‘in the elevator, heading for the 23rd floor’

By | 1 May 2015

[After Hong-Kai Wang’s A Conceptual Biography of Chris Mann]

‘i mean am i Wrong to prefer your version of me?’ – Chris Mann

‘It begins with affections. It departs
from one’s desire to construct a biography
of an artist’s life or singularity in various modes
of cooperation with his friends & it ends
with encounters & exchanges with others
in tracing a much larger cultural space
that he is part of. The artist is my longtime mentor
& friend, the Melbourne-born composer Chris Mann’ – Hong-Kai Wang

[Notes from a rearrange/r: this is a cento
from the expressions of Warren Burt,
Jim Denley, Eva Karczag, Rik Rue, John Shone,
Amanda Stewart & David Watson.
All references to Chris Mann have been: ______ ]

‘Take a conceit, a title or a line: what you might call
social tics—heckling people loudly, public
manifestations, against the idea of documentation,
slang & everyday talk, don’t follow word to—
it was either late 1973 or early 1974]

5 bottom lines: social, economic, environmental,
cultural & civic: ASIO had files on all [I thought
ASIO meant Australian Surrealist Intelligence
Organisation]. A now defunct theatre: The Pram
Factory, cardboard cut-out mannequin[s], the basis
for collaboration, love the fact it was free.
[A contract with the Victorian State Government—

Videotaping—someone should really record
this. I have mixed feelings about being
any kind of biographer, that’s a measure of time
we might abandon. We sit & chat, I have the video camera.

Cutting up tapes, the cutup culture
from the past, audio collage—it was Herbert
Brün: experimental music is not problem-solving
music, it’s a problem seeking processes
designed to embody failure. We did fail:
an unending stream of successes—

I’ll send you a link to an article I [wrote]
on [Australian] experimental music history,
make decisions later, an archive, talking
in a very unedited way, ramble, ramble,
ramble—I don’t know what your question
was, but here’s your answer: 10 artists
meet with 5 property developers
& 5 trade unions in a little bar in Melbourne.

How can you bring normally competitive capitalist
interests together without a conversation
about ideology to pursue the common goods?

Video conferencing from different parts of the world.
[She] went to work at a delicatessen to support us.
Courageously creative & idiosyncratic, if not mad
that reputation of mine has continued.

Peacocks, huge tails, beautiful colours, outdoor
life. A time of heavy Marxism or pseudo Marxism,
a lot of friends who were Trotskyites in Australia,
at that time, we didn’t have a name.

I’m a dancer & for me, ______ dances,
the listening [is] bodily, response, words,
silences, empathy & the way ______ gives an impulse
or takes an impulse, a charged space, starting out on chairs.

Who gives a fuck? You think I know what the words
are? Did ______ say “questions are portable, answers
are sedentary?” Did I say?

[His] parents started the first commercially viable folk
music company in Australia in the 60s, before they started
the record label, his mother ran a business, created capital:
went around schools recording children speaking a poem
or singing, the professional reel voice recorder. Funny part
was no one had a reel to reel, buying a reel of child’s
voice they could never play, told you she was a good salesman.

A consciousness of speed & not tripping over yourself,
you make your own hole—I saw the application
the other day, going through old files: “What is the difference
between a rock [&] a stump?” Ethics was the subject
of the group ______‘s text was often like a grid:
a sequence of paragraphs, more like a tarot reading,
gonna get the same cards, just don’t know the sequence.

Is it music? I‘m not even sure it’s a music group.

In sound work, things get flattened into the same space
wide junction of understanding, in the context
of what was referred as avant-garde music
at the time, free jazz voicing & improvisation,
that was the beginning, I don’t remember much more,
our friendship is not time-based, like a race caller.

I don’t believe in avant-garde,
it was a period that existed & it’s been framed.

______ stepped through the doorway yelling:
the meeting got underway. [In]1981, we started
the conversation about what we now call ‘internet’.

Little text duos, very fragile, sensitive, totally
unpredictable & unstable moments, strange,
halting, pausing logic between long conversations
on the phone a whole range of ethical issues
to do with language, of when the audience
is the medium, text & speech, speech & music]

We were not polite, we were searching—conversations
haven’t finished, like a functional/dysfunctional
family, just pick up the phone & talk
in the context of Machine for Making Sense.’

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