Poetry News

Score-Based Work Is Given Presence in Present Tense Pamphlets

By Harriet Staff


Yesterday, Mashinka Firunts and Danny Snelson announced the launch of Present Tense Pamphlets, their co-edited "hybrid digital and print publishing platform for score-based work," published in conjunction with the exhibition, A Feast of Astonishments: Charlotte Moorman and the Avant-Garde, 1960s – 1980s, organized by the Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University, in partnership with the Northwestern University Libraries (January 16-July 16, 2017).

Such score-based works' composers include Jennifer Karmin, Chris Alexander, Shiv Kotecha, Fred Schmalz, Allyson Paty, Angela Genusa, Tom Committa, Caroline Bergvall (as seen at top), Sawako Nakayasu, Robert Fitterman, and many others. "In the tradition of Charlotte Moorman’s Avant-Garde Festivals, Dick Higgins’ Great Bear Pamphlets, and La Monte Young’s An Anthology of Chance Operations, the Present Tense Pamphlets feature an expanded array of score-based practices," write the editors.

More information:

The Present Tense catalog comprises 31 titles, and its 48 contributors radiate outward from the series’ geographic concentration in Chicago. Certain works in the series explicitly address and reconfigure historical predecessors. Among these, Allen Conkle and Vanessa Dion Fletcher’s Veggie Joy queers Carolee Schneemann’s Meat Joy (1964), re-rendering it as assemblages of grass, ooze, corpuscles, and “lemon parsley dressing.” Jennifer Karmin’s art is a concept art is a process playfully revisits the instructional poetic structures of Yoko Ono’s Grapefruit (1964). Taking Yvonne Rainer’s Trio A (1966) as a departure point, Linda Tegg, Joshi Radin, and Brian M. John’s Score for an Interspecies Audience Awaiting Trio A revises the dance sequence into choreography for nonhuman, horticultural agents.

Other works in the series approach the score through digitally-enabled strategies. Becket Flannery’s Pedagogy rewrites the programmatic repetition of Bruce Nauman’s walking piece into a reptilian narrative unfolding against an ASCII art studio. Angela Genusa’s Sure To Come Here Once More: A Performance Of 10 Minutes And 39 Seconds For Cepstral®’s Synthetic Voices recodes the language of spambots as a script for synthesized speakers. Wilmer Wilson IV’s On Our Way to the Wrong Town draws on the pataphysics of Amos Tutuola’s The Palm-Wine Drinkard (1952) for a performance recipe that comes into fruition in the form of computer-generated imagery. Looking toward past publications alongside future performances, the series articulates a range of approaches to the score in the present.

A note on the digital files: each PDF features scanned images of paper covers with interiors comprised of digital files submitted by respective contributors (these range from a single image to hundreds of pages of code). This format’s function is two-fold. First, it points to the PDF’s inherent tension between print and digital publication. Second, the scanned covers present an archival gesture that nod toward the series’ origins in the Great Bear pamphlets and 1960s radical print publishing, on one hand, while directing attention more broadly toward contemporary distribution networks, on the other.

Look and download no further for these radiant titles than right here. The Present Tense Pamphlets are held in the Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection, John M. Flaxman Library Special Collections, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.