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Marfa Sounding: Alvin Lucier and Charles Curtis

"Marfa Sounding: Charles Curtis and Alvin Lucier" charts the intersections of experimental music, sculpture, and space in Marfa, TX.

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Audience members walking to the Dixon Water Foundation’s Mimms Ranch, Marfa Sounding, May 2016

Posted on July 5, 2016 by Jennifer Burris

Photo by Sarah Vasquez

Produced by Marfa Live Arts and Fieldwork: Marfa

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Performance of Alvin Lucier’s “Vespers” (1968) at Mimms Ranch, Marfa Sounding, May 2016

Posted on July 5, 2016 by Jennifer Burris

Photo by Sarah Vasquez

Produced by Marfa Live Arts and Fieldwork: Marfa

Performance of Alvin Lucier’s “Vespers” (1968) at Mimms Ranch, Marfa Sounding, May 2016

Posted on July 5, 2016 by Jennifer Burris

Photo by Sarah Vasquez

Produced by Marfa Live Arts and Marfa Sounding

Charles Curtis performs “I Remember Morty” (2016), a new work by Alvin Lucier, at Mimms Ranch, Marfa Sounding, May 2016

Posted on July 5, 2016 by Jennifer Burris

Photo by Sarah Vasquez

Produced by Marfa Live Arts and Fieldwork: Marfa

Alvin Lucier performs “I Am Sitting in a Room” (1970) at the Crowley Theater, Marfa Sounding, May 2016

Posted on July 5, 2016 by Jennifer Burris

Photo by Sarah Vasquez

Produced by Marfa Live Arts and Fieldwork: Marfa

Installation of Alvin Lucier’s “Sferics” (1981) at Fieldwork: Marfa land on Antelope Hills, Marfa Sounding, May 2016

Posted on July 5, 2016 by Jennifer Burris

Photo by Sarah Vasquez

Produced by Marfa Live Arts and Fieldwork: Marfa

 

 

Overview

Detailing how early electronic music’s use of drone frequencies and repetitive speech modules evokes the mechanistic or objective sculpture of artists like Donald Judd, Edward Strickland’s “Minimalism: Origins” (1993) coalesces the two via a shared focus on site-specificity and architectural context. He writes: “In Alvier Lucier’s Minimal process-piece ‘I am sitting in a room’, the featured performer is not the ‘I’ but the ‘room.’ After speaking/stammering his brief statement, Lucier himself performs no more. He remains only in the form of his taped voice, replayed and re-recorded until it loses its distinctive individuality, swallowed up by the room, surviving in a ghostly existence within its resonant frequencies.”

“Marfa Sounding” is a series of site-specific music performances, sound installations, and conversations that engage these parallels between process-based music and serial structures in art. Focused on the manipulation and disruption of time in relation to architectural space and environment–from extended duration to the unpredictable frequencies of wind–the series situates this embodied exploration in the small Texas town of Marfa. Moving beyond the best-known history of this place as a site for the permanent installation of large-scale works by Judd and his friends, this musical sounding engages complex histories of architectural transformation from farm industry and military infrastructure to cultural economies and high-end tourism.

Anchoring this program is the long-term collaboration between cellist Charles Curtis and composers Alvin Lucier and Éliane Radigue. Central figures in the emergence of electronic music, both Radigue and Lucier also compose acoustic works specifically for Curtis. Opening with an evening of Radigue’s music in the Chinati Foundation’s John Chamberlain building, a former Wool and Mohair Building, the first concert’s meditative unfolding directly intervenes in the violent material compression of 22 permanently installed steel sculptures. At the Crowley Theater, a former feed and livestock supply store, the second performance highlights iconic electronic works by Lucier such as “I am sitting in a room.” The final performance is a new site-specific work written by Lucier for Curtis (and wind), performed at an open-air concrete amphitheater located in preserved ranchland outside of town. A temporary sound installation by Lucier, created for the desert surrounding Marfa, will be open to visitors all weekend.

The publication for “Marfa Sounding” will make this remote performance series accessible to a wider audience while also facilitating an experiential understanding of the temporal and spatial connections between minimalist music and sculpture (a history that remains primarily via anecdotes, archives, and remembrances). Sound artist and field recorder Erik DeLuca will document all four events alongside 360-degree soundscapes of the “empty” concert architectures and interviews with participants. In dialogue with Lucier and Curtis, these varied recordings will be brought together as the four sides of this two-record publication: explicitly foregrounding multiple notions of site, architectural space, and forms of sonic occupation. These secondary compositions take inspiration from Lucier’s originary framework to examine what it means for music to articulate architectural space as ghostly resonance.

Project Media

99, 6-SECOND TRACKS PLAYING PURE TONES (B, D, E, F#, A, C#) AND SILENCE FROM A CD AT RANDOM (2015)
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Features: Erik DeLuca

21 Eiki 7070 Players, play CDs that contain 99, 6-second tracks that cycle through pure tones (B, D, E, F#, A, C#) and silence at random. This work explores the inherent limitations of technology and also questions how that technology mediates one’s knowledge and interpretation of their acoustic environment. Developed at Fieldwork in Marfa, Texas.

Video shot and edited by Elise Sibley Chandler.

The Music of Alvin Lucier performed Charles Curtis (2014)
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Media City Film Festival 2014 Opening Night
Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit

Tracklist:
00:00 “Charles Curtis” (2002)
Solo cello with slow sweep pure wave oscillators

14:13 “On the carpet of leaves illuminated by the moon”(2000)
Solo cello with pure wave oscillator

Rerememberer (2014) / Concert Produced by Marfa Live Arts
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For New York-based artist Suzanne Bocanegra, cloth has always had the power to elicit powerful memories. “Rerememberer” uses the weaving instructions for an antique Danish peasant fabric, a three-shaft structure called olmerdug, as the template for a theatrical performance and installation with weaver Karen Crenshaw, of Austin and Marfa, TX on The artists were supported locally by fifty amateur violinists from the Marfa community who learned to play specifically for this event under the direction of Todd Reynolds, a violin virtuoso.

Start and End Dates

05/26/201605/30/2016

Location

Marfa, Texas

6 updates
Last update on July 5, 2016

Associated Event

Archived Events

Project Created By

Bogotá, COLOMBIA
Jennifer Burris is an independent curator and director of Athénée Press. Currently she is a guest curator for the Brooklyn Museum’s Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art. Previous projects include exhibitions and screening programs at the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania; Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, Haverford College; Stedeljik Museum Bureau Amsterdam; Hanoi DOCLAB; and…

In Collaboration With

Reykjavík, ICELAND

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