Abstracts

Ongoing throughout the conference – Reuter Center Lobby

Mark Dixon and Jonathan Henderson – Anechoia Memoriam: An Interactive Performance for Typewriter and Piano

A typist’s chair sits empty in front of a red IBM Selectric typewriter. The machine is linked through a nest of wires, circuits, and levers to an acoustic piano. A sign invites passing observers to take a seat in front of the typewriter and perform from a score scrolling by slowly on ticker tape. Typing actuates notes on the piano. If no one types, the score scrolls by, accumulating on the floor in silence.

The score for Anechoia Memoriam is composed of a list of unarmed black people killed by law enforcement in the United States. The scenario of the performance allows for the list to pass by unnoticed. When typists participate, the names become music. Each letter typed will be enunciated by specific notes on the piano. The presence or absence of a typist renders the composition indeterminate. The piece will transpire in part, or even largely, in silence.

John Cage transformed our notion of silence from an absence to a presence. For Cage, part of what we call silence is simply inattention. Or perhaps we notice a sound but deem it unimportant: silence as judgement. Can Cage’s capacious notion of silence be useful in approaching political silences? The growing mainstream awareness of state violence towards people of color is, in part, a reckoning with silence. As “say their names” becomes a refrain of the Black Lives Matter movement, is a silence breaking? Anechoia Memoriam invites participants and observers both into and out of that silence. Participation and non-participation, attention and inattention, ringing piano strings and silence are all elements of the performance. We hope the play of sound, memorialization and listening invites embodied reflection on the politics of silence and the realities of state violence against communities of color.

 

Ongoing throughout the conference – Outside

Shawn Protz and NC State University students with Noura Howell and Georgia Tech students – A happening for a happening, an immersive inflatable experience

A happening for a happening. This project proposes an immersive inflatable experience inspired by John Cage’s Theater Piece No. 1 and the experimental structures of Buckminster Fuller. An inflatable form outside will provide a place for diversion and act as a beacon for ReVIEWING Black Mountain College 12. An inflatable is a breathing pseudo-organism inflected by surrounding conditions and inhabitants—a fitting, moving response to Cage and his work.

The project will be a collective anarchitectural endeavor [1] exploring the medium of air, environmental mediation, boundary and body, chance and ephemerality. I will work with students in my fall design studio at the NC State University School of Architecture to design, fabricate, and install the work. Dedicated exclusively to inflatables, the studio will build on long-running NCSU program interests in structure, geometry, and material performance, summoning the pneumatic inventions of colleague J. Patrick Rand and foundational educators like Fuller. Faculty will consult on constructability issues. Assistant Professor Noura Howell will collaborate and advise on incorporating sensor and sound technologies. To make historical connections, students will have the opportunity to delve into materials in the NCSU Rare and Unique Digital Collections.

I conducted previous iterations of this course at the School of Architecture (at Taliesin)—like BMC, a John Dewey-inspired alternative educational model—following from the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and countercultural practice Ant Farm. This opportunity would provide a new set of forces for resolution and development of design process and pedagogy.

[1] See Jack Halberstam, “Body unbuilding: on cuts, stitching and anarchitecture”

 

Friday Nov. 12, 1:30-3:00pm – Panel #1

Siu Challons-Lipton – Artistic Literacy: Black Mountain College and 21st Century Education

Literacy in the arts is a central component of critical and creative thinking, essential to the development of the interrelationship of fields of knowledge. Critical and creative thinking are inextricably linked, though our educational system has separated them. The arts encourage experimentation, which is the act of creative thinking. Illiteracy in the arts damages a society as significantly as illiteracy of the written word. Most institutions of higher education teach and assess verbal, quantitative, and information literacy. However, little attention is devoted to literacy in the arts. In studying the creative process, students develop critical and creative thinking and gain a theoretical and practical understanding of aesthetics. Students are taught to think differently, to ask questions, to take risks, to fail, to experiment, to reject standard answers, to see the nuances of things. In higher education we should develop our high-concept skills: to create artistic and emotional beauty, to detect patterns and opportunities, to craft a satisfying narrative, and to learn to combine seemingly unrelated ideas into a novel invention. In short, we can develop our abilities to create. Today, art is in a uniquely fertile position for the interrelationships of fields of knowledge that otherwise would seldom overlap. Creative skills are vital catalysts that promote associative thinking. Inspiration for this pedagogical approach stems from the teaching methodology advocated at Black Mountain College. What distinguished it was the level to which the arts were elevated and the idea of using creative experiences to enhance all areas of academic interest. Every student experienced the arts, whether they were an aspiring artist or scientist. Through the example of the college’s faculty and students, including Anni and Josef Albers, Merce Cunningham, John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, and Charles Olson, we can teach today’s students to position all life as art.

 

Irene Hall – Go Ask Alice: The Influence of Alice Chipman Dewey on John Dewey and Black Mountain College

Scholars of Black Mountain College have documented how John Dewey’s philosophy and work in education profoundly impacted the founding and subsequent vital life of Black Mountain College. However, an understanding of John Dewey’s role in the establishment of the college remains incomplete without acknowledging the influence of Alice Chipman Dewey, who was instrumental in shaping her husband’s educational and pragmatist philosophies. It was singularly because of Alice Dewey that John Dewey, an academic and professor of philosophy, developed a deep interest in education and applied his philosophy to practical social matters, as with Black Mountain College.

Jane Dewey later reported Alice Dewey’s influence on John Dewey in unequivocal terms: “Above all, things which had previously been matters of theory acquired through his contact with her a vital and direct human significance.” John Dewey himself acknowledged Alice’s influence. In his 1910 book, How We Think, John Dewey wrote, “My fundamental indebtedness is to my wife, …through whose work …the ideas attained such concreteness as comes from embodiment and testing in practice.”

Alice Dewey’s work embodied her beliefs about schooling and what Black Mountain College later became. Her work speaks directly to the critical educational principles at the heart of Black Mountain College. She believed that: Schools should be places full of questions, not just answers. Teachers should be expected to know their students and be learners themselves. Schools should meet the needs of the students and not vice versa. Students’ dreams and interests should drive the curriculum. Histories of schooling and studies of John Dewey’s impact are incomplete without considering Alice Dewey’s pivotal contributions. This presentation aims to acknowledge and describe the fundamental influence that Alice Dewey had on her husband.

 

Borim Song – Black Mountain College Artists Explored in Elementary STEAM Lessons

While approaching the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) movement, we need to remember that visual art is an interdisciplinary practice in and of itself in terms of the processes of conception and of construction. Artworks by contemporary artists are helpful in understanding this idea (Marshall, 2010). In search of insights about effective STEAM instruction for today’s educators, this presentation examines educational practices at Black Mountain College (BMC) because of the centrality of the arts in the school’s curriculum. The arts provided a foundation for the school’s philosophical and pedagogical approaches, and the importance of art was reflected in its educational practices. Strongly inspired by Dewey’s theories, Rice believed that the arts could be a strong tool for nurturing students to become democratic citizens (Erickson cited in Miller, 2018, p. 50). In this context, the presentation introduces successful elementary-level STEAM projects that focus on the artworks by artists involved with the BMC. The artists such as Ruth Asawa and Susan Weil were naturally interdisciplinary practitioners. Even though the BMC was located in North Carolina and the artists were very influential not only in the U.S. art scene but also internationally, not many of their artworks are examined and explored in the K-12 art classrooms in North Carolina today. This presentation will share some STEAM lesson plans based on the research of BMC artists—their lives and art practices. Focusing on the BMC artists’ innovative practices, the session will shed light on the new intersection among art history, studio art practice, STEAM movement, and arts integration. References: Marshall, J. (2010). Five ways to integrate: Using strategies from contemporary art. Art Education, 63(3), 13-19. Miller, J. (2018). The arts and the liberal arts at Black Mountain College. The Journal of Aesthetic Education, 52(4), 49-68.

 

Friday Nov. 12, 1:30-3:00pm – Panel #2

Marcia R. Cohen – A Circuitous Path: John Cage, Mushrooms, Thoreau and Haiku…Oh My!

My presentation is an overview of John Cage’s influence on my creative process. Initially inspired by Cage’s passion for mushrooms and Thoreau, my slide talk will chart a winding path of creative insight drawn from “channeling” John Cage and his idiosyncratic artistic practice. Enamored by Cage’s fluid examination of nature and its impact on his visual art, my talk will trace the interconnectedness of Cage’s work and his impact on my visual journals and related imagery. Outlining a circuitous path of creative muses and insight gleaned from Cage, this talk will be a foray into work past and present. Included will be selections from my personal collection of Cage related ephemera including documents from performances and conferences.

 

Rennie Tang – Performing Charcoal Landscapes

As a designer and dancer I am interested in score-driven landscape design practices that explore indeterminacy just as John Cage did in his music. I use choreographic and visual art practices as tools for experimentation, specifically the performance of charcoal landscapes (drawings) as a step towards understanding indeterminacy in garden landscapes. Indeterminacy finds affinity to the scored landscapes of Anna and Lawrence Halprin, choreographer and landscape architect respectively. Their notion of open and closed scores could be understood as a means of measuring degrees of indeterminacy. For example, an open score might invite a dancer to move freely whereas a closed score asks for a specific set of choreographic instructions to be followed. Just as garden landscapes grow over time in response to environmental conditions, a charcoal landscape emerges out of a set of improvised interactions between charcoal, paper, and the body. Similar to the dialogue between drawing and dancing performed by Trisha Brown, who had worked with Cage, I consider the act of drawing as a dance centered around my fingers, wrists, and arms that register weight shifts, tempo changes, and flow states. Through my charcoal landscape performance I explore translations across the sensory modes of listening, moving, and drawing. John Cage’s five Imaginary Landscape works form the basis of five charcoal landscape performances. His music offers a rich palette of sonic gestures that propel my body during the performance as I seek linkages between indeterminacy, movement, scores, and the landscape design process. The very nature of indeterminacy lends itself to taking a video of my performance to capture a moment in time along an indeterminate path. The drawing itself serves as an open score to be re-played, possibly using plant material. Reciprocal relations between listening, moving, and drawing can shape future landscape design practices.

 

George Elvin – Drawing Silence: Drawing as a Search for Stillness

How can we approach the phenomenological essence–the “zen”–of architecture in drawing? When we think of architectural drawings we typically think of the technical illustrations intended to convey information. But in my recent drawings I have been trying to express the phenomenological essence of both existing places and structures of my own design. Some of these incorporate the more technical drawings necessary to construct the project while others are intended to augment them. My search for phenomenological expression has led to a drawing technique that employs extreme precision in an attempt to express feeling over function. Some of the resulting drawings contain up to 100,000 lines and are up to six square feet in size. But the goal of this presentation is not simply to present the work. It is to explore in a group setting some methods of expressing the essential in fields typically dominated by the technical. Toward this end, this presentation delivers ten minutes of presentation of the work, its conceptual underpinnings and technique, and ten minutes for discussion of the questions behind these works and others that seek the phenomenological essence–the “zen”–of conventionally technical subjects including architecture, engineering, product design, and related fields.

The presentation will incorporate John Cage’s use of silence as a form of expression, as in his silent piece, 4’33”. Is there a graphic equivalent without resorting to the obvious cliche of a blank canvas? The presentation and discussion will also incorporate a case study of the drawings generated in the design and construction of Black Mountain College’s Studies Building. What, for example, can the Lake Eden Campus concept drawings by Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer and the campus plans by architect Lawrence Kocher tell us about the relationship between drawing and idea?

 

Friday Nov. 12, 1:30-3:00pm – Panel #3

Callous Physical Theatre (Joséphine Garibaldi  & Paul Zmolek) – Dialogic Devising in [Cage(d) Time] | Strategies of Scoring Indeterminacy | Runescores

Our artistic research is dedicated to deepening our understanding of the potentialities of dialogic devising, our aleatoric creative methodology that we have been excavating and expanding upon for over 20 years. Runescores is a group-sourced collaborative project with indeterminate scores aleatorically structured utilizing the twenty-five rune stones of the oracular Norwegian Runic System. Runescores provided the platform to play with John Cage’s compositional strategy of ‘time brackets’ (for structuring indeterminate scores) to further push our dialogic creative practice.

Scores corresponding to each of the runes were created. Time brackets for each event were determined by the numeric order of the runes. If a rune drawn was upright, time was notated as positive. If the rune drawn was reversed, time was notated as negative. Overlapping time brackets were common results of this approach. A draw of fifteen stones (determined by the number of operations that fit neatly on the line paper in Paul’s notebook) ordered the score of actions. Following Cage’s approach of mining words from text(s) to determine actions and sounds (see William Fetterman’s “John Cage’s Theatre Pieces”, 1996, pp. 216-217) actions were defined by ‘significant’ words extracted from Ralph Blum’s “The Book of Runes”.

A non-curated call to participate was published via social media. Participants received one of the scores determined by drawing a rune from the bag. Collaborators solved the score, creating responses in the medium(s) of their choice and submitted digital files for the online installation.

For our presentation during ReVIEWING 2021, we will share our process, video excerpts from the current content of Runescores digital installation, discoveries made, and questions surfaced from our continued investigation into Cage’s strategies as artistic research and practice. The project may be viewed here: http://callousphysicaltheatre.weebly.com/runescores-2020.html.

 

Laura Sellers – Response to John Cage’s Mycological Foray

This paper and series of illustrations is in response to John Cage’s A Mycological Foray book which was initially released as a limited edition of 75 in 1972.

 

Blanca Bercial – What constitutes silence?

In a soundscape, silence is a phenomenon we can never grasp, yet this impossibility does not restrain the desire for silence. It exists under our social and subjective framing, one that is configured according to individual perception and social constructs; one that is influenced by our systems of being and knowing. Therefore, listening to silence unmutes the individual and social desires, brings sound from a place of non-existence to existence, from the muted to the unmuted, and is perceived as the many sounds it consists of. My research questions the impossibility of silence that previous artists and thinkers such as John Cage have proposed. When Cage mentioned there is no such thing as silence, we stopped paying attention to it. After Cage, there is a lack when it comes to questioning the acoustics of silence, yet we are still aspiring for it. As we all know, silence is something that is intangible and imperceptible but that at the same time notions of silence shape us and we are shaping them back. I believe that the idea of silence is equidistant with our notions around noise and sound.

Why do we aspire for silence? Is it even possible to find it, to contain it, or expose it? I have been influenced by Pauline Oliveros and her philosophy of Deep Listening. Oliveros was constantly reminding herself of whenever she was not listening to the environment. In dialogue with Oliveros, I ask why a tendency is there to not listen. What are we not listening to? Which sounds are we considering silence, and why? How do we imagine silence? What are its possibilities, and what constitutes it?

 

Friday Nov. 12, 1:30-3:00pm – Panel #4

Emily Ruth Capper – Cage, Kaprow, and the Experimental Lecture

Before embarking on his career as a composer, Cage worked as a freelance lecturer covering topics in the history and philosophy of modern art. As his career developed, he continued to deliver explanatory lectures and write often elaborate program notes. After turning to chance procedures and indeterminate notations in the 1950s, Cage’s lecture practice converged with his compositional practice in ways that were unique among figures of the postwar avant-garde. This paper explores the influence of Cage’s experiments with the lecture format on the artist Allan Kaprow, who was a student in Cage’s Experimental Composition course at the New School from 1957 to 1959. Drawing on archival materials, the paper compares the goals and the affective tenors of Cage’s and Kaprow’s respective lectures entitled “Communication,” both performed in 1958 before an audience of students at Douglass College (now Rutgers University). Cage used the lecture to explain his unorthodox approach to musical composition while simultaneously critiquing the very idea of explanation. His combination of rapid-fire questioning of the student audience, choreographed cigarette drags, and a perplexing collage of quotations created an atmosphere at once playful and confrontational. Kaprow’s lecture takes a more sociological and historical approach to the alienating demand that artists explain their work and justify it conceptually, in the process building on Cage’s own use of sound collage in his Imaginary Landscapes (1939–52). For both, the question of communication can only be understood by staging an instance of non-communication. The two lectures—often overlooked, as neither conforms to the traditional definitions of an artwork—reveal the essential and resourceful role of pedagogy in the birth of Cage and Kaprow’s relationship to conceptualism.

 

Carl Schmitz – “I have nothing to say and I am saying it”: John Cage and the Abstract Expressionist Ego

In the late 1940s and early ‘50s, John Cage was a critical stimulus for the creative arts communities then in development in New York and at Black Mountain College. While Cage instigated the play in 1948 that brought Black Mountain faculty together on a set designed by Abstract Expressionist painter Willem de Kooning, it was a mere five years later when Robert Rauschenberg—a Black Mountain student perhaps no less inspired by than a source of inspiration for Cage—signaled the denouement of the Abstract Expressionist era with the work “Erased de Kooning Drawing.” How is it, as relationships between the artists within these communities evolved from emergence to erasure, that Cage’s influence remained a constant? This paper explores the question in relation to what Caroline A. Jones has termed the “abstract expressionist ego” and the trail of Cage’s connection with fellow travelers on the New York-Black Mountain College axis, including Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning, and Elaine de Kooning.

 

Topher Lineberry – Black Mountain College: Eclipsing the Local in Artworld Memory

Trying to find an art history for the life’s work of Helen Gaines Howerton Lineberry, my Grandma, who lived and made art in Asheville next to Black Mountain College during its prime, she was specifically not a part of it. Other categories traditionally grafted onto art from the American South remained inadequate or inappropriate such as “outsider art,” “folk art,” “visionary art,” or different modes of “craft.” This paper aims to place many of the mechanisms which contribute to the memory of Black Mountain College in conversation with local cultural ecologies and historical work pertinent to Western North Carolina and Appalachia more broadly. This paper attempts to make in-roads responding to multiple calls to reconcile Black Mountain College with shortcomings across Appalachian Studies and the metropolitan-centered artworld. The first section of this paper addresses notions of modernity and modernism in Appalachia (by way of western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee) and the broader American South, gauging art historical and other academic fields along re-emerging fault lines. In the second section, I observe Black Mountain College and its legacies in western North Carolina today. Part of this legacy includes partial correctives to BMC as a promiscuous mythology in the elite metropolitan-centered artworld, art education, and literary circles: seemingly unbeholden to its local or immediate context of western North Carolina and rural Appalachia. I propose future projects which may help deepen local understandings of BMC, while de-centering conventional uses of its histories toward a reflexive community-based production. Lastly, taking stock of multiple institutions, developments, events, and figures in the Carolina and Tennessee mountain South, it is clear that a more complete understanding of Black Mountain College within Appalachia includes a constellated promotion of adjacency, simultaneity, and overlap.

 

Friday Nov. 12, 3:15-4:00pm – Manheimer Room

JACK Quartet and composer John Luther Adams in conversation

Leading up to the world premiere of John Luther Adams’ Waves and Particles, the composer and members of JACK Quartet discuss the work.

 

Friday Nov. 12, 4:15-5:15pm – Manheimer Room

KEYNOTE – Laura Kuhn (executive director, John Cage Trust) and Jeff Arnal (executive director, BMC Museum + Arts Center) in conversation

Laura and Jeff discuss the life and work of John Cage. Accompanied by a slideshow of rare photographs from the John Cage Trust.

 

Friday Nov. 12, 7:30-9:30pm – BMC Museum + Arts Center (120 College St., downtown Asheville)  

World Premiere of John Luther Adams’ Waves and Particles by JACK Quartet, commissioned by BMCM+AC (8pm)

On View – Don’t Blame it on Zen: The Way of John Cage & Friends curated by Jade Dellinger

 

Saturday Nov. 13, 9:00-10:30am – Panel #1

Corey Loftus & Madison Bell-Rosof – Studies Made on the Typewriter: Anni Albers’s Innovative Approach to Teaching Textile Design at Black Mountain College

Anni Albers is remembered as the most influential textile artist and designer of the 20th century. This paper explores her contribution to the field of design as a writer and teacher. More specifically, I examine her essays to interpret the meaning of “tactile sensibility” to show how and why Albers thought the skill and range of our tactile vocabulary ought to be trained and developed. Then, I will connect the idea of tactile sensibility to the typewriter studies Albers conducted with her students at Black Mountain College. Typing entailed technical constraints similar to that of weaving- namely, subjection to the horizontal lines of a grid, making typewriters a captivating tool for generating designs for textiles. I will also consider the personal collection of clippings Albers kept of scripts in foreign languages, and the hieroglyphic likeness of some weaving styles she used, to argue that Albers took pleasure in the plastic appearance, texture, and styles of texts, patterns, and calligraphy.

 

Michael Beggs – In Search of Alex Reed

Alex Reed was a student at Black Mountain College from 1935 to 1940, and remained at the school until 1942 as an assistant teacher to Josef Albers. Today he is best known for building the Quiet House with Molly Gregory’s assistance in 1942, and for his collaboration with Anni Albers in 1940 on a variety of pieces of Jewelry made from hardware. Reed was also a skilled weaver and painter; Josef Albers thought he was the best art student of all his peers, and he grew so close to both Albers that he traveled with them in Mexico twice. But Reed’s life was also a troubled one, and since his untimely death in 1965, his story has become mostly lost to history and traces of his work have become difficult to find. In this presentation, illustrated by both extant and lost artworks by Reed, I will present his life and work as best as I have been able to understand them to this point.

 

Jennifer Nieling – The Nantucket Looms: Historicism, Modernism, and the Legacy of Black Mountain College

The island of Nantucket is well known as a time capsule of its glory days as a whaling port, supposedly frozen in the nineteenth century. It may seem an unlikely place to find the legacy of Black Mountain College, but a study of the island’s often overlooked modern history reveals just that. In the 1960s, Nantucket underwent a renaissance as it looked towards the past to shape its future. As the wharf transformed and historical tourism was promoted, a craft revival took place: at its heart was the Nantucket Looms. Founded by craftswoman and textile historian Mary Ann Beinecke and Black Mountain College-trained weaver and artist Andy Oates, the Nantucket Looms combined historicism and modernism in a successful hand weaving operation that was thoroughly contemporary.

Originally started to create reproduction textiles for a historic whaling merchant’s mansion-turned-hotel, the company quickly developed into a commercial operation with a storefront on Main Street and national representation. As head weaver, Andy Oates created designs that clearly show the influence of his training under Josef and Anni Albers at Black Mountain College in his choices of design composition, materials, and approach to production. Manager and designer Beinecke brought in-depth textile history knowledge and an extensive historic textile book collection from which the team took inspiration. The two later collaborated with print designers Leslie and Doris “D.D.” Tillett, who shared their dedication to handcraft and expanded the company’s offerings with printed textiles in the late 1960s.

Through original research including contemporary press, interviews, extant textiles and archives, this paper tells the story of the Nantucket Looms and its founders with a focus on the influence of Andy Oates’ training at Black Mountain College and reveals intersections between historicism and modernism in this case study of the 1960s craft revival on Nantucket.

 

Saturday Nov. 13, 9:00-10:30am – Panel #2, Moderator: Adam Blair

 Listening to Silence: Phenomenological Reflections on John Cage

John Cage is known for his use of silence. In this panel, three philosophers engage with his particular brand of silence in various keys, aiding in listening to silence and to Cage’s compositions in newly attentive ways. All drawing from the philosophical discipline of phenomenology, these thinkers draw attention to the experience of listening to Cage’s work. One paper will draw from the pedagogical models of other Black Mountain College professors, Merce Cunningham and Josef Albers, to argue that Cage’s relationship to silence is one of creating a context that allows the listener to be more attentive to their soundworld. Another paper argues that such silence throws the listener into a specific state of hesitation, a state which critically implicates the listener in the act of listening and enables further explorations of sonic experience. Finally, another paper thematizes indistinction as a key component in Cage’s compositions, troubling typical musical discourse’s reliance upon distinct categories, such as performer, composer, audience, music, noise, etc. Through these various registers of engaging silence in the work of John Cage, theory will be carried into listening practices–how can philosophical reflection help us to listen more closely, to engage the music more deeply, and to think with Cage more richly through the simple act of letting his music unfold without overdetermination or interruption? In this panel, we hope to experience Cage together with a keen ear toward what it means to think through the experience of Cage’s special brand of silence.

 

Adam Blair – Actively Listening to Cage’s Silence: How to Draw One’s Attention to the Present

John Cage famously delivers silence. However, this silence is not the absence of sound but of intentional sound, as his music “affirm[s] this life, not to bring order out of chaos, nor to suggest improvements in creation, but simply to wake up to the very life we’re living, which is so excellent once one gets one’s mind and desires out of its way and lets it act of its own accord.” Cage wants to open our ears to the world—to make us present—without our minds or desires distracting us by forging connections to structures outside of contemporaneous experience. In this paper, I seek to understand the conscious state of Cage’s paradigmatic listener; how can I listen to Cage’s music to pay attention to current perception? I will draw upon other artists from Black Mountain College, including Merce Cunningham and Josef Albers, who both sought to lead their students to be present by “thinking in situations” rather than appealing to abstract theory. Following these hints from Cunningham and Albers’ pedagogical methods, we will begin to develop a concrete program for an engaged listening of silence in accord with Cage, concluding with a short exercise to be present through listening to silence together.

 

Molly Kelly – Silence Becomes Something Else”: Cage, Al-Saji, and a Phenomenology of (Sonic) Hesitation

This paper offers a phenomenological reading of John Cage’s work, specifically questioning how his famed composition 4’33” (1952) lends itself to a politics of hesitation. Reading Cage together with philosopher Alia Al-Saji, I argue that Cage’s silence operates by interrupting sedimented habits of listening in order to denaturalize dominant sonic discourses and critically implicate the listener in the act of listening. Just as Al-Saji describes hesitation as a felt, temporal interval that opens up possibilities to see and feel otherwise, so, too, does Cage offer silence as a duration capable of transforming listening into “something else” (Cage 1973, 23). By approaching Cage’s silence as a form of phenomenological hesitation, I ultimately emphasize the critical and ethical import of his work. Turning to the writings of Jonathan Katz and G. Douglas Barrett, I conclude by considering how Cage’s silent hesitancy has been taken up in contemporary contexts, from Ultra-red’s ‘SILENT | LISTEN’ to the Berlin Philharmonic’s farewell concert in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Caleb Faul – Uncaging Artistic Experience: John Cage and the Structure of Indistinction

How are we to describe musical experience? In the West, we typically do so by utilizing a series of distinct terms that we think apply to entities equally distinct in the experience: composer, performer, audience, musical work, note, harmony, musical instrument, etc. It is my contention that such a view is a false description of musical experience, that there is instead a structural indistinction among the terms of musical experience. This is true even in the case of the most classical musical compositions, but it is very easy in the case of such compositions to cover over this structural indistinction and straightforwardly employ our ready-make, distinct concepts to them. In the case of John Cage’s work, however, this is no longer the case. He makes indistinction clear and perhaps even thematic, particularly through his use of silence, environmental sound, and performer choice. By looking at his compositional work and by reading his stated philosophico-musical ideas in Silence, I will demonstrate how Cage lays bare the structural indistinction at play in musical experience, thereby revealing and making evident that which other musical practitioners have often ignored and covered over.

 

Saturday Nov. 13, 9:00-10:30am – Panel #3, Moderator: Tiffany Funk

Purposeless Play: John Cage, the Gamer

This panel explores the work and philosophy of John Cage through the lens of current modes of games and gameplay. Cage is recognized as a musician, writer, visual artist, and performer, but rarely is he described as a gamer. While he certainly wasn’t an obsessive Steam achievement-unlocker or twitch streaming type of gamer, Cage was undeniably an avid game enthusiast: he enjoyed chess (which he played regularly with Teeny Duchamp), as well as card games (bridge, poker, solitaire), backgammon, dominoes, even Scrabble. Cage was famously featured on a 1960 episode of the game show I Have a Secret. Cage often gamified—or gleefully participated in game-like—interviews. We ask: how might interrogating Cage’s oeuvre through the lens of play—particularly as one designing and interacting with modes of play that now oscillate between the real and virtual—reconfigure our present understanding of forms of music composition, interactive and immersive art, and modes of gamification? How might Cage have regarded the recent resurgence of tabletop gaming (both in-person and online), immersive interactive installation, or video games as art and performance? How would Cage have regarded the epithet of “gamer,” and is it possible to use Cage’s work and philosophy in re-configuring the role of gamer to promote experimentalism, performance, and/or inclusivity in playing and designing games?

 

Tiffany Funk – John Cage and Lejaren Hiller’s HPSCHD (1967-1969)

This paper focuses on the programming and presentation of John Cage and Lejaren Hiller’s HPSCHD (1967-1969), and how it reveals Cage’s struggle with reconciling modes of indeterminacy and chance operations with the rigidity of computational procedure. This struggle stands as an interesting comparison to present modes of designing interactive technologies, particularly as it relates to what constitutes “good” video game design.

 

Chaz Evans – Cage’s History of Gameplay

John Cage may not have been called a “gamer” within his lifetime, but he had all the traits. This paper explores Cage’s history of gameplay, as well as his enthusiasm for technological experimentation—particularly in the realm of early computer art—and how this relates to current modes of video games and gameplay as art.

 

Christopher M. Reeves – The Limits Grant Permission to Stray: Cage through Julius Eastman, Charlotte Moorman, and Glenn Branca
 
Outside of his own singular innovations, a major legacy of the philosophy and work of John Cage is the seeming permission he grants for aspiring artists, composers, performers, etc. to circumvent proscriptive/expected mandates of artistic production or straightforward goals. Yet, while the force of this legacy remains in tact, a granular view of how some artists took up his works and ideas reveals Cage to be far more committed to rules and forms than the more general and abstract impression that is understood of him today.

In this presentation, with music and film clips throughout, I discuss three artists who took up Cage’s ideas and compositions, and their respective reception from Cage. Performance artist and cellist Charlotte Moorman took spectacular liberties with Cage’s 26’1.1499 for a String Player, most fantastically realized in a 1967 performance on The Merv Griffin Show, in which she was accompanied by comedian Jerry Lewis. Composer and performer Julius Eastman, finding himself bored as a performer of Cage’s Solo for Voice 8 from Song Books, presented a campy and hyper sexualized version that scandalized in 1975. In 1982, performer, composer, and No Wave musician Glenn Branca premiered his Cage inspired piece, Indeterminate Activity for the Resultant Masses, written for guitar ensemble and bearing hallmarks of pop and rock music.

As these examples suggest, Cage’s work and ideas could inspire all manner of interpretation and activity. However, Cage was particular unhappy with all three of these performers and performances. Moorman’s realization was “murdering the work,” Eastman’s “disturbing,” and Branca’s “fascist.” Cage would state in a talk following Eastman’s performance that “no matter how many times I say, ‘You can’t do what you want, but anything goes,’ everyone interprets it as ‘I can do any god damn thing I want!’ Putting Moorman, Eastman, and Branca’s interpretations of Cage alongside Cage’s reception of them will hopefully open up several lines of inquiry to do with rules and play, shared authorship, and the abstract power of influence.

 

Lauren C Sudbrink will perform “Audience Participatory Performance.”

 

Saturday Nov. 13, 9:00-10:30am – Panel #4

Ann Warde – Collaboration and Experiment in Cage and Hiller’s HPSCHD: Messages for a future global world

Printed after a Black Mountain performance and discussion, an April 1948 statement paraphrases John Cage’s answer to a question about his focus as a composer: “It begins with music and ends with a common human nature.” Over a distance of more than seventy years, these words reach us in a globally-interconnected world, whose need for a sense of our common human nature is inescapable. Might aspects of Cage’s construction of music inform our search? Cage staged Theater Piece #1 (Black Mountain Piece) when he returned to Black Mountain in the summer of 1952. It has been suggested that this first “happening” marks the beginning of a trajectory through a series of theatrical and large-scale pieces, coming to rest (albeit briefly) on the experimental work HPSCHD—Cage’s collaboration with computer music pioneer Lejaren Hiller. Theater Piece #1’s interpenetrating yet non-obstructing activities echoed the nature of collaboration within the close-knit community of Black Mountain artists; these characteristics remained central to Cage and Hiller’s compositional partnership, including the development of the details of the computer code used to generate electronic sounds. Likewise, Theater Piece #1’s presentation of multifarious, unpremeditated musical outcomes of purposeful activities remained vital to Cage’s evolving exploration of the construction of indeterminacy, informing the composition of HPSCHD’s disparate, fortuitous whole. We have found Cage’s offer of a de-centered collaboration, and his invitation to experiment with unexpected experience, surprisingly useful: HPSCHD took flight on its own global trajectory, with more than thirty performances of its demanding complexities over fifty years before reaching a HPSCHD@50 anniversary celebration. I will explore resonances of collaboration and experiment in engendering a common human nature: in the small-scale evolution of HPSCHD’s computer generated music, and in contemporary artwork such as Territorial Agency, which invites a vast inclusivity and suggests experiment as cognitive reconfiguration.

 

Jesse Kitt & Rose Kaz – Resurrecting Theatre Piece Number One

Through a 4-month artist residency that Rose participated in, we were able to gain access to the former campus of BMC. Rose and I co-produced the project with a number of female Asheville performance artists and created a collaborative, process-based, photo shoot inspired by Theatre Piece Number One. The photo shoot resulted in video and still imagery. We are excited to share these images!

 

Maisie Ridgway – Waking John Cage: Language Sounding Itself in Roaratorio

Cage’s Roaratorio is the result of a heterogenous assemblage of human and nonhuman creative agents, including sound recording and playing technologies, Wakean puns, aleatory procedures, and the sound making apparatuses of animals, cities, houses, humans and more. The subsequent soundscape gives voice to language as it exists beyond the bounds of human meaning, untreated by conventional melody, rhythm, or grammar that might render it legible. Cage recites a reduced version of Finnegans Wake throughout the radio play, but his voice is regularly lost amongst the many competing sounds in an onslaught of chaotic disharmony and nonsense. Without recourse to coherence the listener is unable to orientate themselves within the chatter and cannot excavate or apprehend its sounds. The result is a multitude of human and nonhuman aurality, incongruent voices inserted into the familiar format of the radio play, novel, speech and musical composition. The use of the musicircus format, defined by Cage as ‘a simultaneity of unrelated intentions’, challenges the received standards of these expressive forms, warping the closed system of anthropocentric culture from within. This monstrous disharmony is perhaps why Pierre Boulez described Roaratorio as ‘really grotesque’, unconcerned as it is with the palatable blending of several elements and rather more intent on ‘the coexistence of dissimilars’. It is within this aesthetics of grotesquery that language finds its voice, sounding itself in a nonhuman chorus, which has interesting implications for language, especially as part of the most recent philosophical turn towards new materialism.

 

Saturday Nov. 13, 10:00am-1:00pm – Reuter Center Lobby

Robert Ladislas Derr and collaborators – Sound of Days performance

Sound of Days uses John Cage’s performance titled, “But what about the noise of crumpling paper which he used to do in order to paint the series of “papier froisses” or tearing up paper to make “papier dechires?” Arp was stimulated by water (sea, lake, and flowing waters like rivers), forests,” as a point of departure. Sound of Days incorporates similar structures of duration, simultaneity, individual-based tempo, and spacing, which extends the progression of time, specifically the 8573 days of Black Mountain College (BMC). The performance, a dynamic system of experiences, animates each day of BMC’s influential twenty-five year existence. In the large room, 12-25 dispersed performers wearing black annunciate (speak and/or sing) each day of each year, starting with BMC’s first day, Monday, September 25, 1933. The performance begins with a participant reading the 98 days of 1933. Then a second participant reads the 365 days of 1934 after the first participant finishes. The third performer begins after the second performer reads the first day of 1934 and so forth through 1956. Ending the performance, a participant annunciates BMC’s final days of 1957 after 1956 is finished. After the participants read the date from the sheets of paper, they crumble or rip each piece of paper, discard it on the ground, and strike a percussion instrument before reading the next date on the next piece of paper. The floor fills with 8573 sheets of paper. Through the durational performance reciting the days of BMC, the existence of this iconic institution visualizes through active engagement, making context to the precarious and relative nature of time. Sound of Days creates an address to not only BMC, but also the imperceptible passing of time. I am partnering with UNC Asheville music professor Christine Boone and her Music in Life and Culture Club.

 

Saturday Nov. 13, 10:45am-12:15pm – Panel #1

David Silver – Burying a cow and other desperate stories about food and the farm during the last gasps of Black Mountain College, 1954-56

By fall 1954, Black Mountain College was a shell of its former self. The college had closed, then leased, then sold its lower campus, including student dormitories, the dining room, and the kitchen. Further, it sold campus gravel rights, then timber rights, then over 200 acres of forest land. Finally, the college sold its beef herd first and its farm shortly after. And yet, Black Mountain College plodded on for another two years. What was it like? What did they do? And how and what did they eat? Expanding significantly on a talk I gave at the 2014 ReVIEWING Black Mountain College Conference, this presentation shines a light on the hungry and harrowing last years of Black Mountain College.

 

Henry Voigt – Lou Bernard Voigt (1915-1953): A family history

“Barney” Voigt was instructor of modernist Landscape Architecture and Botany at Black Mountain College from September 1942 to September 1943. Prior to his arrival, he earned a master’s degree in Landscape Architecture at Harvard where he came into contact with Walter Gropius, a founding member of the Bauhaus. While at Black Mountain, Voigt continued his association with teachers from the German school of architecture and design, collaborating with Josef Albers (and others) to create a landscape plan for the campus. Voigt died only a decade later. I will add to the sparse body of knowledge about his brief career, sharing family stories, photos, and insights about his humble beginnings in a small of town in Illinois, the defining moments of his life, and the final projects in which he reimagined and deliberately confounded the traditional notions of suburban landscaping, contributions for which he is remembered to this day.

 

Thomas Frank – The Arts of Philosophy and the Philosophy of Liberal Arts at Black Mountain   College

I would like to present my work in progress on the two most prominent philosophers of the BMC faculty: Erwin Straus (1938-1946) and Albert William Levi (1945-1950), who successively followed John Andrew Rice, the founding philosopher (1933-1939).The two men could not have been more different. Straus was born in Germany in 1891 and trained in classics and medicine in German universities under such philosophy and phenomenology luminaries as Edmund Husserl and Max Scheler. Levi was 20 years Straus’s junior, born in 1911 and after college at Dartmouth, completing his PhD at University of Chicago under Charles Hartshorne. Straus brought a scientific disposition to philosophical questions, grounded in phenomenology and critical observation; Levi started from the history of ideas, engaging in sweeping stories of connection between philosophies that shaped the society of his time. Straus’s primary interest was philosophy of mind based in his studies of human psychology; Levi’s was philosophy of society and culture. Each of them published well-known books representing their approaches – in Straus’s case both before and after his time at BMC, in Levi’s case primarily after taking a full-time position as professor of philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis where he spent his career.

Both Straus and Levi were humanists; both were advocates for the liberal arts and for artistic methods and expressions as central to the liberal arts; both found BMC deeply frustrating. In their shared view, neither faculty nor students demonstrated academic rigor and discipline. The arts were evolving from their catalytic role in liberal arts learning into an explicit purpose of the school. And the constant struggles of living in close community with a small faculty and student body were a daily drain on energy from the educational mission of the college. The two of them exemplified this in not liking each other or accepting the way each other approached issues to be resolved. Yet the two also exemplify the college’s story as a meeting place of remarkable minds, imaginations, and talents. They should join the long list of avant-garde artists and writers in the pantheon of BMC notables.

 

Saturday Nov. 13, 10:45am-12:15pm – Panel #2, Moderator: Jeff Davis

The Music of Black Mountain Poetry I

This session will investigate the formal and technical innovations carried out by poets who have looked to Black Mountain College as an influence. In keeping with the conference’s thematic focus on John Cage this year, presenters will also explore the rich interdisciplinary relationships between the Black Mountain Poets, such as Olson, Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, John Wieners, Denise Levertov, etc., and music. Musical influences at and beyond Black Mountain College deeply influenced the verse written by these poets, from Cage to Pierre Boulez, from jazz to classical music, from rock and roll to blues. We are interested in how the experimental verse developed by the Black Mountain Poets transformed musical influences and deployed sound to create new sonic relationships between words on the page. We are also interested in papers that look to other poets who were influenced by the Black Mountain Poets and who have a deep interest in using music to create verse: figures like Robin Blaser, Amiri Baraka, and Nathaniel Mackey, among so many others.

 

Josh Hoeynck – Sticks to be Tossed: Charles Olson and John Cage at Black Mountain College

This paper will explore the direct interactions that Charles Olson had with John Cage at Black Mountain College, specifically focusing on 1953, Cage’s last year at the college. Olson had participated in Cage’s artistic endeavors, notably collaborating with him during the performance of Theater Piece No. 1. Still, critics have had difficulty accounting for Olson’s relationship to John Cage, given that many of their interactions happened in real time at the college. Alexander Ruggeri, for instance, reads Olson’s relationship to Cage as a matter of shared affinity, specifically in how both deployed listening as an artistic catalyst. That said, the biographies of both men still need to be filled out. During 1953, Olson’s relationship to Cage grew increasingly ambivalent, antagonistic, and theoretically oppositional. Against Cage’s chance operations and highly experimental forms, Olson started to turn instead to Pierre Boulez’s concept of musical serial form. In this paper, I will use unpublished materials from the Olson/Creeley correspondence to discuss and analyze Olson’s personal interactions with Cage throughout 1953, interactions that spurred the eventual development of Olson’s turn to serial form as a structure for his emerging Maximus Poems.

 

Sally Hansen – A Musical Phenomenology: Rhythm and Remembrance in Hilda Morley’s “Organic Form”

This paper explores the rhythmic “drops, pauses, or knots of breathing” in Hilda Morley’s poetry as a musical phenomenology of memory (Morley, “Organic Form”). An overlooked figure among the Black Mountain artists, Morley generally receives cursory attention as the wife of the Black Mountain-affiliated composer Stefan Wolpe. As an instructor at the college alongside Olson, Creeley, Duncan, and other recognized figures, however, Morley developed a poetics that realizes the values of Olson’s “Projective Verse,” Denise Levertov’s “Organic Form,” and the gesturalism of Abstract Expressionist painting, while undoing the hypermasculine imaginary of the New American avant-garde. Her first collected publication at age sixty, several years after Wolpe’s death from Parkinson’s disease, revealed an embodied poetics that maps the shifting, unexpected rhythms of perception and memory.

As I argue, Morley presents a unique phenomenology that registers breath as the rhythmic nexus of body and world, past and present, life and limit. To unpack the distinctiveness of her musical “composition by field,” I examine her poem “Sea Lily” (illumined by her essays “Music and Poetry” and “Organic Form”) as a musical extension of Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s theory of the “flesh of things.”

 

Deven Philbrick – Infinite Echo: Sound and Meaning in the Writings of Nathaniel Mackey

Nathaniel Mackey’s poetics of sonico-spiritual searching wears its source material on its mixed-metaphorical sleeve. The echoes, riffs and reverberations that constitute Mackey’s career-spanning “long song” reveal ravenous and ecstatic engagement with myriad cultural forms, engagement the poet terms “discrepant.” In this paper, I argue that Mackey’s poetics of discrepant engagement explores a method of sound-centered meaning-making that contains a philosophical core common to his sources, but to which his own method is not reducible. For Mackey, sound is not an ornamental feature of poetic language, but is partially constitutive of the meaning we glean from such language. This view, which allows the poet to posit a connection between “drift” and “draft,” for instance, has clear import for Mackey’s deployment of music as poetic intertext. Drawing on indeterminate conceptions of meaning from innovative poetry traditions of the U.S. and Caribbean (eg. Robert Duncan, Charles Olson, Amiri Baraka, Kamau Brathwaite and Wilson Harris), black music (jazz, Malian Dogon music, and other experimental traditions) and Afrocentric spirituality (Rastafari and others), Mackey’s poetics seeks to show how, in a way at once inchoate and ancient, meaning affixes itself to sound and vice versa.

 

Saturday Nov. 13, 10:45am-12:15pm – Panel #3

Charlott Greub – Between Field, Silence and Stochastics – Drawing Notations in Music and Architecture

Traditionally, music is considered the opposite of noise, as architecture is framed as the opposite of the formless materia. Both cultural practices have been intrinsically connected to ideas of unity, harmony, and structure. However, a series of compositional experiments of the 20th century have fundamentally questioned this assumption by explorations into silence, into field conditions, and into stochastics. This presentation will introduce the transfer of some of these radical inquiries from music to architecture, such as John Cage’s 4’33”, Daniel Libeskind’s Chamber Works and Iannis Xenakis Metastaseis in order to discuss parallels (and lessons to be learned) from notation drawings that engage with phenomena of the informe. The themes of silence, field, and stochastics build the starting point for a 2nd year design studio for the 3+ Students (interdisciplinary design beginners from a non-architectural background) for a Pop Academy for Downtown Salt Lake City, UT. Rather than beginning with site, massing, program, structure, or typology, the students reflected upon the relationship between music (as art of time) and architecture (as art of space), the parallels as well as differences with regard to experience, representation and performance. In a second step students analyzed abstract (visual) notation – score and plans – and explored the potential translation from one discipline (music) into a spatial composition (architecture), or rather de-composition. This interchange between music and architecture initiated a process of constant reinterpretations and editing from 2-D representations to models, and vice versa. Exploring notational representations of fields, of forces and motions of multiple vectors, of densities of events and their thinning out (if not complete absence as in silence) students learned to overcome the mimetic drive to represent, to form, to copy known models of practice. Of course, more traditional architectural questions of program, urban context, construction, skin, and interior were re-introduced subsequently in this iterative process of re-interpretation, editing, and alteration, but always as room of negotiation, not as dominant agents. In light of this interplay, architectural design can be rethought as a form of research and experimentation and as a self-critical process between thinking and making. A cross-disciplinary approach where design methods are explored and developed by students through transdisciplinary experiences as a form of knowledge production and continued experimentation. The presentation will show the different stages between abstract notation, first spatial translations, reiterations, and also dead ends (as result of non-alignment of the student’s interpretation derived from music with the requirements of program or site), which lead to second attempts, different readings and alternative translations. And I believe that this design approach is especially valuable for beginning design student, since it activates their translational capacities.

 

Elliot Inman – John Cage, the Student: Time at Black Mountain College

In 1948, John Cage delivered his notorious Defense of Satie at Black Mountain College during what students called the “Satie Summer,” a series of performances and informal lectures led by Cage. The lecture is best remembered for the fact that Cage called Beethoven an “error” that had set back the progress of the exploration of innovative uses of time in musical composition. In the talk, Cage described the work of Satie and Webern as counterexamples – true innovators — and proposed those models for the future of music.

This paper argues that the least innovative aspect of Cage’s lecture were his comments on Satie and the use of time in music. Using textbooks written by his two main teachers, Henry Cowell (New Musical Resources, 1930) and Arnold Schoenberg (Theory of Harmony, 1911), this paper documents how Cage’s ideas regarding time and Satie, himself, were those of his teachers. Even Cage’s style of presenting these facts — simultaneously confrontational about current conventions and enthusiastic about an imagined future — was sourced from his teachers who spoke about music in the same way.

What was new about Cage’s Defense of Satie was that Cage had finally found a way he could combine what he had learned in music theory classes and his many experiences in the worlds of art, dance, and the theater and from psychology and from eastern religion to build an integrated aesthetic argument that crossed all of those boundaries. At Black Mountain College, he found a way to deliver that message by engaging directly with an audience, channeling a kind of West Coast vibe, starting with simple philosophical questions, and deliberately trying to simultaneously provoke and charm his audience. Cage had not discovered a new theory of composition; Cage had discovered Cage.

 

Seth Forrest – nature in her mode of operation: Cage, noise, and ecological thought

This paper will consider John Cage’s music and writing as touchstones in the development of what Timothy Morton, in Ecology Without Nature, describes as “ambient poetics.” Allowing chance to determine the form and content of musical composition and performance, Cage’s work encourages art that treats sounds as sounds. Like the matière studies that Anni and Josef Albers sought to instill in Black Mountain College students, Cage’s work asks us to hear differently that which is around us, whether those sounds are “music” or otherwise. Applying Morton’s concept of ambient poetics, along with Jane Bennett’s ideas about “vibrant matter,” I want to make the case that Cage’s embrace of noise forms can be a means to more ecologically sensitive perception, a perception that takes in a sense of ambience in which we are entangled and interrelated rather than the divisive sense of a Subject perceiving an environmental Object that is always already “over there.”

 

Saturday Nov. 13, 10:45am-12:15pm – Panel #4

Kyle Canter – We Taught It In Action: Photography at Black Mountain College

Photography at Black Mountain College was not established as an academic discipline until the last quarter of the institution’s lifespan, yet the practice existed across campus since the Albers’ arrival in 1933.  With a Leica Josef Albers purchased back home in Germany, Albers exposed the students and faculty of BMC to the photographic styles of the Bauhaus. During the 1940s, photographers’ presence exponentially increased on campus. Such figures include Barbara Morgan, Josef Breitenbach, Beaumont and Nancy Newhall, Helen M. Post, Martha McMillan Roberts, Harry Callahan, Aaron Siskind, Arthur Siegel, Fritz Goro, and Hazel Larsen Archer. At BMC these photographers staged exhibitions, led shoots, and held conversant—sometimes contentious—lectures. Students and faculty discussed all points of photographic production, from one’s vision before releasing the shutter to the printed image and periodical.

BMC is not often considered as an art school with significant photographic output. Yet, when compared to the other major photography programs in the US, student and faculty portfolios possess profound growth. Despite material limitations, the photographers of BMC produced an archive that documents more than just candid snapshots of campus life. Through an evaluation of class notes, interviews, and campus records, this paper interprets the unique quality of photographic education at BMC, and in turn attempts to posit the institution’s place within the history of American photography.

 

Lilia Kudelia – The Scale of “Brazos River” (1976): the collaboration between Viola Farber, David Tudor and Robert Rauschenberg for Dallas television

One of the least known works by Robert Rauschenberg was conceived during the period of “privileged access” to television network environment. A 60 minutes long video “Brazos River” was commissioned by the Fort Worth Art Museum and filmed at a PBS-affiliated television station KERA Channel 13 in Dallas, Texas in December 1976. Choreographer Viola Farber with her collective of eight dancers, composer David Tudor, and Robert Rauschenberg came together by the invitation of the curator Anne Livet who aimed to create the first “television exhibition” in Texas in an effort to amplify the impact of the museum. With a promise to reach viewers beyond the ordinary museum audience, the artwork remained ephemeral after its short-lived presentation on regional television in 1977.

As Maeve Connolly argues, exploring “the televisual” extends beyond nostalgia for the medium’s impending disappearance. The importance of television to artists, art institutions and curators is grounded in the possibility to “imaginatively adopt a position that is symbolically ‘outside’ of the culture of contemporary art.” Specifically, close analysis of “Brazos River” articulates how the artwork grappled with the problems of scale – both in regards to the artwork’s formal properties and its imagined impact on the audience, or, to put it differently, the scale’s aesthetic and political dimensions.

This paper examines what Farber, Tudor, and Rauschenberg found intriguing in the televisual form, what specific experiences “Brazos River” enabled for TV viewers in 1977, and how this project was informed by Rauschenberg’s, Farber’s, and Tudor’s prior collaborations with Merce Cunningham in particular. Featuring interviews by Viola Farber Company dancers as well as operators, engineers, and studio technicians at KERA TV station that I conducted in early 2021, in this presentation I will shine light on the nuances of this seminal artistic production by the Black Mountain College trio. 

 

Benjamin Lee – Avant-Garde Collaboration and Dispersal: John Cage and Sun Ra, Coney Island, 1986

This presentation lingers over a specific instance of avant-garde collaboration, Cage and Sun Ra’s appearance together at a 1986 Coney Island fundraiser for Meltdown Records. I read the mouth-sounds, silences, recited poems, and synthesizer solos of the hour-long performance as an indication of both the continued promise and the vulnerability of experimental art forms and communities at the height of the Reagan era. What could the reciprocal openness of Cage and Sun Ra’s improvisations offer listeners in response to the intensification of neoliberalism in the U.S. and of what Sun Ra described as planetary “misery and suffering,” “the sentence of death” handed down to people of color in any number of “jurisdiction[s]”? The layers of avant-garde dispersal Lee discovers in the performance, and in the late work of Cage and Sun Ra, offer one–complex but articulate–response. They gaze backwards, towards the dispersal of movements and communities (Black Mountain College, the Black Arts movement, free jazz) with which Cage and Sun Ra had long been associated, and forwards as well, towards the emergence of experimental forms and collectivities that might carry on their desire for more fully reciprocal and redistributive modes of social life and politics.

 

Saturday Nov. 13, 10:45am-12:15pm – Interactive Performance

Rita Camacho Lomeli – The Zen Teachings of Huang Po, interactive group reading and discussion (60-75 minutes)

Following the structure of a reading group and imagining shared thinking as an artistic form, this performance’s focus is to speculate with the act of reading aloud The Zen Teachings of Huang Po, On the Transmission of the Mind and conversing about the influence of this text on John Cage’s oeuvre. Huang Po was a Zen master in the ninth century who, like most Eastern spiritual teachers, taught in allegories that were delivered as sermons, tales, and dialogues portrayed in this book. Cage read Huang Po’s teachings as a late-night performance at Black Mountain in the summer of 1952.

Participants will sit in the round and read the text together. Through group discussion and improvisation, they will be invited to express their opinions through an informal process of dialogue and spontaneous reactions. Contributors probably will have varying levels of familiarity with the texts we will be reading. This performance strives to offer a platform that facilitates a space of mutual respect and reciprocal learning, bearing in mind the different backgrounds that we will each bring to this experiment in collective thinking and reading. 

 

Saturday Nov. 13, 10:45am-12:15pm – Manheimer Room Performance

Lei Han, Wayne Kirby and UNCA students – The Shape of Silence (90 minutes)

This live performance is inspired by John Cage’s use of silence in music compositions. In cross references of Robert Rauschenberg’s “White Painting” (1951), Cage’s “4’33”” (1952) and Nam June Paik’s “Zen for Film” (1965), the performance will make use of silence and found objects for sound compositions performed by Dr. Wayne Kirby and minimalistic style visuals generated live by Lei Han and her students. The visuals will be presented through multiple screens either in the form of projection or through other type of screens. There will be three movements in this performance. The movements explore concepts such as chance, silence, time, materiality, playfulness, boredom, trace and nothingness. One of the movements will involve students “reading” excerpts from Cage’s book “Silence” from the top of a ladder. In some ways, it is an homage to Theater Piece No. 1. which has been considered the first Happening event in history.

 

Saturday Nov. 13, 10:45am-12:15pm – Performance Outside (repeating)

Liquid Plastic (Adam Otto Lutz & Alan S. Tofighi) – Raw Utopics (Drive & Discontents) for RC car tire, ink, line follower, recorded audio, Geodesic dome (17 minutes)

This performance is centered around the concretization of the interdisciplinary and the utopic through the lens of the formal and philosophical principles of the Cagean Circle (Cage, Cunningham, Tudor, Rauschenberg, etc.) and Buckminster Fuller. Understanding Black Mountain College as a generative point for the works further explored by The Cagean Circle and Fuller these principles will be examined/represented demonstrating the simultaneous acceptance, influence, invisibility, and ultimately radicality of these strains of thought in the contemporary.

Echoing Rauschenberg’s collaboration with Cage, Automobile Tire Print (1953), and the use of RC technology at Nine Evenings the performers will control several RC cars equipped with line follower sensors as they recreate the Rauschenberg/Cage piece in miniature. The cars are driven as the score entails; they will begin to encounter the complex and indeterminate field of the drawings they generate and the surface of the performance area. These surfaces will activate line followers attached to the cars opening up audio envelopes to make audible prerecorded tracks of and relating to Cage. Within the terrain several small-scale reconstructions of geodesic domes will be present and navigable by the cars. A final addition of two RC cars; a Globe and Geodesic Dome, will then be activated by the audience giving control of the fragility of “spaceship” earth and the sustainability of the Geodesic dome. The performers of the Cagean cars continue with the indeterminate instruction as given by the score as the audience now enters the field collaboratively or otherwise.

These formal and utopian qualities of Cage, central to their development pre/post BMC, demonstrated and put into practice in real-time is the key to radical self-navigation. To reengage with the world and audience real and in miniature.

 

Saturday Nov. 13, 12:15-1:15pm – Catered Lunch

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Saturday Nov. 13, 1:00-1:45pm – Manheimer Room Performance                       

Laura Kuhn (executive director, John Cage Trust) + Jade Dellinger (curator of Don’t Blame it on Zen: The Way of John Cage & Friends) performance of John Cage’s Indeterminacy with a screening of Merce Cunningham’s How to Pass, Kick, Fall and Run.

 

Saturday Nov. 13, 2:00-3:30pm – Panel #1

Alex Porco – Becoming New American: M.C. Richards’s Zen Poetry and Poetics, 1951-1954

From 1951 to 1954, M.C. Richards composed a number of Zen Buddhism-inspired haiku and minimalist poems: for example, “Nativity: To Katherine Olson,” “Haiku: November,” “Haiku: Snow,” “Haiku,” “Haiku: What is between your ears?,” ““[‘A black swan has a red mouth]’,” and “[‘Hands:’].” Richards’s early—albeit brief—experiments in Zen poetry and poetics predate those of her more famous New American contemporaries, such as Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, Allen Ginsberg, and Jack Kerouac. Richards’s interest in Zen Buddhism is representative, in general, of the crosscultural exchanges that constitute the transpacific imaginary and, in particular, of the post-WWII “Zen Boom,” but it occurred independent of the homosocial West Coast Beat milieu of Synder et al. The purpose of my talk, then, is, first, to provide a social and institutional history of M.C. Richards’s Zen poetics, drawing specific attention to Richards’s early engagement with Zen Buddhism via Imagism while an undergraduate at Reed College, where, in 1937, as a senior, she successfully defended her thesis, titled “A Study of Imagism with Reference to Chinese Verse of the T’ang Dynasty.” Second, I will discuss the formal and political radicalism of Richards’s iconic Zen poem, “[‘Hands:’]” (first published in the anarchist magazine, Resistance, in 1954), and consider it in relationship to John Cage’s 4’33” (1951) and Robert Rauschenberg’s White Painting (1951). Following from scholar Steven Yao, my goal, ultimately, is to “re-Orient” M.C. Richards’s poetics of the early 1950s. In doing so, I will demonstrate how Richards’s work from the period accords with what Timothy Gray calls the “crosscultural energies” of the New American poetry.

 

Holly Messitt – Hilda Morley’s Poetic Eye

As this conference is focused around John Cage, I have been thinking about the inspiration Cage found in Zen philosophy and the way that lead to Cage’s practice of indeterminacy, his effort to supplant the ego-self and open space for creation that comes from beyond personal consciousness and expression. As my work focuses on Hilda Morley’s poetry, I think about the tension between Cage and Morley’s husband Stefan Wolpe, a tension that rises from their individual practices between self and beyond-self. This tension between self and beyond-self also leads me to a book review of Morley’s last collection by Paul Breslin in Poetry. Among other complaints, Breslin criticizes the “I” in Morley’s poems: “That ‘lyrical interference of the ego’ that Olson was keen to get rid of pervades these poems start to finish; the vertical pronoun looms like a control tower keeping every move under surveillance.”

This presentation will consider this question of the self in Morley’s poetry. I will look at the relationship between poet, the object of the poem, and the making of the poem she and Denise Levertov described in their separate discussions of organic form. With organic form, as described first by Levertov and then by Morley, when instress (the experience of perception) reveals inscape (the inner form in an object and objects in relation to each other) the poet can fuse perception with the object and find form. Notably, while this process includes deep thinking about the making, it maintains the close relationship between the poet and the object. That is, the perception of the poet-self is still important as the mediator between the object and the poem. As I consider this position of the self in Morley’s poetry, I will look as well to contextualize her with other Black Mountain College artists.

 

Saturday Nov. 13, 2:00-3:30pm – Panel #2

Piers Gelly – Exquisite Corpse, or Human Centipede?: Experiments in Collective Authorship

This paper will focus on an English seminar I taught at the University of Virginia in the spring of 2021: “Exquisite Corpses: Experiments in Collective Authorship.” In this course, my eight students and I read and discussed many works from an imagined canon of texts with multiple authors, with a particular emphasis on the ideas and experiments of John Cage, who constantly challenged (and at times exploded) the concept of individual authorship.

Our goal was to determine (1) whether it’s possible to create an artwork in which power is really and truly shared among multiple authors; and (2) whether there are effects, forms, experiences, and ideas that are only available or expressible in texts with multiple authors. My paper will outline the intellectual journey I shared with my students, touching on some key texts—the Surrealists’ “exquisite corpse” experiments; Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel The Narrative Corpse; 24-Carat Black’s album Ghetto: Misfortune’s Wealth; The Combahee River Collective Statement; Yoko Ono’s Cut Piece; Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s film Mysterious Object at Noon; Joshua Oppenheimer’s film The Act of Killing—as well as narrating some pedagogical experiments my students and I attempted as we tried to determine whether this college course itself could be a space in which power was really and truly shared among all participants.

In contributing this paper to the conference, I hope to explore John Cage’s thinking via his latter- and present-day influences; to share some pedagogical tactics that have emerged from my reading of Cage; and (hopefully) to create a funny, thought-provoking, and moving portrait of a very unusual college community that emerged in the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic, with Cage as its guiding light.

 

Ken Betsalel & Heidi Kelley – Percussive, Noisy, and Silent: Honoring the Caged Bardo in Black Mountain Pedagogy

By all accounts Black Mountain College, like the Greek polis to which many have likened it, could be a talkative, speech-filled place. Besides vigorous class discussions, weeknight lectures, coffees, critiques, rehearsals, recitals, and performances, there were town hall style college community meetings where plenty of important as well less important matters were talked about. What may have made Black Mountain College pedagogy different was the emphasis on the contemplative space, on what political theorist Hannah Arendt called the most silent of human activities, thinking. It is the argument of this paper that John Cage’s contribution to this holistic approach to learning was his ability to teach students to live “in-between” the traditional boundaries of subject object learning and art-making. We call this the “caged bardo,” the place of teaching-learning practice. Drawing on Cage’s writing and interviews, along with archival notes and secondary sources on his teaching at Black Mountain College, coupled with the work of Black Mountain College-inspired poets and painters who have influenced or been influenced by Cage’s approach, we present some teaching practices and exercises that use Cagean insights and methods regarding percussion, noise, and silence, as ways to invite students to re-see the world as it is and might be.

 

Joseph Pizza – John Cage and the Poetics of Silence 

While John Cage’s romantic relationship with Merce Cunningham was something of an open secret for much of their lives together, little evidence of it remains in the composer-poet’s works. Indeed, unlike, say, Allen Ginsberg, Frank O’Hara, or John Weiners, Cage’s homosexuality is hardly ever addressed by scholars and virtually never emerges in his writings. This despite the fact that at Black Mountain College and, subsequently, in New York, Cage and Cunningham dwelt in largely supportive communities where fellow musicians, artists, and writers, like Robert Duncan and Jess Collins, lived openly and felt free to explore their sexuality — and even voice their resistance to a politics of repression — in their work. While some, like Jonathan Katz, have shrugged off Cage’s reticence on this subject as an instance of a typically “closeted” 1950s gay subculture, I want to explore his silence as part of his larger aesthetics. Cage’s work, of course, is synonymous with silence and indeterminacy. After first grounding these ideas in his biography, then, I’d like to offer a reading of passages from “62 Mesostics re Merce Cunningham” that demonstrates the ways in which these theoretical and biographical concerns converge in his poetry.

 

Saturday Nov. 13, 2:00-3:30pm – Panel #3

Abriana Jette – I have nothing to say / & I am making it: John Cage and New Media Studies

Research in new media studies (J. Rice, Adam Koehler, et al) looks forward to the varying compositions that may be created when disciplines across universities incorporate and critically examine digital collaborators. This paper explores John Cage’s intuitive pedagogical techniques to reflect on the role of non-digital influences in creative making. This presentation calls to Cage’s personal writings and archives, his reliance on the I Ching, and also looks at Josef Albers to realign new media studies with the history of Black Mountain College.

 

Paul Beaudoin – The Space Between: John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, Stefan Wolpe, and Bill Viola

The important influence of Black Mountain College on the works of Cage, Rauschenberg, and Wolpe is of paramount importance. The fertile creative landscape allowed participants an opportunity to explore and push boundaries. From Rauschenberg’s White Paintings and Cage’s “happenings” to Stefan Wolpe’s exploration of “unruly actions,” a blossoming of possibilities began to root. While creators may embed meaning in their work, that meaning is often transformed in the space between the work and the receiver. Culling from the ideas of Buddhism and the artists themselves, this paper explores that dialog occurring in that “in-between-ness” and the ways in which our understanding of the art changes our sense of experience and perception.

 

Jeff Hamilton – John Cage, the Epigram, and the anti-cult Cult

Students of Black Mountain College have each of us achieved alumni status but the pedagogical mission continues in study of John Cage, master musician-technician and pedagogue. Carolyn Brown (b. 1927) is Cage’s most august (living) student, who came to Black Mountain in 1952 and performed in the Happening Cage staged, a member thereafter of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company for 20 years. All who study Cage wonder how his pedagogy contributes to BMC’s legacy, under John Andrew Rice, of Left Conservatism. Brown’s book is titled Chance and Circumstance, the two changes in which Cage instructed her. Brown didn’t throw the I Ching, as Cage did, nonetheless she was charmed by the oracle. A crucial spell is his mastery of short forms, and a special techne of short forms is their modality amid chance and circumstance, in foraging for epigrams. Epigrams helped Cage get beyond influence, “Before Completion,” as Arthur Sze has it, where influence might continue unabated by anything like agency. It’s a techne of an anti-cult Cult, and our best way of reading Cage’s pedagogy in poetics today is its insistence on sussing, or divination.

The I Ching is used, as Carl Jung noted, to inform us of what’s involved in our presentness. I read the number of contemporary projects in the epigram, whether these be Glenn Mott’s Eclogues in a Mustard Seed Garden, Arthur Sze’s quantum entanglements in the poetic image, Lauren Berlant and Kathleen Stewart’s The Hundreds, or Dsichl Biyin’s Navajo Folklore as owing something to Cage, whose short forms were the anecdote, the fable and the koan.

A small dose of the poem, epigram inoculates the poetic orders. About Cage’s epigram forages, like his mycology, it’s useful to recall that epigram is a symposiast’s genre, bringing together East and West. Kantorowicz tells us that Frederick II heard the prophet of the anti-Christ, St. Francis, say (in the vernacular) his apothegems on poverty and love in Bari, in 1222. Foraging is the right word for epigrams, because, since Frederick’s crossings of East and West, epigrams have offered the poetic orders an inoculative dose of the wisdom vernaculars. As Nietzsche said, treatises are for jackasses. Cage’s short works offer his students a route to the 10,000 things. I propose to study Cage’s pedagogy through the genre of his epigrams, and track his use of this pedagogical method to offer some surmises about what is causing the present revival in the epigram.

 

Saturday Nov. 13, 2:00-3:30pm – Panel #4

Joseph Bathanti – Outside Inside: The Prison Writing and Teaching of Fielding Dawson

Above all, Fielding remained a decided stylist his entire publishing life, though I will argue that, while retaining the voice and style of his earlier work, his prison fiction became much more narrative, less fractured, less collage-like, and more concerned with what I’ll call here conventional plot, than his earlier fiction.

What I’m suggesting, ultimately, is that Fielding, after his epiphanic teaching stint at Attica in 1984 (his first foray into a prison), experienced a kind of rebirth as a writer. His prison writing became overtly political and, indeed, his own life became much more devoted to the cause of and advocacy for prison reform. In 1990, he became chair of the PEN (USA) Writing Committee. In addition, this period, post-Attica, also launched his career as a teacher, something he’d done little of in any sustained way, and specifically as a prison writing teacher of note.

What’s more he also published pieces about teaching in prison, and developed a particular pedagogy in his Defined as a Genre, congenial to teaching creative writing in prisons. In Defined as a Genre, Fielding contends that prison writing constitutes “a genre all its own: dynamic, expressive, compelling, that should be recognized, and have a place in modern literature.”

Fielding and I became good friends during the last ten years of his life and taught together annually for two weeks in NC prisons. I have spent considerable time teaching creative writing in prisons over the last 45 years, and I am also a Black Mountain College scholar.

 

Joshua Unikel – His Plexigrams: John Cage as Typographer, Visual Poet

John Cage is overlooked as a typographer and visual poet. His inventive “plexigrams,” titled Not Wanting to Say Anything about Marcel (1969), are a prime example of this oversight. In this talk, I’ll contextualize his plexigrams in terms of typography and visual poetry. Throughout, I’ll argue that his contributions to these disciplines are historically informed, groundbreaking and emblematic of his interdisciplinary experience at Black Mountain College.

To begin, I’ll discuss how Cage builds on typographic trends from the early and mid-19th century and, through his experimental approach, creates an aesthetic that won’t emerge in typography for another three or four decades. In his plexigrams, Cage uses relatively legible typefaces but weathers them so that they gain imperfection and materiality. The words are at once clear and legible yet material and obscure. This unique tension sets a precedent for typography of the 1990s into the present.

I’ll also argue that Cage is of his time and ahead of his time as a visual poet. In his plexigrams, Cage uses stark, isolated words and combines them with a partial, cutup-looking treatment of language. He combines the stark approach of Concrete Poetry from the 1950s with the then-burgeoning tradition of Projective Verse. The latter being a tradition established by friend, poet and fellow Black Mountain-er Charles Olson. As I’ll demonstrate, this hybrid is rare in the history of visual poetry. Even more rare is how Cage used instructions for gallerists to rearrange the plexigrams to create a kind of built-in physical algorithm. Making them an early, un-acknowledged precursor to Recombinant Poetry that emerges in the digital era decades later.

In these contexts, I’ll end my talk by grappling with questions raised by these disciplines and highlighting how Cage’s creative community at Black Mountain warrants interdisciplinary readings of his work.

 

Nancy Tobin – Hearing A Sonorous Sculpture: Exploring Cagean Silence beyond 4’33”

In John Cage’s 4’33’’score, the performers are instructed to do nothing. Commonly qualified as a silent piece, this musical composition sets up adequate circumstances for all participants (musicians and audience) to turn their attention to the acoustic environment as it is occurring for the entire duration of 4 minutes and 33 seconds.

The silence that will be discussed during my presentation is more intimate than the acoustic environmental “silence” of 4’33”. The “sober and quiet mind” as John Cage mentions in an interview published in the 1986 issue of the Inquiring Mind semi-annual journal, “is one in which the ego does not obstruct the fluency of the things that come in through our senses and up through our dreams.” As the musicians, turning their attention toward the acoustic present instead of doing what is habitually expected, seeking for a silent mind is to change our habitual patterns of labelling, judging, liking, disliking in order to be vibrantly present to the passing moment simply as it is.

Still in the same interview, Cage explains very concisely how freeing one’s mind of preconceptions enables one to be more creative by evoking a Marcel Duchamp tweak of perspective. Instead of being irritating, sirens and burglar alarms are considered to be sonorous sculptures. During this presentation, I will explore further the meaning and implications of cultivating one’s ability to hear a sonorous sculpture during the creative process.

 

Saturday Nov. 13, 2:00-3:30pm – Manheimer Room

Leap Then Look – Reimagining the Light, Sound Movement Workshop

Artists Lucy Cran and Bill Leslie (Leap Then Look) will discuss their 2020 digital residency and research project with BMC+AC, paying particular attention to the ways they reimagined historical art and teaching practices within their own artistic and pedagogic practice.

This session will then invite participants to practically reimagine the LSMW – an experimental, student-led course that ran at BMC in the late 40s – exploring the potential relationships of bodies, sounds, actions, and light play collaboratively in the space.

Leap Then Look will be leading this session from the UK via video link. Participants will work together in person facilitated by BMC+AC staff.

 

Saturday Nov. 13, 2:00-3:30pm – Workshop

Julie J. Thomson and Fritz Horstman – Leaf Studies Workshop

Fritz Horstman, Education Director at the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, and Julie Thomson will co-present a workshop about the Leaf Studies Josef Albers developed, and taught at Black Mountain College, and later at Yale University.

The Leaf Studies are one of the least examined aspects of Josef Albers’s teaching and his landmark book The Interaction of Color. First we will look deeper into the leaf studies made by Josef Albers and his students and then participants will have the opportunity to experiment with, and make their own, leaf studies. Fritz will discuss how the Leaf Studies offer a bridge between Josef Albers’s Color class + Matière studies. Leaves collected from the Blue Ridge Mountains will allow participants to further experience and study the colors available to BMC students.

If leaf color and time allows, Fritz may also invite participants to make a color gradient with leaves + Goethe’s color wheel.

 

Saturday Nov. 13, 3:45-5:15pm – Panel #1

The Music of Black Mountain Poetry II / Chair: Josh Hoeynck

This session will investigate the formal and technical innovations carried out by poets who have looked to Black Mountain College as an influence. In keeping with the conference’s thematic focus on John Cage this year, presenters will also explore the rich interdisciplinary relationships between the Black Mountain Poets, such as Olson, Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, John Wieners, Denise Levertov, etc., and music. Musical influences at and beyond Black Mountain College deeply influenced the verse written by these poets, from Cage to Pierre Boulez, from jazz to classical music, from rock and roll to blues. We are interested in how the experimental verse developed by the Black Mountain Poets transformed musical influences and deployed sound to create new sonic relationships between words on the page. We are also interested in papers that look to other poets who were influenced by the Black Mountain Poets and who have a deep interest in using music to create verse: figures like Robin Blaser, Amiri Baraka, and Nathaniel Mackey, among so many others.

 

Eric Keenaghan – Love, War, and the Masters of Measure: Black Mountain’s Queer Legacy, in the Music and Verse of Robert Duncan and Lou Harrison

In 1951, John Cage brought his friend and fellow New Music composer Lou Harrison to Black Mountain College, where Harrison would teach for two years. Harrison’s friend poet Robert Duncan, whom Harrison met when Duncan lived in New York City in the early 1940s, would be lured to teach there by the school’s rector Charles Olson during its last summer session, in 1956. Although their tenures did not overlap, both Duncan and Harrison were incontrovertibly affected by the institution and its emphases on community, process, and interdisciplinarity. In the years following Black Mountain College’s closure, while both were living in northern California, they also were mutually affected by one another’s work. Duncan celebrated Harrison in the poem “Letters IX: Light Song” (from Letters, 1958), a poem about “husbands” and the art of McCarthy-era queer domesticity and romance. For his part, Harrison felt that his friend demonstrated a “mastering of measure.” In the late 1960s, after the Americanization of the Vietnam War and prior to gay liberation, Harrison set two of Duncan’s poems to orchestral music. He set the explicitly homoerotic suite “A Set of Romantic Hymns” (from Roots and Branches, 1964) as Orpheus: For the Singer to the Dance (1969), a revisioning of the uncompleted Labyrinth which premiered while in-progress in 1967. The following year, Harrison set as the second part of Peace Piece (1968) Duncan’s controversial protest poem “Up Rising, Passages 25” (first published in The Nation; reprinted in Of the War, 1965; and Bending the Bow, 1968). Infamously, its premiere performance was booed by conservative audience members. Although Harrison and Duncan were both openly homosexual and shared leftist political views, and although both incorporated queerness and politics thematically into their work, each prioritized their respective arts’ aesthetic dimensions. Considering Harrison’s compositions alongside Duncan’s poems gives us a chance to reassess what “queerness” and “politics” mean, especially in a post-Black Mountain landscape where many saw the artwork as an extension of the artist and as another object on a dynamic, interactive social field. Eroticism is at the core of such socio-aesthetic relationality. Harrison wrote of what drew him to Duncan’s poem for Orpheus: “The melodies are in the earth-roots, the web of hearts, and in the sensuous syllables which string his verse as well.” Thus, I argue that eroticism, ecstasy, and embodied feeling—a celebration of desire as the most human and projective (in an Olsonian sense), yet also transportive and transcendent, faculty—are at the core of their shared queer, processual sensibility. The intertexts produced out of this unstudied friendship, and the generally understudied queerness of many Black Mountain writers’ love- and desire-driven aesthetics, can help us construct a new critical vocabulary for “political art.”

 

Jeff Davis: Ta’wil: Olson’s Late Turn

Olson, early in his career, found religion (as he then understood it) to be inimical to the life of the imagination, and to the creative act itself. He thought Melville’s work, for example, had been crippled by the Christianity of his time and place. After writing Moby Dick, Olson says in Call Me Ishmael Melville became Christ’s victim, and it was death, and lack of love, that let him be it. … He denied himself in Christianity. It is space, and its feeding on man, that is the essence of his vision, bred in him here in America, and it is time which is at the heart of Christianity. What the Pacific had confirmed for him he allowed Christ to undo. It was on the promise of a future life that Melville caught. Death bothered him. Ironically, it may seem, Olson, in the final years of his life, became a “religious” poet himself. The religion in which he immersed himself, though, was not Christian, and not a religion of eschatological closure. It was one of discovery. And so he did not repeat Melville’s fateful turn. He continued to write prolifically and at as high a level as ever through the end of his life. Though his former friends and fellow New American Poets withdrew from him, he found new company, intellectual, spiritual, and otherwise, for the journey into his earthly paradise.

 

Seth Forrest – “a clutter of unspecific forms”: Some reconsiderations of the music of Black Mountain Poetics

This paper draws on new scholarship on Olson and other poets represented in the Black Mountain Review and in the loose Black Mountain collective to offer a revised description of the “music” of the Black Mountain poetic. The paper begins by listening closely to the affinities of form between the Black Mountain poets, Pierre Boulez’s Second Piano Sonata, and Olson’s apocryphal comment on the early Black Mountain style, “It was all Charlie Parker.” The paper then turns to Creeley in “Rene Laubies: An Introduction” from BMR #1 and his discussion of “unspecific forms.” This concept allows something of a unified theory that can connect what often seem like contradictory impulses: the coolness of Albers-Cage-Boulez-Tudor versus the hotness of bebop-“blowing”-Franz Kline-action painting. The Black Mountain style engages both approaches to open form and nonrepresentation, finding a way around the binary of “raw and cooked” or “Apollonian ad Dionysian” by embracing both qualities through the idea of the “unspecific form.”

 

Cheryl L. Conner – Beyond the Musical Matrix

Contemplative and composer Cheryl Conner explores the inherited musical parameters which Cage sought to dissolve, inspired by his Zen Buddhist practice and experience. She shares insights from her own Tibetan Buddhism understanding of sound and music which inform her kindred exploration of source materials, the environment, and consciousness. After this perspective is shared in slide show, she plays 3 received piano pieces.

 

Saturday Nov. 13, 3:45-5:15pm – Panel #2

David Patterson – Beyond Cunningham: John Cage’s Transactions with the American Modern Dance Community at Large, 1942-54

In April of 1946, critic Doris Hering alerted her readership to one of New York’s most prolific composers for the modern dance, noting:

“One name—John Cage—has appeared many, many times. … Martha Dean of the University of Los Angeles … approached said young man for scores. … [In the midwest,] Cage found eager collaborators in Gertrude Lippincott and Ruth Hatfield. … [In New York,] Valerie Bettis, Jean Erdman, Pearl Primus, Hanya Holm, Merce Cunningham, Iris Mabry, Marie Marchowsky, Nina Fonaroff, Yuriko, and Helaine Blok have gained much through his musical collaboration.”

Even to those well acquainted with Cage’s biography, this roster may well be a surprise, for the literature to date on Cage’s work with the dance focuses almost exclusively on his fifty-year collaboration with Merce Cunningham. However—and as Hering’s list of collaborators indicates—Cage’s connections within the modern dance community comprised a far more elaborate set of relationships. Ultimately, these relationships would yield some thirty-five dances created by nearly twenty different choreographers to newly commissioned Cage scores. Off stage, Cage’s role as a pedagogue to the dance community testifies to his ever-expanding influence beyond music and into the creative arts in general.

Using Cage’s 1948 Black Mountain College dance piece In a Landscape as a recurrent touchstone, this presentation surveys Cage’s work with modern dancers (excluding Cunningham) during his first long stint in New York City (1942-1954). Featuring unpublished photographs, excerpts from privately conducted interviews, and unearthed notes from a “Music and Dance” class that Cage offered in 1947, this research will both document Cage’s impact upon the working methods of selected modern dancers and demonstrate the essential ways in which these choreographers advanced Cage’s music, played pivotal roles in disseminating his music around the world, and most important, shaped Cage’s own evolving attitudes toward composition.

 

Sara Wookey – Transmitting Trio A: An Unspectacular Dance as Spectacle in the Museum

A performance-lecture that explores the underlying and specific verbal language, references and musings that Yvonne Rainer engages when transmitting her dance Trio A (1966) from her body to that of another. It explores a methodology behind dance making and influences of John Cage on Rainer’s signature piece. It considers body-to-body transfer through engaging process as material. Sara will discuss and demonstrate her experiences of working with Rainer to both learn and become certified to teach her seminal work. She will also present details about Transmitting Trio A, a two-year research project that is part pedagogical tool, part archive and part 3-D art-work that explores and amplifies the transmission process rendering it a visible, tactile and usable tool for dancers.

 

Christopher Preissing – You Won’t Hear a Thing, You’ll Hear Everything: Zen, Individual Experience, and the Universes of John Cage         

The perfect Way is without difficulty,

Save that it avoids picking and choosing.

Only when you stop liking and disliking

Will all be clearly understood.

In this presentation I will discuss Cage’s representational strategy of creating bounded, intentional environments—or containers—within which audiences as individuals and communities are required to exercise personal decision-making, create their own unique experience, and generate individual meaning.

These containers demarcate an environment in which an abundance of materials and activities—including intended and unintended sounds, images, dance, film, and so on—can take place. Containers cordon off physical space—its size, location, relationship to other space—and temporality—duration and relationship to other time—as well as define a set of rules about what happens within that time and space—atmosphere, density, light, etc. Through an interplay of FIXED containers and INDETERMINATE contents, Cage’s bounded environments FORCE the spectator to make decisions and to (re)create a personal experience.

I will illustrate this strategy with two examples—HPSCHD and Musicircus—and to a lesser degree 4’33” and one5. I will reflect on Umberto Eco’s Open Work and the role of the spectator, Richard Schechner’s Experimental Theatre, Cage’s interest in Zen, and my personal productions of HPSCHD and Musicircus. I will present examples of my own work and offer strategies for creating works that support this methodology.

 

Saturday Nov. 13, 3:45-5:15pm – Panel #3

Eric Baden – Black Mountain College and Mexico: Translation in Motion

A trans-historical exploration of linkages in art and arts education between Black Mountain College and Mexico. In advance of a scheduled 2023 exhibition, project director Eric Baden discusses the genesis of the project and considers art and education in a broader American context.

 

Maura Doern Danko – What made the magic? What accounts for Black Mountain College’s wildly inspiring legacy?

This presentation intends to review a selection of possible reasons for the success and to draw parallels to new models of creative communities. Was it the cost? Was it the people? Was it the shared experiences of experiment, freedom from imprint, and trust in this allowance? Was it the time and place? Other factors pertinent in this discussion include the following: It was a multi-disciplined arena: not intended as an arts college. The college was collaborative: in this respect it welcomed chance encounters, and a playful spirit. It was relatively isolated in a beautiful environment; students were fully immersed. There was an inherent chemistry because of the comingling of people, trust and self-direction. Pervasive to all of this, and key in the early years especially, is a non-hierarchical quality. Did its brevity contribute to its success? The Here and Now/ Virtual Communities: The other aspect to this presentation is a comparison of some of these factors to our newly adopted world of remote learning as a result of the COVID pandemic. Do virtual communities have the potential to succeed in ways outlined above? I return to the reverberation of “non-hierarchical” and (honest) trust in experiment and inquiry. Examples from the experience of the pandemic will be utilized to draw parallels.

 

Trevor James Smith – Painterly Listening: Musical Ekphrasis with Cage, Feldman, Albers, and de Kooning

In this presentation, I advocate for a mode of listening and foundation for analysis in which the listener embodies the “persona of the painter”. This research expands on that of Orit Hilewicz and her thoughts on musical ekphrasis by applying her findings to connections between music and visual abstraction, as well as Jonathan Bernard’s observations on these connections between minimalism in both music and visual arts. In this work, ekphrasis can describe the reciprocal relationship between two artworks, or the reciprocal relationship of a musical work and a range of visual artworks and styles which may have intertextual connections and/or have informed each other. The result is an argument that these abstract ekphrastic connections may necessarily rely on Gestalt principals of grouping, such as figure-ground organization and laws of continuity, and that the listener may imagine the visual work being “painted” or created through time during their listening. The research begins with Morton Feldman’s De Kooning, a work that does not specify a specific painting as a source of inspiration, and applies an ekphrastic analysis with two contrasting works by Willem de Kooning to demonstrate these connections. The presentation moves to the music of John Cage and applies an ekphrastic analysis with the artwork of Josef Albers, suggesting that listeners may engage in this “painterly listening” with work that has no direct reciprocal relationship mentioned by the artists themselves. This mode of listening contributes to the discussion of intertextuality, ekphrasis, and aesthetic similarities between artworks of different mediums. Further research should broaden these ideas to works with even greater separation in history and style, and musical-visual analyses with more significant depth may begin from a painterly listening as a foundation.

 

Saturday Nov. 13, 3:45-5:15pm – Performance

Happening: Ted Pope and Tom Murphy (45-50 minutes)

Ted and Tom will perform poetry that centers on their collision with Black Mountain College. Such poems as Ted’s “Axis Mundi” and Tom’s erasure poem of Erwin Straus’ “Education in the time of Crisis” among other subjects or concerns of BMC personnel will be included. There will also be an interdialogue between the two poets. Subjects referenced in their work will be: John Cage, Buckminster Fuller, Charles Olson, Michael Rumaker, Ruth Asawa, Edward Dorn, John Chamberlain, and Dorothea Rockburne to name a few.

 

Saturday Nov. 13, 3:45-5:15pm – Performance

Lindsay Packer – Viewfinder (30-40 minutes)

Lindsay Packer’s Viewfinder embraces Cagean elements of chance and indeterminacy as live video feedback, analog light projection, and simple props come together in an ad hoc analog/digital interface. Structurally and formally, the performance observes itself through visual choreography that describes a hall of mirrors. Links to images and video of the work are included below.

As much a happening as a performance, Viewfinder begins as Packer arranges simple props at the front of the room, plugs in small lamps that cast colorful shadows around those props, and loops together a video projector, webcam and laptop computer in a simple neural network. The process of ‘setting up’ is quick but deliberate, task oriented and practical, and calls attention to what’s circumstantially available and present. These preliminary procedures are both an ambiguous start to the performance and a way of tuning the instrument that is the room itself.

Still image gives way to vertiginous movement as Packer guides a webcam around the objects she has set up – you may get a sense of possible outcomes at the links below. Incidental room sounds along with shuffling of various props keep the complex visual field grounded in dimensional space that performer and audience share. Silence and stillness, motion and sound, bursts of light and bouts of darkness play out. Verbal communication between performer and audience is not planned but is not out of the question.

The performance’s duration and trajectory are variable and dictated by swelling waves of visual feedback, technical discoveries made during the performance, and any direct interaction with the audience that may take place. Viewfinder ends as Packer unplugs digital and analog elements and returns the room to its neutral state.

 

Saturday Nov. 13, 4:15-5:45pm – Manheimer Room Performances                                                                                                                                     

Everette Scott Smith – Performance of John Cage’s Ryoanji for Solo Oboe and Percussion Obbligato (1983) (17 minutes)

Ryoanji demonstrates the aesthetic idea of environmental sound through echolocation by using a percussion obbligato to act as an aural portrayal of the small, raked pebbles in the Ryōanji garden to accompany the oboe’s lines representative of the garden’s fifteen large rocks. A series of unmetered quarter notes and quarter rests, played on idiophones and membranophones, serves to illicit sonic representation of those many small pebbles surrounding the fifteen large rocks in the Ryōanji garden. In performance, this creates a sonic environment around the piece itself and is in line with Cage’s views of acoustic ecology of surroundings. There is no score indication of how many percussionists are to play the percussion obbligato or how many percussion instruments each performer plays, however, in a letter to Malcolm Goldstein dated 8 July, 1991 Cage denotes that the obbligato should be played by a single solo percussionist or a larger group of “20 or whatever total number it is.” Furthermore, Cage offers the option of an orchestra playing the obbligato part on instruments of each player’s choosing. Considering the indeterminate nature of this aspect of scoring, along with the option for an orchestra to play the obbligato in what Cage refers to as “Korean Unison,” one interpretation of the score is to allow the audience to be active participant-observers, each playing a percussion instrument. This expands the soundscape from the stage into the entire performance space and surrounds the oboe with many more iterations of the small pebbles from the garden. In this performance the audience will be invited to collaborate with the oboe soloist (Smith) and play the percussion part on various percussion instruments. Some percussion instruments will be provided for audience use though participants are encouraged to supply their own if they prefer.

 

Christina Soriano – For Cage (11 minutes)

For Cage is a solo dance performance featuring Cage’s music and a sound collage of Cage’s mesostic poetry. It was featured at the American College Dance Association gala performance at Missouri State University in 2013.

 

Greg Stuart – triple/filter after/cage sound performance (40-60 minutes)

This performance integrates three of Cage’s most significant works dealing with silence and/or environmental listening: 4’33” (1952), 0’00” (1962), and Roaratorio (1979). With 4’33” Cage presents us with the “frame” of the concert situation, rendering sensible the space “between the outside and the inside, between the external and the internal edge-line, the framer and the framed” (Jacques Derrida, The Truth in Painting). In 0’00” Cage reduces the frame to a single point. The “disciplined action” the score calls for suggests a performance that contracts to almost nothing, a “duration” that we hear, following Julian Barbour’s “timeless/frameless” physics, as being “without” time despite the work’s amplification via contact microphones and a sound-system. With Roaratorio, however, Cage expands the frame to the level of an “atmosphere” (a concept I draw from the philosopher Gernot Bohme). Here we experience so many individual sounds that it is their nearly infinite variety (and divergences) that “sum up” to the singular impression of a distinct world (in the case of Cage’s 1979 recording, we encounter a kaleidoscopically re-distributed summarization of James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake). My proposed performance, triple/filter after/cage, overlays and places side-by-side Cage’s frame, point, and atmosphere (from 4’33”, 0’00”, and Roaratorio, respectively) allowing these devices to interact with another in real-time. Primary sounding elements for this performance will include field recordings, filtered noise, and sine tones played from miniature speakers distributed throughout the performance space; mechanical and electrical objects turned on/off by the performer; and live percussion, vocal, and object performance. It is my hope that this work will create a kind of variable sieve through which the Cageian concepts of frame, point, and atmosphere can be perceived as not only distinct but will also create new affective as patterned through my own distinct voice as a performer-composer of experimental music.

 

Saturday Nov. 13, 8:00-10:00pm – BMC Museum + Arts Center (120 College St., downtown Asheville)

Performances

Carl Patrick Bolleia – John Cage Piano/Toy Piano Retrospective: Black Mountain Keyboard (30 minutes)

Black Mountain College served as the world premiere site for Cage’s magnum opus for solo prepared piano, Sonatas and Interludes. It was with this work of sonic variety that the timbral range of the modern piano was expanded to seemingly innumerable possibilities on a large-scale. Continued inspiration at Black Mountain College led to Cage’s iconoclastic and most well known work, 4:33, which consequently led Cage to become ridiculed by mainstream academia and music, often times disparagingly regarded more for his “philosophy” than compositions. This reputation has resulted with much of Cage’s piano works remaining unknown and not performed by most pianists. This is lamentable, as Cage’s formalized piano compositions deserve to occupy a place in the contemporary pianist’s repertoire. Taking influence from high baroque counterpoint, Japanese poetry, improvisation, indeterminacy, Erik Satie, and music of the American vernacular tradition, Cage’s piano compositions are distinctly marked with clarity of texture and variety of style. A proposed survey of his piano works to be performed would include works not as well known, such as Jazz Study, In a Landscape, Suite for Toy Piano, Seven Haikus, and selections from his Etudes Australes. It is the desire and hope of this performance to revive interest in the muse of Black Mountain College and Cage’s piano music — music that deserves to be studied in conservatory and university curriculums, performed in recitals, and to take it’s place as some of the greatest contributions of the canon of 20th Century American Piano Music.

 

Thomas Moore – solo piano works by John Cage, with a focus on compositions written around 1952 and 1953 (40 minutes)

This concert program of solo piano works by John Cage, has a focus on compositions written around 1952 and 1953, the years of Cage’s second and third visits to Black Mountain College. The program may include: 4’33” (1952) Water Music (1952) Haikus (1950–51) For M.C. and D.T. (1952) Two Pastorales (1951–52) Music for Piano 2 (1953) Music for Piano 20 (1953).

These works — along with several others, such as Music of Changes (1951) and the Concerto for Prepared Piano and Orchestra (1950–51) — represent some of Cage’s earliest exploration of chance operations, a significant shift in his compositional style and aesthetic outlook that reflected his newfound familiarity with the I Ching and his continued and profoundly influential Zen studies with D.T. Suzuki, who had moved to New York in 1950. Writing to Pierre Boulez, Cage stated, “I have the feeling of just beginning to compose for the first time.”

“Whereas in 1948 Cage was enjoying a period of critical acceptance, by 1952 when he returned to Black Mountain for a second summer, he was receiving scathing reviews and had been abandoned by many of his peers,” noted Mary Emma Harrison in volume 4 of the Journal of Black Mountain College Studies. Fortunately, Cage was steadfast in this new exploration of chance operations, even to the initial detriment of his reputation.

The concert program is designed not only to hold audience attention, but also to demonstrate the variety of Cage’s early experimentation with chance operations. 4’33”, perhaps Cage’s most famous composition (although infrequently performed), is dedicated to Irwin Kremin, a Black Mountain student. Water Music requires the pianist to not only play on the keyboard, but also to blow whistles, pour water, and deal playing cards into the piano. (In this concert, Water Music would be performed with a water warbler given to the pianist by Cage expressly for the piece.) The Haikus and Pastorales employ essentially the same complex chance operations processes as Music of Changes, and the Music for Piano series were written by looking for imperfections on staff paper. The short piece For M.C. and D.T. carries the initials of two other BMC figures, Mary Caroline Richards and David Tudor, the latter of whom performed a number of Cage’s piano works at Black Mountain College.

I was fortunate to know Cage from 1982 until his death in 1992. He attended many of my performances (including presentations of works such as 4’33”, Water Music, and the Music for Piano series), and appreciated and approved of my interpretations of his music. It is hoped that this proposed concert program will bring to light Cage’s works from the Black Mountain College era, some of which are infrequently heard, while providing an opening for discussion on Cage’s relationship to Zen Buddhism and his adoption of chance operations.

 

Eleonor Sandresky – Strange Energies, etudes for piano (45 minutes)

In the 1950s, John Cage was a founding member of the Gate Hill Cooperative in Stony Point, NY, where I have my studio. His powerful aesthetic is palpable to me here. I have always been fascinated by the phenomenon of sound. It is a physical property that interacts with everything it comes into contact with, no matter how small. The first time I experienced the intentional effects of the combination of sound/pitch in space was in a resonant church, but it wasn’t until I was a graduate student and heard the effects of Steve Reich’s compositions bouncing around a small, wooden concert space as ghost pitches swirled around us, that I understood intentionality. Later as a professional musician performing Cage works in Japan and the USA, it was amazing to experience how sound arrives and disappears, how intention becomes the most important component of a performance.

Strange Energies, etudes for piano were born of these experiences. Everything is energy and the only thing that’s strange is thinking of objects, emotions and events as such, at least in western culture where we tend to objectify everything. These pieces ask the audience as well as the performer to engage directly through intention and attention to the path of the sound, how it builds and dissipates, what happens to a single sounding pitch in a space, how it makes you feel. Each venue is different and therefore each performance can yield very different results. The intentionality of these pieces sets them apart.

In 2019 I recorded an album of the 1st eight etudes which can be heard on Apple Music and Spotify by searching for my name or “Strange Energies.” Now there are more.

 

Sunday Nov. 14, 9:00-10:00am – Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center (120 College St., downtown Asheville)            

Coffee + Conversation

10:00am

Depart for Lake Eden Campus Tour

Carpools depart from BMCM+AC for Black Mountain College’s Lake Eden Campus Tour, led by Julie J. Thomson and David Silver – $15 per person

Presenter Bios

For John Luther Adams, music is a lifelong search for home—an invitation to slow down, pay attention, and remember our place within the larger community of life on earth. Living for almost 40 years in northern Alaska, JLA discovered a unique musical world grounded in space, stillness, and elemental forces. In the 1970s and into the ’80s, he worked full time as an environmental activist. But the time came when he felt compelled to dedicate himself entirely to music. He made this choice with the belief that, ultimately, music can do more than politics to change the world. Since that time, he has become one of the most widely admired composers in the world, receiving the Pulitzer Prize, a Grammy Award, and many other honors. In works such as Become OceanIn the White Silence, and Canticles of the Holy Wind, Adams brings the sense of wonder that we feel outdoors into the concert hall. And in outdoor works such as Inuksuit and Sila: The Breath of the World, he employs music as a way to reclaim our connections with place, wherever we may be.

A deep concern for the state of the earth and the future of humanity drives Adams to continue composing. As he puts it: “If we can imagine a culture and a society in which we each feel more deeply responsible for our own place in the world, then we just may be able to bring that culture and that society into being.” Since leaving Alaska, JLA and his wife Cynthia have made their home in the deserts of Mexico, Chile, and the southwestern United States.

 

Jeff Arnal has worked in the arts and nonprofit sector for the past two decades, first as a percussionist, and later as an arts administrator and curator. He was appointed Executive Director of BMCM+AC in June 2016. Previously, he worked as a senior specialist for the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, a subsidiary of the Pew Charitable Trusts in Philadelphia. Arnal served as a consultant for National Sawdust, a performing arts venue in Brooklyn, and in 2001 he co-founded Improvised and Otherwise, an interdisciplinary festival for emerging artists in the borough. Arnal earned his MFA in music from Bennington College, his BA in interdisciplinary studies: music composition and filmmaking from the University of Maryland, and studied music at The Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, MD.

 

Eric Baden is professor of photography at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, North Carolina. He is the founding director of photoplus, a photo-based multidisciplinary arts event held in Asheville, North Carolina; its first iteration, photo+craft, took place in 2016, and its second, photo+sphere, in 2018. He is a regular reviewer of books on modern and contemporary art and curated the exhibition The Cloud Library, Volume I at the Elizabeth Holden Gallery for photo+sphere. Baden has been awarded numerous grants and residencies, and his photographs are included in the collections of the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University, the International Museum of Photography/George Eastman House in Rochester, New York, and the Westlicht Museum for Photography in Vienna.

 

Joseph Bathanti, former Poet Laureate of North Carolina (2012-14) and recipient of the North Carolina Award in Literature, is author of seventeen books. Bathanti is McFarlane Family Distinguished Professor of Interdisciplinary Education at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. He served as the 2016 Charles George VA Medical Center Writer-in-Residence in Asheville, NC, and is the co-founder of the Medical Center’s Creative Writing Program. A new volume of poems, Light at the Seam, is forthcoming from LSU Press in 2022.

 

Paul Beaudoin: Composer, visual artist, educator, author, and public speaker, Paul Beaudoin is a globally recognized specialist in contemporary art and music. Over a decades long career in music composition, Paul has had the opportunity to work with Martin Boykan, Morton Feldman, Milton, Babbitt, and for many years John Cage. Born in Miami, Florida, Paul moved to Boston to pursue graduate studies at the New England Conservatory of Music and then Brandeis University. Paul continues to compose and has had a very successful career as a interdisciplinary artist – often combining his compositions with his original artwork. Paul now lives in Tallinn, Estonia.

 

Michael Beggs is an architectural designer and independent scholar whose wide-ranging research interests include art and design pedagogy, daylight design in architecture, color, and architecture in rural America. He was formerly employed at the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, where he researched and catalogued Josef Albers’s photographic materials. His writing on Josef Albers has appeared in exhibition catalogues and journals, including contributions to Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957 (Yale University Press, 2013) and Josef Albers: Interaction (Yale University Press, 2018). He has taught workshops and classes based on Albers’s pedagogy at Bauhaus Dessau, The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, The Exploratorium, and UC Berkeley. He is an associate at Loisos + Ubbelohde, an architecture firm specializing in energy modeling, lighting design, and daylight in Alameda, CA.

 

Madison Bell-Rosof is an independent scholar of art history, retired environmental consultant, and recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where she studied English and Earth Science. She is interested in utilitarian craft is as an art form, computer programming, and in Anni Albers, who is, one could say, the prototype.

 

Blanca Bercial is a curator and writer working in the field of Contemporary Art practices and Sound Studies. She graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute with a Master of Arts in History and Theory of Contemporary Art, which culminated with an Outstanding Thesis Award from the institution. Originally from Madrid, Spain she has been living in San Francisco since 2018, when she started her research on the artistic and sonic landscapes of this city. Previously, from 2013 to 2016, Bercial worked for different non-profit art institutions in Beijing, China, where she gained art management professional experience for her career as a curator and art writer. Bercial is also an art practitioner; in her work, she uses sound and poetry as an inquiry into the ways we ignore and overlook common yet unexplored spaces, unutilized hideouts embedded within place, time, and in sound.

 

Ken Betsalel and Heidi Kelley have been working together for more than 30 years incorporating cultural anthropology, political theory and disability studies, along with ethnopoetics and ethnographic photography to explore the multiple meanings of what it means to be human. Their photography, poetry, and essays have appeared in “Anthropology and Humanism” and “Cultural Perspectives on Aging: Global Perspectives.” They have written on comparative approaches to teaching community change in a Galician village on the northwest coast of Spain and in an Affrilachian neighborhood in Western North Carolina. Currently they are designing an experimental curriculum incorporating silence as a means to teach critical thinking, artistic expression, and empathic understanding.

 

Adam Blair completed his dissertation, “Attentive Receptivity in Perceptual Play: a Phenomenology of Creative Spectatorship”, at Stony Brook University in 2021, wherein he investigates what it theoretically and concretely means to be creative through playing with perception. He continues to juggle his many interests—teaching philosophy, coding computers and developing software, playing jazz piano, taking photos and making films, and experimenting with new art forms and rethinking art gallery spaces. His philosophical work has been planted firmly in Phenomenological Aesthetics (and especially Merleau-Ponty), but continues to grow in further directions, drawing upon diverse resources including thinkers Bergson, Bachelard, Proust, and Deleuze; artists Joan Mitchell, Josef Albers, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, and Robert Motherwell; and many fields including gallery studies, disability studies, and art theory/education. http://adamblair.me | IG: @adamtheblair

 

Carl Patrick Bolleia: With performances and recordings acclaimed and featured by The New York Times, The New Yorker, Gramophone, New York Classical Review, Fanfare, American Record Guide, and more, Carl Patrick Bolleia has performed as pianist, keyboardist, and conductor throughout North America, Europe, and China at venues including Carnegie Hall Stern Auditorium and Weill Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Philharmonie de Paris, Merkin Hall, NJPAC, Bargemusic, le poisson rouge, and Spectrum. Dedicated to the music of our time, he has collaborated with composers including Frederic Rzewski, Reena Esmail, Charles Wuorinen, Whitney George, Robert Aldridge, James Romig, and Anthony Davis. His initiative, tintinnabulation.bloom, features new works for keyboard instruments by composers including Tyshawn Sorey and Stephen Hough. His sold out Carnegie Hall Recital Debut featured the world premiere of Rzewski’s “Let It Shine.” He holds the DMA from Rutgers in Piano Performance and is a candidate for the Graduate Diploma in Historical Performance at The Juilliard School. He is Assistant Professor of Music and Coordinator of Piano at William Paterson University.

 

Callous Physical Theatre: Making work together as Callous Physical Theatre, Joséphine A. Garibaldi and Paul Zmolek are dedicated to fostering collaboration across communities, disciplines, and cultures regionally, nationally, and internationally through a dialogic practice of art-making, research, and pedagogy. Callous Physical Theatre is a collaborative, project-based endeavor guided by our slogan, “We go where the work takes us.” From environmental and performance installations, movement and text-based visual poetry, Garibaldi and Zmolek have devised original performance, installation, and digital works nationally and internationally together for three decades. Their work has received awards for Excellence in the Arts and Arts Outreach and has been supported by grants from the Fulbright organization and foundations based in Australia, Latvia, Finland, Portugal, Italy, California, Washington, Iowa, Missouri, Florida and Idaho. Garibaldi is a member of faculty at the Florida State University School of Dance. Zmolek teaches theatre and dance as an Independent Contractor. They each have held faculty appointments at various universities across the nation.

 

Rita Camacho Lomeli (Mexico City) is a multidisciplinary artist and educator based in Toronto, Canada since 2001. Moving across visual art forms and everyday events such as walking and conversing, her work focuses on the subject and practice of the gift. She makes drawings, print works, and installations. Rita regularly works as a facilitator and teacher of art and design in various settings such as colleges and high schools. She has obtained grants from the Ontario Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Council. Rita has exhibited her work in artist-run centres, festivals, and on the streets.

 

Kyle Canter is an aspiring historian of American art and photography. He is a graduate student at Hunter College, where he is completing his MA in art history and curatorial studies. He has completed internships at the Gregg Museum of Art and Design, the North Carolina Museum of Art, and the Photography Department at the Museum of Modern Art. He is currently a Teacher’s Assistant in art history at Steven’s Institute of Technology.  

 

Emily Ruth Capper is a Contract Assistant Professor in the Department of Art History at the University of Minnesota. Her research investigates the many ways in which postwar interdisciplinary art has intersected with the cultural and intellectual history of higher education. Her research has been supported by the Dedalus Foundation, the Henry Luce Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Getty Research Institute. Her current book project, Happening Pedagogy: Allan Kaprow’s Experiments in Instruction, is under contract at the University of Chicago Press.

 

Siu Challons-Lipton is executive director of the Department of Art, Design and Music. She is the Carolyn G. and Sam H. McMahon Professor of Art History, member of the board of collectors of the Mint Museum in Charlotte and is a grant reader for the National Humanities Research Center. She authored The Scandinavian Pupils of the Atelier Bonnat (2002), co-edited Funding Challenges and Successes in Arts Education (2019), and published a chapter on “Transformative Learning through Creative Literacy,” in Pedagogies for the Visual in Innovative Learning (2019) and co-published the chapter “Critical Thinking, Critical Looking: Key characteristics of an educated person” in Cases on Teaching Critical Thinking through Visual Representation Strategies (2014). Recent articles include: “Developing the Cultural Image Literary Assessment-USA,” in the Journal of Visual Literacy (2017); “Helping Students Transition to Critical and Creative Thinking at the Intersection of Communication and Art,” in the International Journal of Humanities and Social Science (2012); “Creativity and the Transformation of Higher Education: The need for a Black Mountain College Approach,” in the Oxford Forum on Public Policy (2013); and “Visual Literacy and the digital native: Another look,” in the Journal of Visual Literacy (2013).

 

Marcia R. Cohen, visual artist and educator, received a BFA from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan and an MA from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Her artwork and scholarship examines the intersection between color, nature, and culture. Cohen maintains an active exhibition record and has lectured at national and international conferences dedicated to the interdisciplinary dimension of color. Awarded a 2019 artist residency at the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation she has been awarded residencies in Iceland, the Azores Archipelago and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Cohen received the 2008 Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia Working Artist Project, a Fulbright Hays Fellowship to Morocco and Tunisia in 2011, a 2012 American Academy in Rome Affiliated Fellowship and a 2019-2020 Research Fellowship from Duke University Department of Jewish Studies. Marcia R. Cohen is a Professor Emerita from SCAD Atlanta and the Atlanta College of Art.

 

Cheryl Conner is a Tibetan Buddhist contemplative, authorized to teach dharma by H.E. Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche of the Nyingmapa lineage, and also a composer and pianist. After a career as lawyer, economist, and professor, a rare health accident created a major detour. Recovery in the wilderness in Vermont created the space for her to hear the music of the spheres, directly from all life forms. She began then and has continued since, a regular practice of listening to the music arising in the natural environment and also received during meditation. She offers music and meditation events, in which she spontaneously shares inspired music, and individual sessions with those who seek healing or deeper meditation. The same deep listening, enables her to support individuals groups seeking deeper coherence and new methods of communicating. She lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains outside Asheville, where she is working on a new recorded series of her improvisations, compositions, and painting.

 

Jeff Davis’ poems have appeared in Asheville Poetry Review, the Nantahala Review, Kakalak, Iodine, the anthologies In the Belly of the Beast and Far From the Centers of Ambition, and other print and online journals. His Natures: Selected Poems, 1972 – 2005 appeared in 2006. He has hosted the weekly radio program Wordplay, which features poets and writers of creative prose, since 2005; it’s now broadcast via AshevilleFM.org and WSFM, 103.3 on the FM radio dial in the Asheville area. The program has featured readings by and interviews with Robert Creeley, Robert Bly, Charles Frazier, Charles Boer, Michael Rumaker, Thomas Rain Crowe, Jessica Jacobs, Sebastian Matthews, Lee Ann Brown, Katherine Stripling Byer, Michael Hettich, and many other writers during its sixteen-year run.

 

Robert Ladislas Derr is a visual artist making performances from live to intervention, videos, photographs, and multimedia installations. He has exhibited and performed widely at venues, including the Canberra Contemporary Art Space (Australia), Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt (Germany), LIVE Performance Art Biennale (Canada), and Irish Film Institute (Ireland). Derr earned his MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and BFA from the Art Academy of Cincinnati.

 

Maura Doern Danko has been worked in higher education since 1988, most recently as an Adjunct Professor at New York Institute of Technology, and Mercy College, both in NY. She has exhibited her work widely, including at The Bowery Gallery, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, and her work is in many collections. Primarily she works with approaches in painting and drawing, exploring themes that intersect with her experiences of the familiar world. Several projects have been collaborative and explored various formats in their presentation: animation, outdoor guerrilla installation, and mail art.

 

Jade Dellinger is Director of the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery at Florida SouthWestern State College. He has also collaborated on curatorial projects regularly with the Tampa Museum of Art and the Contemporary Art Museum at the University of South Florida for more than two decades. As former Director of Edition Julie Sylvester in New York, NY, Dellinger collaborated on prints and multiples with artists including Félix González-Torres, Franz West, Martin Kippenberger, Richard Prince, and Ed Ruscha. Dellinger has organized major solo and two-person museum shows for such artists as Yoko Ono, Ann Hamilton, James Franco, Glenn Branca, Allan McCollum, Bob Rauschenberg, Keith Haring, Peter Greenaway, Guerrilla Girls, and Jack Kerouac. In celebration of the 2012 birth centenary of the influential composer and visual artist John Cage, Dellinger’s curatorial projects Things Not Seen Before: A Tribute to John Cage and John Cage’s 33-1/3 – Performed by Audience were presented at the Tampa Museum of Art, Tempus Projects and at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery at Florida Southwestern State College in Fort Myers, before traveling in expanded form as For John Cage at 100 to the National Gallery of Art, Tbilisi, Georgia. His most recent show, John CAGE: STEPS & Other Works from the Mountain Lake Workshop featured the world-premiere of Cage’s lost monumental masterwork “New River Rocks & Washes” (1992).

 

Mark Dixon makes objects, performances, videos, and sounds. He cofounded the intermedia ensemble called Invisible in 2007, performing in contexts ranging from punk house basements, to the Telfair Museum, to UNCG’s New Music Festival and Moogfest. Mark has an MFA in Studio Art from Carnegie Mellon University and is associate professor in art and design at Guilford College where he chairs the Art and Experience Design Departments. A range of his work is available at fmarkdixon.com.

 

George Elvin is an Associate Professor of Architecture at North Carolina State University, where his research and teaching focus on architecture for extreme environments. He is the author of over 40 books, chapters and articles, and has delivered lectures and workshops in over 20 countries. In 1981 he founded his own design-build firm, and in 1998 received his PhD in Architecture from the University of California at Berkeley. He has taught at the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has been a Fellow at the Center for Energy Research, Education and Service and a Visiting Fellow at the University of Edinburgh’s Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities. He has been practicing Zen Buddhism since 1976.

 

Chaz Evans is a media artist, art historian, educator, and curator. His work deals with software, performance, and histories of art and technology and has been exhibited at such venues as ACRE Projects, Hyde Park Art Center, Evanston Art Center, and Chicago Artists’ Coalition. Evans’ writing has been published by Routledge, the Journal of Games Criticism, and the A.V. Club. Additionally, he is Director of Exhibitions and Programs of Video Game Art (VGA) Gallery. He has taught courses on creative programming, web art, and games.

 

Caleb Faul is a PhD candidate in the department of philosophy at Stony Brook University. In his work, Faul attempts to bring the philosophical method of phenomenology to bear on questions of artistic experience and ontology. He is currently writing his dissertation on these themes, more specifically working to demonstrate and explicate the structure of indistinction as it is at play in artistic experience.

 

Seth Forrest wrote his dissertation on the Black Mountain poets en route to his PhD at the University of California, Davis. He has published several articles on Charles Olson and Larry Eigner over the past several years, in addition to work on modernist poetry from Stein to Williams. He is currently at work on a book project that explores the aesthetics and forms of noise across modern and contemporary poetry, music, and art. Seth teaches writing and literature as assistant professor of Humanities at Coppin State University, an HBCU in Baltimore.

 

Thomas Edward Frank is co-editor of the Journal of Black Mountain College Studies. He recently stepped down from Wake Forest University to pursue his passion for conservation of natural and built landscapes, and continue research and writing on the heritage of BMC. His most recent book is Historic Houses of Worship in Peril: Conserving Their Place in American Life (2020).

 

Tiffany Funk is an artist, critical theorist, and researcher specializing in emerging media, computer art, video games, and performance art practices. She is founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Video Game Art Reader, a peer-reviewed journal for video game audiences and video game practitioners interested in the history, theory, and criticism of video games, explored through the lens of art history and visual culture. She is co-founder of IDEAS (Interdisciplinary Education in the Arts), an intermedia, theory and practice-based Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

 

Charlott Greub: As an artist, architect and urban designer Charlott Greub received many fellowships and awards, including Cité des Arts Paris, France and Akademie Schloss Solitude Stuttgart, Germany. Her work has been exhibited at Gallery Aedes Berlin, the German Architecture Museum, DAM, Frankfurt and the Lehmbruck Museum Duisburg, Germany. Charlott holds a Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture and a Master in Architecture from the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Germany. Currently she serves as assistant professor for architecture at North Dakota State University in Fargo. Previously she taught architecture and art at the University of Utah, the Bauhaus University in Weimar, Germany and the Technical University Graz, Austria. She is licensed as an architect and a member of the architect’s league in Germany since 1993. She practiced internationally as an architect in New York City (USA), Maastricht (Netherlands,) and Berlin (Germany). Since 2015 she is a PhD student at the Technical University in Aachen, Germany, and her thesis is about a new genre between art and architecture using the Building Type of the Pavilion as a new form of art.

 

Piers Gelly in a writer and radio producer based in Charlottesville, Virginia. He is on the faculty of the English Department at the University of Virginia, and was an Active Archive Resident at BMCM+AC in the spring of 2021.

 

After completing her dissertation at Harvard on Alice Chipman Dewey and progressive education,

Irene Hall founded a school based on the Deweys’ principles in Newark, New Jersey’s inner city, where she was the principal for 23 years. The Deweys’ work was present in Newark with bright and productive inner-city children, as well as with that of the Dewey-influenced philosophy at Black Mountain College. Her work and research help to inform her presentation and demonstrate the continued transforming power of the Deweys and of BMC.

 

Jeff Hamilton is a poet-scholar. He teaches in the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis.

 

Lei Han is an artist, educator and designer. Her work, often inspired by nature and everyday life, explores notions of perception, memory, transience, and time. Fascinated by the influences of eastern philosophy in western art, her recent work aims for creating the cohesion between spirituality and creativity, as well as making new connections between the artist, viewer and object/subject. Lei’s current work in experimental video, animation, interactive art, and installation, has been exhibited at galleries, museums, and film festivals nationally and internationally. Including Shenzhen & Hongkong Bi-City Biennial, Greece Biennale; Krannert Art Museum, The Arts Center, St. Petersburg, CYFEST, CURRENTS, FILE, {Re}HAPPENING, Asheville Fine Arts Theater, Asheville Art Museum, the North Carolina Visions program and other venues. Lei received her BA from Shenzhen University in China and her MFA from Memphis College of Art in Memphis, Tennessee. She is currently Professor of New Media at the University of North Carolina at Asheville where she previously served as Chair of the Department for eight years.

 

Sally Hansen is a PhD student in English at the University of Notre Dame. Her work explores music, materiality, and the inexpressible in 20th century lyric poetry. Phenomenology and queer theology guide her research on the oscillations of sound, silence, and memory in language and ritual practice.

 

Jonathan Henderson is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, writer, and producer. He has produced albums in North Carolina and Senegal, designed sound art for film, theater, and art installations, and performed music on the street and stage. He is a co-founder of the transatlantic collaboration Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba, the intermedia ensemble Invisible, and the radical marching band Cakalak Thunder. A current PhD Candidate at Duke University and incoming Professor of Music at College of the Altantic, Jonathan’s academic research concerns how local musical traditions are transformed through recording studio practice and come to articulate new meaning in their international circulation. See more at jhendersonmusic.com

 

Joshua Hoeynck received his Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis, and his research focuses primarily on the confluences between process philosophy, Black Mountain poetry, and environmental criticism. His work has appeared in The New American Poetry: Fifty Years Later, Contemporary Literature, and Process Studies. He is currently completing a book manuscript on the correspondences between Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, and Denise Levertov. As Director of the Charles Olson Society, he coordinates annual panels at various national conferences. He also teaches writing and literature at Case Western Reserve University.

 

Fritz Horstman is Education Director at the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, where he has worked since 2004. He has lectured and given workshops at  l’École des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, the Bauhaus Dessau, The Royal Academy of Art in London, Yale University and many other institutions. He has curated exhibitions in Italy, Ireland, Croatia, Norway, and the United States. Also an artist, he has shown his sculptures and drawings in recent exhibitions across Europe and the US.

 

Elliot Inman has presented twice at the Black Mountain College ReVIEWING conference. In 2018, he led a roundtable discussion on “The Makerspace as 21st Century Bauhaus: A Black Mountain College in Every University.” In 2019, he presented “Natasha Goldowski: Science, Cybernetics, and High Speed Computing at Black Mountain College.” With college coursework in English, Experimental Psychology, and Electronics, he has always lived in an interdisciplinary world. He earned his undergraduate degree in English at North Carolina State University and his PhD in Experimental Psychology at the University of Kentucky, completing his master’s thesis on text processing and a dissertation on visual perception and learning. He works as a manager of software development for a leading analytics software company creating data mining and data visualization software. Outside of work, he has led workshops in electronics and creative coding on topics ranging from basic electronics and Arduino/Circuit Python programming to Fast Fourier Analysis, 8-bit chip synths, MIDI controllers, and the Internet of Things. He developed and led the “Musical Circuits” series as Maker-in-Residence at UNC (spring 2016) and “Quantification: The Art of Making Data” workshop series at NC State (fall 2016). He documents his own electronic music experiments at www.MusicalCircuits.com.

 

JACK Quartet: Comprising violinists Christopher Otto and Austin Wulliman, violist John Pickford Richards, and cellist Jay Campbell, JACK operates as a nonprofit organization dedicated to the performance, commissioning, and appreciation of new string quartet music. Through intimate relationships with today’s most creative voices, JACK embraces close collaboration with the composers they perform, leading to a radical embodiment of the technical, musical, and emotional aspects of their work. The quartet has worked with artists such as Julia Wolfe, George Lewis, Chaya Czernowin, Helmut Lachenmann, Caroline Shaw, and Simon Steen-Andersen, with upcoming and recent premieres including works by Tyshawn Sorey, Sabrina Schroeder, John Luther Adams, Clara Iannotta, Philip Glass, Catherine Lamb, Lester St. Louis, and John Zorn. JACK’s all-access initiative, JACK Studio, commissions a selection of artists each year, who will receive money, workshop time, mentorship, and resources to develop new work to be performed and recorded by the quartet. JACK has performed to critical acclaim at Carnegie Hall (USA), Lincoln Center (USA), Berlin Philharmonie (Germany), Wigmore Hall (United Kingdom), Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ (Netherlands), The Louvre (France), Kölner Philharmonie (Germany), the Lucerne Festival (Switzerland), La Biennale di Venezia (Italy), Suntory Hall (Japan), Bali Arts Festival (Indonesia), Festival Internacional Cervantino (Mexico), and Teatro Colón (Argentina). Additional awards include Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award, New Music USA’s Trailblazer Award, and the CMA/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming. According to Musical America, “many of their recordings are must-haves, for anyone interested in new music.” Among their dozens of releases, their Cold Blue Music album of John Luther Adams’ Everything That Rises was praised as “a wise and eloquent performance” by the San Francisco Chronicle, their concept album Imaginist with the Le Boeuf Brothers was nominated for a GRAMMY award in 2018, and their complete Xenakis: String Quartets was named one of TimeOut New York’s “Top Recordings of the Year.”

 

Abriana Jetté: Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Abriana Jetté is the editor of the Stay Thirsty Poets anthology series as well as an internationally published poet and essayist. She teaches writing-related courses for Kean University.

 

Rose Kaz lives and works between Chicago and Asheville. She is chief photographer for Rose Photo and also founder, producer, and inspirational visionary of lady boss international, working to inspire, uplift, and support women business owners. Her work is driven by her interest in social justice and women’s empowerment.

 

Eric Keenaghan is Associate Professor and incoming Chair of English at the University at Albany, SUNY. Having published widely on queer literature and poetics, he has concentrated much of his work on Robert Duncan, a subject of his book Queering Cold War Poetry (Ohio State UP, 2009) and two in-progress monographs (“The Impersonal Is Political: Late Modernism during the New Left Era” and “Life, Love, and War: Antifascism, Anarchist Pacifism, and Twentieth-Century American Poetry”). His essays on Duncan have appeared in Journal of Modern Literature (2007), Contemporary Literature (2008), the collection (RE:)Working the Ground (ed. James Maynard, Palgrave, 2012), and, most recently, a special Duncan centennial issue of Sillages critiques (2021). His essays on Charles Olson, Black Mountain College, and its legacy (via John Wieners and Diane di Prima) have appeared in Journal of Modern Literature (2020), The Beats: A Teaching Companion (ed. Nancy M. Grace, Clemson UP, 2021), and The Beats, Black Mountain, and New Modes in American Poetry (ed. Matt Theado, Clemson UP, forthcoming October 2021).

 

Molly Kelly is a PhD candidate in philosophy at Emory University. Her dissertation offers a critical reinterpretation of R. Murray Schafer’s notion of the soundscape in conversation with phenomenology and poststructuralism. More specifically, her work considers how sounds are imbricated by place and power and how place and power are sonically constituted.

 

Devin King is the poetry editor for the Green Lantern Press, author of a narrative poem, “The Grand Complication”, and early chapbooks, There Three, out from Kenning Editions. He is at work on a biography of Ronald Johnson.

 

Wayne Kirby taught at UNCA from 1983-2019, serving as chair of the Department of Music for 19 of those years. His compositions and artworks have been performed and exhibited at Carnegie Recital Hall, Symphony Space, P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center (Museum of Modern Art/NYC), 80 Washington Square East Galleries, North Carolina Museum of Art and other venues. His collaborations with New Media artist Lei Han have been exhibited in Finland, Russia, Spain, Brazil and the United States. He is a graduate of Juilliard and holds graduate degrees in music and studio art from Yale and New York University. He served on the faculty of New York University as director of the Music Technology Program.

 

Jesse Kitt moved to Asheville from Berkeley, California in 1998 and graduated from the UNC Asheville Art department in 2004. She has used photography as her main creative tool for the last 16 years and views a still photographic image as a visual poem. She writes poetry and is primarily interested in conceptual and installation art that is an ultimate outcome of the pioneering work and legacy of Black Mountain College.

 

Lilia Kudelia is a curator and art historian. Her research focuses on artistic collaborations within television studio networks, and art in the post-communist states. As a guest curator at Residency Unlimited in New York, she currently develops residencies for the finalists of the Young Visual Artists Awards program (YVAA), a network for artists from Central and Eastern Europe. In 2013-2018, Kudelia was the assistant curator at Dallas Contemporary in Dallas, Texas. In 2017, she co-curated Ukrainian National Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale that featured work by the photographer Boris Mikhailov. Previously Kudelia held curatorial and research positions at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC and the Art Arsenal in Kyiv, Ukraine. She holds an MA in Art History from The Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, BA in Cultural Studies from the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy in Ukraine, and was a visiting scholar at the University of Toronto, Canada.

 

Laura Kuhn is the executive director of the John Cage Trust, which she helped to found shortly after the composer’s death in 1992. Kuhn began working with Cage in 1986 on a variety of large-scale projects, completing her doctoral dissertation on Cage’s “Europeras” in 1992. From 1991 to 1996 she served as a founding faculty member of the Interdisciplinary Arts and Performance Program at Arizona State University West in Phoenix. In 2007, the John Cage Trust went into permanent residency at Bard College, where Kuhn became the first John Cage Professor of Performance Art. She has lectured and conducted performance workshops in venues as diverse as the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and Warsaw’s Museum of Modern Art. Other projects for the John Cage Trust have included a CD-ROM of sampled piano preparations from Cage’s composition, Sonatas & Interludes (1946-48), for use by MIDI keyboard musicians; an adaptation of Cage’s whimsical 1982 radio play, James Joyce, Marcel Duchamp, Erik Satie: An Alphabet, to the stage; and a theatrical realization, under Kuhn’s direction, of Cage’s Lecture on the Weather, presented at Bard’s Fisher Center for the Performing Arts. Her most recent publications include The Selected Letters of John Cage (Wesleyan University Press, 2017) and Love, Icebox: Letters from John Cage to Merce Cunningham (John Cage Trust, 2019).

 

Leap Then Look was established in Spring 2019 by artists Lucy Cran and Bill Leslie. The duo create art works, participatory projects, workshops, and events for people of all ages and abilities. Their focus is on working together, inspiring playfulness, inquisitiveness and experimentation. They use exciting and unconventional approaches, including object making, performance, installation, film, and photography, enabling participants to engage in multiple processes, creating their own work. They are currently undertaking research at the Universities of Westminster and Kingston and have been supported by Artist Newsletter and Arts Council England. Leap Then Look served as a 2020 BMCM+AC Active Archive Digital Resident.

 

Ben Lee is Associate Professor of English at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he teaches courses in American and African American literature, modern and contemporary poetry, and literature theory. He’s the author of Poetics of Emergence: Affect and History in Postwar Experimental Poetry (University of Iowa Press, 2020) and of numerous other essays and reviews.

 

Topher Lineberry is a multidisciplinary artist who is promiscuous in form and method. Their work mediates research, experience, ethics, and desire. They have shown work at galleries and museums across the country, and presented academic research at colleges, universities, and archives. Lineberry was born and raised in Greensboro, North Carolina, while having spent considerable parts of their life in the Blue Ridge Mountains. They received a Bachelors of Fine Arts from Tufts University and the School of the Museum of the Fine Arts, Boston. They recently earned a Masters of Fine Arts at Hunter College in New York City.

 

Corey Loftus is a curatorial fellow at the Asheville Art Museum (Fall 2021) aiding with the management, research, and exhibition of the Museum’s Black Mountain College Collection. She holds an MA in the History of Art from Tufts University and a BA from the University of Pennsylvania.

 

Adam Otto Lutz is an interdisciplinary artist and musician who lives and works in Los Angeles. By utilizing methods of performance, video, sound, installation, DIY programming, and self-publishing, Adam’s practice deals with the complications of art/artmaking to deconstruct preconceived notions of artistic production, institutions, presentation, preservation, and the way these systems are engaged with. With these strategies processes of experimentation, failure, (re)orchestration, and questions of access are presented as tools to facilitate critical thinking and cultural engagement to renegotiate the forms that surround and facilitate the status quo. Adam’s work has been exhibited and/or performed at Czong Institute for Contemporary Art, Coaxial Arts Foundation, Other Places Art Fair, Art in the Park LA, Werkartz, 2019 Venice Biennale Nomad Pavillion, UCLA, KCHUNG, Dublab, and CalArts. He is also a co-founder and co-director of the experimental artist platform and exhibition space MOTOR.

 

Holly Messitt is an associate professor at BMCC/CUNY. She was a volunteer at the New York Public Library Berg Collection cataloging Hilda Morley’s archive and is working on a selected edition of Morley’s poetry.

 

Pianist Thomas Moore has received acclaim throughout the United States and Europe for his performances, lectures, and recordings. His repertoire includes works by John Cage, Morton Feldman, Christian Wolff, Charles Ives, Olivier Messiaen, James Tenney, Thomas DeLio, Wesley Fuller, Robert Gibson, Philip Glass, Erik Satie, Stuart Saunders Smith, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Iannis Xenakis, George Crumb, Yehuda Yannay, and others. Cage wrote, “I am delighted that Thomas Moore plays my music, studies and thinks, writes and talks about it. He is an excellent musician, one in whom I have confidence and whose work I enjoy.” Moore was grand prize winner of the 1982 International Piano Recording Competition. His performances can be heard on Neuma Records, Chen Li Music, 10 West Records, O.O. Discs, and Spectrum Records. He has been featured on the “Interpretations Series” (New York), at the Smithsonian Institution, the San Francisco Center for New Music, Judson Church (New York), Experimental Intermedia (New York), Arizona State University, Brigham Young University, Clark University, Florida International University, New England Conservatory, Rutgers University, St. Cloud State University, Stanford University, the University at Buffalo, UMBC, the University of Maryland, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Wesleyan University, and numerous other colleges, universities and venues. In the 1970s and 80s, Moore produced weekly programs on new music for public radio stations in the Baltimore-Washington area that featured interviews with composers Robert Ashley, David Behrman, John Cage, Morton Feldman, Philip Glass, Alvin Lucier, Conlon Nancarrow, Pauline Oliveros, Steve Reich, Roger Reynolds, David Tudor, and others. Moore’s conversations with Cage and Feldman appeared in the journal Sonus; the Cage interview was excerpted in Perspectives of New Music and Conversing with Cage, and the Feldman interview was republished in 2006 in Morton Feldman Says. He is Director of Arts and Culture at UMBC (University of Maryland, Baltimore County). More information is available at thomasmoore.info.

 

Tom Murphy is the 2021-2022 Corpus Christi, Texas Poet Laureate. Murphy first published poems and fiction in 1986. Winner of the Charles Gordone award in both poetry and fiction. Murphy’s books & CDs: Snake Woman Moon (El Grito del Lobo Press, 2021), Pearl (FlowerSong Press, 2020), American History (Slough Press, 2017), co-edited Stone Renga (Tail Feather Press, 2017), chapbook, Horizon to Horizon (Strike Syndicate, 2015), CDs “Live from Del Mar College” and “Slams from the Pit” (BOW Productions, 2015, 2014). Murphy is the Langdon Review’s 2022 Writer-In-Residence. Murphy is a committee member of the Corpus Christi People’s Poetry Festival. He teaches at Texas A&M University—Corpus Christi.

 

Jennifer Nieling is an independent costume and textile specialist and owner of JLN Costume Mounting. She has worked for various museums and collections including the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Fox Historic Costume Collection at Drexel University. Nieling was previously Costume and Textile Specialist at the Nantucket Historical Association, where she collected a large donation of textiles and archives related to the Nantucket Looms. Her current focus is on costume mounting and display, as well as independent research projects. She holds a Master of Arts in Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, and Museum Practice from the Fashion Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Arts from Boston University.

 

Lindsay Packer engages the call and response of color and light, form, and site in performance, moving imagery, photography, and architectonic interventions. With a spontaneous spirit and non-hierarchical approach to materials and process, she connects the visual language of painting to the kineticism of early cinema. A Fulbright Fellow to India in Installation Art and two-time Artist-in-Residence at the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, Packer received a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She was awarded 2019 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship in Architecture/Environmental Structures/Design for her work across disciplines, and was a 2019 Artist-in-Residence at ISSUE Project Room (Brooklyn, NY). In January 2021, she performed her interactive media project ‘light work’ live as part of the virtual relaunch of MoMA’s Modern Mondays series. Her work was recently featured in Cream City Review (Vol 44, No 2) and Line Death Dance: Performances for a Theater’s Space Transformations by Melanie Maar. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

 

David Patterson is a historical musicologist specializing in the thought and work of John Cage. He is the contributing editor of “John Cage: Music, Philosophy, and Intention, 1933-1950” (Routledge, 2002), and author of articles such as “Two Cages, One College: John Cage at Black Mountain College, 1948 and 1952” (The Journal of Black Mountain College Studies, vol. 4). He is currently in the finishing stages of a book manuscript that deals with Cage’s modern dance collaborations with choreographers other than Merce Cunningham. He has served on the music faculties of the University of Maryland at College Park, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the University of Chicago.

 

Deven Philbrick is a poet, fiction writer and scholar living in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Washington, and is currently a PhD candidate in English at the University of Michigan, where he focuses on the intersections of poetry and philosophy in the 20th century. His writings have previously appeared in Your Impossible Voice, Protean Magazine, and Another Chicago Magazine.

 

Joseph Pizza teaches courses in modern and contemporary poetry, writing and rhetoric, and African American Studies at Belmont Abbey College, near Charlotte, NC. He has published recently on the work of Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Jayne Cortez, and Harryette Mullen, and is the author of the forthcoming monograph Dissenting Bodies: Race, Jazz, and Innovative Poetics in Midcentury America.

 

Ted Pope is a performance poet and artist. His multiple collections of poetry include Varve (2013), rEdlipsticK (2005), Waiting for Charlie Brown (2011) with Tim Peeler, plus the CD Hannibal takes Luna. His latest book of poems is Jousting from the Back of a Mule (2020).

 

Alessandro Porco is an Associate Professor of English at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

 

Christophe Preissing is a composer, intermedia artist, collaborator, and artistic instigator who creates music and sound for live performance, fixed media, and interactive installation. He has been Artist-in-Residence and Fellow at Beloit College, Indiana University, Ragdale Foundation, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, VCCA France, Djerrassi, and Atlantic Center for the Arts, and has received awards from Jerome Foundation, Meet the Composer, Illinois Arts Council, City of Chicago, and American Composers Forum. He received a Pritzker Foundation Endowed Fellowship and a Columbus School for Girls Endowed Fellowship in support of residencies at Djerassi and the VCCA. Previous director of the Chicago Composers Forum, and producer of two large-scale productions of John Cage’s Musicircus, he is the founder of the Chicago inter-arts collective NON:op, Open Opera Works. Recent projects include HPSCHD@50 festival celebrating the 50th anniversary of Cage and Hiller’s immersive masterpiece (2020), Blood Lines: remembering the 1919 Chicago race riot (2019), sound for Samuel Beckett’s radio play, Cascando (2018); is SI ng, a performance with artist Matt Bodett at Victory Gardens (2017), sound for Journeying La Divina Commedia, the University of Notre Dame’s adaptation of Dante’s Divina Commedia (2016); the opera-installation Thunder, Perfect Mind (2015); f(H2T) from Here to There, an immersive, interdisciplinary opera (2014, Chicago); I Was Born for This, collaborative installation with 14 channels of sound (2014, Notre Dame); and The Floating City, a score for Kristina Isabelle’s multimedia dance (2013, Chicago).

 

Shawn Protz grew up outside of Cleveland, Ohio. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a Major in Architecture and a Minor in Hispanic Studies while earning varsity letters in wrestling along with the Norman J. Goldring Prize. He received his Master of Architecture from Princeton University and is a registered architect in Arizona, California, the District of Columbia, and Pennsylvania as well as LEED certified. He has nearly a decade of experience in architecture including working with award-winning practices KieranTimberlake and Studio Rick Joy among others. Currently Shawn is Assistant Professor of Architecture – Digital Technology at NC State University. He has also taught at the School of Architecture (at Taliesin), the University of Arizona, and Auburn University. His work and courses explore emerging digital systems and materials with projects ranging from 3D-printed ceramics to inflatable installations.

 

Chris Reeves is an artist and art historian specializing in 20th century and contemporary art in the United States and Europe. His dissertation “Playing Music Badly in Public: Brian Eno, Experimentalism, and the Limits of the Non-Musician,” examines a widespread trend among artists in the 1970s of starting musical acts, and the lasting effects of such efforts. More broadly, his research interests include art and technology, internet art, artists books, Fluxus, performance art, punk and DIY, and localized collaboration. His work has been published in various forms and shapes – as a vinyl LP, a large cardboard mountain, a didactic wall text, an arts journal, and a whoopee cushion – as a means to consider the dialogical between text, content, and material. He has presented work at the CAA, MLA, SLSA, MACAA, and various other acronym’d organizations. In early 2020, he released The World’s Worst: A Guide to the Portsmouth Sinfonia, edited with Aaron Walker, through Soberscove Press.

 

Maisie Ridgway is in the final year of her PhD at the University of Sussex. Her research explores experimental poetics in relation to technologies, and elaborates a theory of literary posthumanism in experimental and nonsense-based works.

 

Eleonor Sandresky: Dubbed a “piano goddess”, Eleonor Sandresky is a composer, inventor of the Wonder Suit, producer of film with live orchestra concerts, co-founder of the MATA Festival, and performing member of the Philip Glass Ensemble family since 1991. Eleonor’s music has been featured in film and on radio, and is available on Koch International, Sony, Orange Mountain Music, One Soul Records, ERM Media, and Albany Record labels. Her music is performed internationally, from London’s Cafe Oto to the Totally Huge New Music Festival in Perth, Australia. Much of her recent works, both with and without electronics, are for choreographed musicians, a genre that she has created to enlarge the musical and emotional meaning through a hybrid form that merges and expands the choreography of playing with the production of sound and pitch. To further that goal, she invented the Wonder Suit, a wearable wireless sensor system that triggers electronic events and processes in her choreographed pieces. Her most recent works include visual elements and speak to current issues of equality and environmentalism. A founding member of the improvising composer-driven Ensemble 50, she is at the same time one of New York’s preeminent new music pianists, with performances and premieres of new works by a wide range of composers from Daniel Bernard Roumain to Egberto Gismonti. Deeply involved in the genre of live music and film, she composes, conducts and produces concerts of her own scores, as well as those of Leonard Bernstein and Philip Glass. As a member of the Gate Hill Cooperative, founded by John Cage and other former Black Mountain faculty in the 1950s, Eleonor has performed Cage’s music internationally, composed companion pieces to his Sonatas and Interludes, and looks to Cage as an inspiration for life, as well as music.

 

Carl Schmitz is an art historian whose work has focused over the past decade on the context of Abstract Expressionism. He is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Cruz and the California Institute of the Arts and is currently serving as research assistant for an in-development biopic on John Cage.

 

Laura Sellers works part time in the Fine Art Department at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, N.C. teaching 2-Dimensional Design. When not teaching or creating art, she likes to take her schnoodle, Brody, on long walks in the Pisgah National Forest. She is married to her husband of 4 years, Eric Harrison, who is a sound engineer for the UFC. They live and work out of their home studio in East Asheville.

 

David Silver is an associate professor of environmental studies and urban agriculture at the University of San Francisco. He is active in the field of Black Mountain College studies and leads an on-site farm tour at the annual ReViewing Black Mountain College conference. His forthcoming book is titled The Farm at Black Mountain College.

 

Everette Scott Smith joined the faculty of Southeastern Louisiana University in the fall of 2012 where he teaches applied oboe and musicology, specializing in interdisciplinary music history seminars. With degrees in oboe performance and historical musicology, his dissertation examines John Cage’s environmental interests, and critically analyzes Ryoanji through the lens of ecocritical methodologies. He has performed nationally throughout the Southeast, New York, Boston, Phoenix, and internationally in France, Brazil, and Ecuador where he teaches during the summers. Smith has published works in the Journal of the Society for American Music (JSAM), American Music, a forthcoming chapter in the edited collection Teaching and Learning Difficult Topics in the Music Classroom published by The University of Michigan Press. Additionally, he has presented his research both nationally and internationally at the annual meetings of The Society for American Music, The American Comparative Literature Society, and the Music and the Moving Image Conference. Currently he serves as chair of the Society for American Music’s LGBTQ interest group and previously served on the program committee of the American Musicological Society’s Pedagogy Interest Group and as chair of the Public Relations committee for The Society for American Music. His primary research interests center around the musics associated with Dada and Surrealism, as well as the American post-war avant-garde including the music and art of John Cage.

 

Trevor James Smith is a composer, music theorist, percussionist, and educator based in East Lansing, MI. His compositions are performed internationally, acclaimed for their unique energy and intriguing dialogues between simplicity and complexity. In 2020, he was awarded the Dissertation Completion Fellowship for his recent research into composing site-specific music for popular virtual platforms. Currently, Trevor’s music theory research focuses on musical ekphrasis with visual abstraction and suggesting modes of listening and analysis in which the listener embodies the “persona of the painter”. The greatest influences on both his compositions and research are colorfield abstraction artists and the South Florida punk rock scene from which he began his musical career.

 

Borim Song is Associate Professor at the School of Art and Design of East Carolina University, Greenville, NC. She holds her Ed.D. and Ed.M. from Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City. Her scholarly interests include digital art instruction, online education practice, contemporary art in K-12 curriculum, cross-cultural and intercultural movements, and community-based art education for underserved populations. Song’s writings on art, art education, and cultural studies appear in publications in both the U.S. and Korea. Song also has actively exhibited her artwork, including solo exhibitions at Macy Gallery in New York City and at J. Y. Joyner Library, Greenville, NC.

 

Christina Tsoules Soriano is the Associate Provost for the Arts and Interdisciplinary Initiatives at Wake Forest University and an associate professor of dance. Christina received her MFA in dance from Smith College and has danced for many inspiring choreographers, including Alexandra Beller and Heidi Henderson. In addition to the new works she creates for the Wake Forest Dance Company, Christina’s choreography has been presented throughout New England, North Carolina, New York and in Vienna, Austria. Choreographic or teaching residencies have included the University of Virginia, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Amherst College, Trinity College (CT), Salve Regina University, Rhode Island College, and Providence College. Christina has premiered a new work at the Music Carolina Festival in Winston-Salem since 2013. She often works with large, intergenerational casts of dancers, ranging in ages from 5-87. Since 2012, Christina has regularly taught a community dance class in Winston-Salem, NC to people living with Parkinson’s Disease and their carepartners, and has been involved in three scientific studies that look at the ways improvisational dance can help the mobility and balance of people living with neurodegenerative disease. She has received funding from the National Parkinson Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC, and most recently the NIH to conduct a randomized clinical trial, testing her improvisational dance method in a community of adults living with Mild Cognitive Impairment and their carepartners. Her published work has appeared in the Journal of Dance Education, Research in Dance Education, Dance Magazine, Theatre Journal, the Journal of Mathematics and the Arts, The Journal of Physical and Occupational Therapy in Geriatrics and Frontiers in Neurology. In her role as an associate provost, she is working with colleagues across the university to enhance the visibility of the arts at and beyond Wake Forest, and help forge interdisciplinary connections with many community partners. She is also very involved in an annual, interdisciplinary symposium: Wake Forest’s Aging Re-Imagined, which brings together the work of artists and scientists around the topic of Healthy Aging.

 

Greg Stuart is a percussionist whose work draws upon a mixture of music from the experimental tradition, Wandelweiser, improvisation, and electronics. His performances have been described as “a ghostly, gorgeous lesson in how close, concentrated listening can alter and enhance perception” (The New York Times). Since 2006, he has collaborated extensively with the composer Michael Pisaro, producing a large body of music comprised of pieces that focus on the magnification of small sounds through recording and layering, often in combination with field recordings and/or electronic sound. His role as an interpreter of Pisaro’s compositions has been called “a David Tudor to Pisaro’s Cage” (The Boston Globe). He is currently an Associate Professor at the University of South Carolina School of Music in Columbia, SC where he teaches experimental music, music history, and runs the Experimental Music Workshop.

 

Rennie Tang is a designer and educator based in Los Angeles. Her practice-based research interests include the investigation of choreographic and sonic tools as methods for architectural/landscape/urban design, health and well being in landscapes and intergenerational play; this research is fueled by collaborations with choreographers, sound and visual artists, movement analysts, and occupational therapists. Her teaching methods emphasize topographic manipulation, material exploration, and sensory experience.

 

Julie J. Thomson is an Environmental Educator, Naturalist, Independent Scholar, Curator + Pocket Artist who lives in Asheville, North Carolina. She is author of Begin to See: The Photographers of Black Mountain College and editor of That Was the Answer: Interviews with Ray Johnson.

 

Nancy Tobin is a meditator, sound artist, and designer based in Montreal, Canada. For the last thirty years she has worked as a designer in theatre and contemporary dance for productions presented at Festival TransAmériques, World Stage Festival, Festival d’Avignon, Edinburgh International Festival, Berliner Festwochen, Music Biennale Zagreb. Over the years, she has developed a specialization in vocal amplification for theatre and incorporates unusual audio speakers to transform the aural qualities of her compositions. Tobin’s research in sound art is primarily concerned with non-traditional strategies to create music. Self-generating systems based on electro-magnetic fields, feedback, and Tartini tones are at the heart of her performances and installations. She performed her work at several festivals and galleries, including: MUTEK Montreal, NAISA (Toronto), TONE DEAF (Kingston), Avatar (Québec), OBORO, Fonderie Darling, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC). Currently, she is a PhD candidate at Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), Art Faculty research and creation program. Her project is primarily concerned with the egoless creative process, presence, somatic silence, and attention.

 

Alan S. Tofighi (Liquid Plastic) is an Interdisciplinary artist who lives and works in Southern California. Utilizing a background in research, performance, sound, video, emergent and low tech, Tofighi’s work deals with analyses of the dispersion, obfuscation, and deformation of information/history to renegotiate narratives of history/power in the present. Tofighi utilizes the infiltration of legal parameters, social structures, myth, disinformation, and extensive research of these cells as they shift from fringe culture to central in their infiltration/engineering of dominant culture. Tofighi has shown work and/or performed at The Box, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Torrance Art Museum, The Roxy, The Bob Baker Marionette Theater, The Wulf, Dem Passwords, Los Angeles Contemporary Archive, The Troubadour, Coaxial, The Hotel Congress, and many other sites/spaces throughout world and internet.

 

Joshua Unikel has shown at Dubai Art Season 2020 (UAE); Sofia Art Week 2019 (Bulgaria); CICA Museum (S Korea); Aether Gallery (Bulgaria); Griffith University Art Gallery (Australia); DesignPhiladelphia; The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit; The Center for Contemporary Printmaking; and the Florida State University Museum of Fine Art. He is the co-editor of No Quo: Attempts (DesignInquiry Press, 2017) and Beyond Category (Hobart and William Smith Colleges Press, 2015). Unikel also serves as a contributing editor of Seneca Review. He is an assistant professor in the University of Houston’s School of Art.

 

Henry Voigt was born in Washington, D.C. and graduated with a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute. In 2006, he retired as the chief executive officer of DuPont Teijin Films, culminating a 38-year career in international business with E.I. DuPont de Nemours. He currently collects historic menus and related culinary materials that provide evidence of the social and food customs of everyday life. He is an elected member of the Grolier Club, the nation’s oldest society of bibliophiles, and serves on the board of the Ephemera Society of America.

 

Ann Warde is an independent scholar, experimental composer, and sound installation artist. She is a NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in Music/Sound, with recent residencies at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Tone Deaf Festival (Queen’s University, Canada), and the European University Cyprus Interfaces Project. Following a Mellon Fellowship in music at Cornell University, her work with sound shifted, focusing for the next decade on applications of audio technology to the analysis of whale sounds at Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology. As a US-UK Fulbright Researcher at the University of York, she returned to music scholarship, with recent and forthcoming chapters in Sound Art and Music: Philosophy, Composition, Performance; Experience Music Experiment: Pragmatism and Artistic Research; and Sounds, Ecologies, Musics. Her scholarship is informed by work with William Brooks (DMA, U Illinois), Alvin Lucier (MA, Wesleyan), and a founding member of the Ann Arbor ONCE Festival (BA, U Michigan).

 

Sara Wookey is an American, UK-based dancer, choreographer, researcher, and certified transmitter of Yvonne Rainer’s repertoire. Sara worked closely with Rainer from 2010-2018 while based in Los Angeles and was Rainer’s assistant at UC Irvine co-teaching the course Trio A in 10 Easy Lessons from 2012-2014. Sara’s choreographic work has been presented at REDCAT, the New Museum, and Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts and is part of the permanent collection of the Van Abbemuseum in the Netherlands. She has worked as a Creative Consultant for Metro LA combining her love of human movement, urban public space, and sociality into creating more sustainable cities. As a lecturer at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance Sara works to inspire students in recognizing the value of embodied practice in a fractured world and has been published by Palgrave, International Journal of Art & Technology, and Art Review. Awarded an Exceptional Talent Visa endorsed by Arts Council England in 2014 Sara moved to London in 2014 and has since finished her doctoral research on dance in the museum through the Centre for Dance Research at Coventry University. Sara is an outspoken advocate of performing artists’ rights serving on the Independent Dance committee at Equity UK and as a Governor at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance. www.sarawookey.com