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Tuesday 4 October 2005

Art and the First Day of School and Stuff


So I went to Nuit Blanche and I've had to spend the last few days thinking before I could post about it. I went to the fêtê part of it, which I think means party. And party it was. There were folks doing really really loud pop music drumming stuff and there were women in g-strings dancing to said drumming. I went first to Saint Eustache, where I caught a short part of the all-night-long series of organ concerts. The church has really hugely high celings and incredible reverberation. The organist gave a short talk before she played, which I couldn't really understand and she had to speak very very very slowly because of the many-seconds long delay. It's a great atmosphere for a pipe organ, though. Those churches are why pipe organ pieces are they way they are: big, long and slow. She played one piece by Tchaikovsky which I really liked. It had short dramatic bursts like the orchestra hits in Rite of Spring but they were getting eaten by the space and the effect was more or less in vain. It did build up a nice sound mass throughout and was big and dramatic by the end, which worked exceedingly in the space.

I went out and wandered around for a while. I walked by a gallery and somebody explained that a band was playing with video projection. It was a drummer / saxophonist, an orgasm singer / trumpet player, a guitar player / fx box wanker and another fx box wanker, as far as I can remember. The room was pretty dark anyway. The band seemed to be following the video, but not to the point where it was a score or anything. The video consisted of repeating images, many of them interesting: a monument in the middle of water, a woman standing in the same position in all her shots, across the street from the camera person, 50 meters to the left of where she was just standing, scooting down the street, a LOT of pictures of porn. The porn flashed by really fast, but the video editor had positioned them so that all the naked women were about the same size, facing the same way and engaged in the same act. So first was a bunch of maybe single or double frame stills of naked women, then anal sex, then, well, you get the idea. All of this was mixed in with footage of candle light vigils and what looked like home movies (with a really nice camera) of military presence around Ground Zero in NYC very shortly after the towers fell. The performance felt like it was over an hour long, but I wasn't keeping track of the time. I don't know what the images have to do with each other. Candle light vigils and 9/11 I get, but why the porn? They do realize that three thousand people fucking died in the wreckage that makes such nice background for wanking guitar fx and orgasm sounds, right? Maybe I just missed some very obvious point that everyone else in the room got about capitalism, culture and tragedy or something.

It was during the middle of that show that I remembered that I left my gas turned on. My stove has a gas valve on the back of it that I have to turn off after I cook. It seems weird, but the landlord made such a big deal about it in the rental contract and put in all caps and underlines NO BURNING CANDLES. TURN OFF GAS AFTER COOKING or something and there are no smoke alarms anywhere, that it must actually be important. A few nights ago I was watching the movie of the week and the main character's house blew up because she forgot to turn off the gas. So, um, should I be really paranoid or keep wandering?

I went by the Pompidou Center, but the line had hundreds of people in it. The whole area around Des Halles and St Eustache and the Pompidou was mobbed with wall to wall people. It's nice to see Parisians taking in their own city. I mean, like San Franciscans, they avoid tourist areas unless there's something worthwhile going on there. Out by Les Halles, there was an odd installation that included a video projector, a sort of spaceship looking thing, women growling on it and what looked live somebody using it either for emergency medical treatment, or a doctor was examining his shoe. I didn't want to stare in case it was the former. Ok, right . . .. That and thong dancers. I decided to go home and turn of the gas and then go on to the more serious-art looking listings closer to my house. But it was still kind of early and I had tons of energy, since I had prepared for the night by drinking coffee all day and sleeping in that morning. I'll just check my email first. Ooh, big crowds. Maybe I'll just set up podcasting before I go back out. When I finished configuring the server, five hours later, I leaned back from my computer and heard a thunder clap and rush of rain. So I went to bed.

I remembered the horrific lines from the free event at the Pompidou and didn't even try to go to the Louvre.


Yuri flew in Sunday night and we hung out yesterday and walked around. We went to the poetry reading at Shakespeare and company. We went there earlier in the day to pick up an english-language free magazine that lists events and stuff. I talked to the woman in charge of the poetry series. She seemed very interested when I described my stuff. Seemed to want to book me for next monday(!). I didn't know my class schedule, but I dropped off a CD for her last night. Hopefully, she will email me about it soon.

First day of school

Class started late because of a metro strike. (Yay Paris!) The teacher told us to all introduce ourselves. John went first. I'm paraphrasing even thought I'm using double quotes (as always). "I have a MA in composition. I play tuba. I'm really into this stuff called Text Sound Poetry . . .." Dood, that's my line! Yeah, so neither of us brought a tuba, but both of us brought mouthpieces just in case. He plays a Sanders piggy CC tuba. If you've ever seen my tuba and you're wondering that a Sanders CC Piggy looks like, well, that's what I play. We play the exact same kind of horn. It's creeping me out. Mine has five valves though and his doesn't, since the thumb trigger on mine was a non-standard after-market thing. We don't have the same kind of mouthpiece at least.

Yeah, so I have scarily a lot in common with one guy. The rest of the guys (and I do mean all guys) seem kind of young, but I dunno. I was too busy being tripped out by John.

the rest of the day, we got a lecture on how to use UPIC. For those of you who are wondering how to use UPIC: you can't. Forget it. Or you could just fake it with wavetables in your language of choice. OR you could buy metasynth and be able to do everything UPIC does and a lot of things that it doesn't do all on normal hardware (unlike UPIC). Or, eventually, there will be a 3d open source version of UPIC, after they find a PhD student willing to write a 3D display engine. (I want said student to work on JJiCalc.)

The teacher spent a LOT of time explaining what FM synthesis was. I'm all nervous now. Why am I taking a year long class in electronic music if I have a damn masters degree in it? I could have gone to Germany and studied art robots. Or taken the art robot money and gone to Berlin. Not that Paris is bad. and the class schedule is . . . sparse, so I have a lot of time for writing music / goofing off. And it's all about the lab time.

I know more than I think I know and I'm more qualified than I think I am and I'm going to get a PhD soon and then I will teach at a place like this.

Ahem. UPIC is so weird and constrained and archaic that I'm sure being forced to use it will give me a million ideas which I could then code up in Supercollider for years after I leave this place and it's dedicated UPIC hardware behind. Alas, nobody in the class has anymore connection to the Paris music scene than I do. I must befriend the tech guy (he's cool anyway. I met him a couple of years ago, but I'm sure he doesn't remember. (Eventually somebody is going to connect me with the ex . . .)) and maybe some of the Artists in Residence.

Anything that forces me to write music is good. Anything that gets me playing in Paris is good. This is all good. I'm always so nervous about new things.

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1 comment:

Polly Springhorn said...

Wanted to let you know that the 60 x 60 project is coming to the Conservatoire National de Region de Lille. I have no idea how far Lille is from Paris, but if you go, my piece "Cold Blood" is in it.

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