RE: "take a look at this web site"

Johannes Birringer (
Fri, 18 Jul 97 01:56 +0100

Dear Stephan:

<<I've launched this project called Webbed Feats presents:BYTES of Bryant

<The idea behind this project is to celebrate a real space (Bryant Park) through
<creativity and collaboration...and to give anyone the chance to have something
<they've created to be performed....

I visited your interesting project tonight, and I think I remember the park, and
I find the whole on-site project interesting and challenging, although I'm not
sure whether I understand it completely - will there be actual performances in
September, and how/to what extent are performances based on or taken as input-
performances from the international Net audiences/collaborators you solicit - in
other words, is the website now a collaborative venture, and how will one see a
piece move from the input to actual performance. Who will perform?

I am asking this because I thought about two of your proposed sites, the
GERTRUDE STEIN and GOETHE sites, which intrigued me, but I gave up after reading
the first scene of FAUST, because it made no sense to me, I thought it was a
particularly banal and trivial dialog (sorry), and to shift FAUST/MEPHISTOPHELES
into the 90s New York art/gallery scene seems uninviting to me a little silly
(sorry, but I don't care for Sally, Schnabel, Jeff Koons et al), perhaps the
FAUST material is so burdened for me, so stuck in the historical-cultural deep
consciousness of my formation that I am revulsed either way.

The STEIN platform is another question - are you hoping for STEIN works or for
new original poetry by others?

Let me recount an action/performance I was involved in last month, it was a
surprise (for all of us) and worked extremely well.

A friend/collaborator in Dresden had a show in an old Fire House, and on the
last day of her exhibition she prepared a performance evening dedicated to
STEIN/Alice B TOKLAS, inspired by the Toklas Cookbook that has been published.
She decided to cook an enormous, complex meal in 7 courses, after recipies by
Alice B Toklas. She then invited 5 other artist friends (musicians) to provide
the music, and me to read "Tender Buttons" (the whole book in 3 hours).

The catch 22 was that we met 3 days before the event, and the musicians played a
free improvisation for 3 hours, which was recorded.

On the night of the performance, then, the audience arrived at 9:oo at the Old
Firehouse, and a beautiful table was set, and chairs for audience with 30 or 40
headphones hanging from the ceiling. The audience could sit down, and if they
put the earphones on they heard the recorded concert. But the musicians, all
dressed elegantly in suits as if attending a soirée at Stein's Salon, sat at
the dinner table and were served an exquisite meal in 7 courses that lasted 3
hours, while I had the thankless task of reading "tender buttons" which I
actually enjoyed tremendously. At midnight the performance was over, after the
last serving of desert.

It was a very peculiar and interesting evening, and the audience sat and watched
and listened as if spellbound, I don't know, it was most strange, since we
normally do not gather to watch someone eat. It was quite a virtual/real
"concert" for me, and I noticed also that I could experiment with the
rhythms/tonations of Stein's poetry-prose (her many repetitions and word plays
and crazy nonsense syntax) while, I was told later, the eating and the physical
gestures of the meal-performers seemed to make strange sense, together. It made
music together.

I'm curious what will happen in Bryant Park, and what your performance concept
effects (i.e. in regard to the statues you mention on the website, the
locations, the people who hang there). I remember the hilarious Goethe statue in
Chicago, he looks a bit ridiculous, old Goethe, like a young Greek running back
looking over the park. Anyway, good luck with the project. I think what you are
attempting is a provocative challenge to the question whether meaningful
collaboration (music meal together) can be created by folks somewhere out there
in cyberspace making up scenes for some unbeknownst performers for another
specific-real place where real locals happen to hang out.

Johannes Birringer