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Dreamweapons: A Musical Afterlife of Tony Conrad
Please join Ars Nova Workshop and the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania for Dreamweapons, a series of performances celebrating the multivalent influences of Tony Conrad. Conrad was a central figure in numerous experimental film, music, and performance communities from the early 1960s until his death in 2016. These events are presented in conjunction with ICA’s presentation of Introducing Tony Conrad: A Retrospective, the first large-scale museum survey devoted entirely to the artist.
New Zealand-based artist and musician Michael Morley is best known as 1/3 of the Dead C, an enduring free rock unit that has pushed the proto- and post-punk templates to exhilarating points of disintegration for the past three decades. Morley has also recorded music as Gate, the Righteous Yeah, the F—k Chairs, Thin Wrist, and Sun Valley, as well as under his own name.
In tribute to Four Violins, Tony Conrad’s landmark 1964 composition, Morley will present the 1-hour-plus installation Music for the Never Quartet: Composition for a quartet of bowed acoustic guitars, which explores the sonic possibilities of the acoustic guitar as a pure resonant amplifier of sound.
In this project, four acoustic guitars are placed on solid wooden furniture, then electronic bows are placed upon the strings of each guitar. The guitar bodies amplify the bowed strings, which the furniture further amplifies, creating a lush and generous sound field. The quartet will modify the collective sound with the addition of wooden blocks, bowls, and rods placed atop and underneath the instruments.
The audience is encouraged to move around the space so they can experience the sound from multiple vantage points. However, Morley explains that “remaining in one place allows for the shifting time signatures of the different vibrating strings to wash [over] the listener.” Concert-goers are also welcome to record the performance on their mobile devices to be played back as loops during the installation.