Alvin Lucier, Navigation for Strings, 1991, Silkscreen on cloth, 198 × 160 cm, Edition of 30
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  • Silkscreen on cloth
  • 198 × 160 cm
    (78 × 63 inches)
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  • Alvin Lucier was a pivotal figure in the development of experimental music, producing several seminal compositions that greatly influenced sound arts. Lucier investigated acoustic perception through his recordings and sound installations, frequently working on interference, resonance, and transmission phenomena. Initiated into music at an early age, he majored in Composition and Music Theory at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut and Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts under influential neoclassical composers. He then encountered Lukas Foss and Aaron Copland while attending courses at the Tanglewood Music Center in Lenox, Massachusetts, followed by a two-year residency in Rome on a Fulbright scholarship. While in Italy, Lucier joined festivals in Venice and Darmstadt, attended concerts by John Cage and David Tudor, and came into contact with current developments in new European music. Back in the United States in 1962, Lucier accepted the position of director of the Brandeis University Chamber Choir. In this context, he invited John Cage to perform in 1965, resulting in the world premiere of two legendary works: Cage’s Rozart Mix and Lucier’s Music for Solo Performer. For the latter, conceived based on the discoveries of the physicist Edmond Edwan, Lucier performed using brainwave amplification electrodes linked to a series of percussion instruments. The following year, along with Robert Ashley, David Behrman, and Gordon Mumma, Lucier cofounded the Sonic Art Union, a collective of experimental musicians. The group toured extensively for a decade, performing together but, more notably, presenting individual works. With the group, Lucier presented some of his most famous pieces including Vespers (1967) and Music on a Long Thin Wire (1977), a sound installation based on the suggestive oscillations of a monochord wire stretched between two loudspeaker terminals. I am Sitting in a Room (1969), one of Lucier’s most significant works, is focused on distinct frequencies and physical qualities of sound. The piece gradually unfolds by recording and then repeatedly re-recording a short statement within the same room until it becomes an impenetrable and unrecognizable resonance. Lucier taught Music Composition for over thirty years at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. He was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States, received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Plymouth, England (2007), and was honored by the Issue Project Room in Brooklyn in 2018.

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