Lauren Conroy: Questioning Multimedia

Nearing the end of my research this summer, I have been reflecting on where I started and where I’m ending up. I’m finally approaching my residency time at the John Cage Trust at Bard College, which will take place next week, which makes me realize the breadth of arts I have experienced this summer in person and in research. 

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be, or could mean for me, to be a multimedia artist. In studying John Cage, I have found that one of the primary sources of both inspiration and confusion for me has been in his relentless pursuit of and production in multiple art forms, as well as within the philosophy of art, without having any “formalized” training in many of the fields. I find this incredibly freeing as a musician, as I think about the ways my art can intersect with visual art and literature, and yet it is somewhat overwhelming. It is difficult to decide what I am capable of doing with other art forms and what of these should be combined, if any, with music. It is of interest to me to connect mediums because of the ways in which different forms of abstract art can help make itself more easily seen and accessible through the views of multiple lenses. 

I visited the Art Museum of Ontario while in my residency at Toronto and saw the “Wolfgang Tillmans: To Look Without Fear”, which was yet another way for me to consider the use of multimedia.
During my residency in Toronto I performed many works without a multimedia component and was interested to see the reaction to contemporary work without other forms of media involved.

With my upcoming residency at Bard, while looking through the archives I would like to consider these final questions for my research this summer: 

  1. (How) does comparative analysis of multiple art forms through the performance and presentation of these forms aid in understanding each individual form? Is it beneficial to produce multimedia work with abstract art? 
  2. What were the forms and influences of multimedia in Cage’s work life?