01 November 2009


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  1. The original event that was of special interest to us although it was only one among many that took place in the dining hall at BMC. The summer of 1952 performance piece called the “dinner piece” would be our lesson. Considered by many to be one of John Cage’s first happenings “Happening 1” was a multi-sensory experience between a group of performers and an audience. Fostering a communal approach of scholarship we attempted to revive the spirit of black mountain college banding together to re-create what we had been reading about.

    To emulate David Tudor’s role in the happening Theresa located a shoddy toy piano from craiglist for a reasonable amount. Almost half of the piano’s hammers had broken during the years of its life, breaking against the durable steel plates on which they produced tone. Thanks to Renwick’s skillful modifications the toy piano’s fragile wooden and paper fingers the piano had been revived. Rauschenberg’s role involved the presence of four white paintings we reconstructed together. In fact Teresa stretched canvas for the first time and watched as I tore the skin of my knuckles trying to pull a canvas tightly around its frame. We produced 35mm slides depicting images of BMC that we had printed from a. computer. This form of reproduction resulted in images made up of 300 dots per inch that were visible during projection. We also produced video footage of our natural landscape, a Kline painting, and a score similar to those Cage would construct for his performances.

    The night of the performance we all met at The Center for the Study of Modern Art behind the Phillips each practicing our roles individually, not knowing how they would come together. The re:happening took place in the café located on the first floor of the Phillips Collection and took place on a Thursday night during a Phillips after five event.
    There were large crowds watching from the entrance of the café holding conversations over drinks and sushi. We were all excited that it was finally going to happen, not knowing what to expect.

    Sure enough Fernando played the piano for his designated time. Teresa projected images on a 35mm slide projector and Maddy projected our videos onto empty canvas. Jess, Renwick, and Theresa all read their parts among the noise and chaos of the packed café. I embraced DJ Rauschenberg while playing a collection of mostly 50 and 60’s era music on a portable vintage record player. Miriam embodied Merce Cunningham with elegance constructing an alphabet of movement in which she employed in the revival of Cunningham’s 1952 spirit. Finally Hannah poured the coffee concluding our endeavor.

    Buckminster Fuller’s designs were recently featured on a History Channel production about failed idea. But in looking back on this semester I have come full circle, ending up within a cloud of innovative thinkers. What I was trying to find in DC may not be so different than what those at Black Mountain were looking for. I say this not to make direct comparison rather a relation.

    This impulse to reenact experience can be traced back to antiquity, and even further to the earliest forms of communication. Within this desire to attain a history we have experienced conquests, contradictions, and community. I played my part in our performative culture, furthermore in a constructed past represented by analog experiences and virtual reproductions. The romanticized nature of recycled experience has now become an object. This endeavor has become tangible taking a new form of people, moments, and a new history.