WARREN BURT & KRIS HEMENSLEY
Dec 14, '16
Dear Friends, Colleagues and Fellow Travelers:
Here's a link to the latest entry on my website, which features videos of me performing a new piece based on Chris Mann's voice, which was performed for the launch of his new book "Whistlin is Did," on Dec 13, 2016 at Collected Works Bookshop in Melbourne. Also is a video of the complete 7 minutes of the work done the next day in Daylesford. I hope you enjoy this piece, which was a lot of fun to compose and perform.
Dec 17, '16
Dear Warren, Good to see and hear you the other day at the Shop...! A great event!
THANK YOU sending your text, photos, & video...
Ive taken the liberty of further sharing it to my F/book page, and have kind of juxtaposed it with thoughts stemming from McKenzie Wark's post abt new course proposal re- Walter Benjamin & E A Poe, which i add to my refutation of derogatory "so 70s" remark made at the Shop about the Burt/Mann sound/moozik performance! That is, "70s" was a wonderfully innovative time, why
considered passe by now? Not at all! (Mine is gentle refutation, and maybe even the comment overheard & reported to me was less hard than appears BUT, opportunity to make a point! As i say in mine, tho W Benjamin agin "continuum" ['break the continuum'], there IS continuum!
All best wishes,
[PS:(from F/book comment)
Found on the home feed early this morning a notice from McKenzie Wark regarding a course he's proposing on Walter Benjamin, Arcades Project, and relation with E A Poe... Wow! In part, " Even less well known are the affinities that Benjamin's theory and work shares with Edgar Allan Poe, who he widely respected, having learned of him through Baudelaire's high opinion of the American author. Aside from producing a text not dissimilar to The Arcades Project, Poe also insisted on the power of revelation in countless of his texts. Further, he shared both tropes (e.g., the Maezel's Chess Machine) as well as fascinations (graphology, cryptography, fashion)."
I made this comment, "Love this, MW, and back to the future with bells on --comment (sort of derogatory as it was reported to me, tho many a slip between cup and lip, --made the other night at event at Collected Works Bookshop, that Warren Burt's interpretation/realization of & for Chris Mann material --Warren's composition with lap-top & amps) --"so 70s" : and this most suggestive juxtaposition (--in my own stuff late 70s, '1980, called it transposition), Benjamin & Poe --renders me incoherent in ebullience! What a buzz! Well done!
My point abt "so 70s" is that it is & was a great time of cross- fertilization & innovative thinking, and why should any of that be passe in 2016? And tho Benjamin all for 'breaking the continuum', there is a continuum!]
Yes, a delight all around. Lovely to be part of, and then, the next
morning, discovering the Cordite website, which I hadn't known of
previously (nose to the grindstone at Box Hill, etc), a delightful
expansion of the horizons!
Yes "so 70's" indeed. I had a text in the 90s, which was aimed in the
friendliest possible way at Messrs Randall and Bendinelli , which
denounced the "cliched decadization of knowledge," and thinking
about it, the technology I was using was current, the software
was developed in the late 90s, the central Chris text was from the
80s, and the stuff on the iPad was all texts from the past decade,
but I guess what WAS "70's" about it was the sight of a single
person with small devices doing a performance with tiny
loudspeakers. Which WAS something that not only we (Chris,
me, Ernie Althoff, Ron Nagorcka, Ros Bandt, etc) had developed
in the 70s, but more specifically in Melbourne, (and which is now
the subject of a couple of 20-somethings writing PhDs about --
eek academic immortality!), so yes, THAT bit was 70s, and more
specifically Melbourne 70s, so doing it in a Melbourne bookshop
for a crowd, many of whom were around in the Melbourne 70s,
is extremely apt. So I hope Mr or Ms "so 70s" actually
And now, I have the pleasant task ahead, in the next week, of reading your "Your Scratch Entourage" - which to me also suggests a "Scratch Orchestra" as in Cardew, also 70s!
Speaking of continua, I was just reading a MA from another University and the student is trying to link indeterminate, automated processes with queer theory (a not unfriendly matchup), and I find myself having to write a note to remind the student about the unbroken line of queer composers in
the 20th century who were all associated both with queer thinking and with the "current avant-garde thinking" of their eras - Charles T Griffes, A.Copland, Virgil Thompson, Lou Harrison, Francis Poulenc, Cage/Cunningham,Sylvano Bussotti, Julius Eastman, Pauline Oliveros (RIP two weeks ago), and Claude Vivier, among others. (Almost typed "otters" - that would be nice!) So there's a continuum for someone!
The words ‘so seventies…” (or something like that), floated up at a recent event at Collected Works – so Kris Hemensley tells me. Was it a put-down? A witticism? A critical judgment? A moment of self exposure? a statement of solidarity? All of these, I think. All of these labels dance about as contradictory but co-existent job descriptions for living, practicing, creative workers.
1970s, at its dumbest, means the decade numbered thus, plus or minus a few years into the decades at both ends. But it’s not just a calendar. It’s an appeal to a style, a zeitgeist, a codified recognizable way of doing things, an aesthetic. Codified is the key word here. Whatever the 1970s were has been settled through a power struggle and there are winners who are remembered and losers who are invisible because they have been written out, ignored or repressed.
Before the 1970s, there were the 1960s and the 1950s. Does human behavior, and the context for it, really roll along in ten-year cycles? Of course not: the decades are labels, and generalizations of the loosest sort. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with the drive to shape our complicated, perhaps chaotic outputs and creative works, and the decade is probably as good as any other, and certainly the easiest to remember. The danger comes when its winning formula’s are held up as a standard or goal. That is, when in the 1970s, artists must behave and work according to the codified zeitgeist. Even worse, once the decade has passed, artists must move on to the next formula or code. Hunting the zeitgeist is the game.
For provincial artists like us here in OZ, the traditional way of doing this has been to sail and/fly to the central kitchen, steal some of the new magic pudding and bring it back to use at home. The terrible thing that can happen is that the creative life becomes a chain of fashionable actions none of which arise from the artists themselves or their eco-niche. It could be worse. Hilda Rix Nicholas, for example, was a Queensland painter who went to France at the fin-de-siecle and discovered how to paint in high key pointillist post-impressionist style. She did some beautiful paintings which show how well she learnt to do it. When she returned to OZ, she continued to paint the same style for the rest of her life, ignoring her locality and the changing world around her – at least as far as her paintings were concerned. She is not, and sad to say, will not be, the only antipodean artist who finds the latest style when young and continues with it for the rest of their life.
Many creative careers last a number of decades and persist through changed social conditions, new technologies and materials and social behaviors. These decades extend over an individual’s lifetime, and one might expect that an individual’s creative works will change as well. There is also a kind of biological/biographic image of work: a lyric poet as a youth becomes a mature observer and researcher into the discipline of poetry, moves to writing something like an epic, or epics, and finally emerges, butterfly-like as a succinct lyric poet again, but with depth and maybe darkness in the singing. The ‘late ‘ works of artists have attracted much attention because of their summary, terse and concentrated qualities, and sometimes are truly experimental. Of course, what is there in the young lyric poet can also be found in the subsequent epic and elder lyric poet. To recognize this, one might say ‘so seventies’. But here, the interest is what has been done since then to the ‘70s’ style, to the manner of working the subject matter. It’s possible that very little can change and very much at the same time, like Francis Ponge’s observation that a shrub or tree does not shift position, but engages in a lifetime of elaboration.
And then there are, to my mind, the most interesting of creative workers who are immersed in their eco-niches (local, national, international) but work through a specific vision or program of research. To some degree, creatives are pressured to invent a personal style, a brand, a unique touch which can then be marketed through objects or media. This can be easily subsumed in the borrowed fashionable-decade-style strategy of work. But the commercial pressures can also easily be ignored and a convincing body of work accumulated, extending over decades and with no reference to conventional zeitgeist formulations. This kind of work is often later folded back into revisions of the zietgeist, which can then make the contemporary zeitgeist scouts look empty and lost. This folding-in of idiosyncratic work is also ‘so seventies’. It also ‘so eighties’. And ‘so 90s’. And so on.