Friday, November 22, 2013

Sound Art Works Exhibited at the 55th Venice Biennale

Earlier this year, two of my sound art works were exhibited on a lathe cut polycarbonate record at the 55th Venice Biennale. The work was presented as part of the Road to Nowhere panel discussion at the University of Venice.

The sound art works on the disc where: The Snow of Your Name, with music by myself, Ariel Lorca, Eleonor Sandresky (Philip Glass Ensemble), Mick Rossi (Philip Glass Ensemble), and David Crowell (Philip Glass Ensemble); and: Oannes (Reprise), with music by myself, Ariel Lorca, Julia Kent (Antony and the Johnsons), Jem Finer (The Pogues), and Andrew Sterman (Philip Glass Ensemble).

You can hear the compositions here:

This is the second time my work has been presented at Venice. In 2005, one of my text works, Untitled, was exhibited at the Isola della Poesia, at the 51st Venice Biennale.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Gerhard Richter to Provide Cover Art for the Paul Amlehn and William S. Burroughs Album A Walk to the End of the World

Painter Gerhard Richter is providing cover art for my forthcoming album with texts and vocals by William S. Burroughs: A Walk to the End of the World.

My heartfelt thanks to Gerhard.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Paul Amlehn and John Cage Project

I am currently working on a project, which will re-visit and re-imagine the work of John Cage.

I will be utilizing a number of John's existing recordings, de-constructing and re-constructing them into new forms. It is important to ensure that these works are not merely a pastiche or homage, but, are in their own right, functioning musical organisms. To this end, I will employ chance procedures and other processes that incorporate hazard and indeterminacy, as well as considered conceptual, thematic, and narrative approaches.

Cage is widely considered to be one of the most influential American composers of the 20th century. I am looking forward to engaging with his oeuvre and seeing what arises from that interaction.

My thanks to the John Cage Trust and Edition Peters.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Paul Amlehn and William S. Burroughs Project: A Walk to the End of the World

In late 2012 and early 2013, I worked on a number of compositions of music which utilized the texts and vocals of William S. Burroughs. After a brief hiatus, I am back working on the project, which will be released as an album, titled: A Walk to the End of the World. The most recent compositions that have been completed on the project are: The Piper Pulled Down the Sky, with music by Mick Rossi of the Philip Glass Ensemble, and Jeffrey Zeigler of the Kronos Quartet, arranged and produced by myself; and Interzone, with music by Ulrich Krieger of the Metal Machine Trio and Stephen Vitiello, graphic score by John Cage, produced and arranged by myself and Ariel Lorca.

You can listen to a number of the compositions here:

Cover art for the project has been provided by Gerhard Richter. Pictured above is the cover image, from Gerhard's November series: 3 Nov 2008.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Meta-Novel: The Reinvention of the Novel for the 21st Century

I am about to embark on a new project, one which gives rise to a completely new art form: The Meta-Novel.

Since the 18th century, the novel has held an important place in culture, as one of the most preeminent artistic forms, gifting us with works such as: Ulysses, The Grapes of Wrath, Tropic of Cancer, and A Clockwork Orange, works which both distilled the quintessence of our times and brought about a seismic paradigm shift in our cultural landscape.

More recently, John Barth, in his influential and controversial essay: The Literature of Exhaustion, announced the death of the novel.

My project, challenges the concept of writing as exclusively being a representation of language through graphic means. It instead posits a form of "writing" which is inclusive of the systems of proto-writing, ideographic, and mnemonic symbols, as well as conventionally encoded linguistic utterance, while also adopting new means, modalities and registers outside of what is traditionally thought of as written expression.

The Meta-Novel is a form of "writing" that moves in a protean way through various artistic mediums and disciplines, adopting these forms as a virus adopts a host vessel, before moving onto the next one in a new shape or structure. It is a work that is constantly evolving and metamorphosing, expressing, divining, and interrogating itself.

The Meta-Novel will utilize mail art, poster art, land art, robotics, telematic art, bio art, live performance, thought experiments, virtual reality, theater, film, music, painting, and interactive media, traversing and inhabiting a myriad of forms and conceptual territories in order to achieve it aims.

My work will explode the idea of the novel, fracturing it into a web of shards or fragments, while at the same time, allowing the novel as a form to sustain its structural integrity and durability, as a unifying ideological construct and vehicle for storytelling. In this way, The Meta-Novel is simultaneously blown apart and whole, alive and dead, existing in a quantum state of superposition, before collapsing into the singular reality of each of its chosen forms.

Both traditional and experimental media will function as a vehicle for the storytelling, propelling the characters, concepts, and themes, through a metabolic chain of narrative, where the energy generated by the death of the previous chapter will fuel the birth of the next. This Meta-narrative, this Ur-text, will, in a variety of structural configurations, elemental forms, and artistic media, revisit, reorchestrate, and reprise the central concerns of the work itself.

The Meta-Novel will be comprised of 360 "chapters," each chapter explored in a new medium or form, the 360th final chapter, bringing the narrative cycle to a close, as the Ouroboros, the cosmic serpent devouring its tail, simultaneously destroying and giving birth to itself.

Possible configurations for several of the chapters are: actors improvising in real time, their dialogue being captured by voice to text software which writes it into the novel; the study of the effect of chemical reactions on biological systems on both the micro and macro level (for example: petri dish and marsh ecosystem) the shifts in biological architecture influencing the structure of the textual material; a performance work near Te Reinga and Te Po - The Leaping Place of the soul and the Underworld, in the Maori system of belief; a chapter that is an olfactory museum composed entirely of scents; a sculpture of salt likeness of the author dissolving in the sea; moving images by myself, New Zealand artist Paul Amlehn, projected onto sculptures by Swiss artist Paul Amlehn (1867-1931) on the facade of the Musee d'Art et d'Histoire in Geneva; a chapter sent via telepathy to receivers in multiple countries each of whom transcribes the text allowing it to morph into various permutations; and the final chapter of the work placed on a microchip and implanted in the author's body (mine), where it will remain, until my death. At the demise of the author the bio-chip will be removed from the vessel of the body in a ritual ceremony, the final chapter of the work revealed, and the art cycle of The Meta-Novel complete itself.

The Meta-Novel is a new form for the new century. It is a work that has a correlative in the Greek deity Proteus, who, according to Jung, is both a symbol of the unconscious and the perfection of the art. The Meta-Novel is the fulfillment of the notion Wagner proposed in his The Artwork of the Future, of a Gesamtkunstwerk, or total work of art. It is at once an open laboratory; a functioning organism; a ritual space; an alchemical vessel; and a prosthesis of the unconscious. Ultimately, The Meta-Novel is a work which addresses and seeks to answer the fundamental questions of our existence: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Tears of Eros Text Work Exhibited at Art 42 Basel with the Serpentine Gallery

My text work for The Tears of Eros film project was exhibited in the Agency of Unrealized Projects exhibition, at the Kopfbau, in Art 42 Basel, Switzerland. The Agency of Unrealized Projects was organized by e-flux and the Serpentine Gallery, and was devised by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Julia Peyton-Jones.

Untitled Text Work Exhibited at the 51st Venice Biennale

My text work: Untitled, was exhibited in the Isola Virtuale, which was part of the Isola della Poesia exhibit, at the 51st Venice Biennale.


When the world has been reduced to a dark wood I will find you a taste of ashes floats on the air. The musk is in the deer, the fire in the wood. What new constellations of torment rise for me now? Like weak prey torn open I have bared my innermost hidden pulse to my killer. And if I become the ancient traveler I shall go down the path the air milky and spiced with trade winds with rose leaves in closed jars. Here it has the sublime confusion of a dream we cannot remember. The great fire which illuminates us and sings in our flesh leaves us a husk of helpless shadows. Again these same thoughts that fall and fly. Whistlings of death and unheard music. I have been humiliated by the destructive powers of my own love. I have confessed an appetite that is unspeakable. At the time of telling blood flows from each eyelash pieces of the heart that come through the eyes.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Blood of Union

I have recently completed the album work: Blood of Union.

Blood of Union features contributions from musicians from the bands of Lou Reed, Tom Waits, Laurie Anderson, and Leonard Cohen, as well from members of the Philip Glass Ensemble.

Recorded over a three year period, the project utilized an aleatory process, whereby my texts and vocals were sent to musicians in various countries to use as a catalyst and point of departure for their own imaginings. The vocal material was used as a carrier for the intellectual, emotional, psychological, and psychic matter of the work. It was also a way of teleporting my nervous system across cyberspace, so that the nervous systems of the musicians could meet and fuse with my own. Each musician heard the same point of reference, the vocals, but, none of the musicians heard what any of the other musicians were composing. In this way, the portal of chance was open to allow the magic to manifest in the work.

Another methodology I employed on the album was the use of V-A Synthesis (Visual-Aural Synthesis). I used a specially written computer program to interpret the information in an image as a form of visual score. The program read the visual data and translated it into a series of values, which were then applied to the sonic material, color to stereo position, height to frequency, brightness to amplitude, etc. This radically altered the structure and nature of the sounds themselves and gave rise to startling and wonderful results.

Cover art for the album has been provided by filmmaker and artist David Lynch.

You can hear compositions from the Blood of Union album here:

Trauma as Prima Materia

The point of origin of my work is autobiographical. From this core of personal experience, the embryo of the work is cross-fertilized with other philosophical and conceptual notions, such as those of Antonin Artaud and Georges Bataille. Although the work proceeds from this intimate and intense experience of self, it is eminently universal, tapping into the underground tributaries of the collective unconscious that unite mankind as a whole.

Several catalytic and cataclysmic events have brought forth significant works in my oeuvre. Namely, the birth and death of my first son, the murder and rape of my step-sister, childhood abuse, and the entropic trajectories and eventual dissolution of important relationships in my life. Embodied within these events are the seeds of beauty, a beauty closely aligned with suffering, a beauty at once terrifying and revelatory.

Here is the notion of trauma as prima materia.

This base matter, this chaos, this swirling darkness, this “blackness blacker than black,” is also the fecund earth from which the first shoots of paradise grow. Anguish, despair, loss, pathos, are Saturnine ore ready to be transmuted in the crucible of an art process that is a journey towards transcendence and a rebirth of the senses, but a bloody one, borne not of grace, but of passion, as the Via Dolorosa and the Stations of the Cross.

My work references, illumines, and draws upon a panoply of source material and thematic components: alchemy, biology, cosmology, physics, mysticism, et alia. Chief among these components, is biographical matter (matter, from the Latin mater, mother). This matter may be directly addressed in the work, with eviscerating and desolating force, or, may be subsumed, until only the faintest trace of a psychological imprint remains.

There is also the relevant intersection between my visual art work and current theories of physics, in particular: quantum theory, string theory, and M-theory. These cutting-edge scientific notions resonate with certain ancient religious belief systems and their view of multiple universes occupying the same space-time continuum. In this context, the current chemically-altered Photo-Painting work may be considered portals into the multiverse, brief glimpses into a previously unseen realm of being and existence. Photographic film is highly sensitive to electromagnetic waves, and when exposed to chemicals, heat, electricity, magnetism, and radiation; startling images are revealed. These images, conjured forth from the ether, are both phantasmal and familiar, each a secret door to a possible beyond.

Catharsis, in the Aristotelian psychological and emotional sense of the word, is an important aspect of my work. And, of equal import, is the notion that this lexicon of images: images of fecundity and putrefaction, of trial and rebirth, suffering and joy, and ultimately, of being; bring forth a catharsis in the viewer as well as in the work’s creator. This is the catharsis invoked by the tragedian in his “goat-song.” The dual role of the artist as a sacrificial offering and as a mouth-piece of the gods.

There is also a resonance with the mystical and psychological notions of Carl Jung. From Gnosticism, to archetypes, dream, mythology, and alchemy, there is a transposition and interpolation of conceptual membranes between Jung’s work and my own. One significant point of commonality is the manner in which the disciplines of science, mysticism, and religion (and all their related sub-types) are fused into a cohesive meta-theory, one which addresses the complex and multivalent facets of our existence. In this sense, my work may be considered an exploration of actualities, an investigation into the very nature of what we conceive of as reality itself.

A surging of space-time foam. Cellular cruelty. The theatre of the dream image made manifest.

The artist is a conduit for the myriad forces that are constantly struggling within us asking to be released.

Traum und Trauma Photo-Paintings

From 2007-2008, in Vienna, Austria, and Auckland, New Zealand, I undertook a series of photo-paintings, titled: Traum und Trauma (Dream and Trauma).

These works were created by exposing photographic film to heat, chemicals, pressure, electricity, magnetism, and radiation.

A number of the Traum und Trauma works were published in Static, the journal of the Science Museum, the ICA, and the TATE.

One of the works was also exhibited at Luhring Augustine Gallery, in New York, along with works by Vito Acconci, Kiki Smith, John Baldessari, and Ed Ruscha.

The Seven Words: Into Inner and Outer Space

In 2007, I created a series of recordings of spoken word with soundscapes by Robert Fripp (King Crimson), titled: The Seven Words. These works were exhibited in galleries, museums, and festivals, around the world, and were also exhibited in a two part installation.

Part 1: The Inner

The Seven Words was installed in isolation tanks at Blue Light Floatation, in New York, and at The Floatworks, in London.

Participants were able to experience the sound art works in a sensory deprivation environment.

An isolation tank is a lightless, soundproof chamber in which subjects float in salt water heated to skin temperature. They were first used by neuroscientist John C. Lilly, in 1954, to test the effects of sensory deprivation on the brain/mind. While floating the brain slows down into theta waves, the brain wave state of tranquility, creativity and very deep relaxation. Theta brain waves, measured at 4-7 Hz, is the brain state of REM sleep (dreams), hypnosis, lucid dreaming. Theta is the twilight state just before sleeping and just after waking, the border between the conscious and the subconscious world. In this womb-like environ, the music works can, all the more effectively, penetrate and be absorbed, into the substrata of the consciousness of the individual.

Part 2: The Outer

One of the compositions from The Seven Words, Ophiuchus Improvisation / Queer Reflection Harmonic Minor, was transmitted off-world, 3-4 light years into space.

The sound art work was transmitted by a private organization located next the Kennedy Space Center, in Cape Canaveral, Florida. This organization was formed specifically to communicate with outer-space by a group of broadcast engineers that regularly transmit from the space center. The engineers use state of the art satellite broadcasting equipment with high-powered klystron amplifiers connected to a parabolic dish antenna. The Seven Words transmission was carried trillions of miles beyond our solar system, a humanistic gesture towards other worlds and, conceivably, civilizations as yet unknown.