In 1967 Alison Knowles, an artist from the Fluxus Movement, produced “The House of Dust”, one of the first computer-generated poems. Each quatrain began with “A house of . . .” followed by random sequences of materials, sites or locations, light sources, and categories of inhabitants randomly matched by a computer program (Part II).
By Efi Michalarou
Photo: Fonderie Darling Archive
The exhibition “The House of Dust d’Alison Knowles” presented at the Darling Foundry retraces the history of The House of Dust and presents contemporary artists’ new interpretations of the poem-score. Aurélie Pétrel probes relations between The House of Dust and the work of Peter Eisenman through an examination of documents from the CCA. Other artists explore the phenomena of translation among different types of languages, media, and subjectivities, a central dimension of The House of Dust. For instance, Australian artists A Constructed World relate one of the poem’s quatrains to a “paper house” intended to communicate with eels, which are used as a structure for hosting workshops, conferences, and performances at the beginning of the exhibition. This installation relates to the contributions of other invited artists whose works explore communication between humans and non-humans (animals, plants or machines). Participating artists: A Constructed World, Tyler Coburn & Byron, Peters, Stéphane Degoutin & Gwenola Wagon, Nicole Fournier, Jeff Guess, Martin Howse, Jonathon Keats, Allan Kaprow, Norman C. Kaplan, Alison Knowles, Lou-Maria Le Brusq, Aurélie, Pétrel, Joshua Schwebel and Daniela Silvestrin. Alison Knowles is a visual artist known for her Soundworks, Installations, Performances, Publications and association with Fluxus, the experimental Avant-Garde Group formally founded in 1962. After briefly attending Middlebury College, Knowles studied with Joseph Albers and Richard Lindner and graduated from Pratt University in 1954. With John Cage and Dick Higgins, she joined the New York Mycological Society, frequently hunting for wild mushrooms around New York City from the late 1950s-60s. During this time a close and fertile exchange of affection, food and ideas developed between Knowles and Cage. Also significant, if informal, in 1968 Knowles designed and screen printed the last known edition with Marcel Duchamp, a reprint of his “Couers Volants” for the Something Else Press. As a founding member of Fluxus, Knowles produced what may be the earliest book object, a can of texts and beans called the “Bean Rolls”, in 1963. In 1967, Knowles produced “The House of Dust” poem, possibly the first computerized poem, which she produced with composer James Tenney following his informal seminar on computers in the arts held at her home in 1967. In addition to many performances based on the House of Dust, one quatrain of Knowles’s The House of Dust poem was built as the House of Dust public sculpture; “A House of Dust on open ground lit by natural light , inhabited by friends and enemies”. This quatrain-sculpture and would move from a ILGWU housing project in New York City, where it was arsoned in 1968, to the new Cal Arts Campus in Burbank California in 1970, where she taught briefly.
Info: Curators: Maud Jacquin and Sébastien Pluot, Jeff Guess, Fonderie Darling, 745 rue Ottawa, Montreal, Duration: 15/6-20/8/17, Days & Hours: Wed-sun 12:00-19:00, http://fonderiedarling.org