Music: Avant-Gardists Get a Chance to Roam
Special to The New York Times

MINNEAPOLIS, June 9 - There is a benignly brooding "video portrait" of John Cage greeting people in the lobby of the Walker Art Center here. That's only appropriate, because people are gathering for a nine-day festival called New Music America that began Saturday night. This is a followup to a similar festival held last June at The Kitchen in New York, and part of what is now hoped will be an annual event in different parts of the country, all devoted to the openly experimental spirit that Mr. Cage pioneered.

There are good reasons for this second festival to be in Minneapolis-St. Paul, but the reasons are more institutional than creative. As Roy M. Close, music critic of The Minneapolis Star, points out in the festival catalogue, the Twin Cities have never been the home of a particularly strong school of experimental composers. But local institutions, above all the Walker Art Center and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, have more than made up the slack, and the result is an active audience and support system for such music. The festival is being presented by the center and The Star, and the first evening's performances were by the chamber orchestra.
Judging from the first two days and from a look at the programs to come, the Minneapolis festival differs in several ways from its Kitchen prototype. The Kitchen festival was criticized for cramming too many short, insubstantial works  onto each program. Here, the evenmgs offer three or four composers instead of six, and allow them a greater length and breadth of forces.

This is not always an advantage. Some of the composers abused that generosity on the first two nights, and the concerts ran too long for comfort. The necessary inclusion of some local composers, plus a few misjudgments about out-of-town guests, has diffused the festival's conceptual focus. Still, the overall program seems genuinely representative of the variety of "new music" styles.

Perhaps the biggest difference from the Kitchen programs is the inclusion of a wide range of special events and "installations." The latter are musical compositions that in one way or another interact with their site, which by definition is not a conventional concert hall. New Music America has some rather silly, trendy (and worse, yesteryear's trends) examples of this genre, mostly by local composers. But there is a fine piece by Liz Phillips in the plaza outside the Minnesota Orchestra's concert hall - clever, entrancing and ingenious. There is a permanent installation of a subtly lively steady-state work for 64 speakers and small synthesizers by Max Neuhaus in Minnesota's largest greenhouse. Brian Eno's gentle "Music for Airports" is chiming away in the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, and Alvin Lucier has an example of his thoughtprovoking minimalism in a large indoor courtyard.
Two of the three pieces on the chamber orchestra's opening-night concert were commissions. Unfortunately, the festival opened with one of those commissions, a weak, derivative and rather giddy piece by Minnesota's Homer Lambrecht called "Owl." But then there was Steve Reich's characteristically ingenious Octet, played brightly and industriously by a hardworking band of orchestra members.

The concert ended with the other commission, a 45-minute work for piano, orchestra and electronics by Alvin Curran. Mr. Curran, an American composer who lives in Rome, has heretofore been best known for his solo appearances, and in this piece's nine minute cadenza for himself at the piano, hammering out a frenzied ostinato, wailing away American Indian style into a sound system that "treated" his voice, and supported by two French horns, he achieved a compelling impact. But his orchestral writing which blended folk songs, Western kitsch and na'ive counterpoint, sounded amateurish.
Last night's second concert had editing troubles. A mixed-media piece by Charles Amirkhanian and Carol Law failed to present Mr. Amirkhanian's clever "text-sound" manipulations at their full aural potential, and Barbara Kolb's three works not only went on far too long, but also seemed curiously out of place in their sober, East Coast-formalistic way. A local group called Zeitgeist combined Reichian ostinatos with jazzy brass improvisations inoffensively but trivially. The evening was handily salvaged, however, by Robert Ashley at the end.

Mr. Ashley was at once old and new, an honored veteran of pioneering new music groups, and the purveyor, in collaboration with Blue Gene Tyranny, Peter Gordon and others of the rock-art vanguard, of about the freshest sound heard in recent months. This was another in-progress installment of his "Perfect Lives - Private Parts" series. But instead of the wonderful floating dreaminess of previously encountered parts, the latest section partook of the tension, energy and anger of new-wave rock. Yet it hardly "ripped off" rock; this was always Mr. Ashley's piece, and it earned him the most fervent ovation of the festival so far.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Cellular Automata and a Meta-Hodos Club?

Christopher McIntyre can anyone recommend reading on the topic of generative formal concepts in art making?

April 30 at 12:27pm
Rama Gottfried likes this.
Christopher McIntyre
Christopher McIntyre
"art" meaning all the arts, not just visual
April 30 at 12:28pm
Miguel Frasconi
Miguel Frasconi
I've been staring at those three words for a few minutes now, and I can't for the life of me understand what it means. Do you mean self-generating algorithms? Or perhaps ideas that hand out tuxedos?
Other than that, the only free-associative thought that comes to me is Tenney's Meta-Meta Hodos. Does that help?
April 30 at 1:33pm
Christopher McIntyre
Christopher McIntyre
self-generative algorithms included, yes. i want to research existing ideas about emulating biological/geological operations to generate form in real-time or otherwise. difficult to know what to call exactly. seems like the first place to start!
April 30 at 1:46p
David Watson
David Watson
thanks , Miguel. I thought it was me.

I understand this article : that might be a bad sign.
... See More
But then also, say, Ono's (I think ) : "Draw a Line, and follow it".
April 30 at 2:06pm
Miguel Frasconi
Miguel Frasconi
Aaah! I get it. Fascinating! The effect of time on structure. Art that grows and ages gracefully as part of it's own internal structure. (Perhaps watching Arav is inspiring these thoughts!) Very cool. Maybe reading about HMSL would help. Good luck!
April 30 at 2:13p
Miguel Frasconi
Miguel Frasconi
Great article David! Ah yes, "Draw a straight line and follow it." Perhaps the first algorithmic composition. (good ol' LaMonte, actually.)
April 30 at 2:17pm
Christopher McIntyre
Christopher McIntyre
Thanks David and Miguel! Meta-Meta confused me the first time I scratched the surface, but so did Meta. Time to try again! The Stanford thing looks amazing D!
April 30 at 2:17pm
Miguel Frasconi
Miguel Frasconi
Ya know, I've been thinking a starting a Meta-Hodos study group. Because, yes, it confuses me too. Having Tenney explain it to me helped a little, but not much! I think it would help having multiple brains reading it together would help to unlock it. HMSL was Polansky and other's way of incorporating Jim's ideas into software.
April 30 at 2:24pm
Rama Gottfried
Rama Gottfried
there's a lot of generative visual stuff going on with processing might be a good resource also:
April 30 at 2:48pm
Christopher McIntyre
Christopher McIntyre
Nice one Rama!
April 30 at 3:56pm
Christopher McIntyre
Christopher McIntyre
I'm down for a Meta-Hodos reading club. Anthony Coleman and I had talked about reading it together at one point as well. One of those books. I've read it all the way through twice. By the end of 2nd time I was feeling more secure about what it's saying. Now, how to process things in real-life that way as both a listener and composer...
April 30 at 3:58pm
Zeena Parkins
Zeena Parkins
I am going to read this now!! here in my residency at Oxford Univ. perfect!
Sat at 5:39am
Annie Gosfield
Annie Gosfield
Wow, you're at Oxford, Zeena? How great!
Sun at 5:34pm
David Linton
David Linton
i would also join a hodos club
Sun at 11:47pm
Zeena Parkins
Zeena Parkins
a hodos club?... moi aussi!!
Yesterday at 4:31am
Frances-Marie Uitti
Frances-Marie Uitti
what about the cellular automata of Stephen Wolfram. Not the silly wolframtunes, but the generated patterns and chaos that results from rules of cells. I find the whole thing quite interesting!
Yesterday at 6:24am
Christopher McIntyre
Christopher McIntyre
Thanks FMU! I've been hovering around the idea of modeling cellular activity for a while so digging in to Wolfram's stuff should help push that forward.
Yesterday at 10:17pm
Christopher McIntyre
Christopher McIntyre
A Tenney Club, eh? I think this could be a really important thing. Maybe Polansky would be able to join up periodically. I'll send out a note to those who mentioned interest here and to a few other potentials.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Crystal structure

Crystal structure
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In mineralogy and crystallography, crystal structure is a unique arrangement of atoms or molecules in a crystalline liquid or solid. A crystal structure is composed of a pattern, a set of atoms arranged in a particular way, and a lattice exhibiting long-range order and symmetry. Patterns are located upon the points of a lattice, which is an array of points repeating periodically in three dimensions. The points can be thought of as forming identical tiny boxes, called unit cells, that fill the space of the lattice. The lengths of the edges of a unit cell and the angles between them are called the lattice parameters. The symmetry properties of the crystal are embodied in its space group.
SEM micrograph of surface of a colloidal crystal. Structure and morphology consists of ordered crystallites, grains or domains of particles as well as interdomain lattice defects in the form of grain boundaries.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Kampuchea, Jan. 07

Player with playlist here

Recorded during CJM and AS's 3-week honeymoon in Cambodia, Jan.2007, using the Edirol R-09 with a mixture of internal mic and an AT822.

PP = Phnom Penh
SR = Siem Reap
AW = Angkor Wat (temple)
B = Bayon (temple)
TP = Ta Prohm (temple)
KS = Kbal Spean (carved river-bed)
mndlkiri = Mondulkiri region
kep = city of Kep