Pithoprakta: action through probability

From the Iannis Xenakis: Composer, Architect, Visionary press release:

Now on show at The Drawing Center, in the Main Gallery from January 15 – April 8, 2010. The exhibition will explore the fundamental role of drawing in the work of avant-garde composer Iannis Xenakis (1922–2001). One of the most important figures in late twentieth-century music, Xenakis originally trained as an engineer and was also known as an architect, developing iconic designs while working with Le Corbusier in the 1950s. This premiere presentation of Xenakis’s visual work in North America will be comprised of samples of his pioneering graphic notation, architectural plans, compelling preparatory mathematical renderings, and pre-compositional sketches—in all, nearly 100 documents created between 1953 and 1984. Iannis Xenakis: Composer, Architect, Visionary is co-curated by Xenakis scholar Sharon Kanach and critic Carey Lovelace and will travel to the Canadian Centre for Architecture (June 17 – October 17, 2010) and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (November 7, 2010 – February 13, 2011).

One of the world’s most widely performed contemporary composers, Xenakis brought together architecture, sound, and advanced contemporary mathematics, moving away from traditional polyphony to create music comprised of masses of sound, shifting abstract aural gestures, linear permutation, and sonic pointillism. A groundbreaking interdisciplinary approach was also apparent in his architectural creations, such as the Philips Pavilion, an icon of twentieth-century architecture, which Xenakis created under Le Corbusier for the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair. The design of the Philips Pavilion’s volumetric structure was inspired by the glissandi—glides between pitches—that made up Xenakis’s groundbreaking orchestral work Metastaseis (1953–54). The meticulously rendered works on view in the exhibition burst with kinetic energy and palpable sonic qualities, providing a singular insight into this extraordinary innovator’s process of “thinking through the hand.”

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