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/blind documents

/hear. _blind documents_ [titles consist of dates/times]

/view. _blind documents_

/below. program notes /November 16, 2003 concert /ROD, CalArts


_blind documents_

These pieces are based directly upon a narrow set of graphical procedures derived from walks I have taken in my neighborhood in Koreatown while getting home from my car – it’s an extremely overcrowded street parking situation, so the walks are generally of substantial length (8-15 minutes). The primary "score" for each of these pieces is the walk itself. I decided that at the start of each walk I would begin making a tape recording with a compact voice recorder, and turn the recorder off at walk’s end. Hence, the walk-as-score directly determines the durational structure of the tape playback component in each piece, which later establishes the overall time structure of the pieces. I further decided that I would make a fairly accurate street map of each walk upon its conclusion, so the walk-score also generates a characteristic vector- or line- form for each piece.

I then used these two resultant properties, duration and line-form, as another "score" layer, which I decided would dictate a limited though flexible transcription process resulting in a unique event signature that fixes pitch and timing parameters. I directly or inversely transcribed the line-form of the street map onto score paper, any number of times (so far in this project ranging up to 5 separate tracings in a single score, but no more than three in the present concert), trying to exercise only my own pictorial aesthetic sensibility in deciding upon placement and spacing on the page. I further decided that each change in vector, or turn in the walk/line, would place a pitch-point on the score whose precise disposition in terms of register/clef, exact pitch (sharp, flat, natural, etc.), and instrumentation I’ve left to my own aesthetic liking (I have generally preserved the "actual" registration suggested by placement of pitch-points; I have used accidentals quite freely to tweak the interval character of a sequence of events; and I have generally treated each transcription of the line-form as a discrete instrumental part, though not always).

Finally, I transcribed the duration of the tape component (which corresponds to the duration of the walk) into each score as a time-line, once or a number of times, straight or with an angle or two, again taking into account principally the graphical aesthetic quality of the time-line’s "look" on the page, but additionally the practical concern that I wanted all of the pitch events in each piece to be graphable against the time-line(s). I then proceeded to assign a timing to the nearest second to each pitch event, determined by its simple perpendicularity in relation to a transcribed timeline.

The result is a performance score that utilizes fairly traditional western notation while also crucially exhibiting all the peculiar graphical characteristics of its generative processes. Performance entails the combination of live instrumental "map-readings" with playback of the original recording; this graphic-acoustic experience, then, is presented to the audience much as the initial walk presented itself to me – as a kind of score which you must decide how to constitute through an experimental cartography.

The title _blind documents_ stems from my own meditation upon the style of cartography undertaken in these pieces. Somehow, they enact determined, evidentiary activities to unforeseen and unforeseeable ends; at each stage, the processes are derivative, but the material generated does not present itself as a realization but as a diagram for production – that is, as a score. The thematic movement within this work, if I had to decide, would have something to do, metaphorically, with the suspension of light or sight; if image-making is in a sense photo-graphic, then map-making is blind.

–Mark So


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Email: mark_so@hotmail.com