Looking at Music
I helped put together this screening program for the MoMA theaters during Barbara's exhibition Looking at Music.
MoMA, New York, August 18–December 31, 2008
Curated by Associate Curator Barbara London, and Hanne Mugaas, in conjunction with the exhibition Looking at Music in the Media Gallery at the Museum of Modern Art.
"Music was at the forefront of interdisciplinary experimentation in the 1960s, when the mixing of media really took off, and musicians led the way in developing new working methods. This screening series, presented in conjunction with a series of early media and related drawings, prints, and photographs in the Media Gallery, examines the radical role of music in the early development of media art, and includes documentary and experimental films, and music videos".
9 Evenings: Theater and Engineering
Growing interest in the new technologies generated by the rapid developments of the early 1960s led several artists to collaborate with Billy Klüver and his fellow engineers at Bell Laboratories. In late 1965 Klüver and Robert Rauschenberg formed Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), a project that provided artists, dancers, and composers with access to new technology and presented the resulting works to a wider audience. Ten invited artists—John Cage, Lucinda Childs, &OUML;yvind Fahlström, Alex Hay, Deborah Hay, Steve Paxton, Yvonne Rainer, Robert Rauschenberg, David Tudor, and Robert Whitman—worked for ten months in collaboration with thirty Bell Laboratories engineers and scientists to develop custom technical equipment. The new equipment was then featured in a series of performances presented in October 1966 at New York City's 69th Regiment Armory. This program presents two of the live events, which were faithfully reconstructed through original documentary film and sound materials. Reconstructions of the remaining seven performances will be shown in subsequent months.
Variations VII. 1969. USA. Directed by John Cage. 41 min.
Bandoneon! 1969. USA. Directed by David Tudor. 41 min.
Monday, August 18, 2008, 6:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2
Wednesday, August 20, 2008, 8:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2
9 Evenings: Theater & Engineering, Program 2
Kisses Sweeter than Wine. 1996. USA. Featuring Öyvind Fahlström 71 min.
Open Score. 1997. Featuring Robert Rauschenberg 31 min.
Friday, October 3, 2008, 8:30 p.m., Theater 2, T2
9 Evenings: Theater & Engineering, Program 3
Vehicle. 2008. USA. Featuring Lucinda Childs. 10 min.
Two Holes of Water–3. 1966. USA. Featuring Robert Whitman. 10 min.
Carriage Discreteness. 2008. USA. Featuring Yvonne Rainer. 10 min.
Physical Things. 2008. USA. Featuring Steve Paxton. 10 min.
Solo. 2008. USA. Featuring Deborah Hay. 10 min.
Grass Field. 2008. USA. Featuring Alex Hay 10 min.
Program 60 min. Saturday, October 4, 2008, 4:30 p.m., Theater 2, T2
9 Evenings: Theater and Engineering, Program 4
Variations VII. 2008. USA. Featuring John Cage. 41 min.
Bandoneon! 2008. USA. Featuring David Tudor. 41 min.
Saturday, October 4, 2008, 7:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2
John Cage/ Nam June Paik
The Strange Music of Nam June Paik. 1975. USA. Directed and produced by Camera Three. This exploration of Nam June Paik's origins as a composer traces his studies at the Conservatory for Music in Freiburg, his collaboration with Karlheinz Stockhausen, and the influence of John Cage on his work. 27 min.
Nam June Paik: A Tribute to John Cage. 1973, re-edited 1976. USA. Directed by Nam June Paik. In this multifaceted homage to John Cage, Paik creates a pastiche of Cage's performances and anecdotes, along with interviews with friends and colleagues and examples of Paik's own participatory music and video work. 29 min.
John Cage: Catch 44. 1971. USA. Directed by David Atwood. Cage is seen preparing for and performing in the Boston public television program "WGBX: A Telecast for Composers and Technicians." Through his use of repetition, absurdity, found sound, and silence, Cage compels the audience to rethink traditional assumptions of musical theory and composition. 39 min. Program 95 min.
Saturday, September 6, 2008, 4:15 p.m., Theater 2, T2
Sunday, September 14, 2008, 2:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2
Michael Snow/ Bruce Conner/ Terry Riley
Wavelength. 1967. USA. Directed by Michael Snow. Snow's groundbreaking structural film consists of a single, forty-five-minute-long tracking shot through the length of a room, accompanied by slowly-increasing sine tones. As the camera moves forward, one registers the passing of several nights and days. (When carefully studied, the movement is revealed to be individual passages edited together.) The frame ultimately closes upon the far side of the room, where a photograph on the wall shows the unsettled surface of the sea. 45 min.
Crossroads. 1976. USA. Directed by Bruce Conner. Music by Patrick Gleeson, Terry Riley. Shown in slow motion from twenty-seven different angles and accompanied by Riley's electric organ score, a 1945 atomic-bomb explosion at Bikini Atoll attains a haunting beauty. 36 min.
Monday, August 18, 2008, 8:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2
Kenneth Anger/ Jack Smith
Scorpio Rising. 1963. USA. Directed by Kenneth Anger. A precursor of the music video, this short documentary-style feature contains no dialogue, and rapidly intercuts images against a score of slyly selected pop tunes. Decried as too explicit upon its release, Scorpio Rising looks into the homoerotic world of bikers, focusing on leather-wearing bad boy Scorpio (Bruce Byron). A controversial hit on the underground circuit, the film went on to influence a generation of popular filmmakers. 30 min.
Flaming Creatures. 1963. USA. Directed by Jack Smith. Sound by Tony Conrad. Described by the artist as "a comedy set in a haunted music studio," this carnal, polysexual explosion of the filmic terrain caused an uproar upon its release. The film is lauded by many as the most radical and influential film experiment to emerge from the 1960s. Distributed by Canyon Cinema. 43 min.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008, 6:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2
Two Works by Bill Viola
Four Songs. 1976. USA. Directed by Bill Viola. In terming these video segments "songs," Viola references the relationship of his work to musical structures and to the poetics of Romanticism. 33 min.
Hatsu Yume (First Dream). 1981. USA. Directed by Bill Viola. A startlingly beautiful, metaphorical work, First Dream unfolds like a dreamlike trance. Viola fuses his personal observations of Japanese culture with a metaphysical contemplation of life, death, and nature, achieved through a symbolic exploration of video's relation to light and reflection. 56 min.
Saturday, December 20, 2008, 4:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2
Sunday, December 21, 2008, 6:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2
Music with Roots in the Aether. 1975. USA. Directed by Robert Ashley.A large-scale documentation of the "post-serial"/"post-Cage" movement that that came into American concert music in the 1960s, featuring several highly original international composers, including David Behrman and Philip Glass. The style of the video presentation reflects Ashley's desire to closely observe music being performed in its own space/time frame. 120 min.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008, 6:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2
Music with Roots in the Aether, Part 1: Robert Ashley. 1975. USA. Directed by Robert Ashley. Ashley is a contemporary American composer best known for his operas, theatrical endeavors, and pioneering work with audio synthesis. 120 min.
Thursday, November 20, 2008, 4:00 p.m., Theater 3, mezzanine, Education and Research Center
Music with Roots in the Aether, Part 2: David Behrman. 1975. USA. Directed by Robert Ashley. A Minimalist composer, Behrman creates music that involves interactions between live performers and computers. 120 min.
Thursday, November 20, 2008, 6:30 p.m., Theater 3, mezzanine, Education and Research Center
Music with Roots in the Aether, Part 3: Philip Glass. 1975. USA. Directed by Robert Ashley. A prolific, self-described "musician with repetitive structures," Glass is known for an early Minimalist style that has gradually expanded in classical and experimental directions. 120 min.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008, 6:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2
Music with Roots in the Aether, Part 4: Alvin Lucier. 1975. USA. Directed by Robert Ashley. In his experimental compositions, Lucier explores auditory perception from a scientific point of view. Much of his work is influenced by the physical properties of sound itself. 120 min.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008, 8:30 p.m., Theater 2, T2
Saturday, November 29, 2008, 3:30 p.m., Theater 2, T2
Music with Roots in the Aether, Part 5: Gordon Mumma. 1975. USA. Directed by Robert Ashley. Mumma cofounded the Cooperative Studio for Electronic Music in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with Ashley; was a musician with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company; and belonged to the Sonic Arts Union with Ashley, Behrman, and Lucier. 120 min.
Friday, November 28, 2008, 3:30 p.m., Theater 2, T2
Saturday, November 29, 2008, 6:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2
Music with Roots in the Aether, Part 6: Pauline Oliveros. 1975. USA. Directed by Robert Ashley. Oliveros is an accordionist and composer whose meditative and often improvised works played a central role in the development of postwar electronic music. 120 min.
Friday, November 28, 2008, 6:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2
Music with Roots in the Aether, Part 7: Terry Riley. 1975. USA. Directed by Robert Ashley. Riley is a Minimalist composer whose early endeavors were influenced by Karlheinz Stockhausen—until he crossed paths with La Monte Young. Riley became involved with the experimental San Francisco Tape Music Center, where he worked with Pauline Oliveros and studied with Pandit Pran Nath, the Indian classical vocalist who also taught Young and Marian Zazeela. During the 1960s Riley held his famous All-Night Concerts, during which he improvised until sunrise using an old organ harmonium and a tape-delayed saxophone. 120 min.
Friday, November 28, 2008, 8:30 p.m., Theater 2, T2
Saturday, November 29, 2008, 8:30 p.m., Theater 2, T2
Thurston Moore Introduces Early Music Videos by David Bowie
Event details and ticketing information Program Approx. 90 min.
Monday, December 1, 2008, 7:00 p.m., Theater 1, T1
Early Music Videos by David Bowie
Held in celebration of the recent gift from the David Bowie Archive of music videos to the Museum, this program presents a special selection of works by the celebrated musician, actor, and producer. Bowie, who began playing the saxophone when he was thirteen years old, worked as a commercial artist before studying mime and, later, playing in bands. In 1969 he co-founded Beckenham Arts Lab in South London, a crucible for experimentation that hosted artist studios, poetry readings, and events such as light shows, theatrical and dance performances, and puppet shows. For several of his videos, Bowie collaborated with the photographer and filmmaker Mick Rock, best known for his photos of 1970s glam and punk icons including Iggy Pop, Queen, the Ramones, Lou Reed, and the Sex Pistols. Program Approx. 90 min.
Friday, December 19, 2008, 6:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2
The Velvet Underground. 1966. USA. Directed by Andy Warhol. The legendary Warhol "house band," the Velvet Underground, rehearses at the Factory for an upcoming performance. The film was apparently intended to be projected behind the band during an Exploding Plastic Inevitable, one of Warhol's multimedia presentations of the rock and roll band. In the film's latter half, the rehearsal is interrupted by New York City police responding to a noise complaint. 66 min.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008, 6:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2
Saturday, December 6, 2008, 6:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2
Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell. 2008. USA. Directed by Matt Wolf. Russell (1952–1992) was an American cellist, composer, singer, and disco artist. Although he found his greatest success as a dance-music artist, Russell's career bridged New York's downtown, rock, and disco scenes, and his collaborators ranged from Philip Glass to David Byrne to Nicky Siano. Russell was relatively unknown during his life, but a series of reissues and posthumous releases have raised his profile in recent years. 68 min.
Friday, December 5, 2008, 7:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2 (Introduced by Wolf)
Friday, December 19, 2008, 8:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2
Rock My Religion. 1982–84. USA. Directed by Dan Graham. With the "reeling and rocking" of religious revivals as his point of departure, Graham analyzes the emergence of rock music as religion among teenage consumers in the isolated milieu of 1950s suburbia. The music and philosophy of Patti Smith, who made explicit the trope that rock is religion, are his focus. This complex collage of text, film footage, and performance is a compelling theoretical essay on the ideological codes and historical contexts that gave rise to the cultural phenomenon of rock and roll. 55 min.
Thursday, December 18, 2008, 6:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2
Sunday, December 21, 2008, 4:30 p.m., Theater 2, T2
Fully Awake: Black Mountain College Experience. 2007. USA. Directed by Cathryn Zommer, Neeley House. A look at the college's uniquely holistic educational approach, which balanced academics, art, manual labor, and communal living. The directors draw from archival photographs and interviews with students, teachers, historians, and artists. 60 min.
Friday, October 3, 2008, 6:30 p.m., Theater 2, T2
Saturday, October 4, 2008, 2:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2
Eight Short Films
Aleph. 1958–76. USA. Directed by Wallace Berman. Berman uses Hebrew letters to frame a hypnotic, rapid-fire montage that captures the go-go energy of the 1960s. Aleph includes stills of collages (created using a Verifax machine, a precursor to the photocopier) depicting a handheld radio that seems to broadcast signs, symbols, and diverse mass-media images. Infinitely shuffled, these images allow the viewer to construct his or her own set of interpretations. The transistor radio, the most ubiquitous portable form of mass communication in the 1960s, exemplifies the democratic potential of electronic culture and serves as a metaphor for Jewish mysticism. Distributed by Canyon Cinema. 10 min.
Scotch Tape. 1959–62. USA. Directed by Jack Smith. 16mm Kodachrome footage shot on the rubble-strewn site of the future Lincoln Center. The title arises from a piece of scotch tape that had become wedged in the camera gate. Distributed by Canyon Cinema. 3 min.
Stockhausen's Originale Doubletakes. 1964–94. USA. Directed by Peter Moore.The film documents the U.S. premiere of Originale, a happening by German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, at the second annual Avant Garde Festival of New York. Performers included Nam June Paik, Charlotte Moorman, Jackson Mac Low, and Allen Ginsberg, among others. Distributed by EAI. 30 min.
Digital Experiment at Bell Labs. 1966. USA. Directed by Nam June Paik. Paik created this starkly minimal experiment in digital imaging using Bell Labs' pioneering research facilities; in the film, numbers and shifting dots appear on a black background. Distributed by EAI. 4 min.
Straight and Narrow. 1970. USA. Directed by Beverly and Tony Conrad. A stroboscopic film of unusual intensity by the makers of the classic strobe film, The Flicker. Although it is printed on black and white film, the hypnotic pacing of the images will cause most viewers to experience a programmed gamut of hallucinatory color effects. Through the intermediary of rhythm, the maximal impact is drawn from the simplest of images: straight horizontal and vertical lines. Distributed by LUX, London. 10 min.
Violin Power. 1970–78. USA. Directed by Steina. The artist is first seen in footage from the early 1970s, playing the violin and singing along to The Beatles' "Let It Be." As succeeding segments trace a chronological progression, Steina experiments with layers of imagery and time. Connected to various imaging devices, the violin becomes an image-generating tool, creating abstract visual transpositions of sound and vibration. This unconventional self-portrait is a study of the relationship between music and electronic image. 10 min.
Migration. 1976. USA. Directed by Bill Viola. Viola describes this film as "a slow, continuous journey through changes in scale, punctuated by the sounding of a gong." 7 min.
Winter Wind. 2004. USA. Directed by Andrew Deustch. An electro-acoustic sound composition. 7 min. Program 81 min.
Thursday, August 21, 2008, 8:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2
Art and Music in Popular Culture
Dominatrix, "The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight". 1984. USA. Directed and produced by Beth B. Choreographed by Barbara Allen. Streetwise Records. One of the great electronic dance numbers of the 1980s. Approx. 4 min.
The Cars, "Hello Again". 1984. USA. Directed by Andy Warhol, Don Munro. Produced by Vincent Fremont for Andy Warhol Studio. Elektra Records. Warhol also appears in this music video as a bartender. 5 min.
Toni Basil, "Over My Head". 1984. USA. Directed, choreographed, and produced by Toni Basil. Chrysalis Records. 4 min.
Laurie Anderson, "Sharkey's Day". 1984. USA. Directed and produced by Laurie Anderson. Warner Brothers Records. Video and music produced by multimedia artist Anderson, with art direction by Perry Hoberman and video photography by Dean Winkler. Approx. 5 min.
Sonic Youth, "Tunic (Song for Karen)". 1990. USA. Directed by Tony Oursler.The song and its video, directed by artist Tony Oursler, are about singer Karen Carpenter and her anorexia. Approx. 7 min.
NJS. 2001–02. USA. Directed by Seth Price. NJS Map uses animated diagrams to lay out the historical development of one period in pop music, the short-lived but influential genre known as "New Jack Swing." Approx. 3 min.
Ugly Yelp. 2000. USA. Directed by Olaf Breuning. Excitable youths are filmed acting out sequences from various horror movies on a jittery hand-held camera; as a Death death Metal metal soundtrack urges them on. 5 min.
A Little Thought. 2000. USA. Directed by Rodney Graham. 4 min.
File Under Sacred Music. 2003. USA. Directed by Iain Forsyth, Jane Pollard.File Under Sacred Music is a "remake" of an infamous video documenting a 1978 performance by The Cramps for the patients at California's Napa Mental Institute. 5 min.
Hip Hop Guangzhou. 2003. China. Directed by Cao Fei. Workers are lured away from their daily chores and activities by the captivating rhythms of American-style hip hop. 3 min.
You Are My Sister. 2005. USA. Directed by Charles Atlas. Atlas's video interpretation of a song by Antony and the Johnsons. Approx. 4 min.
Oh No, Hey, It Had No Feelings, Beat and Perv. 1999. USA. Directed by Aida Ruilova. The artist creates short video loops out of discrete sounds—a breath, the screeching sound of a vinyl record being scratched, a muttered phrase. 7 min.
Apple GarageBand Auto Tune Demonstration. 2007. USA. Directed by Cory Arcangel. Arcangel renders Jimmy Hendrix's infamous Woodstock performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" unrecognizable using Apple's off-the-shelf pitch-correction software. 3 min. Program Approx. 59 min.
Thursday, August 21, 2008, 6:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2