Laura Phillips “Laurie” Anderson
(born June 5, 1947) is an American experimental performance artist, composer and musician who plays violin and keyboards and sings in a variety ofexperimental music and art rock styles. Initially trained as a sculptor, Anderson did her first performance-art piece in the late 1960s. Throughout the 1970s, Anderson did a variety of different performance-art activities. She became widely known outside the art world in 1981 when her single “O Superman” reached number two on the UK pop charts. She also starred in and directed the 1986 concert film Home of the Brave.
Anderson is a pioneer in electronic music and has invented several devices that she has used in her recordings and performance art shows. In 1977, she created a tape-bow violin that uses recorded magnetic tape on the bow instead of horsehair and a magnetic tape head in the bridge. In the late 1990s, she developed a talking stick, a six-foot-long baton-like MIDI controller that can access and replicate different sounds.
Anderson has invented several experimental musical instruments that she has used in her recordings and performances.Tape-bow violin
The tape-bow violin is an instrument created by Laurie Anderson in 1977. It uses recorded magnetic tape in place of the traditional horsehair in the bow, and a magnetic tape head in the bridge. Anderson has updated and modified this device over the years.
She can be seen using a later generation of this device in her film Home of the Brave during the “Late Show” segment in which she manipulates a sentence recorded by William S. Burroughs. This version of the violin discarded magnetic tape and instead used MIDI-based audio samples, triggered by contact with the bow.Talking stick
The talking stick is a 6-foot-long baton-like MIDI controller. It was used in the Moby-Dick tour in 1999–2000. She described it in program notes as follows:
The Talking Stick is a new instrument that I designed in collaboration with a team from Interval Research and Bob Bielecki. It is a wireless instrument that can access and replicate any sound. It works on the principle of granular synthesis. This is the technique of breaking sound into tiny segments, called grains, and then playing them back in different ways. The computer rearranges the sound fragments into continuous strings or random clusters that are played back in overlapping sequences to create new textures. The grains are very short, a few hundredths of a second. Granular synthesis can sound smooth or choppy depending on the size of the grain and the rate at which they’re played. The grains are like film frames. If you slow them down enough, you begin to hear them separately.
A recurring motif in Anderson’s work is the use of a voice filter which deepens her voice into a masculine register, a technique which Anderson has referred to as “audio drag”. Anderson has long used the resulting character in her work as a “voice of authority” or conscience, although she later decided that he had lost much of his authority and instead began utilizing the voice to provide historical or sociopolitical commentary, as he does on “Another Day in America”, a piece from her 2010 album Homeland.
For much of Anderson’s career, the character was nameless or actually called the Voice of Authority, although more recently, he was dubbed Fenway Bergamot from Reed’s suggestion. The cover of Homeland depicts Anderson in character as Bergamot, with streaks of black makeup to give her a moustache and thick, masculine eyebrows.
In “The Cultural Ambassador”, a piece on her album The Ugly One with the Jewels, Anderson explained some of her perspective on the character:
(Anderson:) I was carrying a lot of electronics so I had to keep unpacking everything and plugging it in and demonstrating how it all worked, and I guess I did seem a little fishy — a lot of this stuff wakes up displaying LED program readouts that have names like Atom Smasher, and so it took a while to convince them that they weren’t some kind of espionage system. So I’ve done quite a few of these sort of impromptu new music concerts for small groups of detectives and customs agents and I’d have to keep setting all this stuff up and they’d listen for a while and they’d say: So uh, what’s this? And I’d pull out something like
(Bergamot:) this filter, and say, now this is what I like to think of as the voice of authority. And it would take me a while to tell them how I used it for songs that were, you know, about various forms of control, and they would say, now why would you want to talk like that? And I’d look around at the SWAT teams, and the undercover agents, and the dogs, and the radio in the corner, tuned to the Super Bowl coverage of the war. And I’d say, take a wild guess.
I’m not a person in this dream;
I’m a place.
I have no eyes, no hands,
and all these names and faces just keep.
Just a lot of details.
Just a slow accumulation of details.
~from Laurie Anderson’s United States Live
(born February 27, 1935) is an American photographer, author, and artist working with video, film, performance, and drawing. Originally from New York, USA, she is currently based in Southern California where she is a professor Emeritus at the University of California, San Diego. Antin is represented by Ronald Feldman Fine Art and continues to exhibit internationally.
Born Eleanor Fineman in the Bronx, New York on February 27, 1935 her parents emigrated in the 1930s from Rusch, a tiny town in Poland. Her father, Sol Fineman (1910–2004), was a socialist and atheist who worked in the garment industry in New York. Her mother, Jeanette Efron (1912–1994), a former actress in the Yiddish theater in Poland, was a communist and a creative entrepreneur. She went by the name Jeanette Fineman until she divorced and married the Hungarian poet and artist, Peter Moor, (ne Barna Josef, 1895–1989) and was thereafter known as Jeanette Barna. Eleanor had one sister, Marcia Goodman (1940–2003).
Eleanor attended Music and Art High School in New York as an art major, and City College of New York (CCNY), where she majored in writing and minored in art. From 1954–1956, she studied philosophy at the New School for Social Research and studied acting at the Tamara Daykarhanova School for the Stage. She was registered in Actors Equity and worked as an actress under the stage name Eleanor Barrett. In her last year of college she accepted an acting job with a traveling road company in William Inge’s Bus Stop. During this period, 1955–1958, Antin worked in various projects on the stage, including a stint with Ossie Davis, and also supported herself modeling for painters.
In 1958, Antin returned to CCNY and earned a Bachelors degree in creative writing and art. There she met the writer and critic, David Antin, whom she married in 1961. Their son Blaise was born in 1967 and is named after Blaise Cendrars, the modern French poet, novelist and art critic. In 1968 the family moved from New York to Southern California, where David began teaching at the University of California in San Diego. Eleanor taught at the University of California in Irvine (UCI) from 1974–1975, and was a professor at the University of California in San Diego (UCSD) from 1975–2002.