Chance Operations: Intermedia MFA Students travel to Black Mountain College {Re}Happening to perform and present works

This past month, 9 Intermedia MFA and Ph.D. students along with several Intermedia/New Media faculty packed their cars and bags to the brim with equipment, tools, and materials and made the 19-hour car ride to Asheville, North Carolina, to participate as artists in The {Re}Happening. The {Re}Happening is a yearly event held on the beautiful and historic campus of Black Mountain College and serves a fundraiser, collaborative arts, and community impetus. It’s a space for artists to gather and continue the respected and admired legacy of Black Mountain College while exploring and sharing their own work and creative practice.

Black Mountain College was founded in 1933 and is remembered as one of the groundbreaking incubators for experimental liberal arts. Josef and Anni Albers joined Black Mountain faculty after the closing of the Bauhaus in Nazi Germany and found refuge in the breathtaking mountains of Asheville, NC. Later to join them would be R. Buckminster Fuller, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Robert Rauschenberg, and Elaine and Willem de Kooning, paving the way for contemporary and intermedial art for generations of students, artists, and academics to come.

The UMaine team joined The {Re}Happening under the moniker of Chance Operations, as inspired by the creative methods practiced by composer John Cage. Throughout the event students and faculty presented and participated in a series of performances, socially engaged works, and live large-scale multi-media presentations. Here is a brief list of artists, descriptions of work, and links to learn more.

Amy Pierce Interdisciplinary Ph.D. and New Media Faculty

Amy explores contemporary American wedding culture, with a focus on the prevalence and effects of a phenomenon, which she has coined “perfection hysteria,” that often ensues as brides engage in a quest for perfection, striving to achieve the status of “perfect bride” and have a “perfect wedding.” Exploring the elasticity of what is perceived as “normal” behavior within the temporary boundaries created by ritual activities, Pierce drew on the origins of the “Bouquet Toss” and “Garter Toss” rituals, as well as the common practice of providing wedding favors, which have evolved from the often violent custom of wedding guests rushing the bride following the ceremony and ripping off pieces of her accouterments in an attempt to transfer her “good luck” to themselves which began in the 1500s. In her performance, Tear Piece, Pierce stood motionless while participants tore a wedding gown off her body, piece by piece. Referencing Yoko Ono’s 1964 performance Cut Piece, Tear Piece is a feminist performance addressing the potential for sexualized violence in public spectacle and a protest of violence in all its forms. •

Amy Pierce, “Tear Piece” Photo Credit Virginia Valdes

Amanda Quiring (MFA)

Amanda created an interactive vocalization piece combining The Sacred Harp Hymnal – whose origins stem from the southern Appalachian region including North Carolina – and some Cagian chance operations. Participants were invited to roll dice to decide which of a selection of 12 different 4-part harmonies taken from The Sacred Harp Hymnal would be sung. Each participant would start on the given note and then, over the course of their out breath, change pitch to create new and improvised harmonies.

Alicia Champlin (MFA)

Alicia staged a work-in-progress, I Am Sitting…, a performance and projection installation which exploits biometric data and feedback loops to illustrate that even in a meditative, neutral state, we cannot help but participate as a mediator within our environment. Alicia draws inspiration from Alvin Lucier and Nam June Paik, among others, and will be continuing the development of this project as a researcher-in-residence at Hangar Interactive Labs in Barcelona this summer.

Images from Alicia Champlin’s Performance “I am Sitting” 2017, Photo credit: Amy Olivia Pierce

Eleanor Kipping MFA

Eleanor explored ideas of immigration, migration and border control through a meditative piece that employed the work of Josef Albers in a 90-minute meditative performance entitled {Re}Homage to the Square. Eleanor’s practice explores the contemporary black female experience as ‘other’ in America in light of identity, hair politics, colorism and racial passing. She draws heavily on popular culture, and personal, historical and political narratives to drive her investigations and often works with video, photography, installation and performance. •

Josh Couturier (MFA)

Josh used a skateboard to create natural sounds based on location when he rode around brick pathways at the event at random times. In between the clunking of the riding live skateboard, sonic partakers were able to listen to two unreleased pre-recorded sound pieces, played off of a cell phone, using a 6”x6” portable speaker. Pieces, Skatebank and Guitarmosphere, were made using a stream of consciousness method’s to guide the formation of content using specific parameters when building layers of the audio. Both pieces included the skateboard as an interactive collaborator and concept during delivery. •

Susan Smith Interdisciplinary Ph.D. and Intermedia Faculty

#uprootedcollective: Susan Smith along with Derek Smith (MFA) presented The Burro Project, a participatory printmaking project that uses radical gardening as its starting point, and low-tech processes, with “crankie” performances by #uprootedcollective.The participatory event used a DIY hack – sod roller as printing press, producing takeaway prints, and a collection of 78 printing plates. The plates will be reprinted in the studio to create a permanent edition for Black Mountain Museum.

uprootedcollective: Susan Smith along with Derek Smith (MFA) presented The Burro Project, Photo credit: Gene Felice

Gene A. Felice New Media and Intermedia Faculty 

Gene A. Felice II, Kimathi Moore and Josh Couturier collaborated on an outdoor, sound and light installation that projected an array of abstract animations and patterns onto the rolling hills surrounding the Black Mountain campus and Lake Eden.  Gene Felice provided the imagery while Kimathi Moore provided the sound and Josh Couturier supported the project set-up and operations.

Owen Smith Intermedia Faculty, Krista Smith, Virginia Valdes (MFA) and Destin Black (MFA)

As part of the Chance Operations section of the Festival, this group performed a concert of 15 classic Fluxus event pieces. Organized and arranged by Intermedia MFA Director and Fluxus scholar Owen Smith the concert included works by George Brecht, Alison Knowles, Emmett Williams, Dick Higgins, Ben Vautier, Ken Friedman and others. In addition to the concert Virginia Valdes, Krista Smith and Destin Black performed a new version of High Red Center’s Street Cleaning Event.

By | 2017-12-01T22:56:22+00:00 April 13th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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