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tony conrad: forty-five years on the infinite plain (2007)





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Uploaded on Oct 14, 2007

Tony Conrad with MV Carbon & guests (Jürgen De Blonde, Dominica Eyckmans, Julia Eckhardt, Stefaan Quix, Stefaan Smaaghe, Timo van Luijk, Els van Riel)/ "Forty-five Years on the Infinite Plain" (1972-2007) / live at the Bozar-Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels - Argos Open Archive festival / Oct 13, 2007

Ten Years Alive on the Infinite Plain (1972), like some other works of the psychedelic era, commingles starkly formal abstraction with introspective romanticism. Its insistent conflation of quasi-religious spectacle with materialist minimalism follows a path marked out by Rothko, Cage, Andre, and many others. Today these elements have lost their radicalism; even the political conviction of that time, that such work could make contact, through its spiritual insistence, "with the political real behind the culture of commodity and spectacle" (as Diedrichsen puts it), seems problematic and thin.

"In revising "Ten" to "Forty-five", I am addressing a broader chronological perspective, relocating to a different social allegory, and accessing the plural tools that encompass a more contemporary "minimalism." The "subject" that is, the vieweris still at the center of the work; but now the polyvalence of subjectivity is recognized in a figural usage of heterophony and antiphony. A solo cello challenges the lead instrument, and the audience area is divided in half. Musical figures invoke divisiveness, over the unitary ground of the drone. There are two distinct rhythms to follow, further dividing the subject's attention. These elements of what would have been seen in 1972 as "confusion" instead, in today's heterotopia, reflect and invite access to a subjectivity that is more "true to life," more centered on the plain where we stand."


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