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UB events explore artistic possibilities


With the school year winding down, UB's Humanities Institute will have a very busy week by handling two events. The final Scholars@Hallwalls event is this Friday at 4p.m. Next Tuesday at 7p.m. in the Allen Hall Auditorium, they will host the symposium "UB in the 70's: Radical Arts."

Jonathan Golove, a renowned cellist and faculty member of UB's Department of Music, has spent the year composing a piece for the Theremin Cello that will make its premier on Friday at Hallwalls.

"The instrument itself is extraordinary and it produces quite an unusual sound," explained Professor Erik Seeman, director of the Humanities Institute.  

"The piece 'Mental Radio' refers to a book from 1930 from Upton Sinclair, in which he did experiments trying to talk with ESP and clairvoyance with his wife."

A product of early experiments combining electrical energy with musical instruments, the Theremin Cello has been mostly forgotten for several decades.  

"It's a temperamental instrument. It's hard to keep working and it is very hard to master with essentially one string, as it were, one neck wherever you put your finger. It makes the tone," Seeman said.

"Only a cellist of his (Jonathan Golove) ability could make it sound good and only a creative artist of his ambition could create a piece that would be so interesting that will really engage the audience."

The event is free and open to the public, as is the symposium "UB in the 70's: Radical Arts." Both will feature a wine and cheese reception.

The symposium reflects on a time when UB was at the center of a local arts scene that would influence the art world for decades to come.

"What did happen was that a lot of young people were drawn here who were creative. Rents were cheap, and the universities were growing," explained Professor Libby Otto, executive director of the Humanities Institute.

"So, with new faculty coming in, creative young people, this art scene developed here that is really kind of unparalleled and unexpected."

The symposium's speakers include, Tony Conrad from UB's Media Study Department, Jonathan Katz from UB's Visual Studies Department and Hadas Steiner of the Department of Architecture. Following their talks the speakers will engage in break-out sessions.

"The social turbulence of the time, the late 60's and early 70's, that's what makes it so dynamic. You have so many young, new faculty at UB. You have young artists outside of UB," Professor Seeman offered.

"Then the social context of experimentation, pushing the boundaries of the various art genres, visual art, media art, film, all of those things we will be exploring."