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Who: Tucker Neel, Mathew Timmons, and the Archanoids
What: 323 Projects
When: December, 2010
Where: François Ghebaly Gallery in Culver
“Open Door” features audio, video, and online media to document dynamic interactions between poetry and its audience. “Open Door” showcases performance, scholarship, and engagement outside the usual boundaries of slams, workshops, and book publications. This week: the 323 Projects in Los Angeles, CA.
In the mid-sixties, young New York poet John Giorno—inspired by his friends Andy Warhol, Roy Lichenstein, and John Cage—lamented what he felt was the lackluster state of contemporary poetry, bound by its exclusive transmission through books and magazines. He began experimenting with alternative means of transmission, which he called venues, experimenting with the audio recording technology of the time. During this experimental period Giorno met and befriended Bob Moog, the brain behind the Moog synthesizer, as well as many other young artists, musicians, and poets.
In 1969, following a phone conversation with William Buroughs, Giorno launched Dial-a-Poem, a ten–phone line answering machine system that played a randomly selected poem from Giorno’s archived recordings, which eventually featured 700 different poems by 55 different poets, including Allen Ginsberg, Diane De Prima, Anne Waldeman, Robert Creeley, Phillip Whalen, Frank O’Hara, Joe Brainard, John Cage, and Bernadette Mayer. During its first five months of operation, the ten lines received over one million calls, and dialing in was even assigned as homework to schoolchildren. After that the Dial-a-Poem moved to the MoMA, then to The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, before spreading rapidly to multiple institutions. The success of that program, which Giorno claimed would influence the telephone transmission of other date, too, the poet began regularly producing poetry albums, which lasted until the early 1980s.
Just over 40 years later, artist, curator, and writer Tucker Neel launched 323 Projects, a similar telephone-based space—323 is the area code for central Los Angeles and Hollywood—with the goal of exploring what comes out of the format’s simultaneous accessibility and privacy.
The first artist and poet to be featured by 323 Projects is Los Angeles-based Mathew Timmons, who also edits and published the PARROT series of chapbooks—which in many way is an homage and extension of Black Sparrow Press’ now defunct SPARROW magazine—each featuring the work of a single author somewhere left of mainstream, including Harold Abramowitz, Allison Carter, and others. Mathew’s latest project is a CD of sound poetry called The Archanoids, featuring new work alongside reinterpretations and versions of the early texts of sound poetry, by Hugo Ball, Luigi Russolo, Gertrude Stein, and others, and even Dr. Seuss’ “Fox in Socks.”
Most tracks were recorded at live events since 2005, from performances around the nation and nearby abroad. Several of the most interesting, most musical sound poems are vocal tracks that have been layered and remixed using music editing techniques, like the tracks “Taken By What You See” and “Time Ons.” Both use performances by Mathew Timmons as their base tracks, including “Cut Up Sound,” which also appears on the album, remixed by last nights of paris.
Tracks from The Archanoids were presented in the order they appear on the album, using 323 Projects’ answering machine technology to change every other day through the exhibit’s end, on 11 October 2010. They can be listened to by dialing (323) TIE-IN-LA or (323) 843-4652.
With updated technology, 323 Projects and Mathew Timmons take Giorno’s model one step farther, allowing callers to records their accompaniment to a track of sound poetry. The recordings will be collated and edited to produce what Timmons hopes will become the largest sound poetry choir ever. The track will be performed this December at the François Ghebaly Gallery in Culver City, CA.
The Giorno Poetry Systems 1972 album The Dial-a-Poem Poets is available free of cost on UbuWeb, and several tracks from The Archanoids are also available for free from net-based music label Pleonasm Music. The Archanoids hard-copy CD is available from Timmons’ own Insert Press.
David Shook’s poetry, translations, and criticism have appeared in Oxford Magazine, Poetry, PN Review, World Literature Today, and elsewhere. A chapbook of his translations from the Isthmus Zaptec of Víctor Terán is available from the Poetry Translation Centre, and his work also appears in the anthologies Oxford Poets 2010 (Carcanet) and Initiate (Blackwell). Shook lives in Los Angeles, where he edits Molossus.
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More Open Door Profiles: Today or a Million Years Ago: An Interview with Raúl Zurita | C’est la Ville!: Urban Voices from Paris and Chicago
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