Iain Cameron's Diary
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2004-03-21 - 6:55 a.m.

The portable is still locked in a world of its own – even more so than is usually the case.

I have been looking through my comprehensive Rauschretro volume which my sister gave me a couple of Christmasses past. The plot thickens as far as the 1961 Paris Tudor Homage is concerned. Several different artists were involved – including Tinguely who specialised in self destructive mechanical sculptures – and there was an episode which involved a real marksman shooting at a dummy and puncturing containers of paint. So in France – home of Artaud – the TH takes a very violent form.

Rausch’s paint brushes and canvas had contact mikes connected to an amplifier. The finished painting was one of the series of combines which include some iconic pieces – like the monogram one with the goat and the tyre.

In the R-retro Nancy Spector uses the TH event and one about eight years earlier to open her review article of R-performances to open the article – these are the signature episodes. In this earlier event, Cage’s model A Ford has paint put on a tyre and it is driven over a great length of papers gummed together. This piece is also included in the standard R-ouevre. A decade later there would be the Lamonte Young piece – draw a straight line and follow it (I think in 10 for Henry Flynt) – which would be executed by N J Park - the pioneer video artist. The LmY newsgroup still struggles with the meaning of this one.

So many of these personalities and episodes are closely interwoven – over decades. R’s white paintings famously provoked 4 mins 33 secs – and then there was the famous Black Mountain event which enters history as the first happening – say within a year of the tyre episode – designed by Cage with the white paintings hanging from the ceiling.

The tyre “line” reaches across to Cage’s practice of drawing a line on paper and then looking for the occurrence of imperfections in the paper on the line and using that as a compositional tool – a way of getting randomness into the work – like the I-Ching, R is also involved in the years following the Tudor Homage with Ann Halpern and the Judson Dance Theatre who progress towards radical minimal dance with Robert Morris, a pioneer minimalist sculptor also

Spector tries to summarise these trends as an example of “an international subculture where performative gesture or corporeal action is emphasised over the aesthetic object” in which a “theatrical art favours inclusion and spontaneity”. Easy to find later echoes like the invention of the pogo – and of course Fluxus is part of the tale too – maybe even Coventry artschool where there was a twist away from the artwork towards the filing cabinet.

(I have to write something for Coventry this weekend – unfortunately not about its place alongside Paris and NYC in the international avant garde.)

The aristocratic and the democratic war with one another in all this – the democracy and the inclusiveness within the events-works fights against the aristocratic aesthetic that naturally/deliberately excludes/alienates the mainstream. This stuff happens in enclaves with small groups of adherents . BEAST is just one of a series of such groups for example. The Wire criticisms of the Cage-fest are another example of how the mainstream can’t quite get the hang of the tradition.

On the other hand the tradition itself repercusses all over. Terry Riley looping Chet Baker in the Parisian radio studio a couple of years after the Homage is another little cell – quite close in time space and orientation – and doing violence to the original recording of Miles’ “So What” . One participant from that moved across to Canterbury to help get Soft Machine going. I won’t bore you with South East Michigan Chapter and I Pop’s self violence.

I am thinking just now that I will isolate the Blink Music Beyond Belief – as a 4 piece cluster - and put it alongside NYC0303 – a set of (probably) five pieces that were driven by the combined energy of being in New York just over a year ago – inspiring in it own right – but raised to a much higher intensity by (for example) a tour round the United Nations – contemporary scene of global failure.

I got the 0303 pieces as far as 8 tracks on the CD – different variants and a marginal piece make up the eight. I played a few to Colin Touchin and I think he quite liked them. The marginal piece of the eight is getting played on KK on the Dhorn page (track 2).

I should decide whether I can find “final” versions of the five – one has a Gilbert Isbin part added, another exists pure, with a GI part and as a trio, one has some added MIDI tones and percussion. Maybe I will try a little airsynth or even the new asset as realtime additions. I can see that I will be setting up the MDs and effects rack while I wait for the PC to recover.

Welcome John M – I think we met at an AK concert – and you kindly sent me a couple of D Stoll CDs. Those two string 4tets are really hot if you ask me. Ricardo raises some good questions about starting the game at all.

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