Valencia, Calif. (Dec. 14, 2017) – Celebrating the 50th anniversary of one of the first computer-generated poems and the “house” it inspired, California Institute for the Arts (CalArts) launches Reframing the House of Dust, a year-long initiative in which CalArts’s students, faculty, and visiting scholars explore and respond to the original House of Dust project. The House of Dust poem was generated via Fortrans by founding CalArts faculty member Alison Knowles in collaboration with James Tenney, who later joined the faculty of the Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts. The House of Dust sculpture by Knowles, situated at CalArts from 1970-72, was “translated” from one stanza:
A HOUSE OF PLASTIC
IN A METROPOLIS
USING NATURAL LIGHT
INHABITED BY PEOPLE FROM ALL WALKS OF LIFE
The construction of a new structure inspired by House of Dust as part of a Wintersession workshop in January 2018, will launch a semester-long engagement with Knowles’s work at CalArts. During the workshop, CalArts students and faculty will choose a different stanza from the original poem to translate into design and materials, collaborating on the project with Knowles herself via Skype, as well as Art by Translation scholars Maud Jacquin and Sebastien Pluot. Jacquin and Pluot have in recent years conducted an ambitious multi-institution engagement with House of Dust in New York, Montreal, and Paris.
School of Critical Studies faculty member Janet Sarbanes originated and directs the project at CalArts. "Reframing the House of Dust is a wonderfully interdisciplinary, international collaboration that will expose CalArts students to the work of founding faculty member and renowned Fluxus artist Alison Knowles, and challenge them to produce their own collaboratively designed and built public sculpture for the CalArts community of 2018," she said. "After the new 'house' is built, it will serve as a locus and focal point for more discussion and research, as well as activations. I see this as a terrific way to bring attention to the vibrant collaborative and interdisciplinary work and pedagogy undertaken at CalArts from its very inception, which continues to the present day.”
First constructed in New York, the house was moved to CalArts’s original location in Burbank where Knowles was invited to teach in 1970. The original poem, a print-out, in the form of a scroll of tractor-feed computer paper, is housed in the CalArts archive. In the first years of its existence, CalArts' faculty included some of the key figures from Fluxus circles. Along with Knowles and Tenny, they included Allan Kaprow, Nam June Paik, Dick Higgins, and Emmett Williams.
During the 2018 spring semester, the newly built house will serve as a site for readings, performances, and installations, and a focal point for graduate courses on Fluxus, experimental architecture, and housing issues. Later in the year, the house constructed at CalArts will be transported to the MAK Center for Art and Architecture at the Schindler House in Los Angeles and activated with events created in workshops with CalArts students and faculty as well as existing and new works produced by invited artists and Art by Translation participants.
The project will inaugurate a year of collective research undertaken by CalArts students and faculty with Art by Translation that will lead to both a spring 2018 symposium and a 2019 exhibition at the MAK Center. A schedule of events will be announced in early 2018.
Reframing the House of Dust is presented by the CalArts MA Aesthetics and Politics Program in the School of Critical Studies, in partnership with the Art by Translation program, The MAK Center for Art and Architecture, and CalArts faculty and students in Critical Studies and Art.
California Institute of the Arts has set the pace for educating professional artists since 1970. Offering rigorous undergraduate and graduate degree programs through six schools—Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music, and Theater—CalArts has championed creative excellence, critical reflection, and the development of new forms and expressions. As successive generations of faculty and alumni have helped shape the landscape of contemporary arts, the Institute first envisioned by Walt Disney encompasses a vibrant, eclectic community with global reach, inviting experimentation, independent inquiry, and active collaboration and exchange among artists, artistic disciplines, and cultural traditions.