Art Forms of Dimensions Tomorrow: Sound, Black Study, and the Multidisciplinary Artist pairs the early art and archives of Sun Ra with contemporary sonic and sound-inspired artworks. Ra, though best known for evoking the outer spaceways in his music, also made key philosophical, poetic, and visual contributions that have inspired movements in Afrofuturism and Afrosurrealism. The exhibition stems from “Black Studies, Sound, and Technology,” a seminar taught by Professor Adam Tinkle, in which, taking cues from Ra’s boundless intermedia practice, students attend to the aurality of poetry, the wordless speech of improvisation, and the musicality of film. The exhibition culminates in two nights of performance that intermix all these media, featuring spoken, sonic, and visual art by emerging and established legends of the avant-garde.
Joe McPhee is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, improviser, conceptualist and theoretician active since the height of the Black Arts Movement. A trumpeter since early youth, McPhee was inspired to take up the saxophone in 1968 after hearing the music of Albert Ayler. McPhee’s LP Nation Time (1970), recorded at Vassar’s Urban Center for Black Studies, where he was an early faculty member, has become a classic of the music of the era. “His magical take on avant-garde sax remains one of the wonders of the scene. He still has one of the most beautiful tones on the planet, even when he’s reaching for jazz’s outer limits” (Time Out New York). In addition to performing his music at the Tang (alongside frequent duo partner Chris Corsano), McPhee will also present his poetry, a performance artwork in honor of Pauline Oliveros, and a live film score to Ephraim Asili’s Many Thousands Gone (2015).
Chris Corsano has worked at the intersection of free jazz, avant-rock, and noise music since the late 1990s. Corsano’s solo music, first documented in 2006, is an always-spontaneously-composed amalgam of extended techniques for drum set and non-percussion instruments of his own making incorporated into his kit: e.g. violin strings stretched across drum heads, modified reed instruments that transform the drums into resonators. He spent 2007 and 2008 as the drummer on Björk’s Volta world tour, and has released innumerable recordings with leading lights of experimental music, including the Sunburned Hand of the Man, Ken Vandermark, Nate Wooley, Jandek, and Jim O'Rourke.
Ephraim Asili is a filmmaker living in Hudson, New York, working and teaching at Bard College. His films include documentaries about the Sun Ra Arkestra and about his own travels throughout the African Diaspora. He DJs on WGCX FM and at the semi-regular dance party Botanica. At the Tang, he will present his film work in a program interwoven with performances by McPhee and Corsano, as well as closing out the night by DJing an afterparty.
Matana Roberts is an internationally renowned composer, band leader, saxophonist, sound experimentalist, and mixed-media practitioner working in improvisation, dance, poetry, and theater. She is the 2014 recipient of both the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts and the Doris Duke Impact Award. She will be performing her acclaimed Coin Coin Chapter Three, a work of “panoramic sound quilting” that aims to expose the mystical roots and channel the intuitive spirit-raising traditions of American creative expression while maintaining a deep and substantive engagement with narrativity, history, community and political expression within improvisatory musical structures. Coin Coin is “one of the most provocative ongoing bodies of work by any American musician” (Pitchfork).
Kamau Amu Patton received an MFA from Stanford University in 2007 and has had solo exhibitions at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and Queens Nails Annex in San Francisco. He has worked collaboratively on artists’ projects at MoMA and at LACMA. Patton was a 2010-2011 artist-in-residence at The Studio Museum in Harlem. His work was shown at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 2011 as part of the SECA Art Award exhibition. In 2012 he participated in Pacific Standard Time and in 2013 in the Machine Project Field guide to L.A. Architecture. His recent work has embraced the transformation of speech, radio transmission, video feedback, and painting. He will be performing a new experimental work featuring text and sound.