View Full Version : Laurie Anderson - NASA's first Artist In Residence

2005-Jan-28, 06:54 AM
Earlier this week I got to see Laurie Anderson's performance of her new work "The End of the Moon" at UCSB's Campbell Hall. Quite an interesting show, but not what I was expecting!

Over her time with NASA, she visited many centers, including Ames and JPL, and she shared many stories about her experiences. I guess I thought it would be more "spacey," using imagery from the great history of the agency, but the piece was more about cosmology than anything else. Quite a lot about deep time and wide space, symmetry and broken symmetry, cyclic vs. linear time, simultanaeity, micro scales and cosmic scales, location and motion. She's never very overt, so these ideas kind of sneak up on your subconscious through the music and stories.

Another theme was Art and Science; she did a bit about choosing colors for Hubble photos, saying NASA already had artists in residence. (Phil? BA=Bad Artist?)

Interestingly, she did bring some polictical commentary into it as well, but given her abilities it was never maudlin or preachy.

She did have a story about testing the rovers in the Mojave - and tied it in with a bit about knowing where you are - and a sense of place.

She said her only regret from the whole NASA project was "not being able to ride the Vomit Comet." What a woman!

The set was very sparse, one chair, one projector and a mini rig in the middle for her violin and keyboard. Lots of candles on the stage floor.

If you like her solo work, I would say that you would like this piece. I found it more enjoyable than Happiness, which was composed right after 9-11. But if you are expecting the full Peter Gabriel - Adrian Belew - band and video show, this probably isn't for you.

But hey - you have got to love a concert that thanks Timothy Ferris in the program!

2005-Jan-28, 07:13 AM
Old interview with Laurie about the project:


2005-Jan-28, 08:03 AM
Old interview with Laurie about the project:


Wow - quite a bit of those ideas ended up in the show....! Thanks

2005-Jan-28, 08:09 AM
Too sad that NASA has nowhere the capacity to send an artist in residence up for a stay on the ISS.


2005-Jan-28, 08:40 AM
Here's another interview:

Robotics Institute (http://www.ri.cmu.edu/events/25th/laurie_anderson_interview.html)

Q.***** Elaborate on the NASA residency. How did it happen? What kind of experience did you have? How was your presence received by the staff? NASA has had a roller coaster year. Was this a good year to be working with them? How do these experiences figure into the new work?

LA***** I am going to talk a bit about my experiences at NASA in this work. It was really a big honor to be the first NASA artist-in-residence. Obviously my first question was "Can I go up?" I would give anything to go up there. Really anything! The answer was no. But I loved meeting the scientists and designers and of course I got to see a lot of amazing things. Drawing conclusions? Probably a lot of what I do over the next few years will be influenced by what I saw on all my travels around the NASA sites, and who I met, and what I saw and thought about.

2005-Jan-28, 08:31 PM
I am a musician. I am frequently "wowed" and thrilled by new sounds, new (to me) modes of artistic expression.

I can honestly say that I have not been as knocked off my feet as the first time I ever heard a piece by Laurie Anderson. It was her "O Superman". I wasn't sure whether I liked it or not, whether I understood it or not, whether I could appreciate the nuances (musical or otherwise) or not.

One thing I can say about her as a musician is that she consistently teaches me new ways of seeing, of hearing, of perceiving. She truly is an artist.

I missed this show when it played in Calgary - because I had a gig myself. I wanted to tell the audience to get up and go and see her instead. Next time....

Ars longa, vita brevis
Art is long, but life is short