|In contrast to essentialist assumptions, many Afro-American musicians have been involved in experimenting with and developing real-time electronic music from the late 1950s on. George Lewis looks at the battles fought by such artists as Eddie Harris, Charles Stepney, Muhal Richard Abrams, Miles Davis or Sun Ra, and the influence they had and continue to have. Kodwo Eshun reviews electronic music in the context of new technologies and Afro-futurism.
Kodwo Eshun lives and works in London as an author, essayist, DJ, art curator and music critic. He teaches "visual cultures" at Goldsmith College (University of London) and "sonic culture" at the Dutch Art Institute (University of Amsterdam). In 1998, he published his important work More Brilliant than the Sun: Adventures in Sonic Fiction, which examines the significance of technology and machine culture for creativity and, above all, musical creativity.
From 1996-1999, Eshun worked as research associate at the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit at Warwick University. In 1999, he was co-curator of Dub Housing, an interdisciplinary event with an exhibition, symposia and a concert at the Steirischer Herbst in Graz. In 1999 and 2000 he was head of the Digital Music Jury at Ars Electronica and at the Oberhausen Short Film Festival. In 2002 he co-operated with "Flow Motion" media-artists on the Sonic Process exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Kodwo Eshun is curator at Artangel, LongPlayer, a member of the Interdisciplinary Task Group at ACE, and founder of the Otolith film group.
Kodwo Eshun sees himself as a "conceptual engineer", who, like many others, no longer writes in the conventional sense of the word, but takes concepts, fictions and hallucinations from one (artistic) field and transfers them to other fields where they can be fused with other forms.
George Lewis, improvisor-trombonist, composer and computer/installation artist, is the Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music at Columbia University, where his research and teaching encompasses historical musicology, experimental music, improvisation, musical constructions of race and ethnicity, and new media interactivity. Internationally recognized both for his virtuosity as a trombonist and for his pioneering approaches to interactive computer music and algorithmic improvisation, Lewis is a 2002 MacArthur Foundation Fellow and a recipient of the Cal Arts/Alpert Award in the Arts in 1999, and has received numerous fellowships from the
National Endowment for the Arts. Since 1971, he has been a member of the internationally
recognized African-American experimental music collective, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), and his forthcoming book on this and historically important group will be published in 2005 by the University of Chicago Press.
Lewis studied philosophy at Yale University, composition with Muhal Richard Abrams at the AACM School of Music, and trombone with Dean Hey. His work as composer, improvisor, performer and interpreter is documented on more than 120 recordings, and his published articles on music, experimental video, visual art, and cultural studies have appeared in numerous scholarly journals and edited volumes.
Diedrich Diederichsen, Professor for Visual Communication at the Hochschule für Gestaltung, Merz Akademie, lives in Berlin. He is one of the most important music theoreticians and critics writing in German and has written extensively on the theme of music movements and the Diaspora. A former co-editor of Spex, he now works as a freelance publicist for the Tagesspiegel, tageszeitung, Texte zur Kunst, Theaterheute and other publications. In 1992, he collaborated on the exhibition Import-Export Funk Office featuring the Afro-American woman artist Renée Green in Cologne. This was to have a lasting impact on him, as the volume Yo! Hermeneutics Schwarze Kulturkritik: Pop, Medien, Feminismus, issued in 1993, showed. For the first time, texts by such well-known authors as Paul Gilroy, Michele Wallace, Isaac Julien, Henry Louis Gates jr. appeared in German in one anthology. In 1998, he brought out Loving the Alien - Science Fiction, Diaspora, Multiculture documenting the interdisciplinary event and symposium at the Volksbühne in Berlin in 1997.