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e6.1 - *particle group* The Absence of Field
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The Absence of Field

Amy Sara Carroll

Introduction

Early October 2008, Adriene Jenik, then Chair of the Visual Arts Department at UCSD, approached Ricardo with a proposition: would *particle group* be willing to create some kind of sound poem/performance for the groundbreaking ceremony of UCSD's 11th Major Engineering and Technology Building, slated to house two Jacobs School of Engineering departments—Structural Engineering and Nano Engineering—while also providing studios and additional facilities for VisArts itself?1 The opportunity was too good to pass up, but also presented a formal challenge. Brett Stalbaum signed onto the project, offering his technical expertise and assistance. Preliminary discussions included the sci-fi inspired suggestion of unmanned drones' dropping poems (like some crazy Zapatista airforce), but quickly that idea was shelved in favor of a more ecologically-friendly GPS-driven cell-phone presentation. I wanted more details about the site of the ceremony; Brett described the location as "an open field." My immediate free-association: Mark Strand's poem, "Keeping Things Whole," its memorable opening, "In a field/I am/the absence of field."2 I began to weave lines from that work into Ed Roberson's dazzling personal reflections on the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, "I Don't See" of Atmosphere Conditions.3 One line of Strand would trigger another of Roberson, interspersed with waystations from Shakespeare's The Tempest and prevailing observations on nanotechnology/nanotoxicology. While students from Ricardo's and Brett's studio classes received automated calls (pre-recorded by me and Zé) and live calls from Ricardo to complete the text of the poem in a real-time performance, invisibility (the nano) ultimately dictated the work's Caliban-like methods. For, on the (broken) ground of the architecture-to-be, the poem's dial-tones triggered the inaccessible, but extra-sensory—the poem's own aerial double, a star-sound map, a concrete poem, letters like Nazca lines that spelled a single word (broken, too): "NA/NO."


Notes

1 For a trace of the event, peruse the article http://www.jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/news/news_releases/release.sfe?id=792 (accessed 6/15/09).

2 See http://www.poetryfoundation.org/archive/poem.html?id=177001 (accessed 6/15/09).

3 Ed Roberson, Atmosphere Conditions (Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 2000) 65–66.


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The Absence of Field


I've told folk half the truth that I was there I was
but embarrassed never told I missed my chance

until I saw: without embarrassment

this country miss its chance looking at color

"I Don't See," Ed Roberson

MARK the STRANDs:

reality checks itself against
realities too small to detect.

Caliban, Prospero, Miranda...

Fearful assymetries,
fulsome viroids of
art and science.

The particulate matter:

CON-
VO-
CA-
TION

"a sea-change into
something rich and strange..."

Nano-ethics under
the signage
of "construction."

Michael Sailor: "nanotechnology is
much more than particles. Color
is the refraction of light,
illuminated nano-
holes."

(GEORGE DYSON)

In a field

IN THE GAME

I am the absence

of field.

OF LIFE AND EVOLUTION

This is

always "The Case."

THERE ARE THREE PLAYERS

Wherever I am

(syllable counter-culture):

reality checks itself against toxi-
cities, histories too small to detect.

I am what is missing.

CON-
VO-
CA-
TION

AT THE TABLE:

When I walk

HUMAN BEINGS,

I part the air

NATURE AND MACHINES.

and always

I AM FIRMLY

the air moves in

ON THE SIDE OF NATURE

to fill the spaces

("We are such stuff
as dreams are made on,
rounded with
a little sleep...")

where my body's been.

(Receptacle for/
of contagion.)

BUT NATURE, I SUSPECT

We all have reasons

IS ON THE SIDE OF

the noisest optic...

the dirtiest of clean rooms,
the laboratory of the body-be-
coming-factories

for other forms
that see, seethe, seize

their own freedoms,
their own communities,
their own rights:

for moving.

Venture, O Science,
research prophet!
From the sky, I spy
the tipping point,

NAZCA LINES------------

a teapot in The Tempest...

(DONNA HARAWAY:

"I'd rather be
a cyborg than
a goddess...")!

THE MACHINES

(nano diamonds,

sublimed fullerenes):

reality checks itself against

futurities too small to detect.

"Spectral barcodes:

what makes these have color

is the absence of particles."

Equal access:

CON-
VO-
CA-
TION

I move

to keep things whole.

to pair a phrase,

ART/(SLASH!)/SCIENCE

(obsolete—perform,
or else—as the nano-
object). Something sounds...

beneath the skin

Mayan technology, trans_
patent tales:

David & Goliath,
swallowed by the whale

"flash of voice,"
fractal fabric-

the deed
(like the need)
nodally quickens.

Gather dispersal,
redistribution

(nano x nano).

CON-
VO-
CA-
TION

Ariel perspective:

"O wonder! How many
goodly creatures
are there here!"

The absence of field,

the occasion,

"How beauteous—
'consensual opacities'—
mankind (sic) is!":

"O brave new world that has"

confabulations in
deconstructive cohabitation,

"a history of the future" filling in
the blanks ________ ...

as we speak: "such people in it!"

Miranda, Prospero, Caliban...

(Why did the universe tip

CON-
VO-
CA-
TION

to the side of the particulate,

matter?) "Like a rainbow or
a water droplet," reality

checks itself against virtu-
alities too small to detect:

the absence of field,
the present's presence.