John Cage was the world's most notoriously twentieth century experimental composer. Marcel Duchamp one of the most controversial artists ever who challenged the very notion of ‘what is art?’ On March 5, 1968, a legendary performance took place in which a game of chess determined the form and acoustical ambience of a musical event at the Ryerson Theatre in Toronto, Canada. Principal chess players were Cage; Duchamp and his wife, Alexina (Teeny). A chessboard was designed by composer/media artist Lowell Cross; in which every move on the chessboard signaled a change in sound distributed to eight speakers and created by composers David Behrman, Gordon Mumma, David Tudor and Lowell Cross.
Reunion: John Cage, Marcel Duchamp, Electronic Music and Chess began that evening at 8:30 pm and concluded at approximately 1:00 AM the next morning. The match was over pretty quickly. Duchamp took less than an hour to beat Cage. The Burchfield Penney Art Center at SUNY Buffalo State in collaboration with the Institute for Electronic Arts (IEA) and National Casting Centre at NYSCC, Alfred University will co-present a homage to this spontaneous musical event. Reunion: Chess will open Friday, March 10 and be on view through Sunday, June 25, 2017.
Gallery visitors will be encouraged to play on one of four unique chess sets designed and made by sculptors Karen Donnellan and Coral Penelope Lambert. The exhibition will include archival video footage of Cage and Duchamp altered: colorized, wobblized, inverted, distorted et al by Buffalo-based multimedia and electronic artist Bill Sack whose contributions will also include technical design and musical composition.
In the esprit of Cage and Duchamp, the chess pieces were developed through a chance driven process of wax manipulation and cast in glass, bronze and aluminum. An analog signal will activate 256 photo-resistive sensor cells converted to digital audio waves into a receiver decoding the material, trigger audio and visual information to eight channels of sound and two video projectors. Sack will use musical materials by the original Reunion composers as well as materials by Western New York composers and video artists.
In the spirit of Cage, new music was commissioned to include works by Jacob Carpenter Morris; excerpts from Train Tracks and Harpsichord Remix (2013) by Marc Thorman; and Please, Wait (2013) by Lynn Wright for Sack’s version of Reunion: Chess (2013); Cage’s composition Chess Pieces (1943) originally created for The Imagery of Chess exhibition organized by Duchamp, Max Ernst, and Julien Levy at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York (194445) unites the new version with the old.
About Bill Sack - composer, performer and teacher based in Buffalo. In 2008, he received the Ph.D. in Music Composition from the University at Buffalo, where his principal teachers were Jeffrey Stadelman and Cort Lippe. His interests include mechanical models of music making, automated composition, and non-idiomatic free improvisation. Past exhibitions include 2010's Beyond/In Western New York: Alternating Currents, and a 2012 one-person show at the University of New Haven's Seton Gallery. He teaches music production and physical computing in the Digital Media Arts program at Canisius College in Buffalo.
About Karen Donnellan - Irish-born visual/sound artist and educator. She earned a Bachelors of Design in glass from the National College of Art and Design, Dublin, and an MFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology, NY. Karen has exhibited internationally at venues including the Irish Museum of Contemporary Art, Dublin; Tushanwan Museum, Shanghai and the Burchfield Penney Art Center, NY. She has participated in Residencies at Pilchuck Glass School, WA; the Toledo Museum of Art, OH and Cill Rialaig Artist Retreat, Co. Kerry, Ireland. Karen is Assistant Professor of Sculpture and Director of the National Casting Center Glass Studios at the NYSCC, Alfred University, NY.
About Coral Penelope Lambert - internationally recognized for large-scale cast metal sculpture. Born and raised in the UK she studied sculpture in the 1980's with Sir Anthony Caro and other leading figures in the field. Over the past 25 or so years she has utilized the foundry as her laboratory to explore the process of ‘Speeding up the work of Nature’. Her work responds to metals rich history in myth and mining, playing with its weight, permanence and flux as well as its political reference to the earth’s resources. She is Professor of Sculpture at NYSCC, Alfred University, NY where she also directs the National Casting Centre Foundry. Her work can be seen in many prestigious exhibitions and collections around the world.
About The Institute for Electronic Arts (IEA) - a formal Alliance between the Burchfield Penney Art Center at SUNY Buffalo State and the Institute for Electronic Arts, NYSCC at Alfred University to create re-occurring exhibitions and presentations. The two institutions commit to shared performances, research, production and distribution of electronic arts.
The IEA is dedicated to the integration of electronic media within the fine arts disciplines. It achieves this through a focus on art making, research, and education. In recognition of this integration, the Institute for Electronic Arts develops working partnerships with industry and other organizations.
To identify the needs of contemporary artists, the Institute supports evolving electronic studio research labs, hosts national and international conferences, and establishes artists’ residencies and workshops. The Institute for Electronic Arts encourages and supports projects that involve interactive multi-media, distance communication systems, experimental music/video environments, and publications. The Institute for Electronic Arts is dedicated to the global interactions of technological experimentation and artistic investigations.
About The National Casting Center - within the School of Art and Design at Alfred University in Western New York comprises of two comprehensive state-of-the-art facilities; one specializing in Glass Casting and the other in Metal Casting. Courses are taught in both areas from sophomore through to the graduate level as part of the Sculpture/Dimensional Studies Division. Rich in history, both glass and foundry arts date back over 5,000 years. Students learn ancient techniques alongside environmental practices and current digital processes. Many National Casting Center graduates are now in leadership positions as artists and educators employed in some of the top fine art foundries and glass centers nationwide.
General admission to the Burchfield Penney Art Center is free to Buffalo State students, faculty, staff, and Burchfield Penney members