In late September I was one of those in the receiving end of a “cryptic email” from the ensemble thingNY calling on contributions to their event SPAM v. 3.0. The theme for the call was “assembly”, and the first association of this I made was to assemblage in art; which I think was the intended interpretation, if any.
Assemblage is an artistic process. In the visual arts, it consists of making three-dimensional or two-dimensional artistic compositions by putting together found objects. In literature, assemblage refers to a text "built primarily and explicitly from existing texts in order to solve a writing or communication problem in a new context".
(As explained in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assemblage_(art)
As attractive as this link to the artistic process of assemblage seemed, I still wanted to go beyond my first and most obvious interpretation of the task at hand. I ended up with another interpretation of the assembly-theme, namely to assembly computer languages.
(Assembly language is described in the following way in Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assembly_language
An assembly language is a low-level programming language for a computer, microcontroller, or other programmable device, in which each statement corresponds to a single machine code instruction.
Assembly languages is thus suited for talking to computers or other similar machines on their own terms, and not so much adjusted to be user-friendly for the human operating it.
On a philosophical level I found this very interesting to emphasize the difference between humans and computers; and the huge gap in communication which really has to be bridged for the everyday interactions we have with computers and other “intelligent” machines.
My idea was to simply make a series of performance instructions for the ensemble but to write them in an assembly-like manner. To be comprehensible at all I had to add a massive amount of explanatory comments to the code (also in the manner of assembly code). But nevertheless this type of code is very abstract and not at all suited for human communication.
As 2012 is a John Cage year celebrating 100 years from his birth, I like to add a little Cagean perspective on the whole project. The whole point in my involvement in this is the creation of the assembly-like code score and the ideas behind it (which I have tried to described in this post). What the performance sounds like is in many ways out of my scope in this instance. In my mind this corresponds in an interesting and major way to Cage’s concept of non-intention. The actual performance of the piece is in this case beyond my intentions for it.
I hope the ensemble will forgive me for the obstacles in interpreting and performing the work and finds a way to enjoy it and make a great performance. If the ideas behind the piece is totally lost in performance I can blame only myself, and at least you have read them here.
The event will take place on Sat. Dec. 15, 2012 - 7:00 PM, Flushing Town Hall, New York.This post uses material from Wikipedia, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.