Finally sitting down to process an incredible couple of days in Cyprus at the Continuum2016 conference on the Continuum in Music and Architecture hosted by the Centre Iannis Xenakis and the University of Cyprus Department of Architecture. It was a wonderful chance to meet scholars from all over the world and gather ideas, inspiration, and various wonderful teaching resources:
Keynote performer Peter Sheppard Skærved's speech set the tone by emphasizing the importance of making space for reflection—in one's craft as an artist, in the depth of one's knowledge and therefore ability to make a difference as a scholar, and finally in being aware of communities—the importance of continuum as self-awareness and global awareness.
Sharon Kanach presented a lecture on Scelsi's compositional process (and his influence on Xenakis's music), full of rich information and history from her experience working with both composers personally. Keynote speaker Athanassios Economou shared several interactive tools such as GRAPE from SWAP Plus, the online research and development department of SWAP Architects. GRAPE, a parametric shape grammar interpreter, allows the user to visualize various manipulations/transformations of geometric shapes given various restrictions/rules.
Others presented research in progress, including Konstantina Kalfa's presentation on Villa Mache (continuum in the architecture and use of light in Xenakis's designs). Composers presented their own work, including Nicoleta Chatzopoulou, who talked about using silence as a landscape in musical composition. I presented a paper on Andrew Norman's The Companion Guide to Rome: Influence of Architecture and Visual Art on Composition, using Xenakis’s ideas about structure-in-time as a framework to analyze Norman’s music that is inspired by architectural forms.
It was inspiring to be around both young and established scholars who value critical thought, feedback, and making time for both rigorous academic focus and reflection. The arts allow us to perceive nuances in continuum if we have patience: in music, learning to support others' voices; in visual art, to literally be able to create/have perspective; in dance, to learn to support the weight of another human being. Gatherings such as these allow for that optimism and critique to find its place in the ongoing struggle for relevance and reflection in the arts/academia.