Below is a summary of the Roundtable discussion
from my notes, which were not comprehensive and I mainly focused on
jotting down phrases. So take this with a grain of salt and know that
there are definitely lapses, errors, summaries and so on. All
inaccuracies and mischaracterizations are of course mine. But it was
very interesting and I wish it could have gone on for many more hours.

(I also posted this at JC, which is
not something I typically do, so sorry if you read both, it is the only
one I’m going to do this for)

09.24.05: Afternoon Roundtable

The mid afternoon discussion was fairly sparsely attended but filled
out more as time went on. At the front of the room was Keith Rowe, with
Julien Ottavi, Dion Workman, Jon Abbey and later Barry Weisblat on the
side. Jon introduced the session and the artists and it began with
somewhat of an introduction from the artists. Out of the audience there
was a question asked about the connection between Rowe’s art and the
music he makes. He said that there are direct connections, but that
they are “˜oblique’, the “invisible right angle” that the knight in
chess makes is an important metaphor. Furthermore he went one to stress
that concepts of the hidden and disguise were key elements. He then
went on to explain the encoding of several album covers. The new
“˜cloud’ cover’s yellow cloud represents polluted skies and references a
cloud of mustard gas. He described this in the context of painters
coming to paint the polluted Thames and how this distortion of the
landscape led to impressionism. The grass below the cloud, was supposed
to be perfect, too perfect “Perfect Lynch-ian Grass” he called it. The
façade of suburbia and its denial of the polluted reality. AMM was
influenced by Gurdjieff among others in the beginning, and his notions
of the Tertiary, moving away from duality was an important concept. The
yellow on the covers represents AMM and the three wheels on the van on
the cover of AMMMUSIC represented the members of the group.

At several points there was back and forth between Keith and Julian
especially on found objects which Keith takes a rather liberal view of.
Julian failed to see how a guitar could be a found object when used in
performance where it is inherently a social object. This also led to
further discussion from Dion and Barry regarding a rejection of the art
world and their “interventionist” art. Barry talked about their
guerilla installation piece, “˜ToneField’ which was small light
sensitive tone generators stashed all around Williamsburg. Julian
mentioned that he had come from a working class background and that
after he graduated from art school they literally said “welcome to the
elite”. Barry said at one point that the direct reaction, the thalamic
response was more important to him then ascribed meaning or
philosophical underpinnings to his music.

From the above we returned to Rowe who told a story about the
Scratch Orchestra doing “invisible performances”. He mentioned a
specific case where they would perform in a large rail way station with
100+ people and follow a La Monte Young Fluxus piece where they would
move from point to point and play x in their pockets. This really
struck me as an interest contrast to the “young Turks” in that their so
called interventionist movement had been done. He went on to talk about
how after a while he found performance obscene that it was like
“painting currency”. He said this was something that he had to push
through, that you have to acknowledge that history exists and you “have
to do the thing”. When asked about his relationship to classical music
he talked about how he wasn’t afraid to think of himself in those terms
and about profundity in music and how we may need to re-imagine
profundity.