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MUSIC REVIEW

'imusicircus' a Rollicking, Amusing Affair

May 24, 1996|TIMOTHY MANGAN

The ever-brave musicians of the California E.A.R. Unit (and guests) outdid themselves Wednesday night in and around the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's Bing Theater. They presented "imusicircus (image-music-circus)," a multimedia extravaganza created by composer Douglas Cohen and film artist Lawrence F. Brose that expands on John Cage's "Circus On."

"Circus On" is merely a set of directions for creating a performance. By giving them a "threefold realization," Cohen and Brose came up with an entity that mixes films, slides, readings (of Thoreau and Cage), audiotapes and live performances of music--much of it by Cage or Cage-inspired.

The events began outside the auditorium in several locations simultaneously and continued for approximately 110 minutes, moving indoors. A map, with times and locations, gave clues to the large (by Bing standards) audience as to what was going on. Outside activities included Erika Duke-Kirk-patrick playing her cello with a carrot, Amy Knoles vacuuming the concrete in her underwear, taking breaks to bash a bust of Beethoven, and Charles Lane dipping into a wading pool.

In the lobby, a computerized piano played Satie's "Vexations," to be repeated 840 times per Satie's directions. Slowly evolving into the auditorium, "imusicircus" continued with a parade, the participants in circus garb and playing kazoos, and, with avant-garde performances all around the hall, a fluent ebb and flow of activity.

Lane held center stage for a time with "Marilyns93/inCage," a performance piece in Monroe drag. At the same time, abstract videos rolled and Cage's "0'00" " and "45 Minutes for a Speaker" were given. With more than 75 live performances taking place in addition to taped material, it was truly a circus, but it wasn't chaotic.

Things happened all about, but they were clearly events, marked by beginnings and ends, and executed by performers to instructions, albeit unusual ones. The result was collage-like, always amusing and mostly fascinating.

Outside the theater at the end, "Vexations" had fallen silent. Then it started up again. A truly Cageian moment.

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