"BLUE"GENE TYRANNY'S FAMILIAR REVIEW This issue: CLAIRVOYANCE
After George Manupelli's Feb. 10 concert at The Center for Contemporary Music, Mills College, I started to appreciate again how his films have intuitively predicted many phenomena that became manifest in the society years later -- for instance, "Cry Dr. Chicago" (1970) moves through images of a future Watergate scandal, depicts the gagging of prisoners and prisons as private enterprise (concerts for the inmates, etc.), the struggles over the right to abortion and the rights of transsexuals, fact-finding Presidential junkets (viz. to China, etc.), as well as the word-play aesthetics and general aura of the "Mary Hartmann" series and its spinoffs.
Recently, a week or so before Robert Ashley's "Private Parts" was to be performed at The Kitchen in N.Y., he received a postcard announcing "Private parts" as a dance choreographed by Candice Christakos and Gael Stepanek to be presented Jan. 20-21. The photo image on the card, a detail of a hand with satin landscape, was strikingly similar to the video idea for that performance of Ashley's "Private Parts", an image which had not appeared in his publicity. This seems to make a correspondence beyond coincidence.
These events got us talking. Realizing that they often occur to artists, I did a typically low profile survey this last week, and thank you friends. I asked for stories of pieces where a similar piece had been done at the same time unbeknownst to both authors, or a piece had turned out to be unintentionally predictive.
Nick Bertoni volunteered a description of the collaborative performance "Junction" which he and Bill Finneran designed for the Univ. of Wisconsin in May, 1970. The images anticipate social upheaval: aerial hijacking (pseudo-airport was set up in park with crowd control measures), unspecified emergency broadcasts from local TV bus (civil defense alerts, food crises, terrorism), gagged cigarette girls, redneck cowboys on snowmobiles, military insurrections similar to Chile, gassing, cars with their hoods open looking like alligators in a circle.
David Behrman said to mention Alvin Lucier's "Music for Solo Performer", the first brainwave piece and right in there before bio-music and the whole bio-feedback front appeared.
Phil Harmonic was producing the highlighted oranges and orange juice and domestic life imagery, as well as "Win A Dream Date With Phil" in the late 60's and early 70's, before they came plastic on the inside and outside courtesy of the Anita Bryant Mafia.
Ruth Reichl reviewed for me the work of Newton and Helen Harrison who are currently attempting to reclaim the land around the Art Park in N.Y. from the dump. As part of their land/sea pieces they make speculative political and ecological mappings concerning the future state of that particular land/sea world in which they are interested.
After Takehisa Kosugi's marvelous violin solos (Jan. 28 concert, CCM), which were emotional without you being able to tell what specific emotion was being expressed, and Frankie Mann's "Frankenstein's Animal" (Feb. 11 concert, CCM) with its scenes outside of time, you got the feeling you were experiencing predictive signals in your own backyard. You could feel their definite impulses to be doing what they were doing, but from the moment the piece started you realized (without mystification) that something else was happening without yet being named.(since this goes on all the time, where is the piece?)
The explanation for these correspondences are as varied as the "degrees of correspondence":
-there is the idea of random coincidence, where you create the feeling of meaning. Close to this is the notion that our 10 billion cell brain serializes the solutions to commonly shared problems, so that somewhere along the probability wave are resonant nodes--similar solutions.
-there's influence, messages subliminally picked up from posters, for instance, which later become part of your work; astrological influence, the planets made me do it; material influence, eg. a rip-off; shared social "inner consciousness" and other habits; and repetition influences where you notice something and then notice a lot of that thing, making its repetition seem meaningful -- Phil Harmonic's "people carrying little pink boxes" and Andrew Aldrech's "Maxwell House coffee problem.
-the closer you look the more unique the details get as they start to move around, creating the pathways on which they travel at the same time they move on them... this gets us to keeping open to the unidentified but wee-known androgynous everyday energy which sometimes gets overshadowed by the "intentionality" in a piece, viz. a P.B.S. "GREAT PERFORMANCE".
There are pieces designed with non-predictability built-in, so that when a coincidence actually happens its feeling of predictability is amplified. Paul DeMarinis wrote "Great Masters of Melody" for piano and random signal generators and has had astonishing performances by Rae Imamura who is able to play in unison with long streams of randomly generated notes. Control of the "likelihood of step-wise motion" can be adjusted.
Paul's "If God Were Alive (and He is) You Could Reach Him By Telephone" works on the successive approximation by 2 performers (Peter Gordon and Connie De Jong) of a computer circuit which translates their simple, comparative and superlative descriptions onto non-causal pathways to a number generator which gives forth further description.
My on-going experiment "Live and Let Live" has used psychic and life energy fields producing non-predictable effects: for one performance Aikido meditation movements changed the state of the electronics upon a chance meeting of the performers' eyes. My recent Lovely music album "Out of the Blue" turns out to have the same title as the E.L.O. record; apparently both named at the same time.
These explanations change, physically, as does what they describe. The distance illusion between the speech and its object gets minimal when you describe a bird and the critter flies overhead at the same moment. Is a "chance expectancy" high correlation more meaningful? Mary Ashley helped me out once by reminding me that if the guru disappears in the photo, at the same place he was standing in the middle of the rest of the people at the party, do you believe the photograph more than your senses?