Mar 31, 2011

Big Science v0.1

"'Big Science' started out as an orchestra work called 'It's Cold Outside' which the American Composers Orchestra played, and this was something that I consider something of a failure. I don't really know how to make an orchestra sound and [...] I found that my ideal instrumentation is a few electronic instruments mixed with real ones which are sometimes processed, sometimes not. My favourite combination is violin and saxophone and then other things added to that.


One of the things about writing works for an orchestra is first of all [that] it's hard for an orchestra to spend much rehearsal time on new work and also you hear it a day before it's actually performed for the first time. So it kind-of is a huge shock and you realize "oh, I should have had the French horns do that" and it's really too late then.


['It's Cold Outside'] was a work for tape and orchestra. I couldn't quite leave audio tape out of it."

(Laurie Anderson, 1984)

Slide Show from Rio

The Talking Pillow being tested by its creator

By clicking to the photo above, you can watch a video (more of a slide show) made by Marcello Dantas, the curator of I in U / Eu em Tu, Laurie Anderson's retrospective exhibition in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Mar 29, 2011

Painting with Light on an Enormous Canvas



t  h  e  i  r    l i g h t    s  t  i  l  l


in time.

Light installation by Laurie Anderson
Sydney, Australia 2010
photo by huailimay

The picture above is part of this gorgeous photo gallery of Laurie Anderson's light installations on the sails of the Sydney Opera House during last year's VIVID Festival in Sydney, Australia.

Thanks to Darek for the URL!

More Ice from Rio

Laurie Anderson's skates in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, March 2011
photo by Cristina Granato

FYI: for more photos of the latest performance of 'Duets on Ice', click to the photo above.

Duets on Ice, Rio de Janeiro Version - UPDATED

Laurie Anderson treated the audience to another Duet on Ice as part of the vernissage of I in U / Eu em Tu, her retrospective exhibition in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (let's hope there'll pop up a more extensive recording of the event on YouTube soon):

UPDATE #1: a longer video - from the second performance on March 29:

UPDATE #2: an HD video - the best one so far (presumably recorded on March 28):

UPDATE #3: another HD video; this one is from the second performance:

Mar 27, 2011

A Closed Circuit, Baby.

I'd rather not try to guess what the following performance might have meant to the average moviegoer in Western Germany, 1983...

Laurie Anderson performs 'Closed Circuit' in Rudolf Thome's movie 'System ohne Schatten' (English title: 'Closed Circuit'):

The Suddenness of Things...

The latest issue (#4) of 200% Magazine now features an interview with Laurie Anderson. A fragment her rage at expertism can be read on the Flash page of the magazine.

Mar 26, 2011

About the Man

"I could totally relate to the dry salesman [persona] that he created; this very underplayed thing, just very-very removed... [He was] also very-very interested in death. And I think that's what scared Americans more than his writing itself."
(Laurie Anderson on William S. Burroughs; as heard in 'A Man Within')

Mar 24, 2011

The Record of That Time

Rick Liss' stop-motion video of New York City's streets from the first half of the 1980s; soundtrack by Laurie Anderson ('For Electronic Dogs'):

Switching Channels

Read a story of "a morning of ventriloquism, conspiracy theories and the presidential ambitions of a blowhard named Bergamot" by Jonathan T. D. Neil in Art Review Magazine's online archive.*

Photo by Nick Haymes

(more photos of Laurie
and a pair of beautiful red shoes
 at ArtReviewDigital*)

* FYI: You'll need to register to be able to read the magazine's online archive. (It's free.)

Mar 23, 2011

Coming Soon

Art Review Magazine
April 2011 issue

FYI: the magazine's online edition can be accessed after a free registration.

Mar 22, 2011

The Song That Left Mnemosyne Speechless

Once upon a time...

"For the 50th anniversary of WNYC's FM station in June of 1994, we decided to embark on a program of commissioning music from diverse American composers to celebrate the occasion. [...] We asked the noted poet John Ashbery for a poem, and then sent it to 12 composers. Their instructions were simple: write a piece based on the poem — it did not have to be a typical voice-with-piano setting; it could use some of the text, all of the text, or none of the text. [...] In the end, a splendid concert took place on June 13, 1994, when thirteen pieces by the twelve composers had their world premieres at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall."
(WNYC Music Host John Schaefer)

Laurie Anderson was among the twelve composers involved, and she

"provided a tape piece, 'This House of Blues', in which she set her own inflected reading of the poem, in slightly rearranged form, against a soft-edged, electronically altered ensemble." 
(Allan Kozinn / The New York Times)

'This House of Blues' was later included in 'The WNYC Commissions Vol. One', released in 2002, almost completely unavailable in 2011.

After a months-long journey through the United States and half of Europe, thanks to a bunch of helpful friends, the CD has recently arrived to Mnemosyne.

The awesomeness of the song has left Mnemosyne speechless but she was convinced this song cried for visual accompaniment. And publicity. That's why she asked lukeslark to create a video for it.

Here's what Luke has to say about his creation:

"[...] decided to take a very simple approach visually, partly due to the fact that the lyrical content is quite abstract and complex and really needs to stand by itself without distraction, but also because I'm drawn increasingly to simplicity, the transparent, like the 'pellucid statues' mentioned by the daughter. Interesting how Laurie's intonation of 'she said' following the daughter's words ties the piece back to her earlier work i.e. 'It Tango'. [...]

My first thought with the song was to use tight claustrophobic blue corridors [...] - but as soon as I found the sky footage I thought, 'that's it!'."

Close open your eyes and behold.

(FYI: lyrics and credits under the video)

No Longer Very Clear 

by John Ashbery

In this house of blues...

It's true that I can no longer remember very well
The time when we first began to know each other
However, I do remember very well
The first time we met. You walked in sunlight,
Holding a daisy. You said, "Children make unreliable witnesses."

In this house of blues...

Now, so long after that time,
I keep the spirit of it throbbing still.
The ideas are still the same, and they expand
to fill vast, antique cubes.
My daughter was reading one just the other day.
She said, "How like pellucid statues, Daddy. Or like a...
an engine."

In this house of blues...

In this house of blues the cold creeps stealthily upon us.
I do not dare to do what I fantasize doing.
With time the blue congeals into roomlike purple
That takes the shape of alcoves, landings...
Everything is like something else.
I should have waited before I learned this.


Laurie Anderson, vocals and keyboards
Cyro Baptista, percussion
Joey Baron, drums
Greg Cohen, bass
Brian Eno, drum treatments

Mar 17, 2011

Laurie Anderson and the Arties

Franklin Furnace, a New Yorker organization for all things avant-garde, celebrated its 10th anniversary in 1986 with The Arties award ceremony honoring "20th century avant-garde artists who have contributed to popular culture".

Robert Rauschenberg presented an Artie to Laurie Anderson "for her visual, literary and musical triumph, 'United States'".

FYI: This video features Laurie Anderson's part only. If you'd like to watch the whole ceremony, click to the original video.

Mar 16, 2011

Sleep is where you learn to let things go.

The dead in their hideouts.
The spinning world.
Yes, sleep is a vanishing act.
And then again, so is life.

[lyrics excerpt from 'Delusion' by Laurie Anderson]

Mar 15, 2011

The Sound of That Much Life

Here's another track from New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges, Colin Stetson's new album: 'Fear of the Unknown and the Blazing Sun' features Laurie Anderson's somehow detached and puzzling spoken-word contribution and Shara Worden's singing on the top of Colin Stetson's hypnotically pulsating saxophone playing - the latter was recorded live, in one take by twenty microphones placed around his instrument (the clicks and claps you hear come from Colin pushing the keys of the saxophone).

Mar 14, 2011

Tape-bow Violin, v2.0

When a Laurie Anderson lecture proves seminal...

Young St. Louisian composer and musician David MacDonald, having gotten inspired by Laurie Anderson's tape-bow violin as an undergraduate student some years before, has now created the Sampolin, the tape-bow violin's digital version.

The Sampolin has got the shape of an analogue violin but it's filled inside with electronics and it's got some extra knobs and buttons.

Similarly to the original, a certain short sample of sound is assigned to the bow: the sample 'starts' at one end, and it 'ends' at the other end of the bow. If the bow touches the the string on the Sampolin, the string tells the computer which part of the bow is touching it, so the computer will tell which part of the sample to be played. By pushing the buttons aligned on the neck, the player can easily switch between the samples he wants to play. Plus, by turning the tuners in the pegbox, instead of fine-tuning the strings, the player can add extra effects to the raw sound, for example an additional musical tone that is extracted from the original sample.

Watch David's introduction of the Sampolin:

Mar 13, 2011

Witness the Darkness. (Literally, It's Removed)


Do not hold your breaths any longer: it's here at last, in its entirety! After a deliverance of more than two weeks, now you can watch a complete video recording of 'The Speed of Darkness', a live performance by Laurie Anderson from 1997, uploaded by LukeK79 (whose other Andersonite uploads are also highly recommended).

'The Speed of Darkness' features stories about, amongst others, 


The musical parts contain elements from 'Bright Red', the 'Nerve Bible' performances as well as the then-subsequent 'Moby Dick' / 'Life on a String'.


  1. Intro / World Without End
  2. Alexander the Great / Hey Ah Hey / Music and Sand / Cybersex
  3. Technology / Content Providers / Hotel Hot Dogs
  4. Hunting for Information / The Night Flight from Houston
  5. To the Moon / You've Got to Have Leaders
  6. Rockefeller Center / Theme Park with Peter Gabriel and Brian Eno
  7. Therapies / Can You Hear Me? / Someone Else's Dream / Microsoft and Vatican
  8. Interspecies Communications / Michael Jackson / Elvis Séance / Video Conference
  9. Video Conference (cont'd) / Work Ethic and Control Rooms
  10. The Language of the Future (as the Voice of Authority)
  11. Muddy River / Pillow Speaker Song

Mar 8, 2011

Duets on Ice in London, 2011 a. k. a. Auditive Solace for the Remote and Deprived (Plus Photos, Yay)

... a. k. a. that's what friends are for!

Files on a String now proudly presents timeiswide's recording of 'Duets on Ice' in London, performed at the Barbican Art Gallery a few days ago: prepare your ears for 2 x 12 minutes of groovy freeform improvisation onto musical bases that may be familiar from 'Delusion' (plus, I dare say, 'Homeland'). Yes, there are two recordings since the first session of 'Duets on Ice' (8 PM) was sold out so the organizers announced yet another performance at 9 PM. Considering Laurie's genuine inclination towards random playfulness, it comes as no surprise that the sessions are quite different from each other.

"[...] also, Laurie almost fell off the very tiny stage .... during the second session, the ice on her right skate broke off, and Laurie lost her balance .... [then] got her balance back. Laughed, smiled and immediately continued with now only one ice block, received an extra applause from a relieved audience ... "

"[...] and what felt as a long long time when Laurie lost her balance due to an ice-break on her right foot skate turns out to be a split second on the rec!
See, what you sense and experience as many seconds turns out to be different, on a recording!"
(excerpt from Timeiswide's review of the sessions)

Laurie Anderson playing 'Duets on Ice'
at the Barbican Centre in London, England

(FYI: more photos of the event at Contactmusic: here and here. Also in Barbican's Facebook photo gallery!)

Mar 7, 2011

The Never-Had Art of Conversation, LOL

"Art and tv don't mix, everybody knows that. If people wanted to see art on tv, they'd say "hey, you know, I want to see art on tv"."
(Tad Eustace Ghostal a. k. a. Space Ghost sharing his doubts about Laurie Anderson's guest appearance on his talk show)

Behold yet another rip-roaring slab of quality talk show entertainment: in an episode of 'Space Ghost Coast to Coast', an animated late night show, Space Ghost had the displeasure to interview downtown musician type Citizen Anderson on subjects like remote controls, online invisibility and Richard Nixon.

To stay diplomatic, the episode was not the highlight of Space Ghost's professional career as a talk show host. But who cares if you can get a screen capture that reveals its message only when flipped horizontally :)

Mar 3, 2011

Visual Solace for the Remote and Deprived

A photo gallery and a video tour of the joint exhibition of the early works of Laurie Anderson, choreographer Trisha Brown and the late artist Gordon Matta-Clark at the Barbican Art Gallery in London:

The exhibition is called Pioneers of the Downtown Scene, New York 1970s. It opens today and it runs until May 22nd, 2011.

FYI: Tonight Laurie Anderson will re-perform one of her early trademark acts, Duets on Ice at the gallery.


A Singing Carpenter's Level and Other Everyday Stuff...

21 more or less tabloid-sort questions and 21 adequately neat'n'bland (sometimes informative) answers, still a pleasant read - this is New York Magazine's recent interview with Laurie Anderson.

Mar 2, 2011

The End of the Moon... Almost

Read Tom Gordon's breathtaking story about a Laurie Anderson gig's soundcheck turning into a disaster right before the show... Tension. Twist. Thrill. More tension. In a theater near, uh, Reno NV (snare, snare, hi-hat).