Julia Holter

"CIRCUS ON Cookbook of the Alberta B. George Missionary Society of the University M.E. Church Los Angeles, California"

This project was a performance of John Cage's text-piece "Circus On", in which one transcribes a chosen text into sound, using sounds mentioned in the book, sounds of locations mentioned in the book, and "relevant musics". I used a Los Angeles neighborhood church cookbook from the 1920s that I found on archive.org as source material, thinking that a collection of cooking sounds, 1920s Los Angeles-related music, and recordings of downtown L.A., would work well, no matter how randomly put together.

Some of Cage's directions are more specific ("Make a list of sounds mentioned in the book and a list for each of the pages and lines where the mention is made") than others ("Compose variations" of "relevant musics"). Placement of every sound in the piece is determined by the skeleton of the piece, the "mesostic"—a method of randomly generating words from a text, and then attaching up to 43 characters of your own choosing from the text onto the sides of each of the generated words to create a sort of poem. The poem is then recorded being read, and that recording is spaced out over any duration one wants the piece to be. The mesostic then becomes a kind of "ruler", so that all of the sounds recorded are placed around the read mesostic corresponding to where they are mentioned in the original text.

The written mesostic is an art in of itself, and I have written it out in a hardbound book, accompanied by photographs of the locations I recorded.

Artist Statement

Julia Holter is a Los Angeles-based musician who specializes in creating homemade recordings out of casios, microkorgs, harmoniums, bells, and alta vista translations. Her most recent work focuses on the meaningfulness of obscurities, such as destructed text and sacred spaces. She is a frequent performer of experimental music in the Los Angeles area, both as a Cal Arts Composition MFA student, and as a member of pop label Human Ear Music. In addition to her music studies at Cal Arts, she spends several hours a week participating in the Integrated Media program's projects and critiques.