ONE LOVES ONLY FORM: olson, baudrillard, and the concept of space in american culture

Throughout the month of March, Emily Gable and Brianna Toth will curate an artist-run radio station and they’re taking submissions—through Monday, February 20th—for programming ideas focused on the concept of space.

Before we go any further, there’s something I think you should know: on Saturday, Feb 25 they are organizing a marathon reading of Charles Olson’s The Maximus Poemsin its entirety—at Ocean Beach, beginning at noon and lasting, approximately, until noon on Sunday the 26th. This is the kind of thing we’re dealing with here (we’re going to need backup video cameras, blankets, and a makeshift hot chocolate stand). Here’s more:

“One loves only form
And form only comes
Into existence when
The thing is born”
– Charles OlsonMaximus Poems [listen: Olson reading from Maximus in 1962 | an endless resource]

“Whatever the boredom, the hellish tedium of the everyday in the US or anywhere else, American banality will always be a thousand times more interesting than the European – and especially the French – variety.  Perhaps because banality here is born of extreme distances, of the monotony of wide-open spaces and the radical spaces and the radical absence of culture.”
Jean BaudrillardAmerica [read the first 30 pages]

Space: particularly how it’s evolved with current technology and become more psychological than physical. The virtual, expanding boundaries of space. How people relate to and interact with their understandings of space.

For this project, radio will be used as an overarching metaphor since radio reaches so many without encompassing any physical space. Space and how it relates to the American identity (e.g. radio is an American invention, and the myth of America as a country is tied up in ideas of sublime space). Also consider the DIY culture and lineage of subversion latent in the history of (especially Bay Area) radio.

In Olson’s essay, Call Me Ishmael, he discusses space as something specific to the American identity. His essay Projective Verse stresses the importance of breath over form—what he called “Composition by Field”—and Robert Creeley wrote: “Form is never more than an extension of content.” These ideas, combined with Ezra Pound’s notion that a poet should compose in the sequence of a musical phrase, highlight the idea of free verse and are the basis for Olson’s  Maximus Poems, which employ all of these ideas. In America, Baudrillard claims that the existence of space as a separate form is uniquely American, and can be attributed to car culture, the vastness of the geographic landscape, and the planning of major urban centers.

Over the course of March, Gable and Toth will broadcast readings of Charles Olson’s Maximus Poems until it is read in completion. Additionally, music, talk programs, poetry readings, and the intentional use of dead air will punctuate the Olson readings. Accompanying the programming will be a storefront installation which will host a series of artist talks, live musical performances, and musical programs by local artists and labels. All of the programming will be available to the public through an online archive. The storefront installation and artists talks will all be curated around the concept of space, but the music portion of the programming will be more free form, since we feel that the metaphor of radio is enough for the program to be cohesive.

One Loves Only Form will take the form of a regular radio show on KUSF in Exile on Wednesdays from 12-1pm starting in March. They are in the process of finding alternative platforms for terrestrial broadcast, and their hope is that One Loves Only Form will become a viral “pop-up” radio program that will engage and reach a wider audience by emerging in unexpected air space.

this is only somewhat misleading

In the month leading up to March, a studio will be built at Liminal Space for the Feedfoward Residency. Here, contributors can record content and programming can be streamed live. For live events, performances, and a selection of the radio programming we will use a low-powered Part 15 transmitter to broadcast to the surrounding neighborhoods. These broadcasts will take place at a variety of locations throughout the Bay Area and be announced in advance so the public can tune-in and access the programming online or with their phones.

All show times and info will be posted at their site and also right here at Litseen.

Finally, the car-driving public is invited to park nearby so the programming simultaneously takes the form of a drive-in radio show. At the end of March a zine will be published documenting the project and will include the participating venues, events, and contributors.

If you think this project is as worthwhile as I do, throw them some bucks [Kickstarter ends with the dawn of March].

To submit some ideas and for more information: click here. They are looking for poetry readings or readings from novels that relate to the theme. Those selected will have the option to either read live in the studio or submit a recorded reading.