Re: serious work

Richard Povall (
Mon, 08 Sep 1997 12:18:56 -0400

Well, its interesting to create a bit of a stir now and then. I didn't
really appreciate Nik's rather personal flame, however. I don't think I've
ever been called a music professor before :-)

I took great care when writing NOT to criticize Sarah's work or the
performance. My comment's weren't intended to be a detailed or "serious"
criticism (oh god, that word again) of the performance or the dance. I was
merely questioning to what degree the concert really addressed some of the
concerns it purported to address. To quote from the front of the program:

"The World Wide Web has given us the freedom to explore information in a
nonlinear context, allowing us to shape our experience rather than to
accept information as it is dictated to us... Leaping into the Net builds
off this concept of freedom and uses Internet technology as a metaphoric
vehicle to connect seemingly disparate themes and moods...introducing an
original marriage between technology and performance."

Now that we've seen Sarah's comments, I think things are rather clearer -
and even more back up my original comments about hype, I think. All I'm
really saying is that we should be careful about how we present our work
and its relationship to the technological tools we are choosing to use. In
this case, the performance was hyped beyond belief in the local media.
THis may or may not have been a direct result of Sarah's press efforts, and
could well have been a misinterpretation (re-interpretation?) of them. The
performance was even hyped here on this list a little bit. It was
wonderful for modern dance, or modern art activity of any kind, to be
getting this kind of press attention. I just had a rather startled
reaction to the performance and it's somewhat superficial use of the
technology _in performance_. The fact that the concert was netcast was not
the issue, and I think the appropriateness of that is an entirely different
discussion. Again, Sarah's intent in netcasting the concert as a new
audience teaser is a very laudable goal - we do, after all, desperately
need new audiences for modern dance.

Others seem to agree that this what this list is for. Can't we breathe a
word that is negative or critical? If we are merely here to be
self-congratulatory, we are wasting our time, I think.

OK, the word "serious" was unfortunate. I think the follow up comments
from others reflect what I really meant in using that word. A work that
"seriously" engages technology either philosophically or actually can be
whatever it wants to be - as long as it engages technology either
philosophically or actually. If you see what I mean.

Johannes thinks I was a little arrogant in my original post. He's probably
right. I apologise if I came across that way - but not for what I said.


R i c h a r d P o v a l l
Assoc. Prof of Computer Music and New Media / Chair, TIMARA Dept.
MPO Box 0332 TIMARA/Studio 5
Oberlin, OH 44074-0332 USA Oberlin Conservatory of Music
Voice: +1.216.775.1016 Oberlin College
Fax: +1.216.775.8942 Oberlin, OH 44074 USA

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