I started as a poet, and like many American poets of my generation,
I wanted the poem to be oral. I wanted it to be a kind of music.
English is a language that pays a good deal of attention to stress.
It's not a musical language in terms of tone, but more in terms
of the rhythms of spoken language. I wanted to make music from
the rhythms of ordinary American English. I got involved in the
sound poetry movement; text-sound composition or poesie sonore
as it was called in Europe. I was influenced by the minimal music
of composers like Steve Reich, Harold Budd and Philip Glass.
I experimented with repetition because when you hear a
poem out loud, you need the phrases repeated over and over in
order to take in the complexity of the language. But I also wanted
to do with words what these composers were doing with music.
Repeating phrases with small changes, playing with the words
so that they made patterns of sound. I used a technique I call
the "human loop." Instead of electronically looping
a repeated phrase, I recorded several voices saying the same
phrase for up to a minute. When these are played together, the
different speeds of the individual performances cause the voices
to chorus and separate.
I began to perform these compositions in the 1970s. It was
a time of great interchange between all of the arts in the U.S.
and I soon found myself performing in spaces in the visual arts
world, music world and poetry world. I began to use projections
slides and Super-8 film and I performed live with
audiotape in order to multiply my voice.
In 1986, I created my first camera obscura a dark room
which takes in images from the outside world and projects them
on a screen. For New Music America in Houston, Texas, I made
a camera in a stagecoach. I dressed as a Victorian lady traveler
and stood waiting for the coach to arrive.
Lady Waiting For Coach
It was a stagecoach pulled by four white mules.
I had entirely enclosed the coach so that the only light came
through a lens system that projected the outside world onto a
screen when I closed the door.
Lens System Screen
The image was very alive, moving and curved. I didn't fix
the image didn't take a photograph with my camera. Instead,
I invited viewers to take a 15 minute ride around Houston. There
was an audiotape that played in the coach, a soundtrack for our
Image On Screen
In the 1990s, I collaborated with the photographer, Meridel
Rubenstein, on a large project called "Critical Mass."
It was about Edith Warner, a woman who lived near Los Alamos
during the time of the making of the atomic bomb. She was friends
with J. Robert Oppenheimer and served special dinners to the
scientists from the Los Alamos Laboratory; she was also friends
with the people of the Pueblos who lived nearby. One of the pieces
we made was a video installation called "Archimedes' Chamber."
When you approached it, you saw a portal with images moving on
four video monitors; the video was flanked by photographs by
ArchimedesPortal & ArchimedesPortal1
When you entered the installation, you saw a projected video
on the floor and you heard the soundtrack.
audio excerpt: If Arch (omitted on account
of space constraints)
In 1994, I made "Hubert's Lure," an installation
on 42nd Street in New York City. Hubert's Museum and Flea Circus
was on West 42nd Street from 1925 until well into the 1960s.
If you visited Hubert's, you might see Lady Olga, a famous bearded
lady who was in Tod Browning's movie "Freaks." I made
the outside of my installation look like the outside of a Dime
Museum or Freak show with painted banners advertising the wonders
Huberts Lure Museum
One part of the window had a miniature stage where a performer
might come out to do the "bally," the talking that
lured the customers into the museum. I made this "bally"
by creating a Pepper's Ghost illusion.
(Image: PeppersGhost ~ not received)
This was a 19th century optical illusion and you can see it
yourself if you sit by a window at night. Inside put a bright
light so that it illuminates you; then, look out the window and
you'll see yourself hanging in the air. This is because the reflection
in the glass looks like a projection.
In my installation, I projected a video image of myself performing
as Lady Olga onto a piece of glass that was installed on a diagonal
in front of the miniature stage. Although the glass was in front
and the video was above, you couldn't see either one. You only
saw the performance, a little person made out of light, walking
on the solid stage or sitting on the solid chair.
Huberts Lure Lady
(video clip: HubertsLureExcerpt2 ~ not included
due to disk-space constraints)
In 2000, I began my video series, HEAP, experimental portraits
of Westerners who have studied, invented, misunderstood and loved
China. Each portrait concentrates on a historic figure and tries
to understand the complex attitudes that have developed in the
West, creating an ambiguous and intense portrait of cultural
In "(The Chinese Room) John Searle," a little
girl is running. Calligraphy, reflections of a garden in the
glass that frames calligraphic texts, tourists on a misty mountain
top. A small boy shouts at me in Chinese: "you can't shoot
here." The camera invades the country. The philosopher,
John Searle, attempting to prove that artificial intelligence
could appear intelligent but could never really recreate a human
mind, wrote about a thought experiment called "The Chinese
Room, " in his article, "Minds, Brains and Programs."
He needed a foreign language to prove his point and he chose
Chinese. This video is about the viewer as traveler, inside but
outside, embarrassed and ecstatic, locked in the Chinese room
and trying to understand.
4 videostills from '(The Chinese Room) John Searle'
(videoclip: SearleExcerpt ~ not included due to
In "(tongue tongue stone) G.W. Leibnitz," the
viewer follows a trail of associations, encountering Leibnitz
through a Deleuzian language of fissures and folds. The camera
is close-up, caressing the surfaces of unusual rocks and folds
of falling silk. We hear the ringing sounds of sonorous stones.
An American man categorizes rocks by tasting them with his tongue.
A dog carries a rock in her mouth. Leibnitz is said to have invented
calculus because of a misunderstanding of the I-Ching. He is
the philosopher of surfaces and of the penetration of matter,
which he divided into "monads" or atoms, each object
equivalent to each other object in a world of interconnected
3 videostills from '(tongue tongue stone) G.W. Leibnitz'
video excerpt: Leibnitz (omitted on account of
In "(Unsolved) Robert van Gulik," there are
references to the Dutch diplomat van Gulik's many interests in
a mystery story with no resolution the ancient Chinese
musical instrument, guqin; the wonderful ape called gibbon; the
Judge Dee mysteries intermingled with a Caucasian man who is
transformed into the Chinese opera character Judge Bao. Meanwhile,
there's something hidden under the tarp on that boat is
it a body? This one's about an attempt to learn to be Chinese
- earnest and eager, failing and sometimes hitting one right
note, miscommunicating and translating. Texts spoken in English
seem to appear on the screen in Chinese, but the Chinese text
tells another story.
5 videostills from '(Unsolved) Robert van Gulik'
(videoclip: VanGulikExcerpt3 ~ not included due
to disk-space constraints)
AUDIO, VIDEO & INSTALLATIONS:
- 2004: videotape: precarious, 8:20 mins.
- 2003: videotape: (unsolved) Robert van Gulik, 18 mins. (from
Heap) Thailand New Media Festival 2004.
- 2002: videotape: (tongue tongue stone) G.W. Leibnitz, 9:36
minutes (from Heap) World Premiere, International Film Festival
Rotterdam, Jan. 26, 28, 2003
videotape: (The Chinese Room) John Searle, 7:30 minute videotape
(from Heap) World Premiere, Viper Basel, Switzerland, November,
- 1993-7: video installation: Critical Mass, (with Meridel
- 1997: Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, Jan.25-Mar.22.
- 1996: Scottsdale Center for the Arts, Sept.1-Nov. 5.
- 1995: List Center for the Visual Arts, MIT, Oct. 7-Dec. 18.
- 1993: New Mexico Museum of Fine Art, Santa Fe, Nov.6-Feb.13,1994.
- 1995: radio play: Mendicant Erotics (Sydney), commissioned
by ABC Radio, Australia, first aired October 23.
- 1994: video installation: Hubert's Lure, 42nd St. Project
(Creative Time), July-September.
- 1993: installation: Botanizing on the Asphalt, Art in General,
New York, March 13-May 1. video installation: The Invisible Woman...,
P.S. 1,New York, Feb.14-Mar.21.
- 1992: video of installation, Ronald Feldman Gallery, May
2-June 6. camera obscura object: Barrel Camera, Canary Wharf,
London, Jan.20-Mar.1. previously shown at Technorama, Winterthur,
Switzerland, Sept.27-Apr.30, 1991.
- 1991: installation: Monstrous Wonder, Broadway Windows, New
York, Oct. 25-Dec.1.
video installation: Portal to Archimedes' Chamber, San Francisco
Camerawork, Jan. 31-Mar. 9.
- 1989: a multi-lens camera obscura installtion: Such Ruins
Give the Mind a Sense of Sadness, Exploratorium, San Francisco,
- 1988: camera obscura installation: Silo and Barrel Cameras,
Artpark, Lewiston, N.Y., July-Sept. camera obscura objects in
group show: Beyond the Camera Obscura. San Francisco Art Commission
Gallery, March 24-May 1.
installation: Three Camera Obscuras and a set of photographs,
Diverse Works, Houston, Texas, February 27-May 1.
- 1989: audio anthology: guest editor, False Phonemes, Tellus
- 1987: camera obscura installed in a gazebo: Gazecamerabo
or Hannah's Tea Party, Minneapolis College of Art and Design,
Oct. 24-Dec. 15.
radio play: Impressions of Africa: The Play (a radio play), aired
on ABC Australia.
- 1986: text-sound composition installed in a camera obscura
stagecoach: She Travelled for the Landscape, , for New Music
America, Houston, Texas, April 5, 6, 12, 13.
audio work: We Must All Be Explorers (with music by John Di Stefano),
Awkward Sentence(002), San Francisco.
- 1985: audio work: "Fear of Dining and Dining Conversation,
for Part IV of Foodchain, a performance by Rachel Rosenthal,
American Center, Los Angeles, May 10-12. soundtrack for a film:
"Other Reckless Things", by Janis Crystal Lipzin, Museum
of Modern Art, New York, Oct.21, and touring.
- 2000: Artist-in-Residence, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
"The Electric Travels of Lucy Anna Morel," performance
on the internet
- 1995: Artspace, Sydney, Australia, August 3. Universal Theater,
Melbourne, Australia, August 1. Van Gogh's Ear Lobe, Brisbane,
Australia, July 24. U of California, San Diego (Center for Research
in Computing and the Arts), April 21.
- 1994: The Lab, San Francisco, June 3.
- 1991: Whitney Museum of American Art(Downtown), May 9.
- 1990: Festival de la Batie, Geneva, Switzerland, September
- 1989: Exploratorium, San Francisco, December 3 & 5.
- 1988: Artpark, July 30. SUNY Binghamton, April l6. Snug Harbor
Cultural Center, Staten Island, March 27. Diverse Works, Houston,
Texas, February 27 & 28.
- 1987: New Langton Arts, San Francisco, California, September
19. Jacques Marchais Center for Tibetan Art, Staten Island, New
York, June 7.
- 1986: Eyemediae, Ann Arbor, Michigan, December 9. Detroit
Institute of Arts, Detroit, Michigan, December 7. Yellow Springs
Institute, Yellow Springs, Pennsylvania, August 3. (a collaboration
with poet Armand Schwerner) Giant Camera, San Francisco, June
21(part of EX(CENTRIC) LADY TRAVELLERS). Falkirk Community Cultural
Center, San Rafael, California, June12,14, 22. (a site-specific
theater piece in a Victorian house; part of EX(CENTRIC) LADY
TRAVELLERS. Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne,
May 13. Performance Space, Sydney, Australia(Sydney Biennele:
Soundworks), May 9. Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia,
May 7. Camera Obscura Stagecoach (New Music America), Houston,
Texas, April 5, 6, 12,13. San Francisco Camerawork, San Francisco,
March 18. Painted Bride Art Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,
- 1985: Village Voice, Paris, France, July 24. White Swan Pub,
London, England, July 16. St. Mark's, New York, April 8.
- 1984: San Francisco Art Institute, August 31. Centre Georges
Pompidou, Paris, June 25. Stichting Logos, Gent, Belgium, June
20. On Broadway, San Francisco, May 12 (premier of IMPRESSIONS
OF AFRICA: VARIATIONS FOR RAYMOND ROUSSEL)
- 1983: Roulette, New York, October 24. Teatro Carcano, Milan,
Italy, June 25(Polyphonix Milano). Theatre de la Bastille, Paris,
France, June 16(Polyphonix 5). Sushi, San Diego, California,
April 30. Metropolis Space, Los Angeles, California, April 23.
Newfoundland Theater, New York, March 27.
- 1982: New Performance Gallery, San Francisco, December 3,
4, 5. Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia, July 29.
Exiles Bookshop Gallery, Sydney, Australia, July 23. Espace dbd,
Los Angeles, California, March 6. 10 Leonard St., New York, January
- 1972-81: performances include: 1st National Congress on Women
in Music (Washington Square Church), American Center, Paris,
France, (Polyphonix 2), 12th International Festival of Sound
Poetry, New York,18th Ann Arbor Film Festival, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
HONORS, GRANTS & AWARDS:
- 2000: Artist in Residence: Interactive Telecommunications
Program, New York University; and Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, Cambridge (performance experiments with Internet
- 1998: Residency, Bellagio Conference and Study Center.
- 1992: Electronic Television Center, Finishing Funds(video).
Artist-in-Residence, Harvestworks, New York.(video soundtrack)
- 1988: National Endowment for the Arts, Interarts. Art Matters,
- 1986-7: Artist-in-Residence Program, Harvestworks, Inc.,
New York, and Commission from ABC Radio, Sydney, Australia for
production of the radio play IMPRESSIONS OF AFRICA.
- 1985: Interarts of Marin, Small Projects Award. National
Endowment for the Arts, Interarts.
- 1984: National Endowment for the Arts, Literature, for POLYPHONIX,
a festival of language and performance.
- 2000: Performance Artists Talking in the Eighties, interview,
ed. Linda Montano, U. of California Press.
- 1999: On the Beaten Track, pp. 57-58, by Lucy Lippard, New
York: The New Press.
- 1997: Chicago Reader, February 21, review of Critical Mass
by Mark Swartz Chicago Sun Times, January 24, review of Critical
Mass by Delia O'Hara
- 1995: Sydney Morning Herald, Oct. 32, review of radio play
The Age, August 1, Melbourne, Australia, Danielle Talbot.
- 1994: Boston Sunday Globe, October 13, review of Critical
Mass by Christine Temin.
- 1988: Artweek, review of group show Beyond the Camera Obscura,
by Jamie Brunson. High Performance, Issue 40, review of EVERYTHING
YOU'RE GIVING ME IS JUST THINGS YOU'RE GIVING ME, by Christine
- 1987: Afterimage, article by Christine Tamblyn.
- 1986: High Performance, Issue 35, review of SHE TRAVELLED
FOR THE LANDSCAPE at the Giant Camera, San Francisco, by Alfred
Jan. Artweek, July 12, review of EX(CENTRIC) LADY TRAVELLERS
AT FALKIRK, by Christine Tamblyn. Image Magazine(San Francisco
Examiner), June 15, article on SHE TRAVELLED FOR THE LANDSCAPE
at the Giant Camera, San Francisco, by Misha Berson. Artscene(Houston),
Summer, review of SHE TRAVELLED FOR THE LANDSCAPE, text-sound
installation in a camera obscura stagecoach, by William Steen.
Public News(Houston), April 10, interview on the occasion of
SHE TRAVELLED FOR THE LANDSCAPE, Houston, by Barry Brice. High
Performance, Issue 33, review of RUNNING ERRANDS IN AFRICA, at
Video Free America in the show INVENTED LOCATIONS, by Alfred
- 1985: Unsound, Volume 2, No. 2, (San Francisco), interview
- 1994: New York 1 News
- 1987: Fresno Arts Center and Museum, videotape of RUNNING
ERRANDS IN AFRICA and photographic documentation of SHE TRAVELLED
FOR THE LANDSCAPE(Giant Camera and stagecoach camera obscura
versions), EX(CENTRIC) LADY TRAVELLER IN AUSTRALIA, and IMPRESSIONS
OF AFRICA included in the exhibition "Passages: A Survey
Women Artists-Lively Arts: Video and Performance II, March 29-June
- 1986: WDR T.V., West Germany, documentary on SHE TRAVELLED
FOR THE LANDSCAPE(Giant Camera), by Hans-Gerd Weigand.
- 1983: High Performance, Issue 20(photography issue), COMMON
PERFORMANCE, INSTALLATION & RADIO TEXTS:
- 2002: "Les Os Sensibles" (Sensitive Bones), Polyphonix,
Centre Pompidou, Editions Leo Scheer,.
- 1996: "Mendicant Erotics [Sydney]," The Drama Review,
- 1995: "They Spoke to the Angels," "If Archimedes...,"
"The Dinner," from Critical Mass, Conjunctions 24.
- 1994: "Everything You're Giving Me Is Just Things You're
Giving Me", (with Armand Schwerner), Kenyon Review, Vol.
XVI, No. 1
- 1992: "A Barrel of Her Own Design", Resurgent:
New Writing by Women, University of Illinois Press.
- 1990: "The Lady and the Camel", Women and Performance,
Vol. 5, No. 1.
- 1988: "Mapping..."; "Posing for Photographs",
Drukwerk De Zaak 37, Groningen, The Netherlands.
- 1986: Impressions of Africa: Variations for Raymond Roussel,
Part IV: The Play, e.g. press, San Francisco.
- 1985: "The Act of Watching", Unsound, Vol. 2, No.
2. "Trade Routes", Moving Letters, 7, Paris. "Long
Time No See", Assembling, 12, New York.
- 1981: "Fear of Dining and Dining Conversation",
THEORY & CRITICISM:
- 2003: "Voicebox," Millenium Film Journal, Nos.
- 2000: "Moving Pictures: Some Notes on Counting Above
100," Millenium Film Journal, Nos.34-35.
- 1999: "Absent Bodies, Writing Rooms," Chora 3,
McGill-Queen's University Press.
- 1997: "The Lurker," Being on Line, Net Subjectivity,
Lusitania, Vol. 8.
- 1996: "Constructing Loss: Film and Presence in the Work
of Eleanor Antin," Millenium Film Journal, No.29.
- 1994: "The Best Kept Secret," American Book Review,
Vol. 16, No. 3. "Describing Writing Describing," CTheory,
- 1990: "Life/Art Projects", The Act, Vol. 2, No.
- 1988: "The Missing Context", Exposure, Vol. 26,
- 1986: "Suspicious Language", The Act, Vol. l, No.
- 1984: "Feminism and Formalism", Poetics Journal,
- 1982: "Jackson MacLow: The Limits of Formalism",
Poetics Today, Vol. 3, No. 3.
- 1981: The Poetry Reading: A Contemporary Compendium of Language
and Performance(ed. with Stephen Vincent), Momo's Press, San
- 2002: from Mendicant Erotics, Golden Handcuffs, Vol.1, No.1.
- 2001: from Mendicant Erotics, Fish Drum, Vol. 16.
- 1995: excerpt from Surveillance, 13th Moon, Vol.13, Nos.1&2
- 1993: excerpt from Surveillance, Black Ice, No. 10.
- 1992: excerpt from Surveillance, Trivia, No. 19
SELECTED TEACHING EXPERIENCE:
- 1997- School of Visual Arts, Computer Arts, MA Program
- 1999: Brown University, Visiting Associate Professor, Modern
Culture and Media Department
- 1996: Duke in New York Arts Program, Academic Director
- 1995: Rhode Island School of Design, Sculpture, Visiting
- 1992-1995 Brown University, Visiting Associate Professor,
- 1993: Kansas City Art Institute, Visiting Associate Professor,
- 1989-1992: Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Performance Studies Program, Associate Professor
- 1988-1989: St. Lawrence University, Assistant Professor Fine
Arts Department (Performance)
- 1987(Fall): Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Visiting
Artist Fine Arts Department (Performance)
- 1980-1987: San Francisco State University, Lecturer Interarts
- 1984-1985: San Francisco Art Institute, Visiting Artist Film
Department (1985) Interdisciplinary Graduate Program (1984)
- 1980: PhD University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Thesis:
Contemporary Performance and Poetry
- 1970: MFA Columbia University, New York.
- 1967: BA University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
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