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Ariel Web, 2000

Performance Collaboration


The mind that explores and imagines

            any mesh, any web, any interlocking space,

                        actual or imagined,

            soars and alights,

                        sips and investigates

                                    like the spirit Ariel,

                        winged and curious.

--Richard Tilinghast


In the summer of 1999, I invited poet Richard Tillinghast, dancer Peter Sparling, composer Andrew Mead, and biostatistician Fred Bookstein to my studio where I had installed a group of newly completed sculptures, still a puzzle to me.  I had worked collaboratively with each of these colleagues in other contexts, each time delighted by the unexpected vistas their work revealed.  I wanted to understand what I had made and needed to hear my colleagues speaking these new objects in their distinctive languages to find out.  Ariel Web, titled after Richard’s new poem, became an extended collaboration resulting in several performances and installations over the following year.


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Richard’s poem, The Ariel Web, was composed early in our conversations. The journey it describes created a structure for our collaboration. Our group was joined by technical producer Tom Bray and videographer John Tyman in time to complete a video sketch for the Seattle Internet 2 Conference in October 1999.  An elaborate live production was staged for BORDER CROSSINGS, on March 29, 2000, at the University of Michigan Rackham Auditorium.  A third version was created for the Ann Arbor Summer Festival and was performed June 30, 2000, at the Power Center for the Performing Arts.  Sparling soloed in both live performances, joined by his company of dancers through projected images fed live on stage from a remote location tightly choreographed with his onstage movement, the music, the poem, a video animation, and a changing array of sculptural installations. 


The work was once again featured in an installation of sculpture, text, and hand drawn grids at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art in Grand Rapids, in September 2000.  Later, my animated charcoal drawing, originally produced for the stage performances, was edited into a compact ten-minute video piece featuring Richard Tillinghast reading his text and the saxophonist Tim McAllister playing Andrew Mead’s composition Scena.  In 2003, Mead completed a new musical composition, Six Bagatelles for solo saxophone and bassoon, in response to the sculptures and the web of artistic conversations that they engendered.  The collaboration culminated in the installation In-running, Out-flowing Web, at the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities in 2004.

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