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David Tudor: The Delicate Art of Falling

Bill Viola

Palongari'hoya. traiH'ling through the earth, sonnded oul his call as hrioas bidden. .Kll thi'vihrato)"^ centers along the earth's axis from pole to pole resounded his call: the whole earth trembled; the universe qnivrred in tone. Thus, he maile the whole world an instrument of sound, and sound an instrument for carrying message.',, resoniidiiigpiaise jor thr creator o(all.
H o p i IiulUtti i i n i l i o f tlic ( T f i i t i n t i of i h c Fiisi

World [I] Nikola Tesia was a St-rbian inventor who, woiking in New York at the m m ot lhe 2()th century, tevolntionizcd lhe applications of electricity with one of the most fertile and visionary imaginations in lhe historv of science. In an era when elccu icit\ was slill iti lhe expctinicntat stages. Tesia claimed thai lu' could nansmit electricity and illtnnination wilhont wires an\'\vherc in the world; send soniid aiul speech through lhe air to ships at .sea or people in their homes thiongli a systein he called "lhe hanstiiission of inlelligente"; and that, by caknlating its rcsotiaiil hecjiiency, lie could send lhe Karth into vibration wilh a properly tuned driver of adfqtiate si/e and specific placement. In IH96 he snapped a dri\er motor lo the cetilral beam of his Mulberry Street laboi aioi y and sel llie buikling, and the gromid beneath il. into a resonant o.scillation. accderatitig in intensity and cansing a small earthqnake ihat shattered windows, broke pipes and wreaked ha\(c and alarm in lhe neighborhood. He was foiced to slop il wilh a blow fioni a sledgi'hainmei. David Tudor first introduced me to the work ol Nikola Tesla. I was then ^3 veais old, fresh oni ol college and icady for wild, tiew ideas. I had retenlh met hitn al a New Music workshop ill New Hampshire. Iti fad. il was Ttidtn who inirodttced me to a loi of new things at tliat timewondrotis, mysterious, marvelous things all connected in one way or another to the worltl ol sonnd and vibradon. revelations ihal have stayed with me and contintte to inspire and iniortii my work.
// takes a man to iiiahe a room silent.

C;hoeoriia, in the While Motmtains of New Hampshire-, to share with stndeiiis. 1 look a (.reyhound bus from Syractise, ha\ing signed npfor Tudor's sessions knowing nothing of Rainforest other than what I had I'ead ill the brochure, something about fxciting" physicai objects with sonnd to discover their rcsonanl fretitieneies. On lhe Iirst tnoi ning, a group of about ITJ of tis assembled in a.small upstairs room, which had already heen set otit wilh tables hearing eleclionic eqtiipmeiu and some strange ohjecis.


I he author discusses his early exposure to Tudor's work and its formative influence on his own work and thinking. Thts connection began with the author's coliaboration in the presentation of Tudor's Rainforest which provided an introduction to the provocative currents at work in Tudor's music and personality.

David Tudoi' was not a man inclined to small talk or social pleasanlries; in fatt he usually didn"l say much at all. 7"hings got undei way with liitle ot no inirodtiction. with David talking in halting sentences ptitu tuated by long silent patises,rareh'looking anyone in the eye. This, pins his formidable repnUilion. made us all feel qtiite intimidated at first, and lliere was a nervous, unseuled feeling in the r"oom.! le deinonstraied the basic principle bebind tlitiii/oiesth\ running a sine tone from an audio oscillaioi' into a metal can using a device called a traiLsdiicer, which w"e soon realized acted like the magnetif dn\er part of a loudspeaker without the siii^rounrling collar. As the oscillalor swept the ptire lone slowly tip through the audible .sotind spectrum, the object wonld vibrate and physically ratde, giving ofl a loud, complex array of sound frequencies, or otherwise fall siill and quietly reproduce onh' the originally pure .sotind source. I)a\id performed this lask silently, with tlie ntniost concentration on the object and the sotmd. We were informed that these lotider events were the lestik of resonanl nodes latent in that particular metal can and that all physical objects had them. l'reti\' soon we weif experimenting with these tran.sdticeis otusehes. attaching them to anything we could fiud around the small ioiuerted faim/inn where we were stayingold beds]n ings, bands, cookie sheets, WCXKI planks. Someone blew oitt two transducers by trying lo resonate the baihroom plumbing tinder the toikl. I)a\i<l seemeil truly delighted tt) see whal was previously a table-top settip designed for road performances wilh the Merce Ctttiniiighani Dance (lotnpan\' expand intti a large-scale singing jniikyaid (Fig. I). 'Sears lalei\ during one of lhe many pei-formances of what became kiicmn as Rainforest IV, 1 watched as people of all ages wandered entranced through a large hall filled with a sonic "forest" of suspended objects t>rall shapes and sizes, each object lenditig iis own iiniqne \'oi( e lo the varied, undtilaling .sountl Held thai permeated e\cry coi ner of
ilie l o o t n .

I m e t ' f i i d o i - t h r o u g h h i s p i e c e Rainforest br()tiglit t o a s u n m i e r w o r k s h o p at an

in 197;V wiiic h h e inn in the louii

had of

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Frontispiece. Bill Viola and David Tudor making pasta. August 1979. (Photo Kira Perov)

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come close during ibe wt)rkshop, kindred spirits searching for something a bit more immaterial and essential beneath lhe technical, iniellectvial and somewhat competitive almosjdiere of a music camp. Tudor began. Evei'v thing seemed "normal" at first, an avant-garde music performance by a highh skilled and accomplished virtuoso, impressive to be sure. Then something else took ovei. David changed. The music changed. It felt as il' his mind had taken hold of the room, moving out into the space and inio us wilh every sonnd and silent pause. It was invisible, dynamic, palpable and [ihysicallv preseiil. and it rose and fell like waves on a sea of emotion. I liH)ked over at Linda, and one look back from her lold ns both that we were witnessing the same thing. We wept. We talked abotit it for a long time later that night, and on several occasions afterwards, and to ihis day cannot describe (he precise nature of whal we experiI iim slill astonislu'd at him. with so vet y workshop, I was soon to learn that David enced. All I knew at the time was that my hitlf instt ticlioii, ;ind ccrtitiiily no acs- was in fact a very social person who loved electronic music professor at Syracuse tliftic or ihcutftical "nitisit;tl" fx})laiuv and was dearly loved by ail who knew University never mentioned anything like tions, Ttidor had Iriinsforiiicd an oUlrr him. Allhougb he cotild he deeply seri- this in our discussions on New Mnsic. work into somclliing compleiely new and ous and severely introspective, langhter And even more striking, nothing like this unexpected, one that took on a life of its and delight wiih everything and every- had ever come through on the many own. By concentrating on the phenome- one around him were never far awa\\ recordings of this music that I had lisnon il.scif and demonstrating its priiui- Conversations often lasted long inio lhe tened to over the years. In comparison to pics directly for onr senses and our nighi. He seemed lo have dear friends all what I had jtist heard, even the more bodies to experience, he created a self- over the globe, and always elicited warm, (echnically outstanding records .seemed instructive piece, one in which the es- loving smiles from every familiar face somehow onc<limensioiial. Thai night in senlial parameters are intuitively self- who stopped by to say hello. At home, lhe barn, something deep and real and ex idem to tlie performer. Yet at lhe same cooking in the kilchen and soldering tinexpecled opened up in this nnisic for time tliere remained a great decree oi in- components into circuit boards were es- lhe first time in my life, and ihis man was dividual freedom to ch(ose and tailor ihe sentially lhe same act. To be with him, to at the center of that transformation. sounds fed to lhe grotip f)f selected ol> make music with him. was to be in a place Years later, my friend and colleague jecis undei one's innnediate contiol. where ai t and life tuerged and any dis- Ron Ktiivila uncovered a quote from After Chocorua, a smaller group of tinctions between ihe two became irrel- David that shed some light on what was ns;]ohn Driscoll, Phil Edelstein, Linda evant. Yet this social dimension was also going <m: Fisher, Ralph [ones, Martin Kalve and only one of the many sides to David an iiisiriimcntafist lanics wiih ii mejoined Daxid and took Rainforest on Tudor ihat I was to fUscover (Fig. ?>). job of makiEiy ceriain physicul picpathe road, and we soon discovert'd that raliniis for the next instant, sn 1 liad lo this sense of freedom and continuous disle;irii ui pm myself in ihf right frame of Keep sileyit here and talk in Ihe other mind. I had to fcarn how to be ;ibfe t() covery extended to the audience memworld. cancel my (oiisciimsiicss of any previous bers as well. They were free to circulate mi>menl in mdcr to be iible to produce Rumi in lhe room and approach lhe performthe next one. . . . [2| ers at their Individual stations to engage in convei'sation (Fig. 2). One evening The workshops in Chocorua cuhninated "'Cancel my consciousness"the phrase dnring one of ihe typicalK 4-hour-plus it] a series of performances, and the mosl strtick a chord. This ability David was tryperformances, after the small tinmai ked signilieanl for of ns in Tudor's class ing to cultivate is precisely the technical cups of tequila had made their obligatory was the first public presentalion of Rttin- aim of much of Kastern spirittial practice, rounds from station to station, a man forest'xn its scaled-up installation version. part of a long iradition sireiching back came up to me, a bit bewildered by what However, the most personalh' tuemo- many milletmia. It is also the classic had been acherli'^ed to be a concert by lable one itnned out lo be David's Hindu and Bitdclhisi definition of freeDavid Tudor. Seeing all the people casu- evening solo performance, appai'ently tlom, liberation from the snares of maalh milling abotn, he asked, "Is there al- one of tlie first on the piano that he had terial reality. He coTitinued: "Whal this ways this cocktail partv-ivpe atinosptiere given in quite some time. Linda Fisher did for me was to bring about freedom, to RainjorestY' and I climbed tip into the loft in the barn tbe freedom lo do anything, and that's The answer, oi cotn-se. was "Ves." De- and watched and lisiened from the how I learned to be free for a whole hour spite my lirst encounter with Tudor at the rafters like two barn owls. We had be- al a lime" |.3].
ti. l);i\i(i Tudor

Fig. 1, Bill Viola setting up for the first performance of Rainforest for workshop participants in a bam at Chocorua, New Hampshire, June 1973. (Photo John Driscoll)

piano, electrotiicsor pai licular objec ts iii hand. David 'fudor was a deeply spii ittial peisoti, wbi( h could be sen.sed byatiyotie in bis pieseiue ulio bad iheir antennae timed to such freqtieucies. but althotigh existentially present, lliis{]ua]ity \^as, like most other things wilh him, rat eh if ever openly discussed bv him. I once asked David whether he subscribed to any specilic spiiitual ptactice. After an nnustially long, uucomforiable and squitniy .silence, he briefly talked aboul once beitig involved with Rtidolf Steiner's teachings and visiting the Goetheaiuim in Dornach, Switzerland. I sensed there was a loi mote there, btit I dirbi'l press it and ibe subject was qtiickly dropped.
.\ttaii) deliverancei)> disturlnmces. Fip;. 2, First ptihfic perrurinaiice of Halnfnrest, BufFaln Slale Voik, May 1974.

Zen Master Kvong Ho Al the time I mel D,i\id, 1 was iiudergoing a crisis wilh my woik in ele< Ironic media. I had been sttidying electrotiic nnisic in the form of tbe Moog synthesizer, and had jtist started to design and build my own sotmd-processing circtiits using then-new inlegiated circuit chips sttcli as the famous 741 op atnp. Witb \ideo I was invoh'ed wilh the cot tesponding visual piactice of image processing, tisitig chroma and htminaitce keying, video feedback (pointing a live camera at its own monitor itnage) and generating interference patterns by runniiis' the sijrnals from andici os<illalois

(Photo John Driscoll) Tantric Btiddhiststall this state "naked," btit it goes by many names riepending on the school and culture I'l-ajnaparimita, Mahamitdra, fiodhicitia and Dzogchen ami>tig them. It is the [jrimoi'dial. natural state of all human bc-ings, piesent iu eadi and evei V'one of us, but covered over or tarnished by lhe incessant distractions, misleading appearances and bttsy-ness of everydav exi.-Jtetice. Despite the aversion ofthe (ritical establishiiu'iil and the culture at laige to dtscussioti of ihese traditions in a serious and knowledgeable way (including the approach lo life and arl they re|)tesent), ihey remain the most advanced and technically precise systems that we have for dealhigwith the intrinsic nattire of individual snbjecllve e\p<'rience. It was jus! this kind of technical precision applied to iiiiangible lealiiies that David Tudor relished. Ill ttaditional spiriiual texis, the svnibol commonly used to refer to ottr "naked awareness" is ihe mirror. The contemporary Tibeiati D/ogclun master Nainkhai N'orbu Rin}oche des( i ihes the disiiiiction between our mind and tbe utideilying 'nature of mind":
Tficn;ittir<'nl iiiiiu! is like ;i mirror whit fi has tin- ii;itiii-af and liilierenl tapaciiy to lcllcct whaicvci is sei hcUirc it. whether bfamifiiliir ii<i;l): bin tlit-sc irilct lions in iiowayaffeci ormiidify the naimc cii tbe mirror. . . . V\'li;ii ibc pr;i( itiionci' docs wh<'n fiitfring iiitinonicniplnlioii is simple to dis( over liiiiisi'll in ibe condition o! tju' mirror [-11.

eting loi- ihose vvho .saw Havid peiform and Ihal I.inda Fisher and 1 felt so clearly for the first time up in the loll. Ttidor's performance that night was as much au inner practice as it was an outer presentation c)f \iitiiosic technical masterv atid sublime musical knowledge, and piobably mole so. In fatl, what we heard and how we heard it, was ())(/v made possible by Tudor's hai ne.>;sing and foctising his innei at the moment the sounds and silences were being made. Kiom ihai moment, I fell thi.** to be the essential malerial of his work, noi the

Fig. 3, David Tudor performing Rainforest at Festival d'Atilomne a Pari.s. October 1976. (Photo Philippe Gras ' http://\ *)

This is the tangible innet ef fori being a.sserted, the "action through iion-attion" and invisihle dvnamics that were so riv-

V i o h . IKivid


inlo the video inputs of the monitor to create complex, undulating abstract forms. Allhotigh I was becoming more proficienl at it. and my al)i]iiy lo control and pet feel the images ;ind sounds was increasing exponentially, my woik began lo feel more and more t latisirophobic and is<ilated from the real world. The foctts was on and within the electronic circuits ihemselves, with the loudspeakei s in lhe room being simpiv lhe final (nitptit stage. They inight as well have been headphones, which often ihey were when I worked alone. \'ideo provided the f'nsi wav otit tlnotigh the live camera and pr<>)ection. This freed the image from the monitor l)ox and expanded il lo lhe aichiie* tural scale of both the room and, more importantly, of the human body. Ry lhe time I left for the Chocorua worksh(ps, I was alieady familiar with the work of Edgard \'arese and his ideas of active space, as well as Alvin Ltu ier's eledroacottstic experimenls, incltiding ilie tape feedback piece I Am Sitting in a Room. Although I had begun suidving acoustic phenomena and was riuniing oscillator signals into rooms to create standing wave patterns and resonant nodes, thinking of them as sculptural forms, mv main pinp<ise in going to New Hampshire was to expand my knowledge of electronic circuit design, or so I thought.

mal and nattnal sotmds hum research iacilities arotind the world. He brottgbt mticb of ibis material with bim to (^bocortia, as it lent itself very well to tbe aesthetic and technical nature of the resonatitig objects in The sound library was extraordinarymy favorite recording v\'as of a pack of seals wallitig tinderwater beneath lhe arctic ice-and it was the missing link that I bad been waiting for. The exotic birds and frogs on Tudor's lapes sounded a lot like some of lhe abstiaci electronic bleeps aud whoops I had been struggling with. The resonant propel ties ofthe fottnd objects we Were using functioned much iu the same way as lhe atidio modulatoisand lilters of the elecironic svnthesi/er, but were more rotigh and tttn uK: The world inside of electiotiii circtiits aud the world outside in tbe forests aud rivers were revealiug iheir common foi nis atid tiiiderlyitig principles.

through. (Complementing this experience was the fact that the objects and their placement created a rich and evocative vistial and st iilpiural envinnmienl as well. Since no one but David had a natural sound libtary, one ofthe important firsl tasks in creating RainjhrestWAs to collect scuuids. At the time, tbe meditim of choice fbi" David fudor, and ihei efore for, was lhe audio cassette, at the time just coming into its owti as a viable higb-{[tialitv medium (as hard as this is to imagine in the age of the Walkman). So We all outfitted ourselves with lhe new "portable" stereo cassette i ecordet s, with headphoni'sand /(Vvof baiieries. and hit lhe road. I he machine (]tiickl\ became a constant coiiijianion on all mv iravels
(Fig. 4).

Space was the grotind and unifying element in which this interac tion was being played out. For me lhe most siguiticani thing about RainjdrestwAS that tbe sound existed both inside and outside lhe ol>jects at the same timethe electrical I>ick-ups alia< bed lo each oljject revealed its internal \ibiatioiis, wbich were amplifietl and sent to lnttdspeakers at lhe periphery of the space, while the exterual sut face of each object v\as audibly resonating witbin its own local area. The F.arly on f realized that with tnicroSeveral years earlier, Ttidor had cie- different characters of these twosottnds, [)hones, as opposed to a video camera, aled a large-scale, multi-speaker spatial the intiei and tbeoutet; the materiai and array in ihe dome ofthe Pepsi Pavilion the ephemeral, lhe acousuc and the elec- ibe entire area arotind the recorder beat tlie 1970 Osaka Expo. For sotmd ironic. made for au extreint-ly varied and came sensitized, not oiiK for the object sources, he embarked ou a project to complex SoundScape, wbich audience ofthe recording but fbr the per.soti doing gather scientific field recordings of ani- metnbers to tinfold by walking the recording as well. I found tnyself in a kind of Heisenbergian dilemtna. Ciiven the generally low level of the sounds being lecorded and the sensitivitv'of the Fig. 4. Bill Viola making hinaural sound recording, Chitteiiangu Falls, near Syracuse, New microphones, the tiniest of stiiffles, swalYork. September 1979,^Photo Kira Perov) lows or shifting of body position became attdible chn ing the recording. So I would have lo be absoltitelv still, at rest and in bahmce for long periods of time, even if at rick developed in tuy legwhich it inevilably did. Of course, in retrospect I couiti have simply edited ottt the offending stntnd, btit that was not my way. This had to be ati absolttte, extreme, "pure" recorditig practice, a nattiral tendency of mine that was probably enbanced by being with David. Mayfae that is why I connected so deeply with him. Live llekl recording with microphones and headphones is a ttiiique experience, particularly at night. The headphones enveloped me in sound; the dat kuess sttrrotinded me and severely limited visual perception. Physical itmnobility caitsed loss oi' the senses of body position and

Some ofthe most sublime moments of mv life were spent at the sicle of a pond iu the eotmlryside of tipstate New York, recording singing frogs on a warm summer's night. Field recording became a kind of littial act, tequititig a smprisiug degree of mental focus and attention to detaik One would lu st search otit just the liglu spot to position the microphones, put ou a set of headphones and .set the levels, ihen push "retord" and settle in to listen in the darkness. My method was lo record real-time ambient seqtiences of long dtirations. sometimes as long as an hotir.

Viol,,. David Tudni

s, pcircpiii;il cxpt-riciicc was scnsiti/cd and hrigliif lu'd almost to the point orhalliicinatioii as lhe frogs' voices welled up and subsided aniiiiid and witliin me in continiiallv\at \ingua\es (Fi^..")), [junctualed by ociasional peii()tls ol' silence thai revealed ()llu'i\ more snbtlc sounds. I realized thai ihi' demaiuls ofthc let hnolou,y had inatheiiciiiK lore t-d me in!o a position of deep meditation, and on seveial occasions I had some of lhe most prolound oiit-oi body experieiues I have e\ei' had. As wilh Tiidor"s perforniiinces, lhe li\e aspccl was esseniial Io the overall fxperiiMHr. It made lhe recordiiii; |)ait ol'the exercise seem secondary. When I think back to how Diivici was leaching' us, I am amazed. The field lecoidings arc a perfect example. lie issued a simple insiruttioii: "f,o mil (unl giillier sun lids." Thvu he siepjjed aside, allowing each person lo ha\eaii expei ieiiee on his or her own terms, and in ihc end imparted to all ofiis a greater awareness of llie plaee of mnsic and electrt)nic s<ninds in lhe oider of'uature. Those outdoor iccording sess!(.)ns lotcver (hanged m\ awareness ol'sound as a (Kuaniie lil'efoite. a knowledge ihai still iniin iusmany aspecis of my life and artisiir piattice.
In wh(ilei<er \ou do you sliould biiiii \oiirself completely Uke a good hoiifire, leaving no Irate.

Rg. 5, Pseudacris crucifer, "Spring Peeper." (Photo Lang Elliot <http://www.naturesouiid. coni/frogs/pages/peepcr.litinl ) Thi.s iioctiiriial frog, approximately 1 inch long, is more often heard Ihan seen. Its tall consists of a sinf(Ie loud, clear nole, or peep, repealed approximately once per second. A pond I'lill of Peepers can he nearly deafening to the ohserver.

Siuuii VII Su/uki Roshi Two years later I Ibuud myseirwui kiug :it a\ideo-ari sttidioin Florence, Italy. In my spare time. 1 iuiiiaied a project to rec(Ji"d ihc ambieiu sound in lhe vast halls oi lhe major cathedrals in the cltv. In an aiieuipt lo ( a}Hii!"e lhe siibconseioiis background noise that gave a unique sonic character to each building. On my lirst visits, 1 had focused like most lotu ists on the magniHeeni arehiletttne and art thr eaihedrals contained. s(j ii look me quite some lime to realize that these great buildings were in fact primarily empty. Spending long hoiu's making .sonnd recoiclings ga\e me an e\en moi-e valuable insighl: thai this emptiness was not an absence ot something, butrather a/jms/z/r*-in fact, ///f presence low hit h all the artworks and songs, and ihc buildings ihemsehes, were dedicated. A huge empty space did seem the most appropriate symhol tor an invisible presence of such magnitude. This idea of a "charged empliness,"' and lhe sense of an acti\ated space that it engendered, was something familiar, which 1 rccogni/cd iu David Tudor s music. It vvas ihe distinct impression thai

ihere was .\iiiiielhing\\wn: undernealh lhe wrillen noies and icchnii al iusirumeuls, present in the silences as well as the sotmds.and ihal tliis was consistently felt lo be the main Cfjmponent ofthe experience. The silence experienced in Da\id s performances was silcnct- in lhe Buddhist sense, not nothing bul something-the lateni poteniial thai contained all possible sdtuids.
//(' who JMiiiils a pgnie. ij lie raiiiiul he it cannot dnnv it.

Dante 1 1 1*!9H. 2 \ears alter Da\id had passed 1 away. 1 was a scholar-in-iesidence at the Getty Research Institute In Los Angeles. The Getty had just acquired the David TndoT Pa|>ers archive, and one day I was inviied by an archivist to help clarify the naiuie of some ofthe technical things he had menlioncd in his notes. When they brinighl the lirst box out and opened it tip. I saw a stack of personal papers in David's handwriling. I instanily became nervous and Iliislered, unsure ofvvhai lo do. David was such a privaie man, and in i eal life il was stu h a rare [)i ivilegc lo have him open tip and share his inner thonghts. Bill liere in front of me were pages and pagesof these very private monieuis. in slark black aiifl white, ftilly illuiTiinaled. naked and un|)rolecled. I fell like 1 vvas looking into a room thai IKHI long been locked fora reason and wasviolai ing some unspoken pact by doing so.

I proceeded very slowly, gingerlv ul fil siheari in ihroat. I saw pagesof iiiiiiibers and iiand-drawn tables, possibly equipment settings or calculations oi s ime sort, beautifully composed and writ< It ri in the most delicate and sensitive liaiidvvriting. There were folders ofRiidio Shack receipts for electronic components and materials: envelopes with names, phone riuiiibeis and assoried lists jotted down ou vai^ious scraps ol paper; descriptions of pieces and multiple drafts for [program notes. (The hardest ihing for David lo do vvas to explain himself in ]>ublic. vcl he could be an ex(elleiit \M iler and speakei" if he warned to.) I here were also manv t iicnii diagrams, souie wilh mtiltiple changes and crossings out. The inosl nu>ving thing was a small notebook where David liad handcopied exterpts iriid soriK-limes eiilir'e ai'licles, inchuliiig illusiratious and ca|> lions, from J'opular Eteclronirs maga/ine and olhei puhlications like it in the Ul.^Os and 19fi()s. He was painstakingly leaching liitTiseU electronics, quietly sitting alone in a room somewhere. Again, all this was wr ittcn meticulously in pencil, in the .same careful, ihoughliul hand. I vvas deeply lotulu'd and felt over whelrncd and gi ateftil at having been given the op]>orliinitv to be so close to David's inner ihoughts. eloser than I had ever been in rea! life, asambivaleiii as il made me feel. I found one pailieuhu set <.)f' documents lhat ilhiminated the myslery oi what David was acttially doing during some of those performances. It was a se-

\will, \y.\\ill


art involving conligtiiations ol cornponenis arranged in certain seqtienees according to their individtial function and the laws of electrical currents. However, once this precise layotU of components hecame animated bv the electricity conrsirig tbrotigli them, thev were transformed into a living, pulsing system and. il the conneclions were complex enough, an unpredictable one as well. The "piece" became a probing exploration ofthe internal junctions inside the system to see what might be hiding tliere (Fig. 6). The description he had vvrilien sotinded verv similar to a pie(e called I'nheis, one of my favoiiles, which I had seen him perioini several times in the Ht70s. His siatement explained why at times an ear-sphtiing horrific btirst of noise vvotikl suddenlv' come blasting out of lhe lottdspeakers as if they were going to explorle. and ai other times everything would suddenh collapse in stone silence. In both siluaiions, David, silling expressionless, would calmly reach over to one of those hand-made mystery boxes piled (HI bis lable to slowly and delicately lurn a dilferciii knob. In tbe same texl, David also wrote: "The peii'or inance circtiitry is regarded as heginning in its mitldle. . .." [()]. Here, the Zen master within David's mind hecame apparent. For most people, ajialog electronic devices, whether stereo ampliiiers or' cassette tape decks, typically come in lhe form of some soit of box wilh an "input""and an "oiitput"ori theoutside. We attach the cables in tbe prescribed order, tnrn it uu, acljust the various control knobs pr"ovide<i. and t'njoy the show. An inquisitive child, however, would naturally ask, "But what's inside the box?" a very good qtiesiion. since thai is where all the action is. The exciting stui'i'is going on behind etosed doors, somewhere between the inpttl and the outpttl. In lhe case of analog components, this fundamental action is transformation transnuiling one form into arunher. shape-shifting. So David simply opened up the hox and started poking arotind, trying to reach the spark al lhe heart ofthe matler, the essential point of ihange. This process nattirally ent;uls some risk (Fig. 7). Goidon Mimima once said ihat the two key elemenis to Ttidor's work as a composer were resonante and chaos. 1 his asttile comment pinpoints the ttnderlying principies that have found many expressiv e and creative outlets in Ttidor's extraordiuarv hands, hoth artistically and philosophically, physically and metaphysically. Resonance is the condition wherehy a liny input anlonomotisly cascades into

Fig. 6. Blind woman hearing and touching Rainforest at Drexel Bank Building, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1979. (Photo Kira Perov) The deaf attended and were able to "hear" the objeets by biting tbem to induce inlcrnal bone conduetiou.

lies of haitdwi iiten dralls of program notes for a piece simply tailed l-nlilled. a work for elecironi* s. In it he wrote:
. . . pai r ot a si'i ii'sol will ksiii \\hiL~h clt'ctroniccompDricritsarecliiiiiicd lo^eilifi' in sucb a way as ro finxhiic p;tr;inn.'icrs iinprctlitiahle to thf pt'iiornicr. fhc work is "<lis( (ivfrTfl" in live perf'orniaricf, through tlic cx|)l(n;Uinri nf all possible poiius <if\ariation within the clftiroiiic hookup |.^j|.

I smiled out loud. Jtist as I had stispe( ted, his cool, calm demeanor belied the fad that inside he didn't know what the hell he was doing! .And he did this on stage, alone, in full view of ihe paying

piiblicl ()i'(oiirsc, he knew///nW/vvliat he was rloing. he just had no idea what was going lo happen next. I had always classified these pieces of David's lhat never sounded the same twice as "imprtnisalions,'" one of these nice coiiveiitiona! labels we applv wilhntil thinkiitg too rinich abotil it. Btit in these notes I was r~eading something else, something even more thrilhng, radical and brave. This was not improvisation, it was a type of/<';//?)i^'-.'Aiu!. characteristically, il w'as muc h more coiujilex thau it seemed. 1 thought ahotit what was behind this. Tudor had made the ciictiits, a precise


a, l ) a \ i ( l I i i i i r i r

a iniK h laiger tnujjui. It onctirs whcu a small vibration interacts with the iuternat str ticliir e ol a material and gieally increases in intensiiv; threatening lo destroy the objcc t if pnshcd bevond a certain limit. Chaos is lhe point at which order breaks down, when elements in an organized system start acting randomly and atitonomotislv, creating a sittiation where il is impossible to predict exactly whal will happen next or in what order. Both involve limits and ihiesholds ihai have been crossed, organization lhat breaks down, actions that go out of control, systems that collapsecrealing something new and unexpected in ihe process. The image I have oi David and his art is one of a child playing the game of stack the blocks. Block is balanced on top of block in ascending order nntil the stack gels very high, precariotislv close to toppling over. The tension motints as each participant places aiiolher block on tbe stack. Tbe eneig\' ofthe groti[) proceeds from snnig tahnness at tbe beginning lo stomach-clenching, nail-biting lerror in the end. In this scenario, David Tudor, composer, performer and child, is ihc one who puts the next hlockon the stack after the structure has almost toppled many times over, and lhe consensus is that no additional weight cotild conceivably resuli in anyihing htit total disaster". As ali look ou in horror, or close their eyes, David executes ihis acl with calm, foctised concentration, ptmctuating his success with gleei'til latighter. Whether the stack falls or not is a matter of interpretation.
We air dose lo nifik/ng up when xve are dreaming.

N oval is 1 1 |:rnuary 1977, the /\V;/yoj-^sYgr oup was Fig, 7. Audience member intimately listening to RainforesI, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 1 invited by Pauline Oliveros for a 2-week Minnesota,June 1976. (Photo John Driscoll) artists' residency at the O u t e r for Music Experiment at the University of California San Diego. On our last weekend, rhythm ptmcttiated with sudden audible he a mile or more av\'avwhen they resurI'atiline arranged for us to go otit on a bttrsts of air Irom their blowholes. As we faced, aiid that when they are down deep whale-watching trip to see Pacific gray got closer, the presence of ihese creattries it is impossible to predict where they whales on their seasonal migration down as living sen lieni beings was distinctlv dis- might go nexl. This became the pattern the California coast. The morning light cernible. ofthe day. was magnificent, and ourgroup was quite Occasionallv, a set of hioad tail llukes While all this activitv was going on, I animated and excited on the wav' out of rose tip high ont ofthe waler; signaling a noticed that David had become very the harbor. DavitI sat on a bench jtist deep dive, which the animals apparently quiei. I hatt sometimes seen him recede under the captain's windows at lhe bow did ix'gularlv. \\'ithin a few seconds they in certain social siluaiions, ant! I thouglit of the boat. The first whale was spotted, had all disappeared wilhotit a trace. After that cither lhat was the case liere or perand soon we had seen several as the boai an interminable amotmt oi" time and haps he had become seasick. On the way maneuvered qtiite close to a small grotip. heightening anticipaiitjn. they still had hack iu 1 sat down next lo him. I couldn't rheir lutge, gray, encrusted hacks rose not reappeared. I realized then ihai see his eyes well under his stinglasses, so nji like massive botilders and then sank whale watching entailed a lot of waiting, it was hard to tell what he was thinking. benealli lhe waves, tlelining a regular rile caplairi informed tis thai thev cottld After a spell of silent sitting, I asked how

\'ii:tii. David I udiii


he liked seeing the whales, fhere was another long pause, and then he said, "I could feel them under there." Years later I realized how much of David there was in that whale v\'atching trip: The calm quiet surface suddenly broken by a htige form rising up from the depths, its full size and shape indeterminable, visible for a brief moment before stibmerging agaiti, leaving only a disturbed suiface and qtiestions of whether what was seen acttially happened or v\hal its true nature aclually was. Meanwhile, as the rest of tis wait to see if it will happen again, the reality behind the experience is happening somewhere down deep, invisible to the eyea living heing moving in regions we cannot know, navigating by sound, and breaking the surface onlv occasionally, each time imparting agiflof power and grace that can last a lifetime. Thank you. David. The birds h(we vanished into the sky, find now the last rhud drains away. We sd together; the mountain and me, until only the mountain remains. Li Po, 8th eenttirv [7]

art museums and galleries^ arui on fntlilir television xvorldwide. His work explores phenomena of aeiise perception as an avenue to self-knowledge and focuses on universal 2. Ron Ktiiviki, "I'ratiicing llu* Inipfrft*( r,"lc( iiiit- al human experiencesbirth, death, the unrhe Gt'lty R e s t a r c h Insiiriilc, I.os .Ajigcics, H M a n l i folding of coiuciousne.ssimth roots in both 1999. Eastern and Western art as well as spiritual 3 . Kuivila [1]. traditions, including Zen Buddhism, Islamic Sufism and Christian mysl/cism. Viola re4. Namkh;ii Norbti K!n])i)C"ln'. Sflf-I.dii-mUnii ihyimgh Seringwilh NakedAu'iirriiess. )ohn Myrdliiii Rcynulcis. ceived his HI'A in Experimental Studios from rrans, (Ith.ica. NY; Stiow Lion rubliriiriims, 2()0) Syracuse Lhiiversity in 1973, gaining expedilorcwiird. J). X. ence while assisting such artists as Nam June 5. Fiom tile David Itidor Papers. Getty Rt'scait h InPaik and Peter Campus iti the staging of stittitf ((.iRl) (980039), [iiliiniiaiidii aboiii rlie cutling-edge media exhibitions. Late)- Viola aictiivf is avaiUililc at: <www.frelly.fdti/rfsfar(li/ studied and worked with David Tudor and rotidiuiinnresi-arch/digiri/t'd collect ions/<l;ivid participated in Tudor'sR-d'inihrc^t group, extitd()r>. perimenting with music and sonic scnlpture. 6. Fioni Ihf David Tudor Papers. GRt (9KI)0:W) | 5 | , In 1997, the Whitney Museum organized a 7. Sti'phfn Mitchill. f(i.. The t-Jihghteiird Henri (New 25-year survey of Viola's work that traveled to Viiik: Ihirpft and Row. HWJ) p. ?i2. Qtioie liaiisUltd major museums in the U.S. and Europe. In bv Sani Haniill. 2002, Viola completed his most ambitious project. Going Forlh By Day, a five-part projected digital "fresco" cycle in high-dejinition video. A neio body of work. T h e Passions, was exhibited at the f. Paul Crelty Museum in Los Mantiscripi rfccivcd 2 .'Vpril 'i( Angeles in 2003. later traveling to the National Gallery London. Currently, Viola is collaborating with theater/opera director Peter Sellars and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen to Since the early 1970s video art pioneer Bill create a neiii production of Richard Wagner's Viola has created over 150 videotapes cmd o/y/'m Tristan and Isolde. multimedia installations thai are shown in References and Notes
1. Frank VVau-rs, linok cJ Ihe ll</pi (ilalUinlini- Books, 1%9) p . h. Originally piilili.shed in Utfi.S.


Vwlii. David Tii