what I learned from laurie anderson 04.27.2005, 4:13 PM
posted by kim white
Answer every question with a story. Be wary of rectangles. Ignore genre. Do not be afraid of Melville's ghost.
I have been inspired and influenced by Laurie Anderson's work from the moment I discovered it twenty-something years ago. Laurie was one of the first artists to understand how technology and multimedia can be used by a skillful storyteller to deepen the listener's experience. Her work explores the mystery and the pathos of these mechanized forms of communication.
Laurie's song "Language is a Virus,"(dedicated to William Burroughs) had an immediate and permanent effect on me. It made me realize that scrutinizing a narrative is not a complete investigation, one should try to understand language itself; is it friend or foe? Is it an agent that infects us with ideas (both good and bad). Does language, as a virus that must be communicated, fill us with the need for more efficient tools--books, radio, television, telephone, internet, cell phone, satellite radio, pod casting, ebooks, etc. And, if it is a virus, does it destroy the host? Is language a dystopia-breeding agent? The apple in the garden?
Parrot (Your Fortune One $)(pictured above) is an installation that consists of a plaster parrot and a digital recording of the parrot's monologue. The piece raises some interesting questions about the role of technology in our society. It's obvious that technology is important, but how important is it for technology to be "human?" The parrot's voice is computer-generated. When I heard it, I thought of JAWS a software program designed to read websites to those with vision impairment. When you hear that synthesized JAWS voice in the context of someone who is dependent on it for access, it's poignant. The parrot also sounds a lot like Arnold Schwartznegger, a man known for his role as "the Terminator," a robot-human programmed to destroy. The parrot's voice comes across as both comic and melancholy, which suggests a simultaneous levity and sadness in our efforts to humanize technology and to make into our "pet." Shifting the metaphor from wild and destructive (the terminator) to friendly and tame (the sidekick).
Posted by kim white on April 27, 2005 4:13 PM
tags: The Performing Book
alex on April 30, 2005 12:49 PM:
One of the more inspiring things I ever saw was Laurie giving a solo lecture on the importance of art and artists. I'd thought it would be a concert and was a touch lubricated for visuals and music, but instead go a wallop of deep thinking and then she closed with a solo where she places a lightbulb and microphone in her mouth and it illuminates her head as she speaks in one of her synth voides of authority. You left wanting to go out a create something about of nothing... you wanted to be an artist.
And her concerts in Boston in the eighties with the language is a virus tape loop violin... was just awsome and a spinning blue chair I remeber. Unilike anything I'd seen up to that point, or since for that matter.
I'd love to see her piece as NASA AIR at BAM... sadly i'm too poor.