Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tom Orange Teaching Chance and Procedural Writing at SPACES Gallery

Chance & Procedural Writing: History and Practice
The Plum Academy – SPACES Gallery – Fall 2009
Tom Orange

Description: During World War I, Tristan Tzara famously instructed would-be Dadaist poets to tear up a newspaper article into pieces, put them into a hat, shake vigorously, draw them at random and transcribe the results. With such seemingly farcical advice, Tzara also offered a profound critique of Western civilization and its embrace of logic and reason. Since the 1950s, composer John Cage and the French Oulipians as well as certain conceptual writers today have extended and updated
Tzara's procedure. This forum considers the history of chance and/or procedural writing, the methods at work, and the rationales or motivations for creating such work, and how to evaluate it. There will also be regular opportunities for participants to enact these writing practices for themselves. Register online at

WEEK 1: Tuesday September 15 6:30-7:30pm

The Dadaist Poem: Then and Now
Discussion and Practice

Reading: Seven Dada Manifestos by Tristan Tzara (especially pages 39-40)


Take a newspaper.

Take some scissors.

Choose from this paper an article of the length you want to make your poem.

Cut out the article.

Next carefully cut out each of the words that makes up this article
and put them all in a bag.

Shake gently.

Next take out each cutting one after the other.

Copy conscientiously in the order in which they left the bag.

The poem will resemble you.

And there you are - an infinitely original author of charming
sensibility, even though unappreciated by the vulgar herd.


when dogs cross the air in a diamond like ideas and the appendix of
the meninx tells the time of the alarm programme (the title is mine)
prices they are yesterday suitable next pictures/ appreciate the dream
era of the eyes/ pompously that to recite the gospel sort darkens/
group apotheosis imagine said he fatality power of colours/ carved
flies (in the theatre) flabbergasted reality a delight/ spectator all
to effort of the no more 10 to 12/ during divagation twirls descends
pressure/ render some mad single-file flesh on a monstrous crushing
stage/ celebrate but their 160 adherents in steps on put on my
nacreous/ sumptuous of land bananas sustained illuminate/ joy ask
together almost/ of has the a such that the invoked visions/ some
sings latter laughs/ exits situation disappears describes she 25 dance
bows/ dissimulated the whole of it isn't was/ magnificent has the band
better light whose lavishness stage music-halls me/ reappears
following instant moves live/ business he didn't has lent/ manner
words come these people


WEEK 2: Tuesday September 22 6:30-7:30pm

Chance versus Causality in Music and Writing: John Cage and Jackson Mac Low
Discussion and Practice

Video: John Cage about silence

Audio: Cage's “Music of Changes”

Reading: Jackson Mac Low, selections from “Stanzas for Iris Lezak”


WEEK 3: Tuesday September 29 6:30-7:30pm

Writing with Constraints and Concepts
Discussion and Practice

Reading: “Into the Maze: OULIPO” by Mónica de la Torre

“Sentences on Conceptual Writing” by Kenneth Goldsmith

No comments: