The Maryanne Amacher Archive: ‘Mini Sound Series’ Seminar
A Sonic Acts collaboration with Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam & Blank Forms
12 – 13 December 2016 in Amsterdam
The two-day seminar presented by Amy Cimini, Bill Dietz, and Robert The offers a selection of documents, images, and audio from various iterations of Maryanne Amacher’s THE MINI SOUND SERIES as well as works leading to its development, all recently digitised by the Maryanne Amacher Archive. It will be an intensive knowledge-exchange opportunity for those interested in Amacher’s work and in methodologies of post-Cagean sonic art. Following the second day of the seminar, a public listening session of additional unpublished Amacher audio will be presented as a practical elaboration for seminar participants, and as an introductory overview for the general public.
Maryanne Amacher - ‘the best kept secret in American New Music’ (The Wire, 1999)
For its festival in February 2017 Sonic Acts collaborates with the Maryanne Amacher Archive
(US), Stedelijk Museum
Amsterdam (NL), and Blank Forms
(US) on a programme dedicated to the work of Maryanne Amacher (1938–2009). Amacher is best known for her groundbreaking acoustic art that staged entire buildings and offered listeners exciting new ways of hearing. Following studies with Karlheinz Stockhausen, Amacher’s development of otoacoustic-based music with the help of Marvin Minsky’s Triadex Muse, her seminal telematic City Links series, and her collaborations with John Cage and the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, in the late 1970s and early 1980s Amacher sought out a format that would best allow visitors to navigate her large-scale sound works. This led to THE MINI SOUND SERIES, a ‘serialized musical continuity’. Writing about this format, Amacher noted, ‘I wanted the kind of engaging format television has developed [...], an evolving sound work “to be continued”, as distinguished from a continuous installation, or traditional concert genre.’ As these rigorously site-specific installations were almost impossible to document (the impact of the sound could not be captured by audio recordings on CD or LP), these key works have yet to be discovered by a wider audience. As Amacher’s work anticipated many concerns and interests of 21st century sound art, Sonic Acts and Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam find a re-assessment and re-interpretation of her work of the utmost importance.
The overall programme will consist of a two-day seminar and listening session in 2016 as an intensive introduction to Amacher’s work and ideas, a two-week rehearsal period in 2017 with artists who will work toward a re-interpretation of Amacher’s MINI SOUND SERIES, and immediately following the rehearsals, a series of performances at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.
This masterclass is aimed at artists, curators, scientists, and cultural practitioners with an interest in sound art, experimental music, psychoacoustics and architectural acoustics, non-standard art presentation formats, time-based media, and non-linguistic semiotics. Dedicated novices and experts are welcome, no institutional affiliation is required.
Please send a biography and a short statement outlining your motivation to participate to workshop[@]sonicacts[.]com
. Deadline for applications is 21 November 2016
Participants must attend the full two-day programme. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered. A detailed schedule and more information about how to prepare for the seminar (including unpublished documents by Amacher) will be sent to the selected participants.
Participants pay a €40 contribution. Lunches will be provided.
Maryanne Amacher (photo by Peggy Weil)
Maryanne Amacher was born in 1938 in Kane, Pennsylvania. She enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania in 1955, where she studied with George Rochberg, and Karlheinz Stockhausen during his tenure in Philadelphia in 1964 and 1965. After her work at University of Pennsylvania, Amacher went on to hold a series of fellowships at the University of Illinois’ Studio for Experimental Music, MIT’s Center for Advance Visual Studies (CAVS), SUNY Buffalo, the Capp Street Project in San Francisco, and many others, also internationally. In the late 1960s, while at SUNY-Buffalo, Amacher pioneered what she called ‘long distance music’, or telematic, site-related works that would later crystallise into her renowned City Links series. During her time as a fellow at CAVS (1972–76) she began developing her ‘ear tone’ (otoacoustic-based) music with the help of Marvin Minsky’s Triadex Muse, a synthesizer and compositional tool utilising principles of artificial intelligence. While at MIT, her extensive listening research was also profoundly influenced by a continuous, four-year long, live feed from Boston Harbour to her studio via a dedicated phone line. After meeting John Cage through Lejaren Hiller at the University of Illinois in 1968, she went on to collaborate with Cage in the mid-1970s on Lecture on the Weather, and later created Close Up, the sound component of Cage’s Empty Words. Amacher’s Remainder was commissioned for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company piece Torse, and later the Charles Atlas film of the same name. In the late 1970s and early 1980s she developed presentational models for how her subsequent work should be staged: Music for Sound- Joined Rooms and the Mini Sound Series. Amacher also spent the early 1980s working on the material for a multi-part drama originally imagined for TV and radio simulcast called Intelligent Life. While never fully realised, Intelligent Life reveals much of her thinking on music and the advancement of potentialities for future listeners, transcending the social and physiological limitations of music as we know it. Her work in the 1990s continued largely internationally in Europe and Japan. In the US she was commissioned to compose a large-scale work for the Kronos Quartet, received a Guggenheim Fellowship, performed at Woodstock ’94, and released her first CD on Tzadik. In the 2000s, she participated in the Whitney Biennale, joined the faculty of Bard College’s Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts, released a second CD on Tzadik, and continued to work internationally. In 2005 she received Ars Electronica’s Golden Nica, their highest award. She died in Kingston, NY after sustaining a head injury and a subsequent stroke during the summer of 2009.
IMAfiction #06 13 Maryanne Amacher from IMA on Vimeo.
The Maryanne Amacher Archive
Since its inception after Amacher’s death in 2009, The Maryanne Amacher Archive has taken up the challenge of formulating a posthumous structure for Amacher’s oeuvre in keeping with the radicality of the works themselves. Amacher’s lifelong pursuit of material intelligence, of a practice of ‘listening mind’, stands in timely contradistinction to many of the prevalent dichotomies that populate the contemporary sonic discourse. Locating listening in the nexus of body, mind, and history – in a listening subject’s encounter with a world – Amacher’s practice continually pursued a fugitive rigour which staged the encounter of emergent subjects and objects. Understanding Amacher’s work as a body of living thought provides the current archival initiative with a mission in essential proximity to forms of pedagogy and interpretation as an extension of Amacher’s own investigative methodology, now reflexively mapped back onto her own materials. As of 2015, the contents of the archive have been inventoried, and a partial digitisation of print materials has been achieved. The Maryanne Amacher Archive has collaborated in public presentations at Ludlow 38 (New York, curated by Axel Wieder and Tobi Maier), the DAAD Galerie (Berlin, also curated by Axel Wieder), Tate Modern (London), the Sao Paolo Biennial, and at the Bonner Kunstverein. As of 2016, over 20,000 documents have been digitised. Approximately 100 of reel-to-reel audio tapes are currently being digitised, and a handful of Amacher’s obscure video works have likewise been transferred to digital formats.
Composer and writer Bill Dietz, born in Bisbee, Arizona, and based in Berlin since 2003, is one of the supervisors of the Maryanne Amacher Archive. Since 2007 he has been the artistic director of Ensemble Zwischentöne, and co-chair of Music/Sound in Bard College’s MFA programme since 2012. He co-founded and edits Ear │ Wave │ Event with Woody Sullender. In 2015 Edition Solitude released his monograph 8 Tutorial Diversions, 2009-2014, with works listeners perform themselves in domestic settings. He is currently Guest Professor of Sound at the Academy of Media Arts (Cologne).
Robert The is a New York artist known for his altered book pieces and signage, with works in many public collections including MOMA, LA MOCA, Yale, and The Walker Art Center. He initiated the Maryanne Amacher Archive together with Micah Silver in 2009; Bill Dietz joined them not long afterwards.
Amy Cimini is a historian and performer of music from the 20th and 21st centuries. She earned her Ph.D. in Historical Musicology in 2011 from New York University. Prior to herappointment at UC San Diego, she held an Andrew W. Mellon Post-Doctoral Teaching Fellowship in Music Theory at the University of Pennsylvania from 2011 to 2013 as well as a visiting position in Music Theory at the College of William and Mary from 2010 to 2011. She is interested how performers, composers and audiences practice and theorise listening as an expression of community, sociability and political alliance, with a special focus on improvisation, sound art and installation practices. Cimini is also an active violist working across improvised, rock, noise and contemporary classical genres.