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A Listening Experiment

What would a scientist who studies hearing have to say on the subject of listening? I took the opportunity to find out as part of my planning for World Listening Day, a public program happening in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden this July. On World Listening Day (WLD), listening for listening’s sake is celebrated across the […]

What would a scientist who studies hearing have to say on the subject of listening? I took the opportunity to find out as part of my planning for World Listening Day, a public program happening in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden this July.

On World Listening Day (WLD), listening for listening’s sake is celebrated across the globe. Here at the Walker, a public observance of WLD will explore the soundscape of the Sculpture Garden. Typically, the Garden’s horticulture, sculptures, wildlife, and of course people-watching are perceived visually. WLD is a chance to attend to a different sensory modality and become immersed in the wonders of aural experience. In planning the Walker’s WLD, I’ve probed listening from a variety of angles—music, science, history, memory, and mindfulness to name just a few. Given WLD’s emphasis on environmental sounds and soundscape ecology, I set out to connect with people who not only thought about sound in a human context, but also considered the sonic lives of other animals. Enter Dr. Mark Bee.

Or rather, I entered his office. My hope: to borrow some ideas from his Animal Communications Lab and apply them in the Garden. But how? Over the course of our conversation, it became clear that Dr. Bee and his colleague Dr. Norman Lee would approach this question with playful creativity, a willingness to experiment, and a sense of humor. I hope you’ll join us on Thursday, July 18 to hear the entire story. Dr. Bee and Dr. Lee will be in the Foraging Circle  with a playlist of listening experiments that get us thinking about the ear of the beholder. For a sound clip, click this image to view a short video:salmon listen to Beyonce

World Listening Day features a variety of activities, all designed to motivate discovery through listening. Be an earwitness to music as it’s coaxed from the invisible by musician and composer Philip Blackburn. Contemplate the connections between listening and mindfulness on a Garden soundwalk led by Mark Nunberg, guiding teacher at Common Ground Meditation Center. Or pick up The Soniferous Garden, a pamphlet offering a number of self-paced aural experiences written by artist Viv Corringham.

Perform Me a Picture

Who wouldn’t be curious about a place called The Museum of Everyday Life? And who wouldn’t want to know what that museum’s Chief Operating Philosopher is up to? Well, as it turned out, the woman bearing this title recently visited Minneapolis so I seized the opportunity to find out more. Last Saturday I witnessed Mild […]

Who wouldn’t be curious about a place called The Museum of Everyday Life? And who wouldn’t want to know what that museum’s Chief Operating Philosopher is up to? Well, as it turned out, the woman bearing this title recently visited Minneapolis so I seized the opportunity to find out more.

Clare Dolan performing cantastoria

Last Saturday I witnessed Mild Light, an evening of cantastoria performed by Clare Dolan. Ushered into the In the Heart of the Beast Theatre, I took a seat close to the stage. I was, I confess, hopeful that Dolan could clear up my ignorance surrounding this term “cantastoria.” She managed this with the gusto of a puppeteer, the elocution of a storyteller, and the insight of a philosopher.

But since I am none of these things, I’ll just lift a definition from the Web:

Cantastoria is an Italian word for the ancient performance form of picture-story recitation, which involves sung narration accompanied by reference to painted banners, scrolls, or placards. (Source: Museum of Everyday Life, Performance Department)

“Look.         Listen.        Observe.”

In a sing-song voice punctuated by gesture and music, Dolan urged the audience to examine the images depicted on a series of hinged canvases. This plea to look—deliberately, intentionally, and consciously look—had me hooked. It struck me what allies  we have in puppeteers! As museum educators, my colleagues and I work to enliven and animate the Walker’s collections. And I believe we could learn from puppeteers, artists who expertly imbue still things with life and feeling. The show charged me with energy (and questions) to bring back to the Walker. How can storytelling and theater amplify and enrich a gallery experience? How can multi-sensory experiences make the process of interpreting images more memorable and meaningful? How do cadence, musicality, and body language transform communication and yield an impact markedly different from ordinary speech?  I’ll be reflecting on the sensations of that night as I work with my colleagues to make meanings with objects, decipher stories within images, and share this process with our audiences.

What’s next for Dolan? She and her colleague Dave Buchen are organizing and curating  Banners an Cranks,  a festival of cantastoria performance. Curious to see for yourself right now? I recommend Dolan’s YouTube Channel.

Art Beyond the Refrigerator

  I’ve amassed an overwhelming amount of my kids’ art projects over the years and in particular around the holidays. Any parent knows about the rotating collection of drawings held on the fridge door with magnets, paintings taped up on walls, or mobiles hanging from windowsills. The artworks slip into the trash or a keepsake […]

 

I’ve amassed an overwhelming amount of my kids’ art projects over the years and in particular around the holidays. Any parent knows about the rotating collection of drawings held on the fridge door with magnets, paintings taped up on walls, or mobiles hanging from windowsills. The artworks slip into the trash or a keepsake box as soon as the next masterpiece comes through the door. It’s sad that these artworks aren’t on display longer or for larger audiences. 

One creative family figured out a way to share their youngster’s artwork with family and friends in a more lasting way.  They turned their grandchild’s art works into photo cards to send during the holidays!   It’s never too late to get started on next year’s holiday projects.

 

This art project started with colored tissue paper laid on watercolor paper. The tissue paper is then painted with water. The tissue paper bled onto the watercolor paper and created a wonderful mix of colors.

 

 

This art-making project was created with food coloring. A few drops of food coloring on wet watercolor paper created a mash of colors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Walker is very lucky to have such creative and hands-on parents, grandparents, and care-givers that are invested in raising creative kids. If you have any ideas to share, please post a comment. It would be great to hear your ideas.

 

 

… Another Man’s Treasure : The Really Really Free Market and Open Field

Free Market (noun): an economic system in which goods and services are bought and sold in an open market without regulatory restrictions Really Really Free Market (noun): a nation-wide social movement and a monthly event in Powderhorn Park in which goods and services are exchanged for free Adam thinks we can change the world by […]

RRFM flyer

A RRFM flyer from San Francisco. The Minneapolis version in Powderhorn Park meets every second (sometimes third) Sunday.

Free Market (noun): an economic system in which goods and services are bought and sold in an open market without regulatory restrictions

Really Really Free Market (noun): a nation-wide social movement and a monthly event in Powderhorn Park in which goods and services are exchanged for free

Adam thinks we can change the world by giving things away. An actor and substitute teacher sporting a bushy beard, he is one of the organizers of the Really Really Free Market in Powderhorn Park, held every second (sometimes third) Sunday of the month. These events, modeled on RRFMs happening nationwide, invite people to, “Bring what you can, take what you need”:

It’s like a swap meet, a potluck, and a block party all rolled into one! Bring stuff you want to share, take whatever you need. Everyone has old stuff lying around, taking up space, and never getting used. Why not share it with someone? (http://tcfreemarket.wordpress.com/)

Situated by the central stage area that played host to the May Day pageant at the beginning of the month, objects were spread in the sunlight. Some clothing was folded with care, but mostly the scene was filled with unorganized heaps of clothes, bike tires, toys, CDs, romance novels, and more. People stood over an ever-shifting series of piles, which grew and shrank in mere moments as “shoppers” bent over to unearth treasures beneath detritus.

“We live in a simultaneously abundant and wasteful society,” Adam Briesemeister explained. For him, the RRFM is a temporary oasis, a gift economy in which people give freely because they can. “Our best interactions and experiences are free,” he continued, describing the RRFM as alternative to commercial economics. “I would like to see all of society organized in this way.”

I brought three ties from my grandfather’s collection, recently heired to me, as well as a souvenir placemat with a muddy 1950s photo of a Norwegian fjord on one side and traditional Norwegian recipes on the reverse, also recently heired. With new items being added constantly, and the better items being snatched up just as quickly, spectators watched in a circle as children flitted around like bees collecting pollen.

I want to propose two observations that I gathered over the course of my visit to the Reallly Really Free Market:

1) People brought things that had value to them. It was not a place to dump trash, but rather to pass along something of value to someone else. The most magical objects were the ones imbued with stories by their donors.

2) Complete strangers, sometimes across language barriers, displayed politeness and generosity with one another. Anarcho-communists sat in the grass alongside groups of children. As Lewis Hyde posited in The Gift, a community developed around the act of giving.

Open Field, the Walker Art Center’s summer-long public engagement program opening on June 4th, 2011, is motivated by the same gift economy behind the Really Really Free Market. As a place for locally-grown expression to be exchanged between artist and audience, the Walker invites you to bring your own contributions of creativity and recreation to the Field. What gifts do you have to share with your community?

Learn more about the Really Really Free Market here: http://tcfreemarket.wordpress.com/

Learn more about Open Field here: http://www.walkerart.org/openfield

Lighten Up in the Art Lab

Open Field has been a smashing success, and it’s no wonder people want to hang around outside whenever possible (in Minnesota). Yet, some of you may be asking what’s happening inside the Walker Art Center. Well, I can assure you that it’s just as busy in the Star Tribune Art Lab; it doesn’t go dark […]

Open Field has been a smashing success, and it’s no wonder people want to hang around outside whenever possible (in Minnesota). Yet, some of you may be asking what’s happening inside the Walker Art Center. Well, I can assure you that it’s just as busy in the Star Tribune Art Lab; it doesn’t go dark in the summer. Many campers are visiting the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and coming to the lab for some hands-on art making. Every Tuesday evening in July families have been gathering together for our Once Upon a Garden class.

Skyscapes happened on July 6th. We walked around the western side of the Walker campus with cardboard frames in hand looking at the grass and the sky. Our destination was Sky Pesher by James Turrell. We stretched out on the benches of this outdoor room and concentrated on the open ceiling. Clouds passed quickly through this room’s overhead frame. Everyone sketched the clouds on paper with colored pencils.

Back in the art lab, these drawings were used as the subject for a series of watercolor paintings.

If you were sitting in Sky Pesher, what would the sky look like at midnight, at sunrise, during a storm?

Photo: Ilene Krug Mojsilov

Stage Play took place on July 13th. We started outside making sun prints. Objects were placed on light sensitive paper blocking out the sun.

Photo: Ilene Krug Mojsilov

While the prints were being washed in the art lab, the families went to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden to play with their own shadows. They practiced their storytelling on the grass and performed on Belvedere, the sculpture/stage by Jackie Ferrara.

Photo: Ilene Krug Mojsilov

Next, their figure shadows were captured with a Flip HD video camera.

Back in the art lab, the videos were downloaded and projected on a translucent curtain  with a data projector. Each participant took a turn behind this curtain creating new movements and new shadows for the audience. How was it done?  An overhead projector was set up backstage pointing light on the back of the curtain.

The mixing of shadows was great fun to watch because the indoor live-action shadows interacted with the video clips shot outdoors.

Petite Pond was held on July 20th. Reflection was the topic of conversation and experimentation. We used mirrors and 3 shades of blue paper to simulate the sky reflected on water. Then, we went out to look at the Spoonbridge and Cherry by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen and Standing Glass Fish by Frank Gehry. The families investigated the reflections in the p0nd surrounding Spoonbridge and Cherry and compared them to the reflections found in the pool surrounding Standing Glass Fish. We answered the questions, “How much of the sculpture can you see reflected in the water? Does it change when you look at the sculpture from another angle?”

Photo: Molly McGinty

Inside we created a pond and surrounding landscape for a sculpture. Some of the materials we used were molded pulp packaging, plastic bowls, cardboard, and found objects. Some artists selected tall green cocktail stirrers, made them into sculptures, and placed them in low plastic containers. Their miniature ponds (the containers) were set into the  the molded pulp packaging to make a landscape of unusual contours.  The installation was embellished with color, texture, and other shapes. During the project, one adult said, “I’ll never throw away this kind of packaging again.”

The finishing touch to the project was to add real water and some drops of food coloring to the pond. Many chose blue to resemble the reflection of the blue sky that night, but one artist noticed the algae in the pond outside and chose green for his water element.

Photo: Molly McGinty

Next week will be the last session of Once Upon a Garden. Come and join us for Garden Animals. These creatures really are going to move.

For more information follow this link.

The Tool Shed Awaits

What is the story behind our large wooden Tool Shed? In January the Walker hosted a charrette, a communal design brainstorm, to re-imagine the Walker’s backyard. One popular idea from that charrette was the notion of providing a set of “tools” for visitors to create their own experience in the field. Out of that was […]

Open Field Tool Shed

What is the story behind our large wooden Tool Shed? In January the Walker hosted a charrette, a communal design brainstorm, to re-imagine the Walker’s backyard. One popular idea from that charrette was the notion of providing a set of “tools” for visitors to create their own experience in the field. Out of that was born the Open Field Tool Shed, a storage unit to house beloved, communal summer goods.

The Open Field Tool Shed represents a microcosm of the cultural commons. It is a space to check out and engage with shared goods, games and books for free. From Shel Silverstein to local reads from Graywolf, Coffee House and University of Minnesota Presses, your summer reading is all here. You can check out a croquet set or an iPad (take advantage of the field’s new Wi-Fi), play bean bag toss or a card game, watercolor or listen to the radio. And when the weather is as warm as it is today, you can even use the sun shelters and blankets for picnicking.

A sampling of kids books in the Tool Shed

There is also a chalkboard and bulletin board where you can post your own flyers, and find information on upcoming events and artist residency projects. The Tool Shed is a common space to share, communicate, and tap into.

 One young lady enjoying an iPad offered, “This is the first time I’ve used an iPad, so it is pretty awesome.” Another onlooker found that “suction cup catch is a big hit with the kids.” There is something for everyone, no matter how small.

Games in the Tool Shed

 A special thanks to Target for supplying many of the items in the Tool Shed.

A commons primer in 62 minutes, 6 seconds.

On the advent of Open Field‘s official start tomorrow, I thought I’d share two resources that demystify the complex nature of this subject. First, this charming, animated video outlines the basic concept of the commons, complete with cartoon owls and snappy quotes. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7jaSjkd0jM[/youtube] Second, if you have a bit more time to invest, is this fantastic […]

On the advent of Open Field‘s official start tomorrow, I thought I’d share two resources that demystify the complex nature of this subject. First, this charming, animated video outlines the basic concept of the commons, complete with cartoon owls and snappy quotes.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7jaSjkd0jM[/youtube]

Second, if you have a bit more time to invest, is this fantastic radio interview by Francesca Rheannon of the Writer’s Voice program. It features commons theorist David Bollier talking about his book Viral Spiral and science fiction writer/technology blogger Cory Doctorow on his novel Makers.  The two-part conversation starts with the history of the commons in early European society and lands in the current century with a discussion about:

  • the internet’s birth of free culture
  • the market and the commons (not necessarily adversarial)
  • the dangerous expansion of copyright law
  • anti-copyright activists who aren’t who you think they are
  • how giving stuff away makes money, or a new way of looking at artistic value
  • much more

As Doctorow says: “The problem [with the creative arts] isn’t piracy, its obscurity.”  It’s well worth the audio hour.

So there you have it: dancing geese, remix culture, Disney, Girl Scout songs and file sharing, all in the time it takes to make dinner. Enjoy.

Susan Howe and David Grubbs are here.

Susan Howe   Dear fans of poetry, music, sound art, sound-based poetry, poetics, interactive media, sonic architecture, UbuWeb, Kenneth Goldsmith, John Cage, Laotian free-reed mouth organs and Emily Dickinson, I’m writing to ensure your awareness that the distinquished poet Susan Howe and reknown experimental musician David Grubbs will grace the Walker stage with their collaborative […]

Emily Dickinson

John Cage

Laotian free reed mouth organ

Susan Howe

 

David Grubbs

Dear fans of poetry, music, sound art, sound-based poetry, poetics, interactive media, sonic architecture, UbuWeb, Kenneth Goldsmith, John Cage, Laotian free-reed mouth organs and Emily Dickinson,

I’m writing to ensure your awareness that the distinquished poet Susan Howe and reknown experimental musician David Grubbs will grace the Walker stage with their collaborative efforts on Thursday. We’re lucky to have them here–busy, creative types that they are, and to have them appear together.

Perhaps you are a fan of these artists individually. Maybe your record collection includes albums by Gastr Del Sol, Squirrel Bait, Bastro, Red Krayola, or Wingdale Community Singers, in addition to the eleven solo records David Grubbs has produced.

On your bookshelf, maybe you have ear-marked copies of  the The Midnight (2003), My Emily Dickenson (1985), or Souls of the Labadie Tract (2003)  by the venerable Susan Howe or one of many anthologies that collect her poems with other esteemed writers of the contemporary word.

Or perhaps you have been following the trajectory of Howe and Grubbs’ unique language-sound collaboration. Hailing from different disciplines and generations, these remarkable makers have found a unique expression of sound and word that Artforum once described as “neither traditional recitation nor music-with-words…in Howe’s imagination, the past becomes a very current stake, [and] Grubbs’ sonic architecture is a striking accompaniment to the text.” (-Bennet Simpson)

No matter what kind of fan you are, including fans-to-be, here are some sneak peaks/enticements to whet your palette:

-Howe and Grubbs speaking on their collaboration at a seminar at Birkbeck College, University of London.

-An interivew with Howe in which she discusses her very early work as a painter, touching on many of the artists in the Walker’s collection.

-A brief abstract to a talk by Grubbs in which he explains, “I am a recording. I do not age.”

-And a real sneak preview of what you’ll hear on Thursday courtsey of WIRE magazine.

Thanks to Rain Taxi Review of Books for these links and for making it happen!

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