The First Meeting of the Satie Society

Creative Work
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Description (in English): 

"Conceived by John Cage and realized through the application of programs written at Cage's request by Jim Rosenberg and Andrew Culver (1985-86), this homage to the composer Erik Satie consisted of texts (presents) by writers who knew and loved Satie's work (or who might have if they had existed in a time period thar enabled them to know it), restructured by two computer programs. The texts were written by Henry David Thoreau, James Joyce, Marcel Duchamp, Chris Mann, Marshall McLuhan and John Cage, and also included selections from The Book of Genesis; there was also a "response" by Satie, consisting of selected quotes. One of the computer programs, MESOLIST, by Jim Rosenberg created mesostics on Satie's name and works from lines of text selected by IC a program by Andrew Culver that replicated the chance processes of the I Ching. The reordering of the texts was intended to create a global rather than linear writing. The First Meeting of the Satie Society has also been performed live; on view in electronic space (ACEN's art gallery) it becomes a work made accessible for anyone to use -- "We are getting rid of ownership, substituting use"(1). As a 'meeting' the work conjoins minds of different geographies and times, much as online communities do. The First Meeting of the Satie Society, while conceptually the work of Cage, was written through the convergence of several humans and software -- and reflects of a multiplicity of (not entirely human) voices. Cage's emphasis on the readers' use of the work points both to the importance of process (that art extends beyond its completion by the artist) and to user participation (in creating additional meanings through use)." (Source:

Contributors note: 

Jim Rosenberg and Andrew Culver programmed the piece at Cage's request.

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Jill Walker Rettberg