Sunday, November 13, 2005

Back from the Road: CalArts

We're back from a whirlwind. In California, we presented at CalArts in the Center for Integrated Media, which is directed by Tom Leeser. One of the many great things about Tom is that while he is very much involved with discovering new art practices and new media, he shares our interest in art practices that are no longer new. When we first met in New York we had a hilarious dicussion about my desire for "new media" to get old enough for us to stop having to evaluate how new a practice is in order to show a work that uses computers in gallery spaces. The joke involved the image of old media artists sitting in front of old, broken down computers wearing parachute pants. Maybe you had to be there. Anyway, we had a great time meeting with Tom Leeser and his students. Our presentation was on Halloween and there was good candy. Keith's father was in the audience. Poet Doug Kearney, who teaches at CalArts and had gone to the Cave Canem poetry workshop with me from 2000-2002, came and we had a chance to meet his wife (whose name I think is Nicole). Later during the trip we also had the chance to meet up with critic and My Barbarian member Malik Gaines, whom I'd met briefly in Irvine last year. Always good to meet and think together with other artists and friends, old and new.

One of the exciting things about the Center for Integrated Media is that it seems like a place for truly interdisciplinary work to take place. People come from music, dance, literature, theater, art -- you name it. Artists are often collaborating with others in a different field but just as often it seems that they are moving out into different fields. We had productive studio visits with Phil Stearns and James Orsher, both of whom come from music but are making work that also functions in another sphere. Phil Stearns, who is working on circuit bending instruments that use sounds to filter images, has a project that is pulling him heavily towards the visual arts world. James Orsher's scores are beautifully arranged on the page in ways that point to poetry. He thinks of them as conceptual art and literature, as well as music. Though there is a long tradition of working simultaneously in many genres in which Orsher and Stearns see themselves participating, it was really refreshing to hear and see and think about how they are meeting the challenges and pleasures of doing their work. Our conversations with James ended on a question about the place of beauty in chance work. Perhaps I'll write and think more about this at a later date. In the meantime, I wonder what any of you (dear, often silent) readers think about the place of beauty in your own work.


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