Saturday, November 26, 2011

Break out of "authorized responses"

Browsing MIT's Open Courseware, I found this 15-page essay by contemporary Italian author Umberto Eco (Name of the Rose) on modern music.

Key concepts:
  1. Contemporary analysis may focus on what drove artists to call on performers and audience to make constructive decisions about aleatoric performance.
  2. Following the Enlightenment, fascination with the evocative power of suggestive art led to contemporary use of symbols without objective keys and provoking questioning of existing values and institutions. (pp 5-6)
  3. This shift of value from the author's singular reality to a plurality of possible audience experiences rejects "any ideal normative conception of the world" -- likened to Copernicus's challenge to the Aristotelian legacy.
I'm not sure the parallel between openness in art (specifically, music that doesn't follow Classical tonal structure) and contemporary physics is any more than metaphorical. Theoretical science can get pretty outlandish by itself. But! I do get that as scientists have revealed and explored concepts such as Heisenburg uncertainty and artists, the I Ching to their audiences, outlandish concepts such as every conscious being a world unto themself have become household. My work tends increasingly to celebrate the capacity of individuals to create, recreate, and transform realities. 

It's easy to indulge in dramatizing the 20th century's bent "toward the ambiguous and the indeterminate" as a decay in crisis or chaos. I agree with the counterargument that it is, rather, a social development, driven by growing cultural, economic, and political empowerment, to actualize the creative and transformative power individuals inherently possess. The essay instead presents an alternative analogy: a universe (literally turned into one) in which chance and discontinuity perfectly follow an absolute rule -- untestable, undefinable, divine. In it, any work of art opens up to the perceiver's potentials while simultaneously belonging to the artist and obeying her rule.

It breaks down after that, but you don't have to take my word for it. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Call for artist collaboration on OWS

My call for collaboration on moving the Occupy effort forward was posted to The Leeway Foundation's blog yesterday. With violence and arrest again threatening the Oakland GA and harsh winter, those of northeastern cities, our challenges demand speedy action.

There are those of us who feel the potential to be a greater force in the OWS movement, but also uncertainty about how to apply our skills optimally or to balance advocacy with ongoing projects. Let's meet by video chat or conference call weekends to pick each others' brains and motivate each other.

I know Occupy Boston and other cold-clime sites need group movement leaders to keep bodies warm. We're uniquely good at engaging others' attention and provoking them to problemsolve in unaccustomed ways. How can you apply your skills, confidence, and voice to the movement near you? Who are artists you'd be excited to ask to give a workshop at an Occupy site near them?

We need all hands on deck. If there's no demonstration near you (I'm in Indonesia as I write) let's network other, appropriate actions for economic justice and
transparent governance.

Email with your availability and tech needs to get on call scheduling!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Idul Adha in Bandung

I arrived in Bandung Friday night after a 22-hour, two-leg flight and 4-1/2 hour bus ride through urban Javanese traffic. My fabulous hosts hired a cab to pick me up from the bus station, and when I saw the narrow alleys we had to wind through to get to their door I understood it wouldn't have been easy had I hired a cab myself.

Jakarta and Bandung have so far been strongly reminiscent of but markedly different from my previous trips to the next island over. I'm staying in a house abutting a mosque, which broadcasts prayers regularly, even more so in advance of the holiday celebrating the end of the annual pilgrimage. Waking at 3am to multiple calls to prayer was precious. I'm in Indonesia.

Let's watch.