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Prize prize prize prize prize prize prize prize przie

April 20th, 2009 by Colin Rafferty

Steve "Pulitzer Winner" ReichIf you were at our first-ever meeting, then you know the giant super-crush Subrosa has on Steve Reich.  He’s like our Zac Efron plus our Jonas Brothers plus our Miley Cyrus, only with the ability to write his own songs (which might make him our Taylor Swift).

Teen idol comparisons aside, Subrosa’s pleased to see that Reich’s “Double Sextet” won itself a Pulitzer Prize in music. Hot dog! And the fact that said prize winner premiered just down the interstate at the University of Richmond gives the whole thing a lovely Commonwealth spin.

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Back from break, just in time for break

April 18th, 2009 by Colin Rafferty

The eponymous fictive raptor

The eponymous fictive raptor

Last week was a nice break; you can’t be avant-garde all the time.  Sometimes you just want to put aside the Russian Futurists and Op Artists and Musicians Who Set EULAs to Scores and watch a romantic comedy on TBS with Cameron Diaz and Jude Law.

But we’re back.  Our standard meeting will be pre-empted on Monday by the Kemp Symposium, where you’ll have the chance to hear some of the finest ideas the department’s resident geniuses have to offer. And while you’re at KS09, why not drop by Combs 322 at 3 PM to hear Subrosans Rachel Rocklin and Dresden Glover (as well as Serena Epstein) discuss experimental storytelling in various genres? With a title like “The Maltese Fiction,” you know it’s going to be good.

Then we’ll be back a week later for the last (sob!) Subrosa meeting of the year.

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Subrosa poses.

April 5th, 2009 by Colin Rafferty

Coincidence as history

Coincidence as history

Look carefully at this photo (Paris, 1838).  In the bottom left corner, you’ll see a human figure–a man with one leg lifted, getting his shoe shined.

He is the first human being ever to be photographed.

At this time–171 years ago–photography was only able to capture still life.  Landscapes such as the Parisian skyline were popular, but the ten-minute exposure time made it impossible to capture humans.  They just moved too much.   But this fellow–about whom we know literally nothing–held still for 600 seconds in just about the same pose, and entered history.

Photography has shifted dramatically in the last few years, even down to the way we hold a camera (no longer up to our eye).  How has it affected us as viewers of the world?  How, in an age of Photoshop, does the adage “the camera doesn’t lie” still hold true?

Let’s start with Alexander Rodchenko’s 1928 essay “The Paths of Modern Poetry.”  And then let’s go somewhere else with it.

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The Destructors

March 28th, 2009 by rachel

Hey everyone–just a quick update. Our next meeting is this Monday, at 5pm in the Mansion as usual. Since we had so much fun doing cut-ups last time and we didn’t get to “The Destructors,” that’s what we’ll be discussing this meeting. Again, you can find it here. Happy reading!

(We’ll also have a little bit of a film screening, which I’m keeping secret for now. It’s not really a surprise if you think about it a little, I promise.)

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In case you’d like something to read for Monday:

March 22nd, 2009 by Colin Rafferty

Here’s “The Destructors” by Graham Greene.  Monday evening, 5 PM, the William Street House.  Snacks as before.

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“It was a pleasure to burn…”

March 22nd, 2009 by Colin Rafferty

The potential for destruction is what gives creation meaning

The potential for destruction gives creation meaning

…so begins Ray Bradbury’s famous novel Farenheit 451; does anyone have to read that in high school anymore?  I always loved that opening line, not for its comment on censorship but for its recognition of the pleasures of destruction.  Maybe it’s just the Boy Scout I used to be, but setting things on fire, or breaking glass, or watching a building implode–it’s amazing, a strange kind of potential energy converted to action.

We normally think of art as an act of creation–paint applied carefully to canvas, ink put down as letters on the page, the scultpture liberated from the block of marble–but destruction as art can be just as powerful.  Richard Serra flinging molten lead at a wall; Robert Rauschenberg erasing a Willem De Kooning drawing and exhibiting the blank paper, the ghostly traces of the drawing barely visible; Yoko Ono’s early piece in which the audience, wielding scissors, cut away her clothes.

So let’s talk destruction tomorrow night.  Let’s make a mess and see what comes of it.

Bring a pair of scissors.

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I’m thinking of a number between 1 and 1…

March 18th, 2009 by Colin Rafferty

what is a story when a story isn't a line?

what is a story when a story isn't a line?

By now, our terrible black-and-white flyers are all over campus; I love the idea of Group Material’s manifesto infesting the chemistry hallways (towards that end:  what is the taken-for-granted culture of chemistry?).  But in posting the flyers, I establish a rhythm: pull pushpin out, set flyer on board, push pushpin in, repeat.  Pull-set-push.  Pull-set-push.

I used to have to drive from Iowa to Colorado–an 11-hour epic across most of Nebraska.  Interstate 80 is straight almost the whole way after Lincoln.  The pattern repeated endlessly, dotted yellow lines skipping past my car.  Then, in the middle of things, in the distance, loomed the Archway Monument, a steel building over the interstate.  When it first opened, drivers were so distracted by the interruption of the pattern that they stopped their cars in the middle of the interstate (speed limit: 80).  A few died when cars hit them.

That’s what I’ve got on my mind for the first Subrosa meeting: the moment when the pattern, endlessly repeating, gets broken.  Shifts suddenly.  Repeats itself in a different key.  Rick Moody uses the word “boys” 80 times in his story.  Steve Reich uses only 11 chords in “Music for 18 Musicians.”  How can we get so much out of so little?

Let’s start the discussion tomorrow night.

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What is the Subrosa Social Club? (or) The Avant-Garde Loves You

March 13th, 2009 by Colin Rafferty

margarita at elBulli

margarita at elBulli

The best restaurant in the world is located in the small Catalonian town of Roses; it is called elBulli, and its head chef is a man named Ferran Adrià.  Reservations are well-nigh impossible to get; out of two million requests, 8,000 diners are seated during the six-month open period of the restaurant.

The restaurant does not serve traditional food in any sense of the word; a glance at the catalogue of dishes for 2005 reveals ice cream nigiri served on lime marshmallow, baby monkfish with lemon-scented egg yolk, and strawberry frozen air.

Adrià has written a manifesto for his restaurant; point number 14: “The classical structure of dishes is being broken down: a veritable revolution is underway in first courses and desserts, closely bound up with the concept of symbiosis between the sweet and savoury world; in main dishes the ‘product-garnish-sauce’ hierarchy is being broken down.”

This is the goal of the Subrosa Social Club: a salon of ideas that explore the avant-garde not as a thing to be feared or respected, but as a thing to be digested, consumed.  We assume the end of realism as a given starting point, the breakdown of the mimetic as the cliff off which we jump to see if we can fly.

Think of synaesthesia:  the crossing of sense lines.  The synaesthetic sees colors, smells noises.  What can writers learn from music?  Musicians from artists?  Artists from chefs?  Chefs from architects?  Architects from writers?

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“Boys”//Music for 18 Musicians

March 13th, 2009 by rachel

Our inaugural meeting will be this coming Thursday, March 19, at 5pm in the Mansion.  We’ll be discussing Rick Moody’s story “Boys” and listening to Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians.

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