[-empyre-] Welcome to OCTOBER on -empyre- and Margaret Rhee (t0ny's feminalist collaborations)

Margaret Rhee mrheeloy at gmail.com
Thu Oct 3 02:57:53 AEST 2019

Thank you Paige and David. I’m writing on my IPhone now, before I get to
the office with Internet at Buffalo. I thought of Tony often, although we
hadn’t met, every time I’m in the halls of Media Study at SUNY, or blessed
time with Paige in her beautiful home she shared with Tony. And even visits
to Buffalo City Hall. Last year, when I was at Harvard, Tony’s
retrospective was a few feet away from my office. The Buffalo—Cambridge
connections created a space, a sense of home.

Perhaps that’s what I’m struck by, the expansive ways artistic home is
created through the practices and play, and the feminialism! that Paige
brilliantly points out how domestic work  can and should be honored as part
of “art” practices and collaboration.

The laboring practices of art, as David shared in his moving post that Tony
made space and “home” for a community musicians or even interests in
Chicago as a livable place, the importance of a city as home.

I’ve been preoccupied with notions of queer domestic life in a separate
cover and perhaps that’s why my thoughts are veering or intersecting, but
it makes me wonder about practice and play if explicitly to explore it, and
artistic spaces/home.

Where is this found? Can people or is a person an artist that can make a

I’m thinking now of Paige’s extraordinary film *The Last Slide Projector*,
which reminds me of Intimacy, memories, images and home. The film in it’s
intimacy and voice over reminds us of the photograph shared communally in
homes. And remapped WNY too, with Rochester now as the site of the ceasing
of machinists production.

The ways Tony critiqued capitalist modes of production of art, which made
playfulness possible. The gallery not as the only home for art. Nor theatre
as the only filmic experience.

I’ll end this with small quote from David’s luminous poetry book, *now that
the audience is assembled*, a haunting imaginary which breaks the
visualization of instruments and performance, the stage, and even home?

“There’s a shimmering both audible and visible.” (75)

I’m not sure how much I like the word home, but I’ll play with this now.

Kathleen, I’d love to hear more about your work with Kathy High and
influences from Tony on your expansive art practices. This is such a honor
to be in conversation with you, Paige, and David.

Grateful for structures that make conversations possible.

On Tue, Oct 1, 2019 at 8:3t3 PM David Grubbs <bluesea at dragcity.com> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Dear all:
> Glad to be taking part.
> I met Tony Conrad and first started playing music with him in 1994, when
> he came to Chicago to record the album *Slapping Pythagoras* for the
> Table of the Elements label.  I knew the tiniest bit about him as someone
> who had been a participant in the Theatre of Eternal Music many many years
> before, and that he had played a role in the prehistory of the Velvet
> Underground.  I think that I was also aware of *The Flicker*, but only as
> a rumor.  Jim O'Rourke, with whom at the time I played in a group called
> Gastr del Sol, had recently returned from a festival in Frankfurt where he
> had seen Tony do one of the first *Early Minimalism* performances, and he
> was bouncing off of the ceiling with excitement, and he had arranged for
> Tony to come to Chicago to record with a bunch of our friends.  On *Slapping
> Pythagoras* I was one of six in a hapless ad hoc ensemble of people
> bowing electric guitars.  Tony's coaching session for the recording was
> more like a lecture on just intonation and tuning systems and blew all of
> our minds and also had us busting guts with laughter.  We more or less
> couldn't believe that this guy was real.  On that record, I also play
> percussion.  Tony needed a low sound and a high sound, so I thudded a
> pillow with a baseball glove and pinged a pint glass with a rolled up
> guitar cable.  We hit it off, and so in various configurations I recorded
> with Tony, toured with him, played with him in an ensemble performing
> Pauline Oliveros's *Primordial/Drift* (man, that was fun), hung out a
> bunch, interviewed him, wrote about him in my book *Records Ruin the
> Landscape*, did time on the board of ISSUE Project Room with him, etc.,
> etc.  He keeps popping up -- or his ideas do or shards of his sense of
> humor -- in two book-length poems that I've written that are also stabs at
> music writing.
> Paige's recollection about Tony's sense of his collaboration with Beverly
> Grant rings true to me.  I mean, Tony had his work cut out for him showing
> up in Chicago to play with this gaggle of white, twenty-something dudes
> (and one white, something gal) whose worldview was considerably narrower
> than any of us understood; his mission to school us expanded far beyond
> tuning systems.  He was always in his weird Socratic way making us think
> about how it might be possible that we were doing all of these rad things
> we were so proud of doing.  I remember a group interview in Chicago a
> couple of years later for a Table of the Elements festival where it was one
> musical ego after the next, myself included, trying to get in a few words
> about their important upcoming projects and all that Tony wanted to talk
> about was how Chicago seemed a great place to live cheaply and not have to
> work a lot, and how you could *definitely *get by not having a car, and
> how people were very attached to their cars in an unhealthy way and that
> Chicago's public transportation seemed pretty good and the city eminently
> navigable by bike.
> I'll toss one other thing out there.  I can't really remember Tony ever
> blowing his own horn re the breadth of media or disciplines in which he
> worked, unless it was to thwart expectations.  Around the time of those
> first meetings in Chicago, Tony screened a number of his films -- they
> floored a lot of folks, suddenly it was all we wanted to talk about -- but
> he seemed more jazzed to discuss *Studio of the Streets*, his
> public-access TV show in Buffalo, and the homework helpline that he ran.
> On Tue, Oct 1, 2019 at 4:36 PM Paige Sarlin <p.sarlin at gmail.com> wrote:
>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>> Thank you, Margaret and Renate.
>> It's hard to know where to begin. Tony Conrad thought and worked at the
>> intersections of play and collaboration across decades and media. Playing
>> with others on stage and off was serious fun for him. We don't always call
>> the sort of "playing the audience" that tony did “collaboration” -- but
>> tony did.
>> In the vein of more recognizable forms of collaboration, tony and I
>> played music together almost everyday. I'll say more about our
>> collaborations later in the week -- but I've attached one of our recordings
>> below.
>> For today, though, I want to tell a story about TC's collaboration with
>> another one of his wives to get us thinking about the structural conditions
>> that enable play and collaboration.
>> The late David Pendleton included Straight and Narrow (Tony and Beverly
>> Conrad, 1970) in his film program at The Flaherty Film Seminar the summer
>> after tony died. The theme that year (2016) was “Play.”  It was an
>> absolutely perfect choice -- the film embodies TC’s radical commitment to
>> play-- and to the joy it produces. It’s my favorite of all his films. The
>> first time I saw the film, I was at a screening in London and tony was
>> seated right beside me. I turned to him and said -- it’s the snoopy happy
>> dance… my snoopy happy dance… experimental minimalist white boy style.
>> I’m not sure the peanuts reference meant much to him -- but the film
>> still has the same happy-making effect on me. I played it yesterday for my
>> class of 110 undergraduates and it’s kept me humming "Ides of March" -- the
>> John Cale and Terry Riley tune the film is set to -- since then. I’ve been
>> teaching this Introduction to Media Study class and screening The Flicker
>> every year for the last 6 years. When tony was alive, he’d come to the
>> class -- he’d say absolutely nothing about the film and we’d hit play
>> (sorry cinephiles -- there’s no 16mm print of The Flicker at University
>> at Buffalo). He and I would sit on the edge of the stage and look out at
>> the students and watch them watch The Flicker. Never the same twice, he
>> said, for him or for them.
>> Yesterday, I watched tony and beverly’s  film do what tony was so good at
>> -- it cleaned the slate for me and my students. Wiping assumptions right
>> off the table, tony loved to pick the needle up during a broken-record
>> debate and reset the game. No, the basic of unit of cinema is not the shot
>> or the cut, but -- the frame. And constructing a film out of black and
>> white frames means that light and sound play the room with you and me in
>> it.
>> About a week after I saw Straight and Narrow for the first time, I asked
>> tony: so tell me what did beverly do on the film? He paused for only the
>> briefest of seconds and said, “She raised ted (their son).” He talked with
>> beverly about the film while she was keeping their life afloat, tending to
>> the apartment, cooking, cleaning, all the maintenance work of social
>> reproduction. Dumb struck by his answer, I said nothing. Tony broke the
>> silence a few minutes later and said “you know, no one has ever asked me
>> that question…”
>> I was amazed -- in 1970, he had understood authorship and collaboration
>> on a whole other level. Beverly Grant Conrad deserved as much credit for
>> conversation, care, ‘women’s work,’ and social reproduction as he did for
>> conceptualizing and filming each frame. Tony had recognized the social and
>> political situation of his own productivity -- that his partner’s labor was
>> the condition of possibility for his “work” and “play.” The film announces
>> that Beverly is the co-author each time it plays. Perhaps Beverly
>> instigated the inclusion. But tony made it clear that he’d thought of it as
>> “their film” from its inception.
>> Something different than thanks, acknowledgements, or credit -- there is
>> a structural challenge in tony’s conceptualization of his collaboration
>> with beverly which confronts us with a deeply feminist question (or perhaps
>> a feminalist? minimal-feminist?): what are the material, economic, social,
>> cultural, and affective conditions necessary for collaboration and play?
>> How do structural conditions shape and enable artworks that celebrate or
>> involve play and collaboration?
>> TC PS Voice Cello.11.15
>> <https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2h_CrjnYYaORHFNakIxQmZ4Z2wxYi1WcTV1Rko2dGVwYnhR/view?usp=sharing>
>> Paige Sarlin, Ph.D. (she/her
>> <https://medium.com/gender-inclusivit/why-i-put-pronouns-on-my-email-signature-and-linkedin-profile-and-you-should-too-d3dc942c8743>
>> )
>> Assistant Professor / Department of Media Study / University at
>> Buffalo/SUNY
>> p.sarlin at gmail.com / paigesarlin.info
>> On Tue, Oct 1, 2019 at 4:02 PM Margaret Rhee <mrheeloy at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>> Dear everyone,
>>> Thank you Renate for your incredible curation and mentorship with
>>> --empyre--, it's such an inspiring community of thinkers, artists, and
>>> activists. I loved the discussion on Trans last month, and hope to continue
>>> these threads. For this month I'm pleased to share a forum "On Practice
>>> and Play: Gestures Across Genres." The forum was inspired in part by Tony
>>> Conrad's work and practice which spans across film, music, writing, and
>>> theory. For this forum, we're honored to have artists, thinkers, and
>>> creators who play across media and disciplinary divides and  to
>>> celebrate innovation in cross-disciplinary art practices. For the first
>>> week, we begin with a focus on Tony Conrad's work on art/collaboration/and
>>> play and we're honored to have artists Paige Sarlin, David Grubbs, and
>>> Kathleen McDermott join us for the discussion. Please see below for their
>>> biographies and we look forward to hearing more about their work and
>>> insights on collaboration/play/art in Tony's collaborations, their own
>>> practices. As always we welcome --empyre--members to contribute and join
>>> the conversation.
>>> my best,
>>> Margaret
>>> ----
>>> *On Practice and Play: Gestures Across Genres *
>>> In this month's -empyre- forum, we take up the question of productivity
>>> and and the politics of play, and how playing across genres, mediums,
>>> forms, disciplines, and departments, etc. makes for new kinds of innovative
>>> art, thinking, and community; and in doing so, better intervenes and
>>> gestures toward transformative futures. The current conspiracy-us versus
>>> them- culture perhaps exemplifies the problem of singular thinking and the
>>> need for creative, eclectic, and innovative practices more than ever. We’re
>>> interested in artists, thinkers, and activists with practices that cross
>>> over boundaries and intervene in dichotomous logics. With attention to
>>> justice, we explore how multiple forms of art practices prompt us to
>>> reimagine different kind of worlds, as strategy and survival. Initially
>>> inspired by Tony Conrad's work, as his practice spans across film, music,
>>> writing, and sculptures, we playfully ask how play lends itself to more
>>> libratory ways of creation and practice.
>>> We begin with the first week on media and new media art in
>>> conversation with Tony Conrad's playful work across mediums, we then move
>>> into a second week asking questions on poetry and playing across the
>>> visual, cinematic, and theoretical, the third week is dedicated to the
>>> theme of ethnography across forms such as photography, film, and poetry,
>>> and the forth week focuses on the ways artists advocate for decolonial and
>>> racial resistance through playing across genres and forms. While seemingly
>>> diverse, we hope the loosely organized topics lends itself to connections
>>> between the weeks, and across themes presented. With attention to questions
>>> such as capital, creativity, institutional critique, and justice, we’re
>>> honored to have the following artists and thinkers join us for this
>>> conversation and reflect on the possibilities of practice, gestures, and
>>> play.
>>> We also invite our -empyre- subscribers, whose own work broadly
>>> resonates with the themes of practice and play, to join the conversation.
>>> What are the ways your practice has played or plays across genres? Have you
>>> faced institutional challenges in crossing disciplinary divides, and if so,
>>> how did you overcome them? Is play and practice productive and/or
>>> political? We welcome our guests and all -empyre- subscribers to actively
>>> participate and post this month and share your practices and experiences of
>>> playing across genres and any questions that arise. Thank you again to
>>> our featured guests, and we're honored for their participation. We look
>>> forward to the conversation.
>>> *On Practice and Play: Gestures Across Genres *
>>> *Week One: Art/Collaboration and Play *
>>> *Honoring the play of Tony Conrad *
>>> (October 1)
>>> *Paige Sarlin *
>>> Paige Sarlin is an artist, scholar, and political activist. She holds a
>>> Ph.D. in Modern Culture and Media from Brown University and an M.F.A. in
>>> Film/Video/New Media from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
>>> Her first feature-length documentary film, *The Last Slide Projector*,
>>> premiered at the Rotterdam International Film Festival in 2007.
>>> "Illuminating Obsolescence: Eastman Kodak's Carousel Slide Projector and
>>> the Work of Ending," her corresponding essay, was recently published in *The
>>> Routledge** Companion to Media Technology and Obsolescenc*e
>>> (2019). From 1999 to 2010, she was an active participant in the 16Beaver
>>> Group in New York City, a platform for the discussion of the intersection
>>> of art and politics. Her writings have been published in *October, Re-Thinking
>>> Marxism, **Discourse**, **Camera Obscura, **The Journal of Aesthetics
>>> and Protest, *and* Framework: A Journal of Film and Culture*.  She
>>> is in the process of finishing her book-length manuscript entitled
>>> *Interview* *Work: The Genealogy of a **Documentary** Form*.  She is
>>> Assistant Professor in the Department of Media Study at University at
>>> Buffalo, SUNY.
>>> Married to Tony Conrad at the time of his death, Paige was involved in
>>> the conceptualization and realization of the recent exhibition *Introducing
>>> Tony Conrad: A Retrospective*. Her essay "In Person, On Screen, In
>>> Context, On Tape," appears in the catalogue
>>> <https://www.artbook.com/9783960983361.html>. Tony and Paige's
>>> collaborative composition "Tony Conrad's Amplified Drone Strings" premiered
>>> at the Big Ears festival in 2016. Since then she has performed the piece
>>> with David Grubbs, MV Carbon, Jennifer Walshe, and others at the Tate
>>> Modern in London, The National Gallery in Washington DC, and the Clemente
>>> Soto Vélez Cultural and Educational Center in New York. Her next book
>>> project is a collection of essays about Tony Conrad; entitled *You Know
>>> Who You Are*, the book is structured around an investigation of "the
>>> acknowledgement" as an aesthetic form.
>>> *David Grubbs *
>>> David Grubbs is Professor of Music at Brooklyn College and The Graduate
>>> Center, CUNY.  At Brooklyn College he also teaches in the MFA programs in
>>> Performance and Interactive Media Arts (PIMA) and Creative Writing.  He is
>>> the author of *Now that the audience is assembled* and *Records Ruin
>>> the Landscape: John Cage, the Sixties, and Sound Recording* (both Duke
>>> University Press) and, with Anthony McCall, *Simultaneous Soloists* (Pioneer
>>> Works Press).  In the spring of 2020, Duke University Press will publish *The
>>> Voice in the Headphones*, Grubbs’s second experiment in music writing
>>> in the form of a book-length poem.
>>> Grubbs has released fourteen solo albums and appeared on more than 190
>>> releases; his most recent solo recording is *Creep Mission*(Blue
>>> Chopsticks, 2017).  In 2000, his *The Spectrum Between*(Drag City) was
>>> named “Album of the Year” in the London *Sunday Times*.  He is known
>>> for his ongoing cross-disciplinary collaborations with poet Susan Howe and
>>> visual artists Anthony McCall and Angela Bulloch, and his work has been
>>> presented at, among other venues, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, MoMA,
>>> the Tate Modern, and the Centre Pompidou.  Grubbs was a member of the
>>> groups Gastr del Sol, Bastro, and Squirrel Bait, and has performed with
>>> Tony Conrad, Pauline Oliveros, the Red Krayola, Will Oldham, Loren Connors,
>>> and many others.  He is a grant recipient from the Foundation for
>>> Contemporary Arts, a contributing editor in music for *BOMB**Magazine*,
>>> a member of the Blank Forms board of directors, and director of the Blue
>>> Chopsticks record label.
>>> *Kathleen McDermott *
>>> McDermott’s work utilizes a combination of sculpture, open-source
>>> electronics, performance and video, to explore the social ramifications of
>>> the relationship between bodies and technology; an artistic research method
>>> she refers to as *absurdist electronics*. Absurdist electronics
>>> promotes the use of absurdity as a counter to both the solutionist utopia
>>> promised by tech companies, and the atmosphere of doom often prophesied
>>> within science fiction. Drawing on the Dada principle that absurdity can be
>>> an appropriate response to feelings of alienation, McDermott seeks to solve
>>> her own specific struggles with socialization and work, through humor and
>>> over-engineering.
>>> In contrast to narratives of the future that are disproportionately
>>> focused on virtual bodies and bodies represented by data, McDermott’s
>>> inventions emphasize real-time physicality by deliberately intervening in
>>> physical space, to a ridiculous degree. She often creates electronics which
>>> can respond to sensors and environmental input, but that cannot be
>>> controlled by the wearer directly, complicating the agency of the human
>>> actors in the scene. Examples include a dress which creates a cloud of fog
>>> based on a reading of the wearer’s stress level, and a mechanical brooch
>>> that opens to reveal a cinnamon bun when the wearer begins to sweat. The
>>> items are worn publicly, either by McDermott or a proxy, and the
>>> documentation is edited into narrative videos and GIFs, taking cues from
>>> infomercials and advertisements. She then produces tutorials for
>>> technically recreating the works in the series, which she distributes
>>> online and through workshops.
>>> http://www.kthartic.com/
>>> https://urbanarmor.org/
>>> *Week Two: Poetics and Play *
>>> (October 8)
>>> Truong Tran
>>> Lynne Sachs
>>> Kenji Liu
>>> *Week Three: Queer Ethnography/Methods and Play *
>>> (October 15)
>>> Kale B. Fajardo
>>> Erica Rand
>>> Jerry Zee
>>> *Week Four: Racial and Decolonial Practice and Play *
>>> (October 22)
>>> Craig Santos Perez
>>> Maria de Los Angeles
>>> Gabriela Cordoba Vivas
>>> On Mon, Sep 30, 2019 at 10:51 PM Renate Ferro <rferro at cornell.edu>
>>> wrote:
>>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>>> Dear -empyre-
>>>> Welcome to October already.  The leaves are falling here in Ithaca and
>>>> the furnace is on.  I am feeling the impending darkness of autumn creeping
>>>> into my afternoon activities.  I can only imagine the light where so many
>>>> of you are.
>>>> We welcome a month of discussion on Practice and Play: Gestures Across
>>>> Genres organized by Margaret Rhee to celebrate innovation in
>>>> cross-disciplinary art making.  Many of you will remember Margaret's
>>>> discussion on Robot Poetics in May of 2017
>>>> http://lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au/pipermail/empyre/2017-May/009683.html
>>>> Margaret is an incredible poet, writer and artist.  We are so lucky to
>>>> have her on our -empyre- Editorial Advisory Board.  She brings warmth to us
>>>> from Buffalo, New York this month with her diverse set of guests.
>>>> Her biography is below.  Margaret will post the first post of the month
>>>> tomorrow.
>>>> Welcome Margaret and thank you. We look forward.
>>>> Renate
>>>> Margaret Rhee is a poet, scholar, and new media artist. She is the
>>>> author of Love, Robot, named a 2017 Best Book of Poetry by Entropy Magazine
>>>> and awarded a 2018 Elgin Award by the Science Fiction Poetry Association
>>>> and the 2019 Best Book Award in Poetry by the Asian American Studies
>>>> Association. Her poetry chapbooks include Yellow and Radio Heart; or, How
>>>> Robots Fall Out of Love, and forthcoming collection Poetry Machines: A
>>>> Letter to a Future Reader, a collection of lyrical essays on poetry, and
>>>> the intersections of cinema, art, and new media. Currently, she is
>>>> completing her monograph How We Became Human: Race, Robots, and the Asian
>>>> American Body. She was a College Fellow in Digital Practice in the English
>>>> Department at Harvard University and a member of MetaLab @ Harvard. She
>>>> received her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in ethnic studies with a designated
>>>> emphasis in new media studies. She is an Assistant Professor in the
>>>> Department of Media Study at SUNY Buffalo and co-leads Palah 파랗 Light
>>>> Studios, a creative space for poetry, participation, and pedagogy through
>>>> technology.
>>>> Renate Ferro
>>>> Visiting Associate Professor
>>>> Director of Undergraduate Studies
>>>> Department of Art
>>>> Tjaden Hall 306
>>>> rferro at cornell.edu
>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>> empyre forum
>>>> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
>>>> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
>>> --
>>> Margaret Rhee, Ph.D.
>>> College Fellow in Digital Practice (2018 - 2019)
>>> Department of English
>>> Harvard University
>>> Assistant Professor in Media Theory (2019)
>>> Department of Media Study
>>> SUNY Buffalo
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> empyre forum
>>> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
>>> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
>> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
> --
> David Grubbs
> Professor of Music
> Performance and Interactive Media Arts (PIMA)
> Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center, CUNY
> http://pima-brooklyncollege.info
> Coming in October:
> Anthony McCall & David Grubbs, *Simultaneous Soloists* (Pioneer Works
> Press)
> https://pioneerworks.org/publishing/simultaneous-soloists/
> The Underflow, *The Underflow *(Corbett vs. Dempsey)
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu


Margaret Rhee, Ph.D.

College Fellow in Digital Practice (2018 - 2019)
Department of English
Harvard University

Assistant Professor in Media Theory (2019)
Department of Media Study
SUNY Buffalo
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