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3rd Unit : Study Group Session “Coexistence with Nature: Its Modes of Expression”

Study Group Session“Coexistence with Nature: Its Modes of Expression”

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 On July 26, 2014, a meeting of study group seriesof 3rd Unit of Ircpwas held at the Toyo University Hakusan Campus (Building 6, Faculty of Letters Conference Room). The meeting was based on the theme “Coexistence with Nature: Its Modes and Expression” and was held as part of a plan to explore the concept of coexistence through such concrete modes of expression as the fine arts, featuring a presentation called “The Entrainment Technique: David Dunn’s Site-Specific Music” by Kaneko Tomotaro (Research Associate at Tokyo University of the Arts). Nagashima Takashi (Ircp Researcher) served as the host an Ito Takako (Ircp Visiting Researcher, University of Toyama) served as the commentator. The summaries by the presenters are as described below.

   David Dunn (1953-) is a composer who links music and science through the act of listening to environmental sounds, and who has received international acclaim for proposing a framework for pragmatic environmental protection activities. This presentation was based on early works referred to as site-specific which he composed in the 1970s and 1980s. The presentation situated these works in the post-Cagean developments of the contemporary American music of the 1960s and later, considering the relationship between these works and other contemporary artwork of the time. The first section offered a general view of site-specific works by Dunn and other composers of the same time period, reviewing the background informing their development as well as their concrete methods, and describing the unique features of Dunn’s “entrainment” technique. The second section discussed concepts such as the corporealism of Harry Partch and the compositional linguistics of Kenneth Gaburo, two composers who heavily influenced Dunn in the 60s and 70s, investigating the background informing the development of Dunn’s entrainment technique. The third section reconsidered Dunn’s technique with reference to the context of site-specific works in contemporary art by comparing Dunn’s work with the works of land art that provided a starting point for site-specific art. Here the importance of recording in Dunn’s early work must be emphasized, and the presentation compared this with the role of mirrors in Robert Smithson’s land art. The conclusion mentioned that John Cage thought highly of the act of recording as a compositional method. On this basis, the presentation proposed an interpretation of Dunn’s early work as an important development in the use of recording in contemporary American music.

   Following the presentation, Itō offered about thirty minutes of commentary and questions for the presenter while displaying slides, deepening the discussion on nature and coexistence. This was a highly productive seminar involving about 10 participants.2