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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Borderlines of poetry and art : Vancouver, American modernism, and the formation of the west coast avant-garde,… Tomaszewska, Lara Halina 2007

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B O R D E R L I N E S OF P O E T R Y A N D A R T : V A N C O U V E R , A M E R I C A N M O D E R N I S M , A N D T H E F O R M A T I O N OF T H E W E S T C O A S T A V A N T - G A R D E , 1961 -69  by  LARA HALINA TOMASZEWSKA B . A . , The University of British Columbia, 1994 M . A . , Concordia University, 1998  A THESIS S U B M I T T E D I N P A R T I A L F U L F I L M E N T OF T H E R E Q U I R E M E N T S F O R T H E D E G R E E OF  D O C T O R OF P H I L O S O P H Y  in  T H E F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES  (Fine Arts)  T H E U N I V E R S I T Y OF BRITISH C O L U M B I A September 2007 © Lara Halina Tomaszewska, 2007  i ABSTRACT  In 1967, San Francisco poet Robin Blaser titled his Vancouver-based journal The Pacific Nation because the imaginary nation that he envisaged was the "west coast." Blaser was articulating the mythic space that he and his colleagues imagined they inhabited at Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia: a nation without borders, without nationality, and bound by the culture of poetry. The poetic practices of the San Francisco Renaissance, including beat, projective, and Black Mountain poetics, had taken hold in Vancouver in 1961 with poet Robert Duncan's visit to the city which had catalyzed the Tish poetry movement. In 1963, Charles Olson, Allen Ginsberg, and Robert Creeley participated in the Vancouver Poetry Conference, an event that marked the seriousness and vitality of the poetic avant-garde in Vancouver. The dominant narrative of avant-garde visual art in Vancouver dates its origins to the late 1960s, with the arrival of conceptualism, especially the ideas and work of Dan Graham and Robert Smithson. By contrast, this thesis argues for an earlier formation of the avant-garde, starting with the Tish poetry movement and continuing with a series of significant local events such as the annual Festival of the Contemporary Arts (1961-71), organized by B.C. Binning and Alvin Balkind, who was the curator of the Fine Arts Gallery at the University of British Columbia. The diverse artistic and intellectual practices of Robert Duncan, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Stan Brakhage, and Marshall McLuhan presented at the Festivals were absorbed and adapted not only by poets and writers but also by artists, including Ian Wallace, Roy Kiyooka, Iain Baxter, Gary Lee-Nova, and Michael Morris.  The cross-fertilization of avant-garde poetry and art was an international phenomenon. In N e w York, "anti-formal" art also embraced Cage and Cunningham as aesthetic models. Its effect in Vancouver was to de-stabilize European traditions of art that had been dominant. In the 1960s, Vancouver avant-garde artists constructed the west coast as an alternative space - alternative to American militarism and anticommunism, to Euro-Canadian cultural traditions and to the artistic dominance of New York. They helped to create a vital, transnational Pacific region.  Ill  T A B L E OF CONTENTS  Abstract  i  Table of Contents  iii  Acknowledgements  iv  Dedication  v  I N T R O D U C T I O N : West Coast Counter-Narratives: Framing Vancouver Cultural Practices in the 1960s CHAPTER ONE:  Tish  1  "Against History Stands Poetry:" Vancouver, American Modernism, and the Formation of the West Coast 29  Poetics: Charles Olson, A . N . Whitehead, and Language  40  V a n c o u v e r P o e t i c s : l o c a l i t y , the p o l i t i c s o f l o c a t i o n , a n d difference  58  V a n c o u v e r Poetry Conference, 1963  78  CHAPTER TWO:  Astronauts of Inner Space: The Annual Festival of the Contemporary Arts and the Cross-Fertilization of Poetry and Art, 1961-65 88  T h e F e s t i v a l o f the C o n t e m p o r a r y A r t s , 1 9 6 1 - 7 1  94  John Cage  98  Stan Brakhage  110  M a r s h a l l M c L u h a n and G e r d Stern  118  Bruce Conner  127  C H A P T E R T H R E E : Utopia in Vancouver, 1965-68: The Probable Union of Dada, Zen, and American Pragmatism 1965: J a c k S p i c e r , U t o p i a , a n d the V a n c o u v e r C o m m u n i t y o f P o e t r y  1 9 6 5 : Beyond Regionalism 1966: T h e F e s t i v a l o f the C o n t e m p o r a r y A r t s  1 9 6 7 : Joy and Celebration 1 9 6 8 : The West Coast Now EPILOGUE:  Bibliography  133 142  151 165  175 183  Intersection Points: Towards a Poetics of the West Coast Avant-Garde 189 197  iv ACKNOWLEDGMENTS  I am grateful to my research supervisor Dr. John O ' B r i a n for his intellectual and theoretical openness and for his astute, intuitive, and always subtle guidance. Without his encouragement and support, both academic and professional, I most certainly would not have been able to realize this accomplishment. I also thank D r . Charlotte Townsend-Gault whose insight prompted the most crucial questions, D r . Serge Guilbaut for helping me to grasp the significance of the artistic practices of the sixties, and Dr. Maureen Ryan for helping me to articulate my own voice while understanding the richness and complexity of discourse. I would also like to thank everyone who has contributed to this project over the last many years, including the staff at the Morris and Helen B e l k i n A r t Gallery, Gary LeeNova, and Audrey and Victor Doray. M y thanks also to Scott Watson, Robert Linsley, and Rhodri Windsor-Liscombe for offering me research opportunities i n and on Vancouver art. M y deepest gratitude to my dear friends - especially Marta Sesin and Dorothy Barenscott for the years of support and humour, L i s a Sinclair and Laura-Dawn Petrie for their lifelong encouragement, and also Kalinka Poprawski, Alexandra Frison, A l i s o n Rippington, Stephen Kukucha, Helen Raicevic and Helen Court. Lastly, I thank my family, Tania, M o n i k a , and Mirek, for their belief in me and unfailing support. Thank you to L e o for his funny antics and most of all, to Andrew for his love, acceptance, and strength i n this project and in our lives together.  For my mother Monika  1 INTRODUCTION West Coast Counter-Narratives: Framing Vancouver Cultural Practices in the 1960s  I wish to put together an imaginary nation. It is my belief that no other nation is possible, or rather, I believe that authors who count take responsibility for a map which is addressed to travellers o f the earth, the world, and the spirit. Images of our cities must join our poetry. - Robin Blaser, The Pacific Nation  1  In this remote, uncrowded, lotus-eating city, seemingly far from many o f the world's agonies and excesses, there is room for art to grow, even in the face of (or perhaps because of) vast public and official indifference. Though isolated, yet there are very strong umbilical cords connecting Vancouver with the artistic "precious body fluids" elsewhere.. . A Western sense of freedom and expansion, an absence of rhetoric, and a need to search and probe into and beyond the sound barrier... - A l v i n Balkind  2  The C I T Y no longer exists, except as a cultural ghost for tourists. - Marshall M c L u h a n  3  B y the late 1960s, the west coast of North America had already achieved mythic status as Lotusland, Land of Eternal Youth, and land of freedom, love and the counterculture. Robin Blaser, poet o f the San Francisco Renaissance and cultural guru in Vancouver, titled his journal The Pacific Nation because the imaginary nation that he was envisioning, one of open and free discourse, intellectual rigour and spiritual  1  The Pacific Nation, no. 1, 1967, 3. Pacific Nation Archives, Contemporary Literature Collection,  Simon Fraser University. Joy and Celebration, exhibition catalogue, University o f British C o l u m b i a Fine Arts Gallery, 1967, 3. M o r r i s and H e l e n B e l k i n A r t G a l l e r y A r c h i v e s . M a r s h a l l M c L u h a n , " F i v e Sovereign Fingers Taxed the Breath," in Explorations in Communication: An Anthology, eds. E d m u n d Carpenter and M a r s h a l l M c L u h a n (Boston: Beacon Press, 1960), 207. 2  3  travel, was the nation of the "west coast."  4  When A l v i n Balkind, curator of the Fine  Arts Gallery at the University of British Columbia, proclaimed Vancouver's natal artistic connections, he was referring primarily to the umbilical cords between Vancouver and both San Francisco and Los Angeles, ones that symbolized shared post-war artistic and cultural histories. A n avant-garde of modernist poets and artists 5  had formed and was practicing with vigour on the west coast of North America; it was as i f there was an invisible north-south line connecting L o s Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Vancouver. Writers and artists travelled up and down this line, with a majority of the impetus travelling from the south to the north. F r o m the early 1960s, Vancouver's cultural scene started to transform from one of colonial provincialism to that of an edgy and thoroughly modern one - vanguard poetry, experimental printing presses, hard-edge painting, pop art, and collaborative multimedia became central practices and, indeed, Vancouver began to develop its own artistic identity. M y thesis examines art practices i n Vancouver between 1961 and 1968, a period that encompasses several distinct phases or shifts both locally and internationally: the birth of the "west coast"; the renewed artistic interest in early twentieth-century avant-garde movements, such as dada and surrealism; the increasing agitation and violence i n Vietnam; the de-colonization of African nations  Blaser founded and edited The Pacific Nation at the beginning o f his long tenure in the E n g l i s h Department at S i m o n Fraser University. The first issue (there were only two ever published) included contributions from G e r r y Gilbert, Stan Persky and K a r e n T a l l m a n from Vancouver, as well as A m e r i c a n modern poets such as Charles Olson, M i c h a e l M c C l u r e , George Stanley. The cover of the first issue is a doodle-like image with moonlight and water i n the background and a flowery, rocky and forested shore in the foreground. The letters of "Pacific N a t i o n " are reflected by the moonlight in the water and to the right, a w i l d dog is h o w l i n g at the moon - a harmonious call o f nature (in contrast, for example, to the violent dog in Jack Shadbolt's Dog Among Ruins, 1947). In the centre foreground is a partially filled-in vertical figure eight, alluding to both the symbol o f eternity and the yin yang, both symbols w h i c h w o u l d have resonated with the west coast interest i n eastern mysticism and notions o f balance and unity in the universe. 4  5  Joy and Celebration, 3.  and the creation of the "third world"; the politics of conscience followed by post1968 cynicism; and, increasing economic prosperity in North America. The period is diverse and lacks cohesiveness and, as such, can hardly be treated as a monolithic era. A r t production in Vancouver was equally diverse. It was implicated in larger regional and international practices and politics. Specifically, Vancouver was on the west coast circuit. Vancouver curators, teachers and artists considered themselves as part of the avant-garde of the west coast, an avant-garde based i n the literary and poetic practices of the 1950s and early 1960s in California, namely, beat poets and poets in the tradition of Black Mountain College in North Carolina. It was not simply by virtue of Vancouver's proximity to California or its location at the end-of-the-line that the city transformed into an urban avant-garde in its own right. Californian modernists had a huge stake in Vancouver as a west coast city. It could extend the "west coast nation" further up the Pacific, into nature and, ultimately, into Canada - a country that for American dissidents and exiles represented an alternative to the particular C o l d War politics in the United States. However, while it seems clear that American modernism dominated as Vancouver's foundational aesthetic model, Vancouver was not simply a passive receptacle or empty void that, by rote, performed California avant-gardism. A s with each city in the "pacific nation," Vancouver had its own artistic histories that shaped its avant-garde. Specifically, the "new art" of the 1960s was a rejection of the tradition of lyrical landscape painting that had dominated art practice in Vancouver in the 1950s and early 1960s.  6  Already, the writing of this project is riddled with ambivalent terms that come laden with particular implications and connotations, namely, "the sixties," "avantIn the 1950s, painters such as Jack Shadbolt, A l i s t a i r B e l l , J . A . S . M a c D o n a l d , D o n Jarvis and G o r d o n Smith formed a loosely connected school of expressionistic and figurative painters in Vancouver. See Scott Watson, " A r t in the Fifties: Design, Leisure, and Painting in the A g e o f A n x i e t y , " in Vancouver: Art and Artists, 1931-1983 (Vancouver: Vancouver A r t Gallery, 1983), 82-8. 6  4 garde" a n d "west coast." T h e first has c o m e to connote particular notions o f culture and p o l i t i c s m o r e than an actual e p o c h . E v e n as w e enter the 21st century, "the s i x t i e s " continues to be used as a p o p u l a r phrase to describe certain aspects o f culture: y o u t h i d e a l i s m , r e v o l u t i o n a r y p o l i t i c s , p s y c h e d e l i c aesthetics, a n d the rhetoric o f f r e e d o m a n d peace. L i k e m o s t c l i c h e s o r stereotypes, it has been used b o t h p o s i t i v e l y and n e g a t i v e l y : as a nostalgic s i g n i f i e r o f endless p o s s i b i l i t i e s a n d the p r o m i s e o f s o c i a l change, and, alternatively, to refer to a state o f n a i v e a n d i n d u l g e n t n a r c i s s i s m , or as T h o m a s C r o w writes, "the w e l l s p r i n g o f a l l c o n t e m p o r a r y s c a n d a l s . "  7  T h e so-  c a l l e d " f a i l u r e " o f the sixties to effect real change has b e c o m e a p e s s i m i s t i c s y m b o l o f the i m p r o b a b i l i t y o f p u b l i c s to infiltrate a n d b r i n g - d o w n state apparatuses (government bureaucracy, the w a r - m a c h i n e ) . T h e 1960s have often been w r i t t e n about as a Utopian m o m e n t o f a c t i v i s m o n N o r t h A m e r i c a n campuses w h e n students' i d e a l i s m w a s n a i v e a n d u l t i m a t e l y futile. I want to instead posit that the sixties i n V a n c o u v e r , e s p e c i a l l y at the U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a , w a s a f o r m a t i v e p e r i o d i n w h i c h " u t o p i a n i s m " p l a y e d an important s y m b o l i c a n d p r o d u c t i v e r o l e i n the m a k i n g o f a n alternative culture. T h e 1960s w a s not a m o n o l i t h i c p e r i o d but i n c l u d e d w i t h i n it several ruptures and shifts. F o r e x a m p l e , p o s t m o d e r n strategies emerged, such as serial poetry a n d m u l t i m e d i a happenings, as challenges to m o d e r n i s t aesthetic p r i n c i p l e s i n c l u d i n g a u t o n o m y a n d the a u t h o r i a l d o m i n a n c e o f the artist. B y the late 1960s, p o s t m o d e r n i s m strengthened a n d structuralism a n d post-structuralism b e c a m e a c a d e m i c a l l y e m b e d d e d theoretical discourses. I n the last decade, after the w h o l e s a l e a p p r o p r i a t i o n o f p o s t m o d e r n i s m b y a c a d e m i c s , the culture i n d u s t r y a n d m a i n s t r e a m p o p u l a r culture, p o s t m o d e r n i s m has, i r o n i c a l l y , been e m p t i e d as a c r i t i c a l term. T h u s , 7  Thomas Crow, The Rise of the Sixties: American and European Art in the Era of Dissent (New York:  Harry N . Abrams, Inc., 1996), 7.  5 Q  a critical distance exists between the sixties and now. Consequently, the idealization (or trashing) of the decade is beside the point - what emerges as most salient is the possibility for new approaches to the theorization of paradigm shifts. What have come to be old chestnut characterizations of the sixties, anecdotal and illuminating, are only symptoms of the changes that took place. T o gloss over the epistemological shifts that occurred during that period is to negate the significance of the era. In "Periodizing the 60s," Frederic Jameson argues that there always exist many narratives within a given historical period, each offering diverse responses to the various levels of historical change. Writing history, therefore, is not an exercise in telling it the "way it really happened," but rather, it is an act of producing a concept of history. In keeping with Jameson's methodology, I present my thesis as but one 9  narrative among many that could emerge from a study of Vancouver i n the 1960s. Specifically, my narrative operates within the context of the west coast where Vancouver is part of a larger cultural and artistic milieu. M y narrative also includes the culture and practice of poetry as a significant aspect of the history of the avantgarde in Vancouver.  10  L i k e Jameson, I accept that there many narrative possibilities  This thesis w i l l treat postmodernism as an historical development that began i n the late 1960s with the emergence of structuralism and post-structuralism and scholars such as L o u i s Althusser, Jacques Lacan, M i c h e l Foucault, and Jacques Derrida. However, postmodernism is part o f modernism, part of a dialectic that throughout the second half o f the 20th century has demarcated changes i n h o w subjectivity, technology and discourses of the Other have been theorized. For a discussion of the problems of the postmodern, see, H a l Foster, The Return of the Real: The Avant-garde at the End of the Century (Cambridge, Mass: M I T Press, 1996), 205-26. Frederic Jameson, "Periodizing the 60s," in The 60s Without Apology, eds. Sonja Sayres et al. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984), 180. See also, Long Time Gone: Sixties America Then and Now, ed. Alexander B l o o m ( N e w Y o r k : Oxford University Press, 2001), 3-9. M y thesis attempts to unfold a history o f the avant-garde in V a n c o u v e r through tracing the interconnection o f A m e r i c a n poetic practices, specifically open form poetics, with the formation of philosophical and aesthetic practices in Vancouver. I argue that V a n c o u v e r ' s first expressions of a new avant-garde occurred in poetry in 1961, specifically in the publication Tish and i n 1963 with the Vancouver Poetry Conference and the poetry magazines blew ointment and Periwinkle. V a n c o u v e r poetics, based on the poetry of the San Francisco Renaissance, was ultimately postmodern in its nonnarrative and collage forms and its discourses were also part o f the basis o f the visual avant-garde that developed i n and around 1965. A s a thesis in art history, the " v i s u a l " may seem under-represented. In the first chapter, I focus on projective verse and open form poetics as outlined by Charles Olson and Robert Duncan in order to demonstrate the philosophical foundations of early postmodernism in 8  9  1 0  6 within a given historical period; however, I recognize that there also exist historical constants or "regularities."  11  T o demonstrate, take an example relevant to the present  study: pop art. London, N e w York, Los Angeles and, I w i l l claim, Vancouver, each developed its own brand of pop art i n the late 1950s and 1960s. The vernacular o f each city was different: collage using printed material launched pop in London; Los Angeles artists defined their style using plastics and acrylic paint with a high finish; and in Vancouver, artists such as Gary Lee-Nova fused hard-edge painting with popular iconography. Each brand of pop art is specific, derived from the particular aesthetic and historical practices of that place. However, each manifestation is a response, never exact, to similar artistic, cultural, and economic conditions. In the case of pop art, it is a response to post-war consumer culture and traditions of formalist modernist painting. In weaving my particular narrative, I aim to address the broader local, regional, and international conditions because it is those conditions that ultimately define my narrative. Marshall M c L u h a n and his work have become almost cliched i n any discussion of the sixties. "The global village" and "the medium is the message" are catch phrases alluding to the shrinkage of the world due to the ubiquity of mass media (television, radio and global telecommunications). However, M c L u h a n ' s dicta are not simply truisms of communication theory; they also belong to the field of international critical theory that had been developing in Europe and North America since the Frankfurt School.  12  H i s publications, including The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962),  Vancouver. In the second chapter, the visual is the object o f critique and the function of vision and sound is explored by artists such as John Cage and Stan Brakhage. In the third and last chapter, visual practices in Vancouver are analyzed in relation to open form poetics in poetry, f i l m , and dance. Jameson suggests that narrative possibilities are, in fact, not endless, because across seemingly unrelated fields the same "regularities" arise. "Periodizing the Sixties," 179. Judith Stamps brings H a r o l d Innis and M c L u h a n into dialogue with Theodor A d o r n o and Walter Benjamin in an attempt to demonstrate that the former were engaged in similar critiques of Western objectivity as the latter. A l s o , Stamps argues that the Frankfurt S c h o o l ' s theory o f negative dialectics 1 1  1 2  7 Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (1964), and Medium is the Massage (1967), addressed the profound cultural and social implications of the shift from the mechanical to the electric age. Specifically, M c L u h a n theorized the changing context within which human relations take place, a context which he defined spatially rather than geo-politically. Mass media, M c L u h a n asserted, led to instantaneous and simultaneous experience. Places were no longer self-contained by their own physicality but were now part of a dynamic, non-visual space. He called it acoustic space, a space in which everyone was linked: Auditory space has no point of favoured focus...it is not pictorial space, boxed in, but dynamic, always in flux, creating its own dimensions moment by moment. It has no fixed boundaries; it is indifferent to background. The eye focuses, pinpoints, abstracts, locating each object in physical space, against a background; the ear, however, favours sound from any direction. 13  The disappearance of depth, or one-point perspective (eye space), in favour of multidirectional movement (ear space) characterises the space of global communication. In McLuhan in Space: A Cultural Geography, Richard Cavell argues that M c L u h a n was a spatial theorist and that acoustic space was at the core of his critique of modernism: "it is precisely M c L u h a n ' s critique of visual space that constitutes his opposition to modern culture, which he understood as seeking to control space through techniques of rational ordering."  14  Acoustic space is a provocative concept because it  conceptualizes changing subjectivity, a notion that M c L u h a n himself discussed with artists and writers in Vancouver in 1964 at the Festival of the Contemporary Arts and one which was explored by other significant cultural and intellectual figures,  is a form o f what Innis and M c L u h a n developed. Judith Stamps, Unthinking Modernity: Innis, McLuhan, and the Frankfurt School (Montreal: M c G i l l - Q u e e n ' s University Press, 1995). E d m u n d Carpenter and Marshall M c L u h a n , " A c o u s t i c Space," in Explorations in Communication: 1 3  An Anthology, 67. Richard C a v e l l , McLuhan in Space: A Cultural Geography (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002), 224. 1 4  including Charles Olson and John Cage. Spatial relations were embodied in new ways - gaps between people, places, spaces, and time zones were narrowing and new relationships between self and other were configured, perhaps the most fateful of which was the "third world." The processes of de-colonization were concurrent with the media explosion thus making visible national dramas of independence.  15  The independence of Ghana (1957), the  assassination of Lumumba i n the Congo (1961), the Cuban Revolution (1960), the independence of France's sub-Saharan colonies (1959), the Battle of Algiers (1957) and the final diplomatic resolution of the Algerian Revolution (1962), and sit-ins in Greensboro, North Carolina (1960) were events which collectively created the third world: The 60s was, then, the point in which all these "natives" became human beings, and this internally as well as externally: those inner colonized of the first world - "minorities," marginals, and women fully as much as its external subjects and official "natives." 16  The United States represented the "first world" in the post-war period and was increasingly patriotic and nationalistic. However, with the third world as the "constitutive outside," new subject positions were created that disrupted the cohesiveness of the national narrative. For example, civil rights groups in the United States supported the liberation of African colonies and condemned American neo-  The story o f colonialism and the emergence o f the modern nation has been, of course, dwelt upon by twentieth century philosophers, including Jean-Paul Sartre whose text Critique of Dialectical Reason (I960) re-articulated H e g e l ' s Master/Slave dialectic. Sartre's analysis included the L o o k as a transformative operation that constructed not only the Other but also the " I . " W h i l e Sartre still retained the existential " I , " the unitary subject was weakening and the self was recognized as being contingent on the Other. This understanding of subjectivity has been brought to its full realization with postcolonial theory which asserts that all subjects are split and constituted by social and psychic forces. Jameson, 187. The "natives" here refer to Sartre's Preface to Frantz Fanon's Wretched of the Earth (1963) where Fanon divides the modern world into men (who have the W o r d ) and natives (who only have use of it). Jameson, 181. 1 5  1 6  9  colonial involvement, including the "Green Revolution."  17  Global politics shaped  domestic social and political identities. The public space of the third world created semi-private political space in North America, which came to be embodied in the 1 ft  term "the personal is political."  O n the west coast, dissent took a specific form.  Anti-war sentiments, specifically anti-Vietnam, were at the heart of cultural and political revolt on university campuses such as Berkeley and also at the University o f British Columbia. In San Francisco, beat poets and a young generation of radical writers formed bohemian communities and expressed their rage through poetry and forms of visual art such as dada-inspired collage and assemblage.  19  Artistic, national, transnational, and political identities are always constituted by both internal and external and social and psychic forces. O n the west coast o f North America, a primarily white, middle-class avant-garde was practicing. They were geographically removed from many battlegrounds, for example the agonies of African c i v i l and national wars, the sovereignty struggle in Quebec, and c i v i l rights agitations in the southern United States. Yet, west coast artists and writers were creating their own space o f dissent. A major strategy was to construct a space o f "freedom." Blaser's "pacific nation" was based not on shared history or nationality but on a deliberate artistic consciousness. However, the question remains: "which groups had a voice?" A transnational, radical avant-garde formed in California and The Green Revolution was the name given to interventions into agriculture, primarily by A m e r i c a n organizations to address the problem o f world hunger. Jameson argues that, in effect, the Green Revolution amounted to neo-colonization where villages that were previously agricultural were being systematically replaced by industrial agriculture, whose main methods were chemical and mechanical implementations. The Green Revolution lead to the destruction o f the social and physical fabric of local cultures but provided capital expansion for the United States. Jameson, 184-6. F o r a discussion around the tensions between the C i v i l Rights M o v e m e n t and the V i e t n a m W a r and liberal leadership, see W i l l i a m H . Chafe, "The 1960s: The Critical Decade for Postwar A m e r i c a , " in The Sixties Revisited: Culture-Society-Politics, ed. Jiirgen H e i d e k i n g (Heidelberg: Universitatsverlag, 2001), 1-12. F o r an account of San Francisco bohemian culture, see Richard Candida Smith, Utopia and Dissent: Art, Poetry and Politics in California (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995). 1 7  1 8  1 9  10 moved up the coast, but they moved straight past the First Nations and past the histories of Asian-North Americans. They were enacting a type of "nostalgia without memory."  Early Vancouver poets were nostalgic for the greatness of First Nations'  cultures (without remembering the annihilation of Native cultures on the west coast), and several poets and artists sought transcendental understanding in A s i a (without remembering the incarceration of Japanese-Canadians and Japanese-Americans during the Second W o r l d W a r ) .  21  The artists' amnesia has been forgotten and what  has been celebrated instead are their acts of freedom and conscience. C r o w ' s history of the 1960s runs the risk of such an eclipse when he suggests that spontaneity led to political action. He argues that the politics of conscience sprang from freedom from the past: [the politics of conscience] moved social radicalism away from the terrain of industry and mass parties toward the realm of conscience, symbolic expression, and spontaneous organizations from below. The dissenting experiments of artists thus found an energizing congruence with the most exciting and successful forms of dissenting politics. 22  On the west coast, artistic and political dissent was made possible, in part, through a sense of freedom and liberation from history. However, unlike Crow, I am suggesting that it is important to understand what was being erased or forgotten in the process of  "Nostalgia without memory" is Jameson's term to describe postmodern practices of production and reception that use pastiche and nostalgia, specifically in the context o f de-territorialization. Quoted in Arjun Appadurai, Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996), 29. In Chapter One, I address these tensions within the construction of the west coast. F o r example, Z e n B u d d h i s m and Eastern mysticism provided philosophical, aesthetic and practical foundations for west coast poetics, as demonstrated by Blaser's The Pacific Nation of spiritual travellers. However, the Pacific also referred to the A s i a n Pacific or the Pacific R i m , the economic and political construct that represented both the threat o f communism as well as the economic strength of Japan. The United States was at war in A s i a between 1945 and 1970, resulting in internal racial and political tension. I w i l l explore the political implications of the west coast as they relate to Canadian and A m e r i c a n foreign policies and racial tensions in North A m e r i c a . F o r a thorough discussion on the formation and history of the Pacific R i m , see Bruce C u m m i n g s , "Rimspeak; or, The Discourse of the 'Pacific R i m , ' " in What is in a Rim? Critical Perspectives on the Pacific Region Idea, ed. A r i f D i r l i k (Lanham, M D : R o w m a n & Littlefield Publishers Inc., 1998), 53-72. 2 0  2 1  2 2  C r o w , 11.  11 creating a space of freedom. Peter Plagens asserts that the west coast was constructed through a deliberate plotting of artists and curators.  23  In Vancouver, A l v i n Balkind of the Fine Arts  Gallery at the University of British Columbia, Warren Tallman, professor of English, and Blaser, were actively involved in the construction of the west coast. I am asking: was its formation a radical expression of conscience? The politics of conscience was an avant-garde gesture that, like pop art and happenings and assemblage, sought to integrate art and life. For Crow, it meant a co-habitation of art and politics. Before examining the particularity of the west coast situation, it is first necessary, at least briefly, to focus on the problems of the avant-garde. The complexity of the term avant-garde as it is used i n the context of mid-century art production has been dealt with at length by writers associated with October magazine. The text with which I am most concerned is H a l Foster's The Return of the Real: The Avant-Garde  at the end of  the Century, since it offers both a sound critique of the theory of the avant-garde and a new model for analyzing both the historical and contemporary avant-garde. Writing against and in dialogue with Peter Burger's 1974 seminal text Theory of the Avant-Garde  and Benjamin Buchloh's various responses to i t ,  24  Foster  examines the nature of the avant-garde and posits that it can be understood as a series of "returns" or "deferred actions." This is most clearly understood in the case of the neo-avant-garde, defined by Foster as:  Peter Plagens argues that the flowering of the West Coast scene was "deliberately and benevolently plotted by curators, writers and scholastics eminently familiar with the mainstream m o d e l . " Californiabased contributor to Artforum, Plagens was one of the first critics to identify the specificity of the west  2 3  coast art scene. Sunshine Muse: Contemporary Art on the West Coast (New Y o r k : Praeger, 1974), 20. Peter Burger, Theory of the Avant-Garde, Minneapolis: University o f Minnesota Press, 1984. B u c h l o h responded to Burger in various essays, most pointedly in " T h e o r i z i n g the Avant-Garde," in 2 4  Art in America, N o v 1984. See also Benjamin Buchloh, Neo-Avant-Garde and Culture Industry: Essays on European and American Art from 1955-1975 (Cambridge, M A : M I T Press, 2000). For a synopsis o f Burger's formulation o f the neo-avant-garde, see Branden Joseph, Random Order: Robert Rauschenberg and the Neo-Avant-Garde (Cambridge, M a s s : M I T Press, 2003), 11-4.  12 a loose grouping of North American and Western European artists of the 1950s and 1960s who reprised such avant-garde devices of the 1920s and 1930s as collage and assemblage, the readymade and the grid, monochrome painting and constructed sculpture. N o rule governs the return of these devices: no one instance is strictly revisionist, radical, or compulsive. 25  M y thesis focuses on the artistic reprises by the west coast avant-garde, specifically returns to dada forms of collage, assemblage, the readymade, and the aesthetics of chance.  26  In 1960, when San Francisco artist Bruce Conner juxtaposed found objects  in his assemblage Child, or in 1966, when Vancouver artist Michael Morris disrupted pure opticality with a thought bubble in The Problem of Nothing, aesthetic returns were enacted. Such returns to avant-garde modes (readymade, monochrome painting) are complex, argues Foster, and symbolize the ambivalent relationship between the neo-avant-garde and the historical avant-garde. According to Burger, despite its self-reflexivity about the context and institutions of art, the historical avant-garde (dada, constructivism, surrealism) failed, not i n terms of aesthetic challenges but in terms of effecting radical political change through the destruction of bourgeois autonomy. The value of the avant-garde has H a l Foster, The Return of the Real: The Avant-Garde at the end of the Century (Cambridge, M a s s : M I T Press, 1996), 1. The aesthetic returns of the 1960s were paralleled in philosophical returns in the late 1960s, namely re-readings of M a r x and Freud by L o u i s Althusser and Jacques Lacan, respectively. Althusser and Lacan were both "taking stock" o f the major cultural and critical theories o f the century: M a r x i s m and psychoanalysis. B o t h returns enunciate the inclusion of a new scientism in philosophy, namely the discovery of the Symbolic and the primacy of Language and both returns resist humanist interpretations. Althusser's reading of M a r x , m o v i n g away from Sartrean interpretations, operated at the structural level; that is, he addressed the cultural dimension o f M a r x ' s modes o f production, specifically aspects o f ideology and power. Ideology, in Althusser's understanding, permeated not just class or economic relations, but also the social forces shaping subjectivity, including family and education. L a c a n re-read Freud using contemporary linguistic theory to reveal what was implicit i n Freud's work. Specifically, by linking Freud's psychoanalytic theory to semiotics, L a c a n sought to explain the Freudian unconscious through analyzing processes of language. Jameson refers to these returns as "a withering away o f philosophy" because philosophy was replaced by a material practice called "theory"; that is, the history o f ideas was no longer conceived of as a progression of philosophical traditions written by individual auteurs, but rather as a constellation o f texts that build on, repudiate, and struggle against each other. See L o u i s Althusser, For Marx, trans. B e n Brewster (London: A l l e n Lane, 1969); and "Ideology and State Apparatuses," in Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays, trans. B e n Brewster (London: N e w B o o k s , 1971), 123-73. For L a c a n ' s interpretations of Freud, see Jacques Lacan, Ecrits, Paris: Editions du Seuils, 1966 or Ecrits, trans. A l a n Sheridan (New Y o r k : Norton, 1977). F o r an understanding o f Lacanian semiotics, see Ferdinand de Saussure, Course in General Linguistics, eds. Charles B a l l y et. al. (New Y o r k and Toronto: M c G r a w - H i l l , 1966). 2 5  2 6  13 since been questioned. T o be sure, the avant-garde as a cultural construction has been plagued by theoretical problems. Ironically, avant-garde production has embodied notions that have i n fact protected the bourgeois autonomy of art: "the presumption of originality, the ideology of progress, the elitist hermeticism, the historical exclusivity, and the appropriation by the culture industry."  27  Burger understands the neo-avant-  garde as merely repeating the strategies of the historical avant-garde to produce politically impotent pastiches, thereby negating the meaning of the avant-garde. However, Foster argues that the neo-avant-garde represents a rich area for art historical understanding. In the face of post-war conditions, artists in the 1960s looked to radical strategies of the past but applied them to contemporary artistic and political concerns. In Vancouver, the tradition of European landscape painting was seen by emerging artists as an outdated and empty form of colonial expression that needed to be made obsolete, a goal that could be achieved using American neo-dada strategies. Foster argues that Burger's text echoes M a r x ' s fatalist declaration that " a l l great events of world history occur twice, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce." For Foster, a Marxist conception that understands history in terms of evolution and progression and as events that are determined by before and after and cause and effect, results i n historicism. Foster is particularly alarmed by the misconception that history is punctual and final; in other words, that the significance of an event is fully realized in its moment of occurrence - its production, reception and meaning  Foster, 5. Burger asserts that a fundamental strategy of the avant-garde is the "refusal to create meaning" and that it does so through shock and negation. The readymade (Duchamp's dada symbol for the dereification o f art), for example, assaults the viewer's division between art and life and thus challenges the contexts and institutions framing the production and reception o f art. Burger asserts that the neoavant-garde, in fact, institutionalizes the avant-garde and therefore negates its meaning. Burger, 52-8. 1 1  2 8  14 conflated in that moment. The neo-avant-garde offers a site of analysis that, because 29  of its very nature of returns and reprisals, can puncture the historicism that dominates art historical w r i t i n g .  30  The artistic returns of the 1950s and 1960s were not superficial repetitions of the historical avant-garde. Rather, I w i l l argue that the returns themselves are indicative of the processes of historical signification. That is, the avant-garde is not to be read as immediate transgression, as Burger would have it, but rather as a "continual process o f protension and retension."  Specifically, the returns o f the  1960s can be conceptualized in the Freudian model of repression. Rather than a 32  straight understanding of artistic movements as origin, reception, and repetition (in that order), the Freudian model makes complex the temporal and causal dimensions of avant-garde activities. Put simply, a trauma or rupture is repressed and only registered through another event, or deferred action. Lacan re-read Freud in terms of the Symbolic, or the realm of language. In the Symbolic, subjectivity is constituted in language through a process of signification; each idea or thing is signified by a word (signifier). A trauma is an event that punctures the Symbolic realm, that is, it is part of the Real (outside of language) and therefore cannot immediately be resolved by the Symbolic - it cannot be signified i n language because there are no words for it; it is repressed. However, through a series of repetitions, and only through repetition, the  Foster, 5-8. Foster asserts that historicism still pervades most art historical writing and that is has dominated in 20th century criticism, as in the work by Clement Greenberg and A l f r e d Barr. Foster's critique aims to advance the f o l l o w i n g claims of the neo-avant-garde: "(1) the institution of art is grasped as such not with the historical avant-garde but with the neo-avant-garde; (2) the neoavant-garde at its best addresses this institution with a creative analysis at once specific and deconstructive (not a nihilistic attack at once abstract and anarchistic, as often with the historical avantgarde); and (3) rather than cancel the historical avant-garde, the neo-avant-garde enacts its project for the first time - a first time that, again, is theoretically endless." Foster, 20. Ibid., 29. Benjamin B u c h l o h , "Primary Colours for the Second T i m e : A Paradigm Repetition o f the N e o A v a n t - G a r d e , " October 37, Summer 1986, 41-52. B u c h l o h articulated the Freudian reading of the avant-garde: "a model o f repetition that might better describe this relationship is the Freudian concept of repetition that originates i n repression and disavowal," 43. 2 9  3 0  3 1  3 2  15 event is altered and thus, structured in language.  33  The avant-garde can be understood as being constituted in a similar manner, as "a complex relay of anticipated futures and reconstructed pasts."  34  The deferred  action of the avant-garde is relevant to the present thesis. The west coast was imagined as a tabula rasa by figures such as Balkind and Blaser, where new identities and associations could be created. Collage, assemblage, and pop emerged in this space of repression and through a reprise of rhetorical devices, the disruptive nature of the avant-garde was restored, acted-out, and re-formulated. Seen i n this sense, the avant-garde is a projection of the future - its disruption only realized when a future action restores it. In the m i d 1960s, Vancouver artists such as Gary Lee-Nova and Iain Baxter used collage and readymades as returns to dada and surrealism. A t the end of the 1960s, when Vancouver artists Jeff W a l l and Ian Wallace took up language and 35  conceptual practices, a similar process of disruption and restoration was enacted.  In  this sense, there were two avant-garde movements in the sixties in Vancouver. The first was a return to the historical avant-garde and the second, a critique of that return. Until recently, N e w Y o r k has represented the centre of post-war art, a position that was secured in the 1950s and 1960s by art critics such as Clement Greenberg. Against avant-garde desires to fuse art and life, Greenberg wanted to keep art, specifically abstract painting and sculpture, in the realm of pure aesthetics. Grounding In Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography (New Y o r k : H i l l and W a n g , 1981), Roland Barthes also alludes to the deferred action o f trauma, specifically in photographic representations. F o r Barthes, the punctum refers to the return o f the trauma from the Real into the present or S y m b o l i c . F o r more on Lacanian trauma theory, see Slavoj Zizek, The Sublime Object of Ideology (London: Verso, 1989); and, Jean Laplanche, New Foundations of Psychoanalysis, trans. D a v i d M a c e y (London: B a s i l B l a c k w e l l , 1989). Foster, 29. T o further demonstrate the continuous and repetitive nature of the avant-garde, Foster also suggests that there were two neo-avant-gardes. The first, in the 1950s, reprised dadaist devices, specifically collage and happenings (Robert Rauschenberg and A l l a n K a p r o w ) , in effect, institutionalizing the historical avant-garde and thereby p r o v o k i n g the second incarnation of the neo-avant-garde in the 1960s. Artists such as Daniel Buren and M a r c e l Broodthaers critiqued both the process of institutionalization and the previous avant-garde formations. Foster, 21-4. 3 4  3 5  16 himself in Kantian notions of the objectivity of taste and judgment, Greenberg outlined the requirements for successful painting: it had to be self-referential and selfcritical, a condition attained through the compositional elements of flatness, colour, and opticality.  B y the mid-1960s, after twenty years of Greenberg's authorial  dominance, art critics and artists began to challenge the tenets of his formalist criticism that they believed could no longer adequately address "new art." A wide 37  range of modernist and avant-garde expressions evidenced the breakdown of formalist modernism from Robert Rauschenberg's combine paintings to Jasper Johns' iconic flag paintings to Donald Judd's "specific objects" and S o l le W i t t ' s "Sentences on Conceptual Art." The avant-garde in N e w Y o r k emerged within an alreadyestablished critical network of writers and institutions, and, despite the break-down of Greenberg's formalism, N e w Y o r k remained the artistic centre. The avant-garde on the west coast was not shaped in opposition to Greenbergian formalism.  The "returns" were of a different nature. For example, the  appropriation of assemblage was not so much a rejection of Greenberg's formalism as much as a strategy to challenge local traditions of landscape painting. The west coast was a different avant-garde formation altogether, one that was neither oblivious to, nor derivative of, N e w Y o r k modernisms. Despite the hegemony of N e w Y o r k  First published in 1961, Greenberg's essay "Modernist Painting," delineated his formalist model. "Modernist Painting," in Clement Greenberg: The Collected Essays and Criticism 4, ed. John O ' B r i a n (Chicago: University o f Chicago Press, 1993). F o r an analysis of Greenberg's aesthetics in relation to philosophy, minimal, and conceptual art, see Thierry de D u v e , Kant after Duchamp (Cambridge, M a s s : M I T Press, 1996). Some critics who chronicled the breakdown of formalism included Barbara Rose, M a x Kozloff, Lawrence A l l o w a y , and Susan Sontag. See S y l v i a Harrison, Pop Art & The Origins of Post-modernism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001). Avant-garde art i n Vancouver was not directly engaged with Greenbergian criticism. However, as Caroline Jones points out, the "Greenberg effect" was nonetheless active on the west coast. Hard-edge painting, for example, demonstrated a preoccupation for the material aspects of painting and therefore remained engaged with formalist principles even i f they were disrupted by illusion and extra-visual references. F o r a discussion o f the "Greenberg effect," see Caroline A . Jones, Eyesight Alone: Clement Greenberg's Modernism and the Bureaucratization of the Senses (Chicago: University o f Chicago Press, 2005), x i x - x x v . 3 6  3 7  3 8  17 criticism, Artforum was founded in San Francisco in 1962, re-located to Los Angeles in 1965, and ultimately moved to N e w Y o r k in 1967. The physical and textual moves of Artforum alone reveal the complexity of cultural and theoretical relationship on  between California and N e w York.  W h i l e many critics remained invested i n one  side or the other of Greenberg's aesthetic battle, new critical voices emerged to produce new methodologies with which to analyze art that fell outside of the Greenbergian paradigm, such as pop and assemblage.  40  The west coast was the vision of the avant-garde that practiced there. A s with any geo-political construction, it is more mythic than actual, more imagined than real. Writing on the history of Vancouver art, curator and art historian Scott Watson identifies the "West Coast Thing" as a major factor in the city's emergence as an art centre, stating that "the counter-culture of consciousness-raising, Tibetan Buddhism, faux agrarianism, wilderness worship, L S D , and sexual exploration" were part of Vancouver's cultural landscape and connected it to California's counterculture.  41  But  how and why did that "West Coast Thing" form? The cross-fertilization of poetry and visual art is the most distinctive aspect of the west coast avant-garde, the germ of which was the San Francisco Renaissance of the 1950s. Black Mountain poets Robert Duncan and Robert Creeley moved to San Francisco, bringing their poetics with them  4 2  Duncan set up the U b u Gallery (1952)  The first five years of Artforum were focused on the west coast even though there was increasing contribution from N e w Y o r k critics. Artforum was the most widely read art journal on the west coast, both before and after its move to N e w Y o r k . F o r a chronology of the journal's publications, as well as a summary of its main theoretical debates including the discourses around formalism, see A m y N e w m a n , Challenging Art: Artforum 1962-74 (New Y o r k : Soho Press, 2000). In Chapter Three, I w i l l explore these new critical methodologies, specifically pragmatism. Critics such as Barbara Rose and M a x K o z l o f f looked to the aesthetic principles o f John Cage for richer interpretations o f avant-garde production. See Harrison, 11-27. Scott Watson, "Urban Renewal: Ghost Traps, Collage, Condos and Squats - Vancouver A r t in the Sixties," in Intertidal: Vancouver Art and Artists (Antwerp and Vancouver: M u s e u m van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen and M o r r i s and Helen B e l k i n A r t Gallery, 2005), 32. B l a c k M o u n t a i n College in North Carolina was a major site of A m e r i c a n radical and experimental 3 9  4 0  4 1  4 2  18 and the Six Gallery (1954) where A l l e n Ginsberg read his legendary beat poem Howl in 1955.  43  Beat writers such as W . S . Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Wallace Berman, and  A l l e n Ginsberg ('beat' referring to the dissonance and rhythm of music, especially bebop and free-form jazz) sought freedom from censorship and conservatism and raged against post-war consumerism, bourgeois values, sexual oppression, and war. The United States was stabilizing as a world power and embarking on programs of militarization, corporatization, and nationalism. Beat culture posed a threat to "straight" America and symbolized all that was antithetical to post-war middle class values. A s one writer in Life magazine ranted: [beat writers] are talkers, loafers, passive little con-men, lonely eccentrics, mom-haters, cop-haters, exhibitionists with abused smiles and second mortgages on a bongo drum - writers who cannot write, painters who 44  cannot paint. O n the west coast, the history of beat culture and radical poetics took a specific form, particularly i n San Francisco with experimental jazz and poetry. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, writers formed communal groups that gathered informally to discuss art and ideas. Conscientious objectors to W o r l d War II were interned in C O camps i n Oregon. Writers who had been interned moved to San Francisco upon their release and brought their dissenting politics to join forces with local poets such as Robert Duncan, Kenneth Rexroth, Philip Lamantia, Gary Snyder, Michael M c C l u r e , and Lawrence Ferlinghetti - poets who would later come to Vancouver to participate in the 1963 Poetry Conference and in the annual Festival of the Contemporary A r t s .  45  poetry and art, including teachers and students such as John Cage, M e r c e Cunningham, Buckminster Fuller, and Robert Rauschenberg. In Chapter One, I w i l l discuss the significance of B l a c k M o u n t a i n poetics i n the formation of the west coast avant-garde. F o r a history of the B l a c k M o u n t a i n poets in San Francisco and the cross-fertilization o f beat poetry and visual art, see Seymour H o w a r d , "Galleries o f Discovery: Beat Rhythms and Beats," in The Beat Generation Galleries and Beyond, ed. Seymour H o w a r d (Davis: John Natsoulas Press, 1996), 5-11. Quoted in N a n c y Peters, "The Beat Generation and San Francisco's Culture of Dissent," in Reclaiming San Francisco: History, Politics, Culture (San Francisco: C i t y Lights, 1998), 209. Peters, 203. 4 3  4 4  4 5  19 Based on the poetics of Charles Olson, these poets explored linguistics, spirituality, and philosophy through sound and non-narrative structure.  Ferlinghetti opened City  Lights Bookstore in 1953 and City Lights Publications in 1955 thus establishing San Francisco as a radical and truly independent literary centre.  47  In 1963, the University of British Columbia hosted the Vancouver Poetry Conference, the culmination of a three-year frenzy of poetic activity on the west coast.  48  The San Francisco Renaissance had traveled and taken hold in Vancouver.  49  This was only the beginning: Creeley, Duncan, Ginsberg, Spicer, Persky, and Blaser all taught in Vancouver during the 1960s. In 1961, the first Festival of the Contemporary Arts took place on the university campus. It was to be an annual event for the next decade - a multi-disciplinary festival that featured experimental film, visual art, dance, and music produced on the west coast. In 1967, when Blaser wrote The Pacific Nation from Vancouver, he was calling on an imagined community of writers, artists, and "travellers." Blaser was articulating the nation that he and his  O f particular significance was O l s o n ' s Projective Verse in Selected Writings of Charles Olson, ed. Robert Creeley ( N e w Y o r k : N e w Directions, 1966), which outlined a model for process-oriented, kinetic poetry. A l f r e d N o r t h Whitehead was also important to San Francisco poets, specifically his theory process philosophy as written in Process and Reality ( N e w Y o r k : M a c m i l l a n , 1929). F o r histories of the beat scene in L o s Angeles and San Francisco, see Reading California: Art, Image, and Identity, 1900-2000, eds. Stephanie Barron, Sheri Bernstein, and Ilene Susan Fort (Los Angeles: L o s Angeles County M u s e u m of A r t , 2000). In 1961, Warren Tallman, professor of E n g l i s h at the University o f British C o l u m b i a , assigned his poetry class a reading w h i c h would begin their engagement with the San Francisco Renaissance and with A m e r i c a n modernism: New American Poetry: 1945-1960, ed. Donald A l l e n ( N e w Y o r k : G r o v e Press, Inc., 1960). The anthology contained works from five distinct groups: B l a c k M o u n t a i n , San Francisco Renaissance, beat poets, N e w Y o r k poets, and emerging poets. In the preface, editor D o n a l d A l l e n , friend and collaborator with Tallman, wrote that the work o f these poets shared a common trait, "a total rejection of all those qualities typical o f academic verse...they are our avant-garde" (xi). O f the five groups, four were practicing on the west coast: Creeley and Duncan o f the B l a c k M o u n t a i n poets; Jack Spicer, R o b i n Blaser, and P h i l i p Lamantia of the San Francisco Renaissance; Ginsberg and Kerouac o f the beats; and P h i l i p Whalen, G a r y Snyder, and M i c h a e l M c L u r e of the emerging poets. Each of these poets read and produced on the west coast and each was a significant participant in the Vancouver poetry scene. Robert Duncan was a catalyst for both the formation for the San Francisco Renaissance and the Vancouver poetry movement. H i s treatise entitled "The Homosexual in Society," published in The Kenyon Review in 1944, articulated a central axis o f both movements. In San Francisco and Vancouver, the politics o f gay sexuality and the freedom o f sexual expression were fundamental aspects of the practice and culture o f poetry. Although I do not directly address the specificity of these politics and discourses in this thesis, they w i l l warrant a close critical analysis in a future study.  4 6  4 7  4 8  4 9  20  colleagues inhabited: a nation without borders, without nationality, and without politics. The "nation" is a social, political, and psychic force that has been the discursive site of fundamental battles of modernity and postmodernity. A t its most basic level, the nation has been understood in terms of "territorialization"; the process by which national identity becomes contingent on territorial borders that define and contain the nation. The mental space of the nation, what Benedict Anderson calls the "imagined community," contains symbols of shared national identity such as hospitals, newspapers, media, and schools. The imagined community of the nation, i n addition to sharing symbolic space, also shares time. Citizens imagine themselves to be linked not only symbolically, but also temporally. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow - citizens were, are, and w i l l be united in the national plot. However, in everyday practices of culture, national identity is also contested through personal rituals of ethnicity, religion, and gender, to name a few. The narrative of the nation, then, slips between calendrical time and a type of non-narrative time that is characterized by personal performances of identity in the present. (This temporal slippage of the 50  nation is similar to the temporal movements of the avant-garde.) National identity, therefore, is constituted in between an imagined collective and the personal performance of everyday rituals.  51  In conceptualizing the cultural formation of the  west coast, I understand the region as a kind of nation in which its artists identify with both the national narratives of the United States and Canada but more intimately with  H o m i K . Bhabha, "DissemiNation: Time, Narrative, and the M a r g i n s of the M o d e r n N a t i o n , " in Nation and Narration, ed. H o m i Bhabha (London: Routledge, 1990), 308-9. Bhabha offers a critique of Anderson's concept o f nation as "imagined community" and focuses on the temporal dimensions o f this construct. E d w a r d Soja conceptualises "third space" as space that is "simultaneously real-and-imagined, actualand-virtual, individual and collective." E d w a r d Soja, Postmetropolis: Critical Studies of Cities and Regions (Oxford: B l a c k w e l l , 2000), 11. 5 0  5 1  21 their specific local cultural practices such as radical poetry. Eric Hobsbawm identifies the 19th century as the birth of the modern nation within the context of colonial migration and expansion.  The nation in the 1960s,  however, was a changed construct. The invention of the third world, de-colonization, neo-colonization, the compression of the world through media, and capital expansion on a larger scale, were all forces acting upon the construction of the nation. T o be sure, the process of globalization was quickening and intensifying. Global interconnectivity had previously been almost imperceptible. N o w it was becoming audible. The modern nation was splintering, revealing temporal and spatial disjunctures between the space of the first and third worlds, between the official national narrative and the everyday, and between the homogeneity of the nation and the politics of difference. Henri Lefebvre's 1973 Production of Space was a response, in part, to the new metaphorical dimensions that space acquired in the 1960s. H i s most fundamental claim was that: all social relations, whether they are linked to class, family, community, market, or state power, remain abstract and ungrounded until they are specifically spatialized, that is, made into material and symbolic spatial relations." 53  Lefebvre's premise also applies to the west coast - what makes it a distinct 'place' is not its shared geography, topography, artistic continuities, and so forth, but rather that there exists within it everyday patterns of social and psychic relations that delimit the concept of the west coast. In the last century of globalization, nations have become increasingly conceptual as communities are imagined less through households, towns, cities, and countries and more through symbolic spatial relations ( T V , radio,  5 2  5 3  Bhabha, 291. Soja, 9.  22 telecommunications).  54  Deterritorialization, the process of weakening attachments to  place, although more far-reaching in the 21st century, was palpable in the 1960s. A s Edward Soja explains, with de-territorialization there is also re-territorialization, an inverse process of re-identifying with a new set of spatialized relations that are not necessarily part of the traditional nation (diasporic communities are the ultimate examples o f re-territorialization). Re-territorialization works to restructure the relationship between space, knowledge, and power, "creating new forms and combinations of social spatiality and territorial identity that, i f not actually replacing the old, are producing human geographies that are significantly different and more complex." The formation of the west coast represented, in part, a type of re55  terriorialization in the context of (North) American C o l d W a r politics. Fractured political identities in the United States and the actual movement of bodies into Canada (draft-dodging and exile), which would otherwise be isolated and abstract relations, became spatialized in the idea of the "west coast." Similar to Foster, who uses Lacanian psychoanalysis to open up understandings of avant-garde formations, Bhabha uses linguistic processes to articulate new understandings o f nationhood. In DissemiNation:  time, narrative,  and  the margins of the modern nation, Bhabha argues that the ambivalence of language is paralleled in the ambivalence of the nation. Just as language is both internal and  Extending Anderson's "imagined community," Arjun Appaduari produces a vocabulary for analyzing the "imagined worlds" in globalization. Specifically, Appadurai argues for the importance of locality in globalization and asserts that local formations, cultures, and practices are always in tension with global flows o f capital, information, ideologies and images. Appadurai, 27-47. Soja, 152. The effects o f de-terriorialization form the basis for G i l l e s Deleuze and F e l i x Guattari's rhizomatic theory of culture in A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. B r i a n M a s s u m i (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987). In recent scholarship, V a n c o u v e r has been referred to as a "nodal point in the rhizomatic structure of the A m e r i c a n West Coast." Intertidal, 9. W h i l e acknowledging Vancouver as a locality within this structure, it is also seen as a "generic c i t y " or "no place." Soja, among others, take a more positive understanding of spatial dynamics by using the concept of re-territorialization. Rather than re-affirming "no places," re-territorialization re-creates alternative, new, post-national, and postmodern understandings o f place.  5 4  5 5  23 external, national identity is similarly coming from both the "outside" (state ideology) as well as the "inside" (agency of the self)- This splitting of the national subject is 56  addressed in two "tenses" of the nation, the pedagogical and the performative. Put simply, the pedagogical tense refers to Anderson's official narrative of the nation, while the performative refers to an enunciation of identity that marks difference. Where the pedagogical represents a historical present in which the nation announces itself, the performative intervenes as a voice o f the Other from the outside - its time is a simultaneous gap in the pedagogical present. Bhabha argues that it is precisely in this double-time of the pedagogical (narrative authority) and performative (agency of a people) that cultural liminality within the nation is located: Counter-narratives of the nation that continually evoke and erase its totalising boundaries - both actual and conceptual - disturb those ideological manoeuvres through which "imagined communities" are given essentialist identities. For the political unity of the nation consists i n a continual displacement of its irredeemably plural modern space, bounded by different, even hostile nations, into a signifying space that is archaic and mythic. 57  I am arguing that the west coast be understood as a counter-narrative to both the official narratives of the United States and Canada. Contained within both nations, its members, including Balkind and Blaser and emerging avant-garde artists, did not act out either national narratives but enunciated their own difference. The official narrative of the post-war United States was steeped in patriotism that was grounded in anti-communism. In 1960, J. Edgar Hoover issued the warning that "America's three greatest enemies were communists, eggheads and beatniks."  58  In the arts, N e w Y o r k abstract expressionism was appropriated by the culture industry to represent "true" American art. Promoted internationally as embodying the liberty Bhabha, 297-8. Bhabha cites Jacques Derrida and Claude Lefort, in particular, who explored the implications of language in identification. Ibid., 300. Peters, 209.  5 6  5 7  5 8  and strength of the American democratic nation, abstraction was said to demonstrate freedom and boldness, implied is its opposition to stultified communist art such as social realism.  59  A r t production was not exempt from politicization. O n the west  coast in the 1950s, the romantic landscape and nature painters that made up the Ecole du Pacifique represented an aesthetic alternative to the N e w Y o r k School but still operated within the expressionistic mode. However, in the 1960s, the west coast re60  defined itself as the "pacific nation"; thus, claiming an entirely new status as a politically, culturally, and philosophically distinct region. The citizens of Blaser's "pacific nation" were bound by shared cultural practices. The west coast was a transnational counter-narrative formation that was 61  ultimately manifested through common identification with particular values. A s already mentioned, one of the cultural or social values was the practice of poetry.  In  the history of modernity, the writing of poetry has represented what Jameson calls, "a specialized and elite phenomenon."  Beginning with Baudelaire, the poet of modern  life par excellence, avant-garde writers have used poetry to transgress artistic, political and cultural boundaries. In writing on contemporary avant-garde poetry in Vancouver, Stephen Collis posits that Blaser's The Pacific Nation was a radical political idea inextricably linked to the practice o f radical poetry: poetry is an inside job - an operation performed from within the vault A s Serge Guilbaut argues in How New York Stole the Idea of Modern Art: Abstract Expressionism, Freedom, and the Cold War (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1983), abstract expressionism was not exempt from cold war politics despite Greenberg's claims to the contrary.  5 9  Plagens, 46-7. Chantal Mouffe defines citizenship in a political community as people who "might be engaged i n many different purposive enterprises and with differing conceptions of the good...what binds them together is their common recognition of a set of ethico-political values." Chantal Mouffe, "Democratic Citizenship and the Political C o m m u n i t y , " i n Dimensions of Radical Democracy: Pluralism, Citizenship, Community, ed. Chantal Mouffe (London: Verso, 1992), 235.1 am conceptualizing the west coast as a community whose citizens were diverse i n race, class, and sexuality but who were bound by specific artistic and political practices. Radical poetics, the rejection o f romantic painting, anti-Vietnam activism, and an affinity and romanticization o f the A s i a n Pacific are specific common practices of west coast artists. Jameson, 179. 6 0  6 1  6 2  25 of language - so that, i f it's doing its job, it can't help but destabilize and defamiliarize and draw the curtain covering the ideological imperatives that are an unavoidable aspect of language. 63  The ideological imperatives of language that Collis is referring to are the same ambivalent tendencies that Bhabha understands as critical to the formation of counternarratives of the nation, namely the pedagogical and the performative tenses. In this sense, it is no wonder that poetry is an aspect of so much political and revolutionary cultural production. However, Collis considers radical poetry within a much smaller context - the university setting. Similarly, I w i l l address how avant-garde poetry that was both creative and critical operated within the institutional arena of the university. Specifically, I w i l l examine the relationship between the academy and Utopia and consider not just university production, but also collaborative practices that took place in neighbourhoods of Vancouver, such as multimedia galleries and studios. A site for the elite practice of poetry and a player in the construction of the counter-narrative of the west coast, Vancouver offers itself an ideal "laboratory situation" in which to observe the social, political, and cultural conditions of the period. Vancouver art history of the 1960s, while acknowledging the city's significant poetry movement, has not critically investigated the intimate relationship between art and poetry. Similarly, Vancouver's position on the west coast circuit has been undertheorized, making the history of Vancouver art seem somewhat insular and onedimensional. It has been structured around one particularly problematic premise: that Vancouver visual avant-garde practices occurred in the late 1960s as a result of an infusion of N e w York-based conceptually-oriented artists such as Dan Graham and Robert Smithson.  6 3  64  Stephen C o l l i s , ed., Companions & Horizons: An Anthology of Simon Fraser Poetry (Vancouver:  West Coast L i n e , 2005), 13. See, for example, Bart de Baere and Dieter Roelstraete, "Introducing Intertidal," in Intertidal, 11. 6 4  26 It is here that my thesis marks an intervention into Vancouver art history. First, I want to challenge the idea that the visual avant-garde began in the late sixties and instead argue for its emergence i n the early 1960s.  65  Second, I want to challenge  the reason given for its later emergence, namely, what has been termed the "Dan Graham/Robert Smithson effect." Smithson's visit to Vancouver and to the University of British Columbia in 1969 has been mythologized as an "age-defining, inaugural moment."  66  In this moment, as it goes, critical conceptual practices landed  on Vancouver's shores and thus initiated the avant-garde. Scott Watson's substantial research and significant critical writing on early practices in Vancouver, including figurative painting of the 1940s, modern art and design in the 1950s, and emergent avant-garde practices i n the 1960s, have contributed substantially to the discipline. Watson's scholarship in the latter area 67  has aided in the production of the "Graham/Smithson effect." In "Discovering the Defeatured Landscape," Watson's history of the Vancouver avant-garde starts in 1967 with minimal works by Ian Wallace and Jeff W a l l , pieces he claims that, while engaged with the ideas of Donald Judd and Carl Andre, were too detached (too Zen) and lacked theoretical tensions.  68  For Watson, Vancouver's first avant-garde work  was produced in 1969 with W a l l ' s Landscape Manual and the collaborative Free  I am challenging the suggestion put forth by Ian Wallace in "The Frontier of the Avant-garde," in 53. Wallace is a visual artist who practiced in Vancouver in the sixties and is also a member of the "Vancouver S c h o o l " that formed in the 1980s. In my opinion, he over-emphasizes the significance o f D a n Graham and Robert Smithson to Vancouver avant-gardism at the expense of earlier catalysts, despite his o w n 1960s practice that was very much part o f the west coast scene. Bart de Baere and Dieter Roelstraete, "Introducing Intertidal," Intertidal, 11. D a n Graham's Homes For America and Smithson's A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic, New Jersey are examples of the works that are said to have been the most significant for Vancouver artists. B y Scott Watson, see: "The Lost City: Vancouver Painting in the 1950s," A Modern Life: Art and Design in British Columbia 1945-1960 (Vancouver: Arsenal P u l p Press, 2004) 91-116; " D i s c o v e r i n g the Defeatured Landscape: Conceptual A r t in V a n c o u v e r in the Seventies," Vancouver Anthology: The Institutional Politics of Art, ed. Stan Douglas (Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1991) 246-65; " A r t in the Fifties: Design, Leisure and Painting in the A g e of A n x i e t y , " Vancouver: Art and Artists, 1931-1983 (Vancouver: Vancouver A r t Gallery, 1983), 72-101. Watson, " D i s c o v e r i n g the Defeatured Landscape," 250-1. 6 5  Intertidal,  6 6  6 7  6 8  27 Media Bulletin, at the time that these artists became critically engaged with Graham and Smithson. I want to re-investigate this particular history at several levels. O n a broad level, a history that ignores local practices and cultural formations is, in effect, a master narrative that perpetuates models of cultural dominance. Furthermore, a history that identifies one event as the cause of a subsequent condition is plagued by historicism. It promotes a myth of creation and subsequently denies the possibility for the temporal and spatial disjunctures that are enacted by both avant-garde and transnational formations. In "Urban Renewal: Ghost Traps, Collage, Condos, and Squats - Vancouver Art in the Sixties," Watson acknowledges the "West Coast Thing" but does not address how or why it was formed. For example, Watson's analysis of Vancouver vanguard filmmaker, Sam Perry does not reveal the extent to which the role of Californian poetic practices informed early Vancouver avant-garde production.  69  Inspired by American filmmaker Stan Brakhage and grounded i n the aesthetics of Charles Olson, Perry's film and poetic practices exemplify the connection between art and poetry on the west coast. The "West Coast Thing" seems to represent the mainstream hippie counterculture of the late sixties when the oppositional and radical intentions of the beats had been replaced by popular alternative practices of youth culture. However, I am arguing that the early and mid-1960s i n Vancouver had not yet seen that transformation of the beat culture into the "West Coast Thing." The west coast that is the context for my study formed a decade earlier i n the milieu of experimental and  "Urban R e n e w a l , " 33-4.  28  radical poetry. 1 w i l l substantially broaden the west coast to include the aesthetics o f 70  beat poetry and assemblage; aesthetics that were foundational to artists such as Sam Perry and that were consistently present and alive i n Vancouver throughout the 1960s. I w i l l further argue that i n 1969, when Jeff W a l l , Ian Wallace, and Duane Lunden produced their photographic and language art in Free Media Bulletin, it was not as a result of the influence of N e w Y o r k conceptual artists. Rather, the broadside was an extension of the west coast avant-garde, incorporating the poetic practices of the San Francisco Renaissance and Los Angeles. Including radical texts by contemporary and historical avant-garde figures such as Marcel Duchamp, Alexander Trocchi, Antonin Artaud, and W . S . Burroughs, Free Media Bulletin was a continuation of the return to dada, specifically explorations of the readymade. O f particular significance in Vancouver was the cross-fertilization of art and poetry, especially at the University of British Columbia. Starting in 1961 with Tish poetics, the investigation into language and the desire to free poetry from narrative limitations informed the philosophical and aesthetic foundations of works such as Free Media Bulletin.  71  7 0  The west coast has been used as a theoretical and geo-political construct with w h i c h to study cultural  production i n several exhibitions, including: Baja to Vancouver: the West Coast and contemporary art, Ralph Rugoff and Matthew Higgs, curators (San Francisco: C C A Wattis Institute for Contemporary  Arts, 2003); West Coast Residential: The Modern and the Contemporary, Charles H . Scott Gallery, Vancouver, June, 2003; and, Rezoning: Collage and Assemblage, bill bissett, George Herms, Jess, Al Neil (Vancouver: Vancouver A r t Gallery, 1989). R e i d Shier notes the continuing cross-disciplinary interaction between writers and artists in Vancouver, specifically between the Kootenay School o f W r i t i n g and the Vancouver School. H e dates the interaction between artists and poets back to Robert Creeley and R o y K i y o o k a in the early 1960s, supporting my argument o f a much earlier avant-garde formation. "Buddies, Pals," Intertidal, 83.  7 1  29 CHAPTER ONE "Against History Stands Poetry:" Vancouver, American Modernism, and the Formation of the West Coast 1  Tuesday Night  When the city huddles down to sleep - and round the corners lights on poles tremble tighter patterns out and down the rolling streets in pairs and strings in ski-jump movement to the sea I know where I am out west in the city Point Grey pointing west i n the middle of the night of rest extending to the sea hoving nightly away from the middle of the city held together by bridges in a surface-tension-taut-catching bend of bridge pinioned Vancouver where I know where I am on the arcing point reaching westward bulge of high-dry-happy-dare hysterical daytime Vancouver - subdued nightly down and huddled - hoving westward light  George Bowering  2  Richard Candida Smith analyzes the poetry movement i n California after W o r l d W a r II and argues that poetry was a social movement that operated in opposition to history and can be "understood as any meaning-finding reflection on experience." Utopia and Dissent: Art, Poetry and Politics in California (Berkeley: University o f California Press, 1995), x i x . Tish 1, 14 M a r 1962, i n Tish No. 1-19, ed. Frank D a v e y (Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1975), 136. 2  30  Vancouver's shift from a colonial outpost to a modernist Utopia, from a backwater to a metropolis, from an artistic periphery to a cultural centre was initiated by key figures and sustained through enduring collaborations and organizations. These individuals and activities not only breathed life into Vancouver but also connected Vancouver in a profound and vital way to the west coast circuit and in particular, to the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles. Warren Tallman, B . C . Binning, and A l v i n Balkind were crucial early players i n the emergence of Vancouver's cultural presence i n North America, each responsible for conceptualizing and establishing foundational aspects of art practice in Vancouver. In this chapter, I w i l l analyze Tallman's role in early Vancouver cultural production and the formation of the west coast. Tallman, Seattle-born poet, left the University of Berkeley in 1956 to come to the English Department at the University of British Columbia. Tallman instigated and maintained a profound cultural and artistic connection between Vancouver and California. Through teaching and administrating intellectual exchanges, he secured a place for American avant-garde poetry within the University of British Columbia. He also enabled American poets and dissidents including Robert Duncan, Robert Creeley, Robin Blaser, and Jack Spicer to practice in British Columbia. Thus, he actively enlarged the west coast and helped to produce the idea of the "pacific nation," a concept that, in order to be a legitimate transnational counter-narrative, needed Vancouver and Canada as part of its make-up. Through Tallman, the San Francisco Renaissance poets carried their poetics and aesthetics up the coast and ultimately found a forum at the University of British Columbia. Local poets and artists strongly identified with the American modernists who, transplanted in Canada in a traditional institution no less, catalyzed several local vanguard activities, the earliest being the poetry group Tish.  31 I w i l l analyze some of the first articulations of avant-garde poetic practice in Vancouver, practices that would act as the support for the intense period of visual art production that would follow several years later. Specifically, I w i l l examine the role 3  of poetry i n the formation of the Vancouver avant-garde as it would come to crossfertilize with visual art. Founded i n 1961, Tish (a movement and a poetry newsletter) 4  was an experimental, transnational creative project. L i k e Vancouver itself, it was porous, absorbing and circulating ideas, forms, and new voices. Tish and Vancouver poetic activity worked to ground Vancouver in a sense of place, a place that was understood as part of the west coast. Poetry in Vancouver was fundamentally conceived of as existing in exchange with American artistic figures i n cross-border dialogues. However, these dialogues did not function to mark out either national borders or artistic boundaries. Rather, the dialogues cut through borders to dissolve national designations and to engage in transnational discourses of regional identity, political affiliations, and personal connections. Similarly, the dialogues did not divide artistic practice into separate spheres of production. The 'disciplines' of poetry, dance, film, and visual art were not understood to be in isolation; they were crucially connected by their shared conceptions, practitioners, and audiences.  V a n c o u v e r ' s modernist avant-garde practices did not start in the 1960s. In the 1950s, there was a small group o f local architects, designers and artists who were exploring principles o f modernism, especially in design. B . C . B i n n i n g actively explored international modernism i n the 1940s and 1950s and carried the project forward into the 1960s at the University o f British C o l u m b i a . The Art in Living Group also worked on social Utopias in design, see Scott Watson, " A r t in the Fifties: Design, Leisure, and Painting in the A g e o f A n x i e t y , " i n Vancouver: Art and Artists, 1931-1983 (Vancouver: Vancouver A r t Gallery, 1983), 72-101. The avant-garde formation that I am identifying here is one that was part o f a larger context than just Vancouver, namely, the west coast. It was in dialogue with internationally emerging art practices: kinetic art, happenings, hard-edge and post-painterly abstraction, and language art. The "neo-avantgarde" that H a l Foster analyzes in detail is what I am examining in the context o f the west coast, an avant-garde that emerged differently than that o f N e w Y o r k . F o r example, where minimal and conceptual practices i n N e w Y o r k were i n large part a response to Greenbergian formalism, on the west coast Greenberg's currency was far less prominent. Avant-garde expressions on the west coast were less likely to be latent responses to decade-old conundrums o f opticality and more likely to be responses to current and local artistic movements such as beat poetry, experimental film, and early pop art. 3  4  32 For poets and artists practicing on the west coast i n the 1960s, the "pacific nation" included Vancouver. However, aside from shared topography and geoeconomic variables, did this region share a particular and distinct aesthetic? A n d , how did Vancouver respond to and shape the discourse around west coast cultural practices? In Utopia and Dissent: Art, Poetry and Politics in California, Richard Candida Smith examines the formation of the postwar avant-garde in California and explores the underlying philosophies and aesthetics guiding art production. Candida Smith identifies the practice of poetry as the determining medium of the postwar avant-garde milieu in California: Poetry: the most important corrective to the barbarities of the twentieth century was that people excluded from power claimed the right to speak for themselves about their lives. The narration of human experience in all its complexity, particularly from those who are despised and excluded from society's rewards, challenged all complacent views of social life and subverted the power of any hierarchy pretending to be able to explain human action. 5  Poetry was the medium through which artists in California most readily found expression that was commensurate with their social and intellectual beliefs. Specifically, there was a desire for freedom from the political realm and freedom from authority. This referred not just to freedom of the individual but to freedom of human experience from systems of control and social dominance; that is, a determination for other aspects of human existence, such as the spiritual to be accessed. For example, Kenneth Rexroth celebrated disengagement from the rest of society as a means of achieving autonomy and as "a form of spiritual independence." History was understood i n Benedict Anderson's sense as a politically-constructed force used to bind people together in imagined collectives with common goals (nationalism, anti-communism). Because of its political nature, history as a way to 5  6  Candida Smith, x i x . Ibid., 31.  6  33 define groups of people and social practices was rejected. Instead, Candida Smith argues, poetry was embraced by the avant-garde in California as a strategy for privileging personal experience. San Francisco poets, for example, sought spiritual and collective freedom. Alluding to poet-critic Baudelaire and his nineteenth-century critique of modern life, Robert Duncan used the term "bohemia" to characterize a type of Utopia where the poetic act represents an existential, aesthetic, and spiritual challenge to institutional and commercial power.  7  If history had perverted forms of  wisdom, poetry and philosophy were forms of personal myth to create light. The 8  themes of isolation, disengagement, and denial of history are crucial to the operation of "mythopoetics" in the California postwar avant-garde milieu and, as I w i l l argue, to the formation of Vancouver's avant-garde.  9  I want to extend Candida Smith's themes of isolation, disengagement, and denial of history beyond California to include Vancouver. Using H o m i Bhabha's formulation of transnational counter-narratives, Vancouver as a node in the west coast expands the region into Canada and further into "wilderness," strengthening its promise of freedom and isolation. In describing Vancouver, A l v i n Balkind linked isolation to the city's "Western sense of freedom and expansion and absence of rhetoric." He also alluded to Vancouver's "natal" links with San Francisco and Los Angeles, suggesting their shared belonging i n the west coast. He refers to the umbilical cords linking Vancouver to Los Angeles, thus having them share "precious body fluids." This type of imagery indicates a belief in the myth of the west coast: a region conceived and born in isolation and embodying notions of freedom and  Candida Smith, 169. In Chapter Three, I analyze the theoretical dimensions o f Utopian formations, specifically i n California and Vancouver. Ibid., 4 1 . F o r histories o f poetic activity i n San Francisco, see The Beat Generation Galleries and Beyond, ed. Seymour H o w a r d (Davis, C a : John Natsoulas Press), 1996. Candida Smith uses the term "mythopoetic" to refer to the personal meaning-finding in poetry. 7  8  9  openness. Despite the diversity and difference contained within it, the west coast is understood as a distinct geo-historical region. Vancouver, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego were all built at the end of the nineteenth century, on the edge of the continent, removed from national centres of culture and commerce. They were immediately mythologized in the notion of "The West" - the last frontier - where anything was possible. B y the 1950s and 1960s, the cities also shared a common mixed topography that included mountains, ocean, the urban, the suburban, and the "wilderness." The European pictorial conventions of "country," "city," and "nature" were blurred as each category disintegrated in the foreground of the ubiquitous v i e w .  11  European "technologies of vision" that had dictated both the  perception of space and representation (such as the picturesque) were no longer applicable to the west coast.  12  Vancouver and San Francisco may have been  perceived as "bohemia" but they were sans flaneurs. Unlike Paris i n the early 1960s, where the Situationists enacted their derives in the city, west coast artists were fixed in front of the view to become, as Robin Blaser put it, "spiritual travelers." Balkind  B a l k i n d , Joy and Celebration, exhibition catalogue, Vancouver: University o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a Fine Arts Gallery, 1967, 3. M o r r i s and Helen B e l k i n A r t Gallery Archives. The "natal" history o f Vancouver that B a l k i n d constructed was an articulation o f Euro-North A m e r i c a n avant-garde formations rather than a racial, social or political history o f Vancouver. The recent exhibition "The Infra-Structural Image: Urban Projections from the B a y A r e a and Vancouver" explores the shared topography o f San Francisco and Vancouver and the visual obsession with "the v i e w . " The reladonship between looking, perception and urban social networks are raised. B e l k i n Satellite, Vancouver, 10 June - 2 July, 2006. F o r a discussion o f the west coast region and shared history, topography and cultural practices, see Ralph Rugoff, "Baja to Vancouver: The West Coast and Contemporary A r t , " Baja to Vancouver: The West Coast and contemporary Art, Ralph Rugoff and Matthew Higgs, curators (San Francisco: C C A Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, 2003), 13-4. "Technologies o f v i s i o n " refers to Foucault's analysis o f regimes o f power in the 1 9 century. The picturesque as a mode o f visuality was the dominant form o f landscape painting i n nineteenth-century Europe and also informed Canadian landscape painting. F o r an explanation o f the picturesque in relation to the west coast, see Matthew Stadler, "The Regime o f the Picturesque," in Baja to Vancouver, 135-43, and Robert L i n s l e y , "Painting and the Social History o f British C o l u m b i a , " in Vancouver Anthology: The Institutional Politics of Art, ed. Stan Douglas (Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1991), 225-45. 1 0  11  1 2  th  35 reflects on Vancouver's cultural climate in the 1960s: "Vancouver was a city in which artists had to pull themselves up out of the morass of banality.. .it took on an air of excitement, determined to make a fresh start from the spiritual raw materials available to artists."  13  This idea that the west coast contained "spiritual raw  materials" was fundamental to the cultural and philosophical ethos of the region. However, sharing historical and geographical similarities is not enough to be considered a distinct artistic milieu. The claim must be defended by demonstrating shared aesthetic practices, or in the very least, consistent ideological and/or critical approaches to representation. Candida Smith attempts to do just that in presenting an outline of the discourses of the mid-century avant-garde in California. H e offers the beginning of a critical vocabulary to address this region, one which proves instrumental to my conceptualization of a west coast avant-garde that includes Vancouver. The discourse consists of four main categories that outline normative positions of the avant-garde on the west coast, positions that extend beyond the arts to consider questions of subjectivity, spirituality, and difference: 1. The avant-garde on the west coast had a preference for cosmological-theosophical over psychological-sociological understandings of art and the individual's relationship to larger forces. 2. Private, interior experience was assumed to have a privileged relationship to cosmological process.. .individual choice was valued over social unity. 3. Freedom arose from the irrational, nonlawful aspects of cosmological being; heterogeneity - i.e., difference - was fundamental to the human condition. Conformity was unnatural...historical "facts" served hierarchy. 4. A r t was an exploration of being, "self-expression," but only in the sense of exploring the possibilities of self implicit in heterogeneity.. .the desired end result of freedom was not the solitude of individual belief, but a strengthened un-coerced collective agreement that took into account a greater variety of experience. 14  According to the above outline, the west coast avant-garde produced, and was A l v i n B a l k i n d , " O n Ferment and G o l d e n A g e s , " in Vancouver Forum: Old Powers, New Forces, ed. M a x W y m a n (Vancouver: Douglas & M c l n t y r e , 1992), 76. This is an abbreviated list o f the four main categories o f the west coast avant-garde discourse that Candida Smith outlines, 141. 1 3  1 4  36 produced by, specific discourses of spirituality, individuality, society, and art. Basically put, the outline presents four key ideas and beliefs: 1) the sacred, or the cosmic, was privileged over the profane; 2) the private inner-life of an individual related more to cosmology than to psycho-social imperatives; 3) freedom was found through human difference not conformity; and, 4) art was about process and response (dialogue) rather than a communication of a personal perception. W h i l e I generally accept these basic ideas, throughout the chapter I w i l l attempt to add to and deepen an understanding of the critical discourses of the west coast avant-garde.  15  In particular, I  w i l l focus on the poetic practices i n Vancouver as they relate to both their local context as well as the larger construct of the west coast avant-garde. A t the University of British Columbia, Warren Tallman actively engaged with the San Francisco poetry scene. A l s o known as the San Francisco Renaissance, the artistic activity in San Francisco was electric: all forms of art converged, jazz hummed, independent bookstores and publishing houses thrived, and art galleries hosted poetry readings. Robert Duncan is considered to have catalyzed the artistic community in San Francisco after being barred from the Kenyon Review in 1944 for writing "The Homosexual in Society." H i s treatise calling for the end of sexual  Candida Smith's outline o f west coast avant-garde discourses is useful as a starting point for analysis because it asserts the philosophical, social, and artistic specificity o f the region and it demonstrates that other post-war avant-garde formations were taking shape outside o f N e w Y o r k and on their o w n terms. However, my formulation o f the avant-garde in Vancouver and the west coast diverges from Candida Smith i n two main ways. First and foremost, I argue that the poetics o f Charles Olson and the process philosophy o f A . N . Whitehead underpin the aesthetic practices o f N e w A m e r i c a n Poetry in California and by extension, in Vancouver. Candida Smith's thorough local analysis does not account for "outside" influences such as Olson, John Cage, and Whitehead that were fundamental in Californian radical poetics. Second, my study o f Vancouver avant-garde practices analyzes poetics within a transnational context, particularly how and why A m e r i c a n modernism was imported and translated into a Canadian context. Candida Smith convincingly argues that the poetic avant-garde, especially i n San Francisco, carved out isolated bohemian communities and claimed freedom and detachment. H e shows how many poets took N o r t h A m e r i c a n native cultures as subject matter and exoticized A s i a n Pacific practices such as Zen. Candida Smith demonstrates how these "cross-cultural" borrowings bolstered their beliefs in freedom and non-conformity. However, he does not consider the social and political implications o f such cultural appropriations, specifically for local A b o r i g i n a l and A s i a n communities. Furthermore, Candida Smith does not explain the philosophical justification for the appropriations. 1 5  37 oppression was censored and he left N e w Y o r k for California in search of freedom. Black Mountain College in North Carolina, home to the most influential school of modernist poetry in the tradition of Ezra Pound and W i l l i a m Carlos Williams, closed in 1956, a closure that helped make San Francisco the heart of American avant-garde poetry. Duncan and Robert Creeley linked Black Mountain modernism with the nascent San Francisco poetry community; the latter included Kenneth Rexroth, Robin Blaser, and Jack Spicer as emerging local voices (many of whom had already published in the Black Mountain Review). Another group of poets were active: the beats. In 1955, Ginsberg read his legendary rant Howl at Six Gallery, scandalizing many Americans with its colloquialism, rudeness, and musical dissonance. Lawrence Ferlinghetti opened City Lights Bookstore in 1953 and published Howl in 1957. Gary Snyder, L e w Welch, Philip Whalen, and Michael M c C l u r e were involved with the beat scene in both Los Angeles and N e w Y o r k and were engaged with both Wallace Berman and Jack Kerouac. In Reclaiming San Francisco: History, Politics,  Culture,  Nancy Peters offers a critical history of the San Francisco Renaissance with a particular focus on beat activities. She writes: the beat phenomenon that took shape i n San Francisco in the mid-5Os not only dislodged American poetry from the academic literary establishment, it invigorated a democratic popular culture that was to proliferate i n many directions: the anti-war and ecology movements, the fight against censorship, the pursuit of gay, lesbian, minority, and women's rights. 16  The beat generation in San Francisco had a particular relationship with Black Mountain poets. Beat radicalism and Black Mountain academicism fused and their integration transformed the city into a 'polis' - a city where dissent and resistance  1 6  N a n c y J . Peters, "The Beat Generation and San Francisco's Culture o f Dissent," i n Reclaiming San  Francisco: History, Politics, Culture (SF: City Lights, 1998), 199.  38  was Utopian.  17  San Francisco promised bohemia, unlike other parts of California,  specifically Los Angeles. Los Angeles was fast becoming a major centre of the aviation, automotive, and military industries. Economic prosperity was evidenced in new cars, suburbia, and the accumulation of consumer products. The city experienced unprecedented (sub)urban growth and economic boom. A s reported in Life Magazine on 7 October 1957, i n relation to the rest of the country California had "more cars, 18  more swimming pools, heliports, religions, celebrities, tourists, and beautiful girls." W i t h the aviation, entertainment and military industries expanding rapidly, and 4,200 new people moving to L o s Angeles every week, California was the fastest-growing, sleekest, and most desirable place in the United States. San Francisco, while certainly not untouched by national expansion programs and middle-class mentality, had a slightly different relationship to both the United States and North America. A n alternate cultural milieu began to develop there. Draft dodgers who were interned i n conscientious objector camps in Oregon re-located to San Francisco upon release.  19  Black Mountain poets re-located to San Francisco and  the beats formed a new generation of poets and radicals outside of N e w Y o r k to reside there. These three groups, with different histories, politics, and aesthetic practices, shared similar interests in the supernatural and in eastern mysticism - a preoccupation that was well-suited to the misty Pacific fogs of San Francisco and to the imagined closeness with A s i a and the Pacific R i m . While Southern California held the promise of the American Dream, San Francisco promised connections with  In his Vancouver Lectures i n 1965, Jack Spicer took up the idea o f the city as a community that is "open at the centre...and which is publicly shared and therefore always potentially in play." The House 1 7  that Jack Built: The Collected Lectures of Jack Spicer, Peter G i z z i , ed. (Hanover: University Press o f N e w England, 1998), 97. See Chapter Three for an analysis o f Jack Spicer's V a n c o u v e r Lectures especially in relation to Utopia and the formation o f the Vancouver avant-garde. " H o w People Respond to L i f e in and around L . A . , " Life, 1 Oct 1957, n. pag. Peters, 203. 1 8  1 9  39 the other world of Zen Buddhism as well as a communal look inwards to personal and spiritual reflection. The "pacific nation" needed Vancouver as a crucial part of its construct to penetrate further into isolation, and thus into freedom. Tallman's involvement with the San Francisco Renaissance, more than casual and coincidental, belonged to this coalition of artists forming the Pacific nation. A s a major proponent of N e w Poetry, also called Open Form and Projective, Tallman was responsible for bringing the poetics of the San Francisco Renaissance to Vancouver. Flis preoccupation with 20  New Poetry was lifelong and extended far beyond his classrooms at U B C . F o r example, Tallman was a colleague and collaborator with San Francisco critic Donald A l l e n , editor of the seminal anthology New American Poetry (1960) whose publication marked the force and significance of the new avant-garde poetry.  21  In  1962, A l l e n asked Tallman to write an essay on the poetics of Charles Olson as a contribution to another anthology, New American Story?  2  A l l e n and Tallman shared a  dedication to N e w Poetry and their cross-border dialogue included exchanges about the poetry of Duncan, Ginsberg, Creeley, and Spicer. M o r e pointedly, A l l e n encouraged both the growth of the local Vancouver poetry scene and facilitated the movement of San Francisco poets to Vancouver. This was done not through one or two visits, but rather through the repeated and sustained dissemination of California poetry through teaching and poetry readings. Vancouver poets were placed in the nexus of American modern poetry by a pedagogy that was structured and supported N e w Poetry, open form, and projective poetry each refer to the poetic avant-garde led by B l a c k Mountain writers, specifically O l s o n and Duncan. G l a d y s H i n d m a r c h recalls that Tallman assigned New American Poetry to his poetry class in 1961. Interview with G l a d y s H i n d m a r c h for Open Letter, 2 series, no. 1, winter 1971 -2, Open Letter A r c h i v e s , Contemporary Literature Collection, S i m o n Fraser University. Letter from A l l e n to T a l l m a n , 7 M a r c h 1962. Warren T a l l m a n Fonds, Contemporary Literature Collection, S F U . T a l l m a n ' s editorial collaborations with A l l e n resulted in T a l l m a n ' s sustained professional relationships with many poets. In various letters, A l l e n suggests or facilitates meetings between T a l l m a n and Charles O l s o n and Philip Whalen. 14 M a r c h 1961; 26 M a r c h 1962. 2 0  2 1  n d  2 2  by Tallman in Vancouver, but equally by A l l e n , Duncan, Creeley, and Spicer i n San Francisco.  Tish Poetics: Charles Olson, A.N. Whitehead, and Language There is no one behavior system belonging to the essential character of the universe, as the universal moral. What is universal is the spirit which should permit any behavior system in the circumstances of its adoption. 23  - A . N . Whitehead (1938)  In February 1961, on invitation from Tallman, Robert Duncan came to Vancouver for the Festival of Contemporary A r t s .  24  After connecting with the young  group of poets, he made a second trip i n July when he lectured at Tallman's house in the Vancouver Westside neighbourhood of Kitsilano.  H i s latter visit marked not  only the start of the poetry movement and magazine Tish, but also the beginning of a new tradition of poetry in Canada.  Duncan brought the poetics of the San Francisco  Renaissance with him, poetics that included particular philosophical and cosmological beliefs, specifically the theories and ideas of Charles Olson and Alfred North Whitehead. Reflecting upon meeting the young Vancouver poets for the first time, Duncan wrote to Tallman: If my excitement in Vancouver (it was, after all, finding the nucleus of a new poetry - wrong-headed enuf [sic], self-conscious enuf [sic] to  Alfred North Whitehead, Modes of Thought, quoted in B r i a n G . Henning, The Ethics of Creativity: Beauty, Morality, and Nature in a Processive Cosmos (Pittsburgh: University o f Pittsburgh Press, 2005), 1. Creating a west coast circuit was made more feasible by inexpensive and accessible travel - in 1961, a return airfare from San Francisco to Vancouver was $105. Correspondence between Tallman and Duncan reveal the intensity o f Duncan's involvement in the Vancouver poetry movement. Subjects o f correspondence include the Festival o f the Contemporary Arts, the 1961 study group, and the Vancouver Poetry Conference in summer 1963. The formation o f Tish was a result o f Duncan's study group, a post he accepted from T a l l m a n , 7 June 1961. Warren Tallman Fonds, Contemporary Literature Collection, S F U . Tish is the phonetic inverse o f the word 'shit' - a title that appealed to the editors for its irreverence, phonetic play, and sound without lexical meaning. The journal was published between 1961 and 1969 and consisted o f four editorial periods, the first o f w h i c h is the main focus in this chapter. 2 4  2 5  26  41 label itself Tish; but eager and bold too - that keyed-up the visit) i f my excitement seems to have generated ideas and energies for you I am, in turn, elated. 27  In the article "Vancouver as Postmodern Poetry," George Bowering recalls that the young poets in Vancouver, including himself, Fred W a h , Frank Davey, and James Reid arrived in the "big city" from small towns and isolated parts of the province looking for poetry: living i n Vancouver in the late fifties and early sixties, the young poets (to be) knew first void and margin, saw the ocean everyday, and then looked for tradition.. .there was, as far as they could see, no tradition of Vancouver poetry.. .they were thousands of miles from history. 28  The belief that they were "thousands of miles from history" allowed the young poets to create a new history on the blank slate of the Vancouver poetic landscape. T o do this, they looked to traditions elsewhere with and against which to form themselves. A s Bowering states, history i n Vancouver was "makeshift, amateur.. .like a plywood cafe in Kispiox as opposed to a wise-crack deli in New Y o r k . "  2 9  Tradition, however,  was solid and could be transplanted into a place where there was seen to be no history. Duncan's visit in 1961 brought American modern poetic tradition in the lineage of Ezra Pound and W i l l i a m Carlos Williams to the "Vancouvers." W i t h this tradition in mind, Frank Davey, James Reid, George Bowering, Fred W a h , and D a v i d Dawson founded Tish. While Tish emulated American modernism, its poets started to shape their own poetics, one that, although based on theory and ideas of Duncan, Olson, and Creeley, concerned itself with Vancouver and writing poetry in Vancouver. In Tish, the poets were beginning to articulate an artistic consciousness and a sense of place, both linked to Vancouver and to Vancouver's existence on the  Duncan to T a l l m a n , 3 November 1961. Tallman Fonds, Contemporary Literature C o l l e c t i o n , S F U . George B o w e r i n g , "Vancouver as Postmodern Poetry," in Vancouver: Representing the Postmodern City, ed. Paul Delaney (Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 1994), 122. Ibid., 123.  2 7  2 8  2 9  42 west coast. When the first issue of Tish: A Magazine of Vancouver Poetry appeared on September 1, 1961, Tallman was accused of creating a clone of California poetry.  30  Davey and his peers felt that the Canadian poetry scene was derivative at best. Colonial in its tendency to imitate established schools of poetry, Canadian poets, such as the Confederation poets of the 1880s and 1890s, wrote from Tennyson and Keats. Davey cited the McGill Fortnightly Review as being a breakthrough in Canada for its basis in Imagist poetry that included poets such as Pound and Eliot. However, he asserted that it imitated them rather than originating new forms specific to its Canadian context.  31  Other poets in Montreal and Toronto engendered the Canadian  colonial stereotype of "the sturdy woodsman"  32  who sought, on principle, to oppose  American practice. Tish was anti-humanist and local, rather than romantic and national, and claimed to have "a disinterest toward paranoid individualism" that Tish poets claimed was practiced in eastern Canada.  33  Davey argued that it was the  American poets, specifically the Black Mountain group, that had changed the poetic landscape and could lead the way forward. In "Wonder Merchants: Modernist Poetry in Vancouver During the 1960s," Tallman explains how American modernism took hold in Vancouver, identifying  This accusation was leveled against h i m by poets and writers i n eastern Canada. Their proximity to the centre o f Canadian federal government meant that they were closer to the anti-American sentiments o f the government. K e i t h Richardson, Poetry and the Colonized Mind: TISH (Ottawa: M o s a i c Press, 1976). G e o f f Hancock, Published in Canada: A History of the Small Presses, (unpublished manuscript, 15 Special Collections, Frank D a v e y Papers, Contemporary Literature Collection, S F U , no date). 32 The Writing Life, Historical and Critical Views of the Tish Movement, ed. C H Gervais (Coat Ontario: B l a c k M o s s Press, 1976). Introduction by Frank Davey, 18. Ibid., 24. In Canada, poets i n Toronto and Montreal had a very different relationship to B l a c k M o u n t a i n and new A m e r i c a n poetry. H u m a n i s m was popular in Eastern Canada, especially with poets such as Irving L a y t o n who was a leading component. A c t i v e and prolific poets in eastern Canada included Leonard Cohen, A l Purdy, Earle Birney, A v i s o n , Dudek, A c o r n , and A t w o o d . T a l l m a n accused these poets o f declining from modernism into a type o f romantic existentialism. See Warren Tallman, "Wonder Merchants: Modernist Poetry i n Vancouver D u r i n g the 1960s," in Writing Life, 2769 (first published i n Boundary 2, vol. I l l , no. 1, F a l l , 1972). 3 1  3 3  43 Duncan's visit to Vancouver in July 1961 and his dissemination of Olson's poetics in particular, as the major catalyst. Olson's seminal treatise on poetry, Projective  Verse,  became a foundational text for all Tish poets and signaled, for them, the shifting of poetry from "an age of perception and into an age of proprioception."  34  Perception is  to take ideas and images from the world surrounding oneself, an act of apprehension 35  that considers that events, objects, and people are outside of oneself.  O n the other  hand, proprioception is "sensibility within the organism by movement of its own tissues." That is, the proprioceptive writer sees the surrounding world in the midst of himself/herself as subject.  For Olson, the proprioceptive poet feels the world inside  himself/herself and his/her poems are therefore the world speaking out through 17  him/her - the poems are projecting. Projective verse, or composition by field, is open and free rather than Tallman, "Wonder Merchants," Writing Life, 31. Phenomenology is the field o f philosophy that examines the meaning and function o f human perception. In considerations o f 1960s art, including happenings, m i n i m a l i s m , post-painterly abstraction, and pop art where viewership took on new dimensions o f bodily and perceptual experience, M a u r i c e Merleau-Ponty has been the most cited philosopher o f phenomenology. F o r example, Rosalind Krauss uses Merleau-Ponty's "embodied viewer" in a defense o f minimal art ("The Cultural L o g i c o f the Late Capitalist M u s e u m , " i n October, vol. 54, 1990, 3-17). In the present study, perception and experience are central to west coast practices; however, the philosophical basis o f perception is specific. In the case o f Californian poetics, including beat and projective poetry, "inner perception" is at issue. Where Merleau-Ponty believed that the world is "already there" and perceptions are complex cultural interpretations o f an already existent environment, Whitehead developed a philosophy o f process in which he argued that we create the world through our perceptions or through "occasions o f experience." Merleau-Ponty and Whitehead do share points o f connection such as anti-Cartesian dualism and the interconnection o f all beings and entities in the universe. F o r a discussion o f similarities and differences in Whitehead and Merleau-Ponty, see W i l l i a m S. H a m r i c k , "Whitehead and Merleau-Ponty: H e a l i n g the Bifurcation o f Nature," in Whitehead's Philosophy: Points of Connection, eds. Janusz Polanowski and D o n a l d Sherburne (Albany: State University o f N e w Y o r k Press, 2004), 127-42. T a l l m a n , "Wonder Merchants," 32. T o be discussed in Chapter T w o , proprioception and inner space w i l l become increasingly evident and important i n visual art production in Vancouver i n the 1960s as it relates to M a r s h a l l M c L u h a n ' s notion o f acoustic space. In McLuhan in Space, Richard C a v e l l argues that the most crucial concept in M c L u h a n ' s theory is space and that space lies at the heart o f his paradigms o f media and communication. A c o u s t i c space, in particular, characterizes the shift from the mechanical to the electric age - it is an eye space giving way to an ear space. T o be discussed in Chapter T w o , acoustic space is a provocative concept as it raises the issues around changing subjectivity i n the 60s. A s a result o f almost simultaneous technology that worked on all the senses, spatial relations were embodied in new ways - gaps between people, places, spaces, and time zones started to shrink and new relationships between self and other were configured. M c L u h a n was a presence in Vancouver, along with San Francisco poets, at the Festival o f the Contemporary Arts in 1964. 3 5  3 6  3 7  44 descriptive. The language of projective verse does not work to describe the feelings or state of the individual poet. Rather, the poem is an instant or event in the poet's life. In A Special View of History, Olson asserts that a person is not a subject of history, defined by history, but rather that "history is the intensity of the life process - its life value.,"  In other words, a person's life is just one function, among many, of an  38  individual - the historical function. Olson is concerned with the larger fields of an individual, such as the cosmos and universe, functions that are beyond history. H e wrote: " i f there is any absolute, it is never more than this one, you, this instant, in action." "Instantism," then, surpassed history as a defining function of a subject. 39  40  The most obvious manifestation of Olson's poetics in Tish was i n the use of language. Tish distinguished between language "as the act of the instant and language as the act of thought about the instant."  41  The latter is description; a non-projective, static  representation of a perception, memory, or idea. In opposition to description, Olson outlines three characteristics of projective verse: kinetics, principle, and process: (1) the kinetics of the thing. A poem is energy transferred from where the poet got it (he w i l l have some several causations), by the way of the poem itself, all the way over to, the reader. Okay. Then the poem itself must, at all points, be.. .an energy-discharge. (2) is the principle, the law which presides conspicuously over such composition, and, when obeyed, is the reason why a projective poem can come into being. It is this: F O R M IS N E V E R M O R E T H A N A N EXTENSION OF CONTENT. N o w (3) the process of the thing, how the principle can be made to shape the energies that the form is accomplished. A n d I think it can be boiled down to one statement: O N E P E R C E P T I O N M U S T I M M E D I A T E L Y A N D D I R E C T L Y L E A D T O A F U R T H E R P E R C E P T I O N . . .get on with it, keep moving, keep in, speed, the nerves, their speed, the perceptions, theirs,  Olson, A Special View of History (Berkeley: Oyez, 1970), 49.  Olson, Human Universe and Other Essays (New Y o r k : Grove, 1967), 58. B o w e r i n g , 130.  Olson, Human Universe, 4.  45 the acts.. . U S E U S E U S E the process at all points, in any given poem always, always one perception must must must M O V E , I N S T A N T E R , O N ANOTHER! 4 2  Olson's suggestions for poetry were clear; a poem must be kinetic, always in a state of "becoming" both i n its writing and its reading. Olson's belief that a poem is one instant in a life i n movement and a universe in flux therefore meant that a poem couldn't describe life - it is life. For him, art is a human endeavour and must, like a human being, be in flux, change, and movement. The kinetic does not describe - it moves. Olson's poetics stem from a belief in universal energy, as stated in the first characteristic: "a poem is energy transferred from where the poet got it." The energy is not self-generated within the artist but comes to reside within h i m or her from somewhere or something else. Poetry, then, comes from this source, not as a description, but as a discharge: "art does not seek to describe but to enact."  43  The first issue of Tish very clearly states its Olsonian poetics. Bowering described the poem as only one 'exposure' of the poetic experience with the job of the poet to participate. H i s first poem in Tish, titled Poet as Projector, clearly demonstrates Olson's projective verse:  I am the light & the way, I, that, I that inner light (undomesticated finger on the switch) (of-  "God?")  A n d the film Charles Olson, Projective Verse ( N Y : Otem, 1959) 3-4. The genealogy o f 'projective verse' is complex and can be traced to the early 1900s and to the Imagist poets, most notably W i l l i a m Carlos W i l l i a m s and E z r a Pound. The Imagist manifesto demanded economy o f words, sequence o f musical phrases, and free-verse. Imagists were picked up and absorbed by B l a c k Mountain and then into Tish poetics. F o r history on B l a c k Mountain poetics, see B e v e r l y M i t c h e l l , "The Genealogy o f Tish" in  4 2  Writing Life, 70-93. Olson, Human Universe, 10.  43  46 M y nature to correspond, to project to project the image the image a reflection... ...perhaps... a projection, yes light thru film enlarged in image for it does not translate at the skin " A i t does not seek to describe But to enact." -ibid I do not interpret, I switch on & I switch out, I enlarge the film, my latent image of all phenomena M e , the soul machine, projecting a silver screen, inner energy a long photo cell, to light up a picture, no ideas, but i n things.  4 4  When Bowering states that "I am the light," he embodies the notion of the projective poet whose energy transfers through the poem to the reader. The art historical model of the slide projector is a useful analogy. The transparent slide is the poem, the projector is the poet, and the screen is the reader. The act of projecting verse, however, is non-deliberate and non-interpretive. The poet's "inner light" emerges instantaneously and its apprehension by the reader cannot be mitigated because the receiver is also enacting the poem instantaneously. The last line of the poem is the famous dictum by W i l l i a m Carlos Williams:  Tish 1, Sept  1961, in  Tish 1-19, 18.  47 "no ideas but in things." Williams (1883-1963), sometimes associated with the Imagist poets of the early 2 0 century, was radical in his sharp rejection of romantic th  poetry and his use of straight-forward language and non-heroic subject matter.  45  "No  ideas but in things" delineates a belief that an object itself does not embody a larger idea or "truth" about nature. When Williams writes about a tree in " Y o u n g Sycamore" (1927), neither did he reflect on its roots that span heaven and earth, nor on its potential as a metaphor for the human condition. The tree i n W i l l i a m s ' poem is distinctly unromantic; it is a concrete reality in nature: I must tell you This young tree Whose round and firm trunk Between the wet Pavement with the gutter (where water is trickling) rises bodily into the air with one undulant thrust half its height and then dividing and waning sending out young branches on all sideshung with cocoonsit thins till nothing is left of it but two eccentric knotted twigs bending forward For more on W i l l i a m s and his poetics, see Stephen Burt, "Chicories and Daisies," London Review of  Books, vol. 24, no. 5, 7 M a r 2002. See also: R . Bruce Elder, The Films of Stan Brakhage in the American Tradition of Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, and Charles Olson (Waterloo: Wilfred Laurier University Press, 1998), 157-86, and Peter G i z z i , The House that Jack Built: the Collected Lectures of Jack Spicer (Hanover and L o n d o n : University Press o f N e w England, 1998), 10, 28.  48 hornlike at the top  W i l l i a m s ' poem foreshadows projective verse in principle and process - he was Olson's mentor and the first of the modernist generation. The reader ("you") experiences the tree bodily - spreading, waning, and thinning at the top. The poem's form is consistent with its content (the form of the poem mimics the tree's upward movement) allowing for the dynamic experience of reading it. Bowering's poem in Tish, therefore, directly emulates Olson, and, through reference to Williams, activates the lineage of American modernist tradition. In the same poem, Bowering writes of the poet's "inner light" and " G o d , " alluding to another significant figure for the projective poets, philosopher Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947).  47  In addition to disseminating Olson's poetics in  Vancouver, Duncan discussed at length Whitehead's 1929 seminal text Process and Reality explicating "process philosophy" or "philosophy of organism." The premise 48  of Whitehead's metaphysics, similar to the main principles of American pragmatism, is that every individual is essentially related to every other individual. There is no gap between human beings, between humans and nature, or between nature and the  Quoted in Elder, 172. F o r an analysis o f this poem and a discussion o f "objectness" in W i l l i a m s ' poetics, see 172-6. Whitehead's philosophy was informed by his background i n math and physics and his theories were grounded in contemporary scientific developments, specifically those o f Henri Bergson and Albert Einstein on the space-time continuum. A s a philosopher, his work was in the realm o f metaphysics and also consisted o f theories on creativity and god. There is currently a rehabilitation o f Whitehead in philosophy i n the post-modern context partly because o f his holistic conception o f nature. See George 7  R. Lucas, Jr., The Rehabilitation of Whitehead: An Analytic and Historical assessment of Process Philosophy (Albany: State University o f N e w Y o r k Press, 1989), 76-7. In explaining "philosophy o f organism," Whitehead looks to philosophers and scientists o f 17 and 18 centuries, including Descartes, N e w t o n , L o c k e , Hume, and K a n t i n his query o f "absolute idealism." Whitehead's process philosophy can be characterized by: "the distrust o f language, the rejection o f psychology i n philosophy, the repudiation o f the subject-predicate form o f expression, the rejection o f the sensationalist doctrine o f perception, and the repudiation o f the Kantian doctrine that the objective world is a theoretical construct from subjective experience." Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology, eds. D a v i d Griffin & D o n a l d Sherburne ( N e w Y o r k : Free Press, 1978). Preface, x i i i . 4 8  th  th  49 cosmos - or, there is no bifurcation of nature.  49  Thus, Whitehead challenges both  Descartes' mind-body duality and the believed separateness of beings. Instead, his "ontological principle" asserts that all entities are interrelated rather than independent: W e diverge from Descartes by holding that what he has ascribed as primary attributes of physical bodies, are really the forms of internal relationships between actual occasions. Such a change of thought is the shift from materialism to organism, as a basic idea of physical science. 50  Whitehead's basic category was creativity wherein he explains the process through which the "many become one." Working against traditional Newtonian science where points in the universe exist independently of time and each other, Whitehead asserts that points, lines, and particles of matter exist in "space-time" and overlap. Thus, the cosmos is an energy field in which nature does not consist of separate "atoms" but of occasions of energy flux or exchange. nature.  51  In "field theory," individuals are "events" of  52  Whitehead asserts that everything is i n flux; however, he acknowledges that to deny permanency would be to deny the existence of patterns of order in the universe. If entities pass away and come into being, there must be something from which they  B r i a n G . Henning, 3-4. Whitehead, 309. F o r a summary o f Whitehead's ideas, see W o l f e M a y s , The Philosophy of Whitehead, L o n d o n : A l l e n & U n w i n , 1959. Daniel Belgrad, The Culture of Spontaneity: Improvisation and the Arts in Postwar Americ (Chicago and L o n d o n : University o f Chicago Press, 1998), 125. Entities are in a constant state o f coming into being and fading away so that the perception o f objects as stable is an illusion. " A c t u a l entities" are the material, finite things o f experience which in reality seem stable, but in fact are in flux. The reality o f the object is that it is in process. A n actual entity comes into being in stages. First, the past, or the continuum o f unchanging energies and potential, what Whitehead calls "Eternal Objects," puts itself forward in matter or data. In the second and third phases, the creative phases, the actual entity registers, adapts, and integrates the data and takes shape. Whitehead refers to actual entities as "drops o f experience, complex and interdependent" (Elder, 321). A n illustrative example is the beginning o f a human life. Before and at conception, there exists a range of data and "energy," that upon conception forms itself into a specific constellation. This is the first phase and it occurs through prehension or, "the means by which one actual entity becomes objectified in another or by which eternal entities ingress into actual entities" (Elder, 466). D u r i n g the following creative phases, the human develops and is born as a finite entity that has a complexity o f elements. This is called concrescence; it refers to the unification o f many elements to form one complex entity. The human continues to grow, change, experience, develop, and then eventually fades away.  4 y  5 0  5 1  5 2  50 emerge and to which they return.  53  This field which "feeds" all entities also exists  within all entities - each one receives its identity from all others. It is this field that Whitehead reconciles as permanent; there always exists a field from which actual entities emerge (although the character of the field is in constant flux). This is creativity, the ceaseless energy of the universe and the force that perpetuates actual entities. The inherent aim for concrescence or creativity is for an actual entity to achieve its maximum complexity. However, Whitehead is not suggesting that the universe is a free-flow of creativity without principles of order because that would be chaos. Acknowledging patterns of creativity, Whitehead argues that there are limitations on creativity. G o d has been philosophically understood as the source of creative energy and while Whitehead does not assign G o d the role of creator, he does identify G o d with the principle of limitation.  54  G o d is not omnipotent; actual entities  possess free w i l l in acquiring their character. G o d is not the source of creativity, but a part of it. The "divine" is atemporal and unchanging in the sense that it represents the potentialities of the universe and the consistency of their forms. Williams, Olson, and Duncan were deeply interested in and influenced by Whitehead's process philosophy. A s Daniel Belgrad notes i n The Culture of 55  Spontaneity: Improvisation and the Arts in Postwar America, Whitehead's theories on individuality and creativity appealed to the post-war avant-garde because it offered a model of subjectivity that elevated the poet's creativity to that of cosmic or universal creativity. Because the poet was an entity of the universe, his or her 56  Elder, 326. F o r a discussion o f G o d and the divine in Whitehead's philosophy, see Elder, 336-40. B o t h E l d e r and Belgrad identify the centrality o f Whitehead's philosophy to North A m e r i c a n postwar avant-garde practices. However, Whitehead has not been brought to the discussion o f Vancouver avant-garde practices o f the 1960s. E l d e r and Belgrad's analyses focus on film and poetry. M y study attempts to link Whitehead to a more diverse range o f practices including collage, sculpture, and painting. Belgrad, 126-7. 5 3  5 4  5 5  5 6  51 emotional "matter" was connected to the cosmic energy force - even god. Olson's ideas, in particular, emulated Whitehead. H i s notion of projective verse where the poet embodies universal energy and then projects it outward was similar to Whitehead's formation of actual entities. Olson thought of the actual world as a field of energies (eternal objects) and the poet as an actual entity. Kinetic art mirrored Whitehead's metaphysics of being - its principle of process was all about coming into being and fading away. In keeping with Olson, Tish poets consciously explored the metaphysics of being and struggled to write poetry that would not describe or romanticize aspects of existence, but rather manifest them. Re-iterating W i l l i a m s ' slogan "no ideas but i n things," particularly Frank Davey who wrote the serial poem " N o visions but in things" (1961), the poets found direct instruction on how to make poetry an experience. Following Olson, sounds and objects in poems were the poet's immediate experiences; the concrete local realities of the poet's environment. Tish poets understood these specific objects and sounds to be small "occasions" or events of the universe. For the projective poets, experiencing them was the only way of experiencing the greater entity; that is, G o d or the "divine". In the visual arts, the "object" was also under aesthetic consideration by artist Donald Judd who, i n 1965, wrote "Specific Objects." Judd claimed a new specific medium of sculpture that had its own irreducible essence and self-referential purity.  57  The visual immediacy and instant bodily experience of Judd's objects is perhaps similar to the immediacy of a process or projective poem. However, Judd's  Judd's objects were an answer to Greenberg's rules for painting - specificity, self-referentiality and irreducibility. W h i l e countering Greenberg, Judd ironically continued Greenberg's doctrines o f art. In Vancouver, artists such as Iain Baxter, M i c h a e l M o r r i s , and A u d r e y Capel D o r a y were not part o f the Kant-Greenberg axis but were instead grounded i n aesthetics that engendered cross-disciplinary practices o f movement, sound, and language. F o r more on Judd's Greenbergian doctrine, see Thierry de D u v e , "The M o n o c h r o m e and the B l a n k Canvas," in Reconstructing Modernism: Art in New York, Paris, and Montreal, 1945-1964, ed. Serge Guilbaut (Cambridge, M A : M I T Press, 1990), 244-310. 5 7  52 formalism is part of a debate in Kantian aesthetics, initiated by Clement Greenberg and famously continued by Michael Fried i n " A r t and Objecfhood" (1967). Tish poets, on the other hand, were based in poetic tradition coming out of Whitehead, a philosophy of organism that was anti-Kantian. Visual artists i n Vancouver were also investigating non-formalist art. In Pneumatic Judd, Iain Baxter's inflatable plastic replica of a metal Judd sculpture pokes fun at the notions of value and autonomy in modernist art. In the following chapters, as the cross-fertilization of poetry and art on the west coast becomes increasingly prevalent, these philosophical differences w i l l be critical. For example, assemblage and happenings on the west coast w i l l continue traditions of beat poetry and Olsonian process whereas minimal and early conceptual practices w i l l continue, to some degree, formalist debates.  58  Tish poetics were based on Whitehead and Olson. During his visits to Vancouver, Duncan openly lectured on both thinkers and Vancouver poets such as Sam Perry, Dennis Wheeler, and R o y K i y o o k a actively read Olson. W i t h Duncan, Creeley, Spicer, and Blaser as integral members of the Vancouver poetic community, this philosophical basis strengthened and endured. Duncan remained a close colleague and mentor for Vancouver poets. In 1966 he wrote to Davey: I believe the "inner" world is the outer world, often digested, sometimes neglected, translated, interpreted but always derived from What Is.. .this is exactly like the part of the poem which is at once essential to the totality of the poem, creating actively what that totality is, and at the same time exactly because its "god within" acts entirely to contribute to the total f o r m . 59  This passage not only demonstrates Duncan's adherence to proprioception but also explains why a poem must necessarily be proprioceptive to be an "occasion of the Judd, "Specific Objects," in Art after 1990 and M i c h a e l Fried, " A r t and Objecthood." F o r divergences o f Whitehead and Kant, see G o r d o n Treash, "Purposive Organization: Whitehead and  5 8  Kant," Process Studies (vol. 21, no. 4, winter 1992), 246-58. Letter from Duncan to Davey, 6 D e c 1966. Frank Davey Papers, Contemporary Literature Collection, S F U .  5 9  53 divine."  60  Duncan espoused Whitehead's philosophy and argued that the universe is  a totality of creative energies that is always in the process of forming itself: every moment, every individual, every action, no matter how large or how minute, is an active and creative part of that totality. The projective poem is like a microcosm of the universe - it is a totality where inner and outer (subject and language) collapse and where each part of the poem is active in creating the entire poem. In his essay entitled "One M a n ' s L o o k at 'Projective V e r s e ' " in Tish 5, Davey defends projective verse and Whiteheadian philosophy. In a survey of poetry and metaphysics since the 17 century, Davey asserts that Olson and Creeley have arrived th  back at the medieval doctrines of the universe; that humans are one small part of the total scheme and design of the universe. H e writes: There is the universe; there is experience. M a n ' s rightful place... has not changed since medieval times, and it is his job to get back to it. It is still one of humility before, submission to, and immersion in the greater natural order. 61  Tish poets, while against romanticism in poetry, held a distinctly romantic view of nature. They believed that sound, dance, and music that was free from traditional poetic restraints could touch universal energy as "occasions of experience." Their poems are personal "inner" songs; small beats in the larger rhythm of the universe through which poets are "able to listen to the music of the universe."  Duncan spoke  about the "music at the heart of things" and Tallman embraced the vocal in poetry to "resonate the music of the universe." No Visions But in Things, a serial poem by Davey, abandons the lexical or  Letter from Duncan to Davey, 14 June 1967. Frank D a v e y Papers, Contemporary Literature Collection, S F U . D a v e y in Tish No. 1-19, 101. Ibid.,103. Warren T a l l m a n , ' " W h e n a N e w M u s i c is Heard the W a l l s of the C i t y T r e m b l e ' A Note on V o i c e Poetry," in Tish 3, 12-3. 6 0  6 1  6 2  6 3  54 semantic function of words in favour of sounds and rhythm. Here, W i l l i a m Carlos W i l l i a m s ' concern for the specificity of experience is evoked through confrontation with sounds rather than objects. For Davey, sound is the projective poem's energydischarge:  Love the touch of words the sound of softness of loudness let them crowd round about the ear sound is a sound thing Love the god of sad of mad the near cantata of the tintinabu la  the pat-patting short sen-sen vowels on the anvil of your  Adhering to Black Mountain claims for language, Tish poetics embraced sounds, not words. In The Films of Stan Brakhage in the American Tradition of Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, and Charles Olson, R. Bruce Elder traces the influence of Olsonian poetics on visual art practices, specifically in the films of Stan Brakhage. He explains, "words cannot mirror reality, nor can works of art represent, refer to, or describe a world outside that of the poem itself; but a flow of sounds can form an autonomous reality." Sounds, made up of syllables, phones, and phonemes create their own 65  syntax (pat-patting short sen-sen) and the poem itself becomes a Whiteheadian event.  Tish 3, November 1961, in Elder, 39.  Tish 1-19,  69.  55 66  Olson's Projective Verse explains that syllable, breath, and line are the main elements to sound poetry. In reading a poem out loud (Tish editors urged their poems to be read out loud), line dictates syllables spoken and when and for how long to take a breath. In this way, line and breath dictate the vocalization of the poem and give it its rhythm, its kinetics. These elements structure the sound and movement of the poem - they are part of the poem's form. However, as Christian Moraru argues in "'Topos/typos/tropos': visual strategies and the mapping of space i n Charles Olson's poetry," these elements are also visual. That is, the lay-out of the lines, both typographical and spatial, dictate the sound of the poem, therefore making vocalization a visual process as well as an energy discharge i n sound. Moraru examines the visual potential of Olson's poetics, specifically as they relate to his second law for projective verse: " F O R M IS N E V E R M O R E T H A N A N E X T E N S I O N O F T H E C O N T E N T . " W h i l e this dictum has been understood as a direction for language, Moraru posits it as having a twofold function in Olson's poems: 1) to generate meaning figuratively though tropes and images (poetic); and, 2) to generate meaning through physical and topographical lay-out. (While the latter meaning is what is worked out i n concrete poetry, Olson's poetry still adheres to figuration.)  67  Moraru presents a spatial reading of Olson, both in terms of the "space  of representation" as well as the space of the page, arguing that Olson's poetry can be F o r Tish poetics o f sound, see: George B o w e r i n g , "Poetry and the Language o f Sound," in The Writing Life: 208-215. Fundamental parts o f poetry such as dissonance, resemblance, tone, and rhyme are explained in this essay, and, Frank D a v e y " R i m e , A Scholarly P i e c e " in Writing Life, 165-171 (first published i n Evidence, no. 9, winter 1965). Christian M o r a r u , "'Topos/typos/tropos': visual strategies and the mapping o f space in Charles O l s o n ' s poetry," Word & Image (vol.14, no. 3, July-Sept 1998), 253-66. M o r a r u is not arguing that O l s o n ' s work is concrete poetry because there is still an adherence to line and breath. However, concrete poetry w i l l become important later in Vancouver with b i l l bissett, Gerry Gilbert, G a r y L e e N o v a , and R a y Johnson's visit in 1969. F o r history o f concrete poetry and relation to O l s o n ' s poetics, see: Concrete Poetry: A World View, ed. M . E . Solt & W i l l i s Barnstone (Bloomington: Hispanic Arts, 1968) and Marjorie Perloff, Radical Artifice: Writing Poetry in the Age of Media, (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1991). 7  read as "discourse on space (space thematized, treated as 'motif') and discourse of space, as it were, the poem as a recognizable shape, typographic body, iconically organized field."  Moraru's reading is useful to an understanding of west coast  aesthetics for two main reasons. First, it theorizes the relationship between sound and image, or language and visuality, a relationship that w i l l be increasingly important to artistic practices on the west coast, such as filmmaking, happenings, and visual poetry. Second, Moraru connects Olson's spatial discourses i n his poetry with his view on history. Specifically, in the Maximus Poems, Moraru insists that the lay-out on the page is a visual or semantic representation of historic waves of conquests and colonization. Given that Olson (and Duncan and Tish) favour myth over history, I think this is a particularly useful study for an understanding of poetics on the west coast. Daniel Belgrad identifies the "ideogram" as central to post-war avant-garde practices. Ideograms give "language" to painting and "spatiality" to writing. Olson 69  uses various visual repertoires i n his poetry, including arrows, charts, genealogical trees, and maps. He is fixated on his location and personal history in Gloucester, Massachusetts and i n "placements and displacements of frontiers." For example, in 70  as of Bozeman, Olson traces the movement of families through immigration, migration, war, and natural phenomena; thus, charting waves or tides of human movement.  71  Moraru suggests that in using a type of genealogical chart, "Olson's  poem 'colonizes' the blank page, imposes its typographic presence on the virgin page by shaping itself into a discourse type that structurally doubles a motif in the poem." " 7  6 8  6 9  7 0  M o r a r u , 254. F o r a definition o f ideograms, see Belgrad, 83-9. Ibid., 259.  71  Olson, Collected poems, 594-5.  7 2  M o r a r u , 259.  57 O l s o n ' s a n d D u n c a n ' s interest i n h i s t o r i c a l w a v e s o f h u m a n m o v e m e n t is the subject o f m a n y p o e m s i n w h i c h t h e y address the h u m a n , p o l i t i c a l , a n d s o c i a l t r a n s f o r m a t i o n o f space. That is, through historic events, natural space is transformed into m y t h i c space. A n u n t i t l e d p o e m f r o m the  Maximus Poems  takes the w a v e m o t i f a n d q u i c k e n s  it i n t o a c o u n t e r - c l o c k w i s e spiral o f w o r d s that M o r a r u argues is "the d y n a m i c s y m b o l i n w h i c h nature and history m e e t . "  7 3  T h e p o e m is a saga o f individuals, families and  nations: "the final w a v e / o f w a s h u p o n / this / desperate / u g l y / c r u e l / L a n d this N a t i o n / w h i c h n e v e r / lets a n y o n e / c o m e to / s h o r e . "  7 4  T h e s p i r a l ' s c o n t i n u a t i o n to  the r i g h t i n a s m a l l e r c i r c l e w i t h f a l l i n g w o r d s is O l s o n ' s m e s s a g e to the " b e l o v e d Father." H i s w o r d s d r o p a w a y , m i m i c k i n g the p o e t ' s m o v e m e n t t o w a r d s  Utopia  and  a w a y f r o m A m e r i c a : " f r o m this / R i s i n g S h o r e / F o r e v e r A m e n [...]."  O l s o n ' s i d e o g r a m s , as B e l g r a d e x p l a i n s , w e r e b a s e d o n c r o s s - c u l t u r a l representations. In C h a p t e r Three, I w i l l discuss h o w J o h n C a g e fused Z e n and dada i n h i s v i s u a l p o e m s o r m e s o s t i c s . U s i n g m e t h o d s o f c h a n c e a n d t h e / Ching, C a g e created a h y b r i d space that i n c l u d e d E n g l i s h a n d C h i n e s e l a n g u a g e practices. O l s o n l o o k e d to the p r e - C o l u m b i a n c u l t u r e s o f the M a y a f o r c o n t e m p o r a r y s o c i a l alternatives a n d h e s t u d i e d M a y a g l y p h s a n d b e l i e v e d t h e m to b e i n d i c a t i v e o f the " p s y c h o l o g i c a l e n e r g y " o f the c u l t u r e .  7 5  B o t h artists w e r e p h i l o s o p h i c a l l y b a s e d i n a  W h i t e h e a d i a n idea o f universalism. M y question is: h o w does process p h i l o s o p h y and O l s o n ' s c o m p o s i t i o n b y f i e l d operate w i t h i n the s p e c i f i c c u l t u r a l p a r a d i g m o f V a n c o u v e r ? W h i l e M o r a r u argues that i n O l s o n ' s poetry, nature a n d h i s t o r y unite, I a m s u g g e s t i n g the o p p o s i t e . In V a n c o u v e r a n d B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a , the s u r r o u n d i n g m o u n t a i n s a n d o c e a n w e r e s e e n as " r a w " a n d p u r e , a n d t h e f a c t t h a t t h e y h a d  7 3  7 4  7 5  Ibid., 264. Ibid., 264-5. Belgrad, 89.  58 previously been territorialized by Indigenous people only added to their spiritual promise. However, nature still remained "unmediated" by history. Robert Linsley writes: The land in which the natives have been dispossessed of their property and power and rendered invisible, the land which to the early European immigrants seemed empty - though every part of it was lived in and claimed by native tribes - is for the artist a tamed and passive landscape; it offers no threat, and is therefore the ideal environment for the secularized spirituality of occidental B u d d h i s m .  76  Linsley writes this in reference to the works of F . H . Varley and Jock M a c D o n a l d who painted in B C in the 1930s. He also relates the "denial of history" and depoliticization of land to M a l c o l m L o w r y and the beat ethos of the 1960s, but does not address the role of open form poetics in sustaining this contradiction. Tish poets, using Olson's projective verse, understood Vancouver as a locus through which they could use and access "nature" and "history" freely - appropriations or (mis)appropriations that were instrumental to building a Utopia.  V a n c o u v e r Poetics: locality, the politics of location, a n d difference  Tish poets claimed that they were concerned with writing about the local. The poetics of Williams and Olson similarly declared a concern for the local realities of experience. Candida Smith's analysis of California art and poetry pivots around local notions of Utopia and dissent. However, i n each case, the term "local" is depoliticized and used i n a literal manner to signify a specific place rather than the complexity of discursive practices that constitute that place. For example, while Candida Smith's analysis of the avant-garde examines the broad relationship between individuality, art, and the social, his analysis does not probe at the relationship between the avant-garde and its "constitutive outside." For example, he does not 7 6  Robert Linsley, "Landscape and Literature in the A r t o f British C o l u m b i a , " In  Representing the Postmodern City, 196.  Vancouver-  59 critically address the west coast's preoccupation with "Eastern" spirituality nor does he seriously analyze the effects of the denial of history, namely, the naturalization of social relations. Candida Smith asserts that a denial of history worked to free west coast artists from societal dominance; however, he does not examine the local political implications of this rejection of history. In this section, I aim to critically examine the philosophical and political implications of the poets' claim that Vancouver was "thousands of miles from history." Post-colonial scholar Arjun Appadurai is particularly concerned with subjectivities and collectives that exist on the margins of the nation-state; that is, individuals and groups who have been colonized or are in the process of decolonization. A s such, he is interested in alternate formations, such as diasporic communities and transnational localities, both which work to destabilize the nationstate. The west coast region, I am arguing, is a transnational locality, one that was formed in opposition to American political activity and oppressive social and cultural norms, including in opposition to the cultural hegemony of N e w York. A s a locality, it consists of diverse locations and cities, and within each are discrete neighbourhoods. Neighbourhoods, Appadurai asserts, are social forms. They are also distinct areas with definable borders, sometimes ecological such as mountains, forest, or water. A neighbourhood is also a conscious designation as it recognizes the "other" contained within as well as outside of i t .  77  Appadurai explains neighbourhoods:  A l l locality building has a moment of colonization, a moment both historical and chronotypic, when there is a formal recognition that the production of a neighbourhood requires deliberate, risky, even violent action i n respect to soil, forests, animals and other human beings. 78  A neighbourood is produced and re-produced against other neighbourhoods and 7 7  7 8  Appadurai, 182. Ibid., 183.  60  always consciously controls the movement of nature and people. It regulates its own practices, practices that are imagined i n relation to larger ones outside of the neighbourhood. So, a neighbourhhood contains ritualized local practices that have physical and historical limits. Inevitably, neighbourhoods also bleed out of their own boundaries through extended programs, new members, and dissemination, which consequently produce both collaborations and antagonisms. I would like to apply Appadurai's ideas of locality to the west coast and consider the University of British Columbia, Kitsilano, and downtown Vancouver as neighbourhoods - as sites of distinct rituals, processes of identification, slippage, and re-production. I would like to suggest also that the processes of neighbourhood building and collaboration are acts of "re-territorialization." M u c h has been discussed in recent years, specifically by Deleuze and Guattari, of de-territorialization, the effect of weakening local and national patterns of culture as result of globalization. A s its opposite, Edward Soja defines re-territorialisation as a re-building and regenerating of particular regions, collectivities, sectors, and individuals to reconstitute their territorial behavior.  The formation of the west coast was a response to the  national cultures and crises at the time - an answer to Vietnam, to massive corporate control, and to cultural control as well as against the patriotism and nationalism of both Canada and the United States. Tish poets were acutely aware of their location in Vancouver. They recognized the city as a vital aspect of their production, calling it their " l o c u s . " If 80  the proprioceptive poet necessarily writes from his or her locus, then the poem not only embodies the physical and psychological forces of the poet's environment, but  7 9  Edward Soja, Postmetropolis: Critical Studies of Cities and Regions (Maiden, M a : B l a c k w e l l  Publishers, 2000), 212. Davey, "The problem o f margins," Tish 3, N o v 1961, in Tish 1-19, 65. 8 0  61 also the autobiographical. Tallman asserted that Olson wrote from and through Gloucester, Massachusetts i n the Maximus Poems: "eventually the city looks out through his eyes, speaks through his voice, remembers through his memory, has its meetings i n his person."  81  In Tish 10, Samuel Perry contributed a substantive essay on  the poetics of Creeley, Kerouac, Ginsberg and, in particular, Olson. Perry asserts that in the North American context, the individual exists i n a specific environment i n which personal freedom is overshadowed by the profound mistrust of space (airspace, public space) and the fear of destruction. Perry argues that in their locus in the context of North America's "self destructive motion," N e w American poets were finding new forms of personal meaning: The first problem is to find a personal locus.. .They [Olson, Creeley, Kerouac, Ginsberg] give us their experience and memories i n their autobiographical writings - establish a frame of reference - alongside the immediate events of their later works and so let us, as reader, translate the specific meanings of their sound words - units of measure - into our experience - our own frame of reference - and thereby share the motion they observe. 82  Perry re-iterates the importance of myth and personal meaning-finding as an antidote to historical and political ills. In open form poetry, sounds replace words as units of expression and thus allow for the reader's own experience. For Perry, the autobiographical can transcend the political, translating into shared universal consciousness. To suggest, as do both Perry and Tallman, that a personal locus is ultimately transcended to reach a higher or greater rhythm is ultimately to deny political realities. In 1962, Vancouver and Gloucester were not interchangeable. The C o l d War played out differently in the two nations and, as Richard Cavell argues, in Canada the C o l d War emerged as its own phenomenon different to both Europe and the United T a l l m a n , "Wonder Merchants," 32. Samuel Perry, " M A X I M U S o f G L O U C E S T E R from D O G T O W N : C H A R L E S O L S O N Personal L o c u s , " Tish 10 in Tish 7-19, 204-10. 8 1  8 2  62 States. In Canada, there were two main dimensions to the post-war climate: 1) Ottawa and the governing Liberal elites exercised much more state-control than the U S , exerting more control over national security, and 2) the government focused on selfrepresentation and promoted a Canadian state that was anti-communist but also antiAmerican.  83  This latter point, articulated in the Massey Report (1951) and embodied  in the Canada Council (1957), is crucial as it defined much national cultural activity (activity against which the west coast was formed). Jody Berland writes: The 1951 Massey Report made an explicit connection between autonomous culture and national defence.. .in protest against what the report called the "American Invasion".. .Nationalism was a precondition to cultural autonomy. 84  The C o l d W a r in Canada was culturally produced and the government made explicit the expectations around citizenship, culture, and the state. O f crucial importance was Canada's political and cultural autonomy from the United States, a condition that was complicated by the signing of the North American A i r Defense Command ( N O R A D ) in 1957, which effectively integrated the U S and Canada under one air defense system. B y the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, Prime Minister Diefenbaker already questioned the agreement and did not cooperate with President Kennedy's interventions in Cuba. This hesitation around defense created tension between the two nations, their governments, and citizens.  85  The artists of the "pacific nation" did not acknowledge their national borders and Tish poets rejected political alignments. Their locus did not refer to national identity but to inner space. They rejected national classifications, political jingoism, 83  Love, Hate, and Fear in Canada's Cold War, ed. Richard Cavell (Toronto, Buffalo and London:  University o f Toronto Press, 2004), 5. Quoted in C a v e l l from Jody Berland, " M a r g i n a l Notes on Cultural Studies in Canada," University of Toronto Quarterly (vol. 64, no. 4, 1995), 514-25; this quote page from 517. F o r more on Canada and C o l d W a r culture, see R e g Whitaker and G a r y Marcuse, eds. Cold War Canada: The Making of a 8 4  National Insecurity State, 1945-1957, Toronto: University o f Toronto Press, 1994. See J . L . Granatstein for a discussion o f what he calls the "defense debacle," in Canada 1957-1967: The Years of Uncertainty and Innovation (Toronto: M c C l e l l a n d and Stewart L t d . , 1986), 101-38.  8 5  63 and patriotism and believed that "the community of poetry is a universal thing, as is man, and political divisions can never apply."  They disengaged with politics as a  way of arriving at Utopia. The burgeoning Vancouver poetic avant-garde, with its import of American modernist thinkers and artists to U B C , transgressed and offended Canadian nationalism. Equally, American dissidents going to Canada were rejecting American nationalism. Tish's locus at the English department at U B C was an institutional "neighbourhood" built on American modernism. W i t h claimed detachment and freedom of expression, the Tish movement was like a little bohemia. On one hand, its existence within a rapidly growing conservative and bureaucratic institution seemed ironic. The university whose site had been First Nations land, logged land, military land, and finally a university campus, did not embody a history of "freedom."  87  O n the other hand, the idea of "the university" promised an  intellectually free and in the case of U B C geographically isolated space within which to create an alternative and radical poetry movement. A s the "pacific nation" was forming itself, the actual physical space of British Columbia was transforming. L i k e California, British Columbia experienced unprecedented economic, industrial, and institutional growth during the 1950s and 1960s. Under the leadership of W . A . C . Bennett, the Social Credit Party governed for twenty years from 1952 to 1972 and its fiscally conservative and populist mandate propelled business, institutional, and physical development.  Bennett's leadership  Tish 8, A p r i l 1962, in Tish 1-19, 155. In Chapter Three, I w i l l analyze the university as a Utopian site o f student activism and alternative cultural formations. F o r a history o f the University o f British C o l u m b i a , land uses, and built environment, see Recovering the University Fabric, (project o f the U B C Departments o f A r t History, V i s u a l A r t & Theory, Architecture, and Geography). http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/u_fabric/index.html. Social credit was conceptualized in England in the 1920s by Scottish engineer M a j o r Clifford H u g h Douglas as an economic and fiscal reform policy. In Canada, the western provinces embraced Social Credit with fervour: In 1923, Douglas appeared before the Committee o f the House o f C o m m o n s on B a n k i n g and Industry; in 1935, the Alberta Social Credit Party was formed; and in 1949, the Social 86  8 7  8 8  64 was punctuated by several accomplishments: B C Hydro, B C Ferries, the establishment of the Bank of British Columbia, and highway infrastructure throughout the province. One of Bennett's top mandates was to harness B C ' s hydro power through extensive damming and, in partnership with the United States, develop a power system that would ensure the province's long-term prosperity. Wilderness lands were transformed, bridges were constructed in Vancouver and throughout the province, and modern, efficient transportation became a vital concern for the government whose province was expanding over mountains, across waterways, and on  along shorelines. Tish poets absorbed these changes and were particularly preoccupied with Vancouver as "a city held together by bridges." Bridges became a major vortex of energy i n their poems. A bridge is an evocative object: it is a physical feat of engineering, a symbol of strength and ingenuity, it links two land masses (communities, cities, countries) together, it connects two verses i n a song, and it is the most crucial part of a metaphor, linguistically and cognitively linking the metaphorical term and the object of the conceit. In Olsonian terms, it is a vector of energy in the field of composition, carrying energy from the poet, through the poem, to the reader. In his hard-edge painting The Bridge (1965), R o y K i y o o k a also explores the joining of two separate spheres through lines and vectors. In Tuesday Credit Party o f British C o l u m b i a was founded. Douglas also wrote extensively on money and banking: Economic Democracy (1935), The Monopoly of Credit (1931), and The Use of Money (1935). Douglas was not a socialist critic o f capitalism; he wanted capitalism reformed so that individuals had freedom as both producer and consumer. W h i l e he accepted that capitalism raised production to new highs and that human needs could be satisfied on most levels, he was concerned that many people d i d not have the means to consume the production. The idea o f "credit" for each citizen was to increase individual purchasing power and reduce poverty. N o t surprisingly, D o u g l a s ' ideas were intriguing to fringe economists and intellectuals: John M a y n a r d Keynes referred to social credit as part o f the "underworld" o f economic theory, and E z r a Pound, hero-poet to Olson, Duncan and Creeley, became associated with the E n g l i s h Social Credit movement and was refreshed by D o u g l a s ' philosophical bent. F o r a more detailed analysis o f social credit philosophy, see D a v i d M i t c h e l l , W.A.C. Bennett and the Rise of British Columbia (Toronto: Douglas & M c l n t y r e , 1983), 104-9. B y the mid-1960s, the student body was, by and large, skeptical o f Bennett's leadership, specifically in terms o f his control over academic administration and funding. 8 9  65 Poem, when Bowering names Vancouver as a city "held together" or "pinioned by bridges," the city becomes a causeway of energy, a locus erupting with creative potential.  9 0  Several Tish poets wanted to travel back across time to witness Indigenous culture at the time of European contact. Their poetic flights were a part of their belief in art as "a go-between, a communicator, a means of testimony."  91  tentative  coastlines, a serial poem by David Dawson, bridges U B C with "200 years of beach." Dawson is the " I " in the poem, witnessing the arrival of Spanish ships on Point Grey beaches and being present to hear the "ripples of ghost-ships":  I from where I stand here on the beach the sands reach back 6 miles to the city, and west to the point. 200 yrs. of beach reaching back to valdez quadra Spanish galleons in the bay scanning our shores : winds veer and the bold sails fill, (a scarlet maltese cross emblazons each) cracking with the strain. slowly leaning to port the sharp prow smashes whitecaps.  W i t h the bridge metaphor, Tish poets personified Blaser's "spiritual traveler" and sought to transcend their locus through its raw materials. A poem i n Tish 6, February 1962 (Tish 1-19, 129), claimed that poets could ride: "on the hump back bridge / that gives a man a chance / to travel from himself / to someone else / at the other pinned in point." Tish 10, June 1962, in Tish 1-19, 201. 91  66 a rattle o f s w o r d s and s i l v e r breastplates rings i n the s t i l l sea-air. behind them, a bubbling wake and the s h r i l l screech o f g u l l s . tonight I hear a w h i s p e r o v e r sand the r i p p l e s o f ghost-ships. R o b e r t D u n c a n p r a i s e d tentative coastlines as a b r e a k t h r o u g h a n d a b r i d g e i n 93  consciousness, re-iterating that " p o e t r y reaches b a c k i n t i m e as w e l l as i n space." H i s p o i n t o f v i e w reflected W h i t e h e a d ' s beliefs about poetry - that a p o e m i s a n instant o r o c c a s i o n i n t i m e a n d s p a c e .  94  D a w s o n ' s use o f first-person a n d present  tense gives sensation to the " s c a n n i n g , c r a c k i n g , s m a s h i n g , b u b b l i n g a n d w h i s p e r i n g " o f the galleons a n d he places h i m s e l f not o n l y at the scene but also as a participant i n it. H i s use o f s m a l l letters f o r p r o p e r names, such as v a l d e z , quadra, Spanish, a n d maltese s h r i n k s h i s t o r i c a l distance. H i s t o r y a n d c u l t u r a l difference c o l l a p s e to e n d o w the coastline w i t h O l s o n i a n m o v e m e n t a n d energy. B u t , i f w e d e p l o y an "ethics o f m e m o r y , " what are the i m p l i c a t i o n s f o r c o n t e m p o r a r y F i r s t N a t i o n s cultures w h e n E u r o p e a n contact is r o m a n t i c i z e d i n this w a y ?  92  9 5  D a w s o n continues:  Tish 12, August 1962, in Tish 1-19, 242-3.  Robert Duncan, " F o r the Novices o f Vancouver, August 25-28, 1962," Tish 13, 1962, in Tish 1-19, 253-7. Whitehead believed that the poetic medium was the process o f creativity itself and that poetry was the act o f becoming that characterizes existence. H e believed that the "primary message o f the poet was a fundamental intuition central to the experience o f each o f us." See D a v i d L . H a l l , "Whitehead, Rorty, and the Return o f the E x i l e d Poets," in Whitehead's Philosophy, 97. In " A Chronology o f L o v e ' s Contingencies," M a r c i a Crosby examines E m i l y C a r r ' s relationships with First Nations communities and her "memories" o f friendship within the context o f E u r o Canadian/ Native social relations in the first half o f the twentieth century. A r g u i n g that memory is always derived in the present, C r o s b y ' s analysis asserts that an individual is informed by their o w n writing process and by the historical context o f their moment. In my analysis o f Tish poetics, I similarly argue that the poets' "memory" o f European contact was based on a particular desire in the present - in this case, a desire to connect with their locus and to carve out a new culture o f poetry. M a r i c a Crosby, " A Chronology o f L o v e ' s Contingencies," i n Emily Carr: New Perspectives on a Canadian Icon (Ottawa/Vancouver: National Gallery o f Canada and the Vancouver A r t Gallery, 2006), 156-69. 9 3  9 4  9 5  67  III i to the north o f m y m o u n t a i n s the K w a k i u t l o n c e l i v e d w i t h their chief, m y lord maquinna l i g h t o f the thunder g o d resplendent i n otterskins a n d copper, keeneyed son o f the eagle, and c o u s i n to the k i n g f i s h e r ; his g o d , the b l a c k e y e d one o f the sea, w h o s e w a y s are dark :the great seabird, b i r d o f fire b i r d o f thunder ii I would walk with h i m i n the shade o f m e m o r y beside b r i g h t water and c o o l stone. i n the seagreen bright of day I would pray w i t h h i m , & then l a y d o w n between his b r o n z e - b r o w n thighs to c o m e into m a q u i n n a , M y lord maquinna,  W i t h h i m s e l f as a witness, D a w s o n uses p e r s o n a l m y t h to connect h i m s e l f s p i r i t u a l l y w i t h the F i r s t N a t i o n s (I w o u l d / p r a y w i t h h i m ) . In a d d i t i o n to p r o j e c t i n g " K w a k i t u l " culture as p o w e r f u l and d i v i n e (light o f the thunder g o d / resplendent i n otterskins /  Tish 12, August 1962, in Tish 1-19, 244.  68 and copper), Dawson eroticizes Maquinna (bronze-brown thighs) and sexualises his own spiritual awakening (to come into maquinna, / M y lord maquinna, / M E . ) tentative coastlines is an example of "nostalgia without memory," where a group or culture is sentimentalized through an appropriation of their history.  W h i l e Jameson  uses this term to describe a post-modern practice of pastiche as an approach to history using narrative and myth, I want to question the political implications of this method in the context of British Columbia and Tish. In "Construction of the Imaginary Indian," M a r c i a Crosby critiques the practices of art history in relation to First Nations history and culture. Despite postmodern plurality and diversity, Crosby argues that the European master narratives of history and culture still dominate, resulting in a lack of First Nations selfrepresentation in academics. Most relevant here is her critique of Bowering's Burning Water (1980), a metafiction of Captain Vancouver's "discovery" of the northwest coast. While Crosby acknowledges its postmodern approach, she nonetheless argues that it continues to erase Indigenous voices: For the First Nations reader, there is the uncomfortable recognition of the dominant culture once again engaged i n a conversation with itself, using First Nations people to measure itself, to define who it is or is not... 9 8  For Crosby, the danger of parody or postmodern allegory is that while these strategies attempt to be self-critical, the " s e l f remains the normative European subject and disbars "other" subjectivities. In her recent book Unsettling Encounters: First Nations Imagery in the Art of Emily Carr, Gerta Moray asserts that i n the history of art production in British  9 7  Examples o f appropriation o f First Nations culture in Tish include So Long, Mungo by Jamie R e i d in  Tish 14, and, Totems by Frank Davey i n Tish 17. M a r c i a Crosby, "Construction o f the Imaginary Indian," Vancouver Anthology: The Institutional Politics of Art, ed. Stan Douglas (Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1991), 271.  9 8  69 Columbia, non-native writers and artists have had the tendency to "go native."  99  Referring to the discourse around the work of E m i l y Carr, this term points to the desire to connect and identify with aboriginal people, culture, and history i n order to claim belonging to the province. This appropriation is propelled by the belief that First Nations cultures are a block or obstacle to "new" cultural and land formations. Therefore, "going native" is a strategy to appropriate and thus neutralize Indigenous cultural, territorial, social, and political investments. Moray also suggests that there are two sides to "indigenization" - rejection and appropriation. W h i l e Dawson and other Tish poets used appropriation, rejection was the main strategy in the visual arts in the 1960s, as evidenced by the almost complete lack of representation in avantgarde art (dance, film, p a i n t i n g ) .  100  The diminishment of First Nations history erases the brutality of colonization and assumes a natural progression of events. In visual art, the violence and terror of colonization have been washed away. Robert Linsley in "Painting and the Social History of B C , " examines painting in relation to the representation of the colonization and dispossession of First Nations, specifically looking at Varley, E m i l y Carr, Jack Shadbolt, and Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptan. One of Linsley's major arguments is that traditions of landscape painting do not exist outside the social, and that traditions such as picturesque painting and expressionism are social practices. For example, Linsley argues that E m i l y Carr's paintings often eroticize nature, transforming wilderness 9 9  Gerta M o r a y , Unsettling Encounters: First Nations Imagery in the Art of Emily Carr,  (Vancouver/Toronto/Seattle: University o f British C o l u m b i a Press and University o f Washington Press, 2006), 6. B y contrast, visual art i n Vancouver in the 1940s and 1950s, specifically painting, appropriated Indigenous culture in work by artists such as Jack Shadbolt and B . C . B i n n i n g . O n the west coast, surrealism embraced primitivism; that is, it appropriated aboriginal culture as a way to connect with nature and to release the subconscious mind. Wolfgang Paalen's Dyn magazine is an example o f a European strain o f primitivism on the west coast. F o r histories o f A m e r i c a n surrealism and primitivism, see Belgrad, 56, and, S y l v i a Fink, "The Dynaton: Three Artists with Similar Ideas - Lee M u l l i c a n , G o r d o n O n s l o w Ford, Wolfgang Paalen," in California: 5 Footnotes to Modern Art History, ed. Stephanie Barron (Los Angeles: L o s Angeles County M u s e u m o f Art, 1977), 35-41. 1 0 0  70 destroyed by industry into sensual landscapes. H e writes that "the gendering and sexualization of landscape is a long-standing theme i n British Columbia art.. .it is often entangled with environmental p o l i t i c s . "  101  Representation in British Columbia 102  has embodied a particularly strong connection between history, land, and race.  For  instance, while W i l l i a m s ' tree in Young Sycamore (1927) evokes an autonomous experience, Carr's iconic Scorned as timber, beloved of the sky (1935) places the tree at the centre of transforming landscape and, as Linsley writes, stands as a "protest at the rape of the land, a Utopian statement of hope."  Tish poets, like Carr, also  oriented themselves to the mythic "tribes" of the northwest coast. They had an Olsonian interest in history as myth; conquests and colonization took on a personal form in Olson's Maximus Poems and Dawson's tentative coastlines. In the latter case, the very real political violence and lived human experience (dispossession and disease) are erased in favour of a nostalgic perception of culture. When Dawson invokes the Kwakwaka'wakw, he romanticizes them in order to elevate his own spiritual disposition, with the Kwakwaka'wakw acting as a vehicle (the spiritual raw material) for his cosmic and personal freedom. Candida Smith, Elder, and Belgrad do not pose certain questions that are central to an understanding of cultural processes of post-war avant-garde formations in North America, namely those of ethics.  104  D o Whitehead's process philosophy and  Olson's projective verse enable pluralism and diversity? T o what extent is cultural difference erased or embraced? A n d , was the west coast avant-garde concerned with  1 0 1  L i n s l e y , 231.  102  See Cole Harris, Making Native Space: Colonialism, Resistance, and Reserves in British Columbia,  Vancouver: U B C Press, 2002. L i n s l e y , 231. M u c h has been made o f the ethics o f Greenberg's formalism and the reign o f taste and objectivity in formalist judgment. In the 1960s, O l s o n ' s and B l a c k M o u n t a i n poetics were dominant i n poetic practice and also need to be critically analyzed. 1 0 3  1 0 4  71 "freedom" only insofar as it concerned itself? Whitehead's understanding of individuality was inflected by his cosmological belief i n the ontological sameness of all entities i n the universe. Poets such as Olson, Duncan, Dawson, and Davey thus found a philosophical basis for writing about Indigenous cultures i n an attempt to expand and enlarge dimensions of human experience. O n one hand, pluralism opened up "cross-cultural" dialogue and promoted the notion that while there are differences " o f kind," as Whitehead termed them, individuals, animals, and organisms are all objects and events of "equal" value. Whitehead's theories of cosmology and metaphysics did not and could not support historicism and notions of Kantian individualism and, i n this sense, were attractive to avant-garde artists who were against hierarchy in social and political structures.  105  However, in practice, in a distinctly un-Whiteheadian world, the idea of universal oneness could easily translate into a Eurocentric oneness. So, when Dawson "remembered" the Spanish galleons arriving on the shores of Point Grey and when he "became" Maquinna, though his intention may have been a cross-temporal experience of myth (like Olson's Maya), within the real and political realm of social relations in British Columbia, the poem runs the risk of further entrenchment of "western" subjectivity.  106  Gerta Moray asks, like many before her, who can write and speak for whom? I am not suggesting that poets such as Olson, Dawson, and Duncan were "wrong" or even "unfair." Removing individual intent i n the Foucauldian sense, it then becomes a question of the relationship between power and knowledge in discourse and,  F o r a discussion o f Whitehead's organic model o f individuality, see Henning, 66-75. James Clifford addresses the ethnocentrism o f Orientalism: "...the privilege o f standing above cultural particularism, o f aspiring to the universalist power that speaks for humanity, for the universal experiences o f love, work, death and so on, is a privilege invented by a totalizing Western liberalism," 1 0 5  1 0 6  " O n Orientalism," i n The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-century Ethnography, Literature and Art (Cambridge, M a s s and L o n d o n : Harvard University Press, 1988), 263.  72  recognizing that memory is derived in the present, provokes an exploration into larger social relations in that historical moment. In British Columbia, this particular set of issues was and is ever-present and shifts with epistemological queries that arise from "both sides."  107  In open form poetics on the west coast, not only were First Nations subjectivities part of avant-garde self-definition, but so was gender identity. Specifically, masculinity remained the normative gender-position, with femininity as a foil. This is not to say that there were not major discursive shifts around sexuality, in fact, the beats, in particular, confronted sexual oppression and censorship. In their writing, take for example Dharma Bums and Howl, Kerouac and Ginsberg re-defined maleness in terms of homosexuality, rallying for a new type of masculine hero. Their hero was a man who fought for sexual freedom but without "Woman" as the object of lust or conquering. Nonetheless, while gay sexuality challenged societal values, masculinity secured its designation as the dominant sexuality. As Candida Smith writes: The spiritual salvation of the young man lies in his ability to salvage as much as he dare of his raw natural force and postpone the process of maturation until it can be achieved on the basis of personal experience. 108  Maleness and masculinity are preconditions for spiritual and personal freedom. For Dawson in tentative coastlines, this took form in the figure of Maquinna. Indeed, through their sexual union, Dawson himself transforms into a spiritual and mythic "chief." In the instances when maleness is heterosexual, masculinity is re-articulated In his introduction to The Predicament of Culture, Clifford quotes a poem by W i l l i a m Carlos W i l l i a m s to demonstrate what he terms "ethnographic modernity." Clifford uses W i l l i a m s ' poem as an example o f a more complex notion o f difference in which the culture in question is neither entirely appropriated nor rejected. Instead, "something" is still "given o f f from the marginalized history and W i l l i a m s wants to access it. 1-7.1 am arguing that W i l l i a m s ' (and Duncan's and Tish's) serious interest i n Whitehead is a likely source for this belief in pluralism. 1 0 7  1 0 8  Candida Smith, 150.  73  through sexual prowess and desire. Sound, rhythm, and breath are the elements that make up projective verse and in Tish, they often take form i n sexually evocative poems. In fact, male sexuality and projective verse are coupled together in order to achieve spiritual freedom. Bowering's Sunday Poem is a clear example of Olsonian poetics (both verbal and visual) as well as personal (male) experience:  I love your mystical overnight opening of the flower autumn purple reflected lights in your noon day sun day eyes So that I catch my breath (lungs full of midnight air) :the overnight opening) I swear there are pieces of pollen in the air you breathe into my lungs A n d your hair I am mystified by the forehead dance of air in the night verdant I feel the light blood in and around my legs and arms 1 0 9  The rhythm produces the poem's sensation. For example, the resemblance of sounds contained within the term "mystical overnight opening" creates a steady and identical  Tish 2 in Tish 1-19, 47- 8.  74 beat and works to pace the breath and the sounds. Or, the repeated monosyllables i n "noon day sun day eyes" speed up the rhythm but keep it steady. Line and syllable and breath, Olson's units for projective verse, create the sound of the poem. W i t h its steady, breathy beat that slows and quickens, the poem is the transfer of sexual energy. The political implications of the denial of history did not just affect the subjectivization of First Nations people on the west coast; it also obscured historic and economic conditions between North America and Asia. Blaser's construct "pacific nation" is representative of a larger global geo-political imperative: the beginning of the invention of the Pacific R i m , a construct that has profound economic and political significance in the 2 1 century. In the 1960s, what were the implications st  of this term and what were the forces shaping it on the west coast? A s A r l i f D i r l i k asks, "What is the Pacific? Whose P a c i f i c ? "  110  It is ironic that in the aftermath of  Korea, in the midst of the Vietnam crisis, and in the shadow of Maoist China, Blaser's "pacific nation" was a spiritual and artistic construct. The Pacific region was developing as a Euro American economic community. The west coast's idealization and romantic preoccupation with Buddhism and Asian spirituality, deliberately or not, de-politicized the relationship between North America and A s i a .  1 1 1  W h i l e the avant-  garde sought disengagement and Tish poets declared themselves to be immune to political or national labels, the artists were nonetheless implicated in the larger global economic situations against which their locality and neighbourhoods were constituted. The history of the "Pacific R i m " and its relationships with Europe and North  See D i r l i k , 22-9, for a discussion on origins and history o f the construction o f the "Pacific R i m . " ' Vancouver, and the west coast, constituted its modernity (and its avant-garde) in relation to the otherness o f A s i a n spirituality and culture and, in this sense, had its o w n local form o f Orientalism. 1 1 0  1 1  75 America is complex, not least because of the region's diversity and varying colonial histories. Most obvious is Japan's position in the 2 0 century as one of the United th  States' greatest enemies and rivals. In particular, with Japan's rise as an industrial power post-WWU, the hegemony of the United States in the Pacific was contested. During the 1950s and 1960s, North America tried to contain threats and organize the nations within East and South A s i a . "Painted red" i n the 1950s, China was considered to be a threat to its neighbours: South Korea, Laos, Cambodia, South Vietnam, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, and Japan. In the 1960s, the "Pacific R i m " emerged as a new capitalist community with its non-communist members as allies to North America and Europe. "Rimspeak" was heard, signaling a new major economic and political discourse of the decade, and the Pacific became a gauge for cold war rhetoric.  112  For example, M a o ' s "east is red" launched the initiatives of the Leap  Forward to rival Britain's productivity, W . W . Rostow, under Kennedy, wrote the "non-communist manifesto," and in 1967, N i x o n wrote: The U S is a Pacific Power.. .Europe has been withdrawing the remnants of empire, but the U S with its coast reaching in an arc from M e x i c o to the Bering Straits, is one anchor of a vast Pacific community. Both our interests and our ideals propel us westward across the Pacific, not as conquerors but as partners...  113  N i x o n ' s intentions were followed later in 1971 when he re-opened trade with China in an effort to capitalize Asia. The exoticization of A s i a results in a particular tension within west coast avant-garde discourses. In romanticizing peoples or cultures, those peoples and cultures are stripped of their political and historical contingency and instead naturalized as timeless and mythic. Therefore, while the poets and artists of the west coast were fixated on the religious dimensions of Asian countries (China, Tibet, and " C u m i n g s , 56. Ibid., 57. 2  1 1 3  76 Japan) as promising spiritual understanding and freedom, the political realities of Asian cultures were erased. This tension had particular resonance on the west coast as Asian immigration, labour, and citizenship were a significant aspect of local histories. In British Columbia, the tension was underwritten by a long history of Asian immigration to the province, accompanied by racist immigration laws. Recent history included 22,000 Japanese-Canadians "interned" i n camps during the Second W o r l d War, an act of hatred that was only addressed in the eighties.  114  The United States had  been "at war with A s i a " from 1941-1975, and the west coast with its imagined belonging to the mystical "pacific nation" and its local connections with Asian-North Americans had a distinct position in the pan-Pacific w a r .  115  Candida Smith addresses the west coast preoccupation with eastern spirituality and Zen Buddhism; however, he is insufficiently critical of the appropriation and exoticization of different spiritualities. Wallace Berman had a dedication to the kabbalah, Ginsberg followed Tibetan Buddhism, Gary Snyder studied ascetic Zen Buddhism, and Duncan maintained an enduring interest in theosophy.  116  Snyder, for example, a reader and correspondent with Tish, was  fictionalized i n Kerouac's beat-bible the Dharma Bums (1956). Snyder studied Japanese and Chinese, completed four years of Buddhist study, and went to Japan in search of dharma (the path of truth or the continuous path of "forming and firming").  117  Candida Smith insists that Snyder did not romanticize non-western  societies and, while this may or may not be the case, it is my argument that the west coast avant-garde, as a whole, did objectify and romanticize the cultures of Asia. The "pacific nation" was a transnational formation that wanted to be removed 1 1 4  R o y M i k i , Justice in our Time: The Japanese Redress Settlement, Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1991.  '  F o r a history o f war in A s i a n countries, see Cumings, 64. Candida Smith, 290. Ibid., 374.  1 5  1 1 6  1 1 7  77 from and alternative to the national narratives of both Canada and the United States. In particular, American radical poets rejected the consumer and war culture of the U S and perhaps their interest in A s i a was consistent as a way to be anti-American. Fred Wah, R o y Kiyooka, and Takao Tanabe were practicing artists in Vancouver in the 1960s as part of the emerging avant-garde and they later became political about their ethnic and racial identities. For example, poet, artist, and teacher R o y Kiyooka, a profoundly influential figure for artists i n Vancouver, became actively involved i n the Japanese redress movement in 1980s. Kiyooka's significant role in Vancouver's formation as an avant-garde centre highlights the tensions contained within west coast discourses and, i n particular, raises the issue of "zones of containment" that constituted the locality of the west coast. Given that locality (and neighbourhoods) is relational, Japan was "outside," an entity against which the United States, Canada, and the west coast each produced itself. R o y M i k i writes about the national narrative of race and immigration: the conjunction of victim positioning and cultural 'arrival' served to allow for both the erasure and disavowal of the foreclosures that externalized the non-whites in the body politic, not only First Nations collectives, but also the 'other' who included those identified under the general discursive 118  category, "asian," or as "Japanese," or "Chinese." M i k i continues that externalization is always double-edged because while a group may be externalized, it is still contained within the larger narrative as an "outside." In their containment, local and cultural histories are disavowed and erased, even in postmodern pastiche (such as tentative coastlines when myth undermined political and historical contingency). Thus, "zones of containment" are social boundaries where discursive tensions exist. 1 1 8  M i k i , "Unravelling R o y K i y o o k a : A Re-Assessment A m i d s t Shifting Boundaries," in All Amazed  for Roy Kiyooka, 76.  78 Vancouver Poetry Conference, 1963 T w o years into Tish's first editorial period, Vancouver became the centre of poetry i n North America, at least for the weeks surrounding the Vancouver Poetry Conference in July and August 1963. Olson, Duncan, Creeley, A l l e n Ginsberg, and Denise Levertov were some of the prominent poets among the over sixty people who were involved in readings, lectures, workshops, and discussions.  119  Having  strengthened his associations with San Francisco poets and seen the dedicated enthusiasm and affinity between his students and the American poets, Tallman started to organize the landmark conference. Donald A l l e n put Tallman in touch with Olson, Ginsberg, Snyder, and Philip Whalen, with each of whom Tallman initiated and sustained personal and professional correspondence.  For example, Tallman and  Ginsberg nurtured a lifelong correspondence and professional friendship, starting with Tallman's funding of Ginsberg's travels from India to Japan to Vancouver in July 1963. Tallman was determined to have these poets in Vancouver. He also cared deeply for the friendships that he created with many of them. H i s correspondence reveals both the amicableness and collegiality of his relationship with the avant-garde poets.  121  For example, Ginsberg, en route to Vancouver, met up with Gary Snyder in  Japan and sent Tallman a postcard: "Running around Kyoto seeing full moons and  M o d e l e d on the Vancouver Poetry Conference, The Berkeley Poetry Conference in 1965 similarly brought together the most active and influential thinkers and poets. Fred W a h , Tish poet and U B C student, attended the Vancouver conference and created an archive o f taped readings and discussions, "Vancouver Poetry Conference & Miscellaneous Readings/Lectures." Fred W a h Poetry Recordings, available on-line at the Slought Foundation. A l s o , see Vancouver Poetry Conference materials, Contemporary Literature Collection, S F U . A l l e n wrote to T a l l m a n : "I wrote to him [Charles] today quoting what you said about the local scene developing there....why don't you write h i m ? " 14 M a r c h 1961. A l l e n suggested inviting W h a l e n to the Vancouver Poetry Conference, 11 July 1963. In spring 1962, Creeley accepted a teaching post at U B C throughout June, and T a l l m a n and Creeley started to organize the Conference. 12 June 1962; 26 June 1962. A l l above correspondence is from Warren T a l l m a n Fonds, Contemporary Literature Collection, S F U . T a l l m a n ' s archives include particularly intimate correspondence with Robert Creeley, Jack Spicer, Robert Duncan, and A l l e n Ginsberg. 1 1 9  1 2 0  1 2 1  79 temples and did a little sitting with Snyder in his meditation hall.. .Roy K e o k a [sic] here too."  This postcard reveals the closeness and connectedness of the west coast  poetry circuit. Tallman as a facilitator and educator brought together K i y o o k a and Ginsberg and, as part of the larger network of poets on the west coast, they became citizens of the "pacific nation."  123  The conference consisted of discussions and roundtables with the visiting poets over the course of three weeks. For example, on July 26, Creeley, Duncan, and Ginsberg discussed Olson's Projective Verse in relation to the page and to the physical act of writing; on August 5, Duncan delivered a talk entitled " A Life in Poetry"; and, on August 14, Duncan, Ginsberg, and Olson lead a discussion entitled "Duende, M u s e & A n g e l . "  124  Ginsberg read from Kaddish and Howl. The recorded  lectures and discussions are extensive; however, what can be said is that Olson's poetics were central, as were the philosophies of Whitehead. For example, in a discussion between Duncan, Ginsberg, and Creeley, Duncan clarified Whiteheadian philosophy when he re-iterated poetry as a "cosmic event": the human being is seen not as a being but as an event, as a focus. Y o u r "I" then, by the way, changes from being here, to another "I" who represents the "I" of the cosmos and the only " I " of the cosmos 125  that you know at all is yourself. Postcard from Ginsberg to Tallman, 9 July 1963. Warren T a l l m a n Fonds, Contemporary Literature Collection, S F U . Ginsberg's ties with T a l l m a n endured his lifetime. In 1986, Ginsberg wrote a letter o f support for a possible lectureship for T a l l m a n : "Warren T a l l m a n o f U B C is one o f the greatest teachers o f literature I've ever encountered. I've followed his work - seen his effects on students - for almost a quarter century, and am still grateful and thrilled at his presence i n academia." Letter from Ginsberg, 1 August 1986. Warren T a l l m a n Fonds, Contemporary Literature Collection, S F U . Ginsberg's role at the Vancouver Poetry Conference was significant because it marked the concrete presence o f the beat ethos i n British C o l u m b i a . Similarly, Ginsberg's involvement i n an academic institution, as well as his collaboration with B l a c k M o u n t a i n poetry, demonstrates the fusion, integration and crossing o f boundaries that took place in poetry and at U B C . F o r instance, Robert Creeley's seminal essay 1 2 3  Contexts of Poetry (Audit, vol. 1, no. 1, 1968) was in fact a dialogue between himself and Ginsberg that took place at the Vancouver Conference. T h i s lecture was on the subject o f Spanish poet G a r c i a L o r c a ' s theory o f the Duende, a dark, mysterious force i n w h i c h O l s o n was particularly interested. Vancouver Poetry Conference, Ginsberg, Duncan, Creeley, 26 July 1963. Tape #38, 14. Contemporary Literature Collection, S F U . 1 2 4  80  Whitehead and Olson were no longer abstract and academic concepts taught in Tallman's poetry class, but became concrete in the form of a dialogue between their initial practitioners in the medium of poetry. This particular conversation meandered through all sorts of philosophical, aesthetic, and spiritual debates. In one particularly broad-sweeping passage, Duncan talks about ancient cultural exchange between India and the Mediterranean as a poetic event or a wave, where masses of people exchanged myths and ideas (he talks about Buddha, Isis, and Maya). He then suggests that these waves of exchange were also now occurring in the "insane Pacific 126  coast and California's especially.. .weird cults of one kind or another."  He narrates  a disjointed tale where the "Englishman" was in search of the "source" and so he went to "America" where he found the "Indian" which, in his mind, became the "primitive" Greek. Duncan summarizes that the "Indian and the primitive Greek became one for us and came down, now I'm talking about the Indian of the southwest and the Maya."  127  Duncan's free-flow reads as a confusing and nonsensical narrative  because he collapsed history's specificity into grand waves of human movement, or cosmic events. He seems to be suggesting that historic human movement in search of the "source" relates more to a search for the nature of human subjectivity and existence than to specific historically-constituted economic conditions and drives. Duncan's approach to history as waves, myths, and cosmic events, while embracing post-modern methodologies of meta-narratives and inter-textuality, nonetheless presents itself as a distinctly European position where the "us" is referring to the European settlers of North America to whom the "other" still remains the "Indian." Duncan's adherence to Whiteheadian philosophy of organism has possibilities 1 2 6  1 2 7  Ibid., 44. Ibid., 44.  81 as a framework for understanding the west coast milieu. Duncan claims that he and Ginsberg are both "muddled" because both of them draw from many sources: I do have to, in order to even find my way, become flooded with things that culturally wouldn't make sense except they make sense. Throw away the culture and find out that they're all part of some human thing and not just write from one centre. 128  I think this idea of pluralism can apply to Vancouver in that there were many diverse sources for emerging poets and artists, including Olson, John Cage, and Marshall McLuhan. The Vancouver Poetry Conference raised philosophical issues of meaningmaking and subjectivity, not only in public discussion, but also in private classes with poetry students. Creeley, Ginsberg, and Olson co-taught English 410: Poetry Writing and Criticism, a course offered by permission only to English majors and focused on verse forms and contemporary poetic criticism. Forty-eight students worked closely with the instructors, many of whom were active in Tish or independent emerging writers, including, David Bromige, Judith Copithorne, David C u l l , B o b Hogg, Dan M a c L e o d , Peter Auxier, George Bowering, Dave Dawson, James Reid, A l l e n Graves, Gladys Hindmarch, Sam Perry, and Fred W a h .  1 2 9  The effects of this course cannot be  measured, however, it is likely that the students were exposed to and trained in the poetics of open form, including Olson's projective verse, Whitehead's process philosophy and Black Mountain poetics of language and sound. When Sam Perry started to make films, he did not use Olson as a distant referent or an academic model. He was Olson's student, part of the Black Mountain/beat/San Francisco lineage. The course was also responsible for securing connections between poets on the west coast, thus actively producing and reproducing the cultural practices of the region. For 1 2 8  Ibid., 45.  Summer Session Calendar 1963, University o f British. Class List, English 410, 24 July - 16 August 1963, E n g l i s h Department, U B C .  1 2 9  82 example, Fred W a h maintained correspondence with both Creeley and Olson throughout the 1960s and when W a h went to teach a poetry seminar at S U N Y in 130  1965, it was Olson who made recommendations for his reading list. The Vancouver Poetry Conference marked the energy, seriousness, and possibilities of poetry in Vancouver and on the west coast. U B C and Tish were considered to be legitimate and exciting poetry-producing localities. A l l over the city, poetic practices exploded. In 1963, b i l l bissett started blew ointment magazine, a little magazine that was dedicated to visual and concrete poetry, which in 1967, spawned blew ointment press.  131  W h i l e Tish was written from the English department at U B C ,  blew ointment was the production of the "downtown bohemian set" who were either involved with the Vancouver School of Art or were independent emerging or established poets and artists.  Periwinkle Press was a downtown publishing  collective also established in 1963 and, i n its one year of operation, it printed three small books, one book, and four broadsides.  R o y K i y o o k a published Kyoto Airs  (1964) with Periwinkle and artist Takao Tanabe did the layout and design for a majority of the covers.  134  blew ointment and Periwinkle were not only significant for  their role in supporting avant-garde and experimental literature and poetry, but also as instrumental sites of the cross-fertilization of poetry and art. B y the m i d 1960s, blew Olson suggested that W a h assign New Empire by B r o o k s A d a m s , letter from O l s o n to W a h , 25 Oct 1965, Fred W a h Papers, Contemporary Literature Collection, S F U . See Fred W a h papers for his communication with Creeley and Olson. Frank D a v e y and Robert Duncan also maintained a close personal and professional correspondence, Frank D a v e y papers, Contemporary Literature Collection, SFU. b i l l bissett is a visual artist and poet, working in the media o f collage, assemblage, painting, drawing, concrete poetry, and sound poetry. H e went to U B C for two years and, in addition to heading blew ointment, he was also active in starting the M a n d a n Ghetto (1967-8), a venue for experimental art forms. F o r a discussion o f his early poetic practice, see Warran T a l l m a n , "Wonder Merchants," in 1 3 1  Writing Life, 64-6. "West Coast Scene," National Library and A r c h i v e s o f Canada, www.collections.canada.ca. G e o f f Hancock, Published in Canada: A history of small presses (manuscript, unpublished, 1967), 14. Contemporary Literature Collection, S F U . Tanabe trained as a painter in W i n n i p e g and N e w Y o r k and studied in Japan i n 1959. In Vancouver, his work was diverse, from lyrical abstract landscape paintings to hard-edge canvases. 1 3 2  1 3 3  1 3 4  ointment included the work of visual artists such Tanabe, Gary Lee-Nova, Ian Wallace, and Dallas Selman who explored the relationship between sound, language, and visuality. blew ointment and Periwinkle brought Olsonian poetics into the wider Vancouver literary circle where it fused with non-academic poetic practices. Without a doctrinal adherence to projective or proprioceptive poetry, blew ointment poets embraced personal narration and instantism as a means of expressing the poetic experience. Beat mysticism and myth took expression in verse, drawing, and visual poetry. A l N e i l ' s excerpts in blew ointment from his Book of Changes consists of detailed narratives of drug use, raising another characteristic of west coast isolation 135  and disengagement - escapism and alternate existence through drugs.  Perry's West  Coast Tantras and Tibetan Love Song (blew ointment, September and August 1964) called for spiritual freedom, romanticizing Asian-Pacific cultures. These practices continued "nostalgia without memory," a practice that I have argued as inherently political and one which implicated the west coast in the larger racial, economic, and cultural power relations of North American cold war politics. These two presses were also sites of marginalized and non-conformist practices. For example, Judith Copithorne's verse and visual poetry were profoundly concerned with gender and sexuality and, while she adhered to notions of "universal music," her exploration of gender challenged the norm of male sexuality. For example, in September 1964, a large part of blew ointment was dedicated to her b i l l bissett and A l N e i l were subjects o f an exhibition with George Herms and Jess entitled Rezoning: Collage and Assemblage (Vancouver: Vancouver A r t Gallery, 1989), in which the four artists were representative o f the west coast practices o f collage, rooted in dada and surrealism, bissett and N e i l were not seen within the context o f Vancouver's poetry collectives, but rather as visual artists o f the west coast. What I am arguing here is that the poetic activity c o m i n g from T a l l m a n and U B C initiated the growth o f Vancouver poetic activity such as blew ointment which then acted a support for visual practices. In other words, visual practices o f the mid-sixties cannot be the starting point for Vancouver art history - it must start earlier with the poetic practices o f the San Francisco Renaissance. 1 3 5  poetry and prose. In Sea of Change, she narrates the story of Hanna, from five years old "dressed in her distant aunt's long ago party clothes" to womanhood, when she "learned to search her own ocean deeps."  136  The girl's journey of growth unfolds in  Vancouver ("a once silent Indian forest now her city home"). Her adolescence is marked by her face submerged in the Pacific Ocean: "life water, slither of sea weed, elemental, first smell of salt," and her passage to adulthood is signified by her walk along a warm beach "toward the morning sun she could see the brightly sun-lit glass and slivered white towers of down t o w n . "  137  The narrative connects Hanna's body  and senses to Vancouver, a locality defined by its natural boundaries of ocean and forest and its history as Indigenous territorial land. A s with Dave Dawson's tentative coastlines, Copithorne embraces the proprioceptive notion of the city "speaking through" the poet, thus also enacting "nostalgia without memory." However, it is not male sexuality as a pre-requisite for spiritual enlightenment that is evoked, but rather the process of becoming a woman and the growing consciousness of sexuality. Copithorne wrote frequently on female sexuality and the social constraints of femininity: M u s i c sometimes says to me, In its sweetness, There are so many things which could have been. Encumbered as I am with sewing thread and old shoes how can I live on an island ... .. .or know a wilderness or my own survival alone. 138  Copithorne's poetry, which w i l l become significant later for visual artist Audrey Capel Doray, addressed women's lives unlived, the female body, as well as notions of beauty. 1 3 6  1 3 7  1 3 8  Judith Copithorne, "Sea o f Changes," blew ointment (vol. 2, no. 4, Sept 1964), n. pag. Ibid., n. pag. Ibid., n. pag.  85 Similarly, Periwinkle was a site of "other" cultural production in 1964, namely, Kiyooka's first book of poems, Kyoto Airs.  A s I have asserted, in  attempting to create bohemia, west coast artists did not necessarily emulate French modernist models of the flaneur, but rather embodied the idea of the "spiritual traveler" who remained physically static in front of the mountains, ocean, and raw materials to instead embark on imaginary or mythic flights of poetry. K i y o o k a ' s painting The Bridge alluded to Olsonian notions of cosmic energy vectors and connections i n consciousness. However, the rigid lines and composition of the painting do not seem to emulate the freedom of spiritual movement implied in Vancouver poetry.  140  Therefore, while the space of cross-fertilization is one which  encompasses both the verbal and visual, it is not without its disjunctures, hybrids, and fusion of forms.  141  In "The L i v i n g of Modern Life - in Canada," Charlotte  Townsend-Gault argues that K i y o o k a did embody aspects of the flaneur because he traveled through and across artistic media, discourses, languages, countries, and neighbourhoods. L i k e Appadurai who acknowledges the social formation of neighbourhoods, Townsend-Gault writes: "the flaneur goes back to the neighbourhood as site for the construction of s e l f . "  142  In Vancouver, K i y o o k a lived  downtown in Strathcona on the edges of Chinatown, physically and discursively marking a "zone of containment" of Chinese, Japanese, and so-called "other" groups.  For a biography o f R o y K i y o o k a , see R o y M i k i , "Inter-face: R o y K i y o o k a ' s W r i t i n g , " in Collapse:  the view from here, no. 2, 51-61. The editors o f All Amazed for Roy Kiyooka similarly identify the tension between poetics and painting in K i y o o k a ' s work, writing that the poetics o f Creeley and Olson "seems at odds with the ordered restraint and abstraction o f the paintings." Introduction, 8. Olsonian poetics represented a major axis o f aesthetic practice and became a monolithic opposite to Greenbergian formalism. In this sense, there existed a polarization between the two systems, a binary which certainly acted upon art production in Vancouver, such as in the operation o f "nostalgia without memory" on the west coast. In the following chapter, I w i l l analyze the effects o f these two hegemonic forces on avant-garde production. Charlotte Townsend-Gault, "The L i v i n g o f M o d e r n L i f e - in Canada . . . " in Roy Kiyooka, Vancouver: Artspeak and O r Galleries, 1991, 15. 1 4 0  1 4 1  1 4 2  86 Where Tish marked out a neighbourhood constructed i n relation to American academic modernism and elite avant-garde practices, Periwinkle was supported by downtown neighbourhood collectives. However, these two neighbourhoods were not opposed but rather formed i n relation to each other. They bled into each other, shared collaborations, and further defined and strengthened each other. Townsend-Gault explains that, for Kiyooka, meaning and "authenticity" were most likely to be found in locality and local discourse.  143  K i y o o k a went to Japan for the first time in 1963  (where he saw Ginsberg and Snyder), an experience that grounded his art and poetry in notions of cultural (mis)translation and (re)interpretation. He was both Japanese and Canadian, belonging to both and neither, and was looking for a "Japan he [could] have in C a n a d a . "  144  Upon his return to Vancouver, K i y o o k a attended the Vancouver Poetry Conference where notions of myth, Whiteheadian "being," and Olsonian "instantism" were foremost in the discussions among Creeley, Olson, Duncan, and Ginsberg. R o y M i k i writes, "what K i y o o k a chose, along with Barthes and Creeley, was a consciousness and recognition not only of the world, but of the meanings.. .of that world."  145  K i y o o k a was a painter, photographer, poet, and art teacher at the  Vancouver School of A r t and the University of British Columbia and his movement towards both image and language was what he termed "inter-face." This is an evocative term in conceptualizing the formation of Vancouver and west coast avantgarde practices as it points to the indeterminate space between language and vision where an artist is driven to create both a sound and an i m a g e .  1 4 3  1 4 4  1 4 5  This inter-face or  Townsend-Gault, 14. Ibid., 14. Sheryl Conkelton, " R o y K i y o o k a : 'The sad and G l a d Tidings o f the Floating W o r l d . . . ' " All Amazed  For Roy Kiyooka, 114. 1 4 6  146  R o y M i k i , "Inter-face: R o y K i y o o k a ' s W r i t i n g , " in Collapse 2, 55.  87 cross-over zone is the space of cross-fertilization. In Vancouver, it was bolstered by individuals who shared the "inter-face," such as A l N e i l , bissett, and Tanabe. B y the mid to late 1960s, the "inter-face" had transformed Vancouver into a centre of the visual avant-garde.  88 CHAPTER TWO Astronauts of Inner Space: The Annual Festival of the Contemporary Arts and the Cross-Fertilization of Poetry and Art, 1961-65  N o one can have an idea once he really starts listening. - John Cage  1  Imagine a world before the beginning was the word. - Stan Brakhage  2  Environments are invisible. Their ground rules, pervasive structure, and overall patterns elude easy perception. - Marshall M c L u h a n  3  In the 1960s, North American universities were often sites of vanguard and radical cultural practices. A s I have been arguing, on the west coast during this period, the culture of poetry was at the heart of an emerging avant-garde. Daniel Belgrad asserts that North American post-war vanguard art was anti-intellectual and anti-traditional. He refers to the movement against the institutionalization of culture as the "culture of spontaneity" and argues that it was an avant-garde strategy that sought to counter "corporate liberalism" by offering an alternative mode of humanism. Neither a practice of mass culture nor of "high" culture, spontaneity was 4  Cage quoted i n S y l v i a Harrison, Pop Art and the Origins of Post-Modernism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 195. Metaphors on Vision, ed. P . A d a m s Sitney (New Y o r k : F i l m Culture, 1963), n. pag. Marshall M c L u h a n , The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects ( N e w Y o r k : Bantam, 1967), n. pag. 1  2  3  4  Daniel Belgrad, The Culture of Spontaneity: Improvisation and the Arts in Postwar America,  Chicago: University o f C h i c a g o Press, 1998.  89 a third alternative that was rooted in the metaphysics of embodiment. L i k e Alfred North Whitehead's process philosophy, the culture of spontaneity was anti-Cartesian in its union of mind and body and in its dissolution of the distinction between subject and object: The basic attributes of this alternative metaphysics can be summarized as intersubjectivity and body-mind holism. Corporate liberalism embraced an ontology and epistemology of objectivity, which was the basis of its advanced technological mastery of nature. Against this, spontaneity posed intersubjectivity, in which 'reality' was understood to emerge through a conversational dynamic. 5  In addition to Whitehead, Belgrad also considers Marshall M c L u h a n to be a central figure in the culture of spontaneity. O n the west coast, M c L u h a n ' s ideas on "acoustic space" resonated with both Whiteheadian notions of holism and Charles Olson's open form poetics. M c L u h a n was a key figure i n this paradigm because o f his incisive 6  critique of the demise of American intellectual life into what Belgrad called a "corporate-bureaucratic ant farm." A s Richard Cavell argues in McLuhan in Space: A Cultural Geography, M c L u h a n ' s critique led to the post-war rallying cries for "awakened critical faculties" - cries that were answered by artists such as John Cage, Charles Olson, and A l l e n Ginsberg. Belgrad's conception of the culture of spontaneity is fruitful i n thinking about Vancouver as a part of a west coast avant-garde where dialogue, conversation, and inter-penetration of forms were central modes of creativity. However, the history of Ibid., 5. In McLuhan in Space: A Cultural Geography (Toronto: University o f Toronto Press, 2002), Richard C a v e l l explains that M c L u h a n ' s studies in communication were ultimately spatial theories. F o r example, M c L u h a n ' s argument that media was an extension of human beings necessarily involved a spatial understanding of technology, social relations, and subjectivity. One o f M c L u h a n ' s central concerns was the spatialization o f language in w h i c h the vocal and oral dimensions o f language are heightened and emphasized in technological communication media. M c L u h a n referred to the multiperspectival and simultaneous "ear space" of modernity as "acoustic space." In relation to the west coast where O l s o n ' s kinetic poetry and Tish's vocal poetry represented avant-garde discourses, "acoustic space" was a philosophically consistent concept. F o r M c L u h a n in relation to visual poetry in Vancouver, see 136-8. 5  6  90 spontaneity that I am constructing is in tension with that of Belgrad mainly because avant-garde expressions in Vancouver were not as rigidly anti-intellectual as Belgrad describes.  7  The University of British Columbia not only provided a venue for early  avant-garde practices but also enabled their development through creating an open, diverse, and internationally engaged intellectual milieu. A s an institutional symbol of knowledge and tradition, the university made possible the culture of spontaneity in Vancouver. In addition to the Vancouver Poetry Conference in 1963, U B C also hosted the annual Festival of the Contemporary Arts (1961-71). The Festivals consisted of local, west coast and international poets, dancers, musicians, filmmakers, and visual artists and played an essential role in the formation of the avant-garde in Vancouver. Furthermore, as I w i l l argue in this chapter, the Festivals helped to construct the specificity of both the west coast and Vancouver avant-garde, mainly through the dissemination of particular discourses and aesthetics that operated across media. I am calling this philosophical interconnection of media the cross-fertilization of poetry and art, specifically referring to the foundational role of open form poetics in dance, film, happenings, and visual art. The cross-fertilization of poetry and art is not simply the sharing of a common aesthetic by a poem and an art work (dance, sculpture, painting, or music) or the visual imitation of a poetic practice. Cross-fertilization is the space in which both the verbal and the visual are created. A s discussed in Chapter One, the spatial consideration o f poetics forms the central axis o f the arguments put forth by Christian Moraru, namely that the spatial discourses of a poem are twofold: on space and of  C a v e l l also diverges from Belgrad's formulation, specifically in relation to Belgrad's placement of M c L u h a n within the paradigm of the culture of spontaneity. C a v e l l asserts that M c L u h a n was an intellectual-artist, a hybrid for w h i c h Belgrad's formulation does not allow, see C a v e l l , 101-3. 7  91 space. For example, projective verse depends both on the laws of poetry as Charles 8  Olson outlined them (principle, kinetics, process) and on the poem's topographical layout. The projective poem is therefore both a discourse on the space (inner, perceptual) of the poet and it is an iconically organized field on the page (visual). Because the inner space of the poet is a dynamic succession of experiences, the poem must be kinetic. Its movement is derived from the lines and breaths as laid-out visually. Therefore, the semantics and language of the poem are structured by the visual and the visual is determined by the content of the poem. This "inter-face" between language (sounds) and visuality is the space of cross-fertilization. I am arguing that the production of the space of cross-fertilization on the west coast was a consistent aesthetic project of the avant-garde, not least of all in Vancouver where Olson, Robert Creeley, and Robert Duncan were profoundly significant poetic figures. The space of cross-fertilization did not just reside in poetic production but also in projective forms of dance, film, music, and performance. Between 1961 and 1965, the diverse practices of John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Stan Brakhage, Marshall M c L u h a n , and Bruce Conner embodied aspects of cross-fertilization and were featured at the Festival of the Contemporary Arts. This chapter continues to rely on Richard Candida Smith's four major insights into the west coast avant-garde outlined in Chapter One. Furthermore, I argue that 9  the specificity of the west coast lies in three main characteristics: 1) as a transnational cultural entity that stood as a counter-narrative to the national imperatives of both the  Christian M o r a r u , "'Topos/typos/tropos': visual strategies and the mapping of space in Charles O l s o n ' s poetry," Word & Image (vol. 14, no. 3, July-Sept 1998), 253-66. B r i e f l y summarized, Candida Smith's four key characteristics of west coast avant-garde discourses included: 1) the sacred, or the cosmic, was privileged over the profane; 2) the private inner-life of an individual related more to cosmology than to psycho-social imperatives; 3) freedom was found through human difference not conformity; and, 4) art was about process and response (dialogue) rather than a communication of a personal perception. Utopia and Dissent: Art, Poetry and Politics in California (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), 141. 8  9  92 United States and Canada, or an "imaginary pacific nation"; 2) as an embodiment of Utopia, specifically i n the university setting; and, 3) as having a distinct avant-garde whose practices were rooted in the cross-fertilization of poetry and art. W h i l e the first aspect of the west coast is an on-going process of identification, the second characteristic held true for a finite period o f time i n the 1960s. The university posited as a  Utopia  seems to be a contradictory statement considering that universities are  bureaucratic institutions and wellsprings of intellectualism, both of which are the nemesis of spontaneity. However, i n the case of the University o f British Columbia and later, Simon Fraser University, the university was understood by people like B . C . Binning, A l v i n Balkind, Warren Tallman, and Robin Blaser as a "utopian project."  10  For them, the culture of spontaneity flourished at the university and was not contained by it. Poetry as a strategy of personal meaning-making was a radical gesture against history, and for a moment, the university ceased to be a bastion of tradition and history and became instead a site of endless possibilities.  11  The physical space of the University of British Columbia transformed dramatically in the post-war years with over one hundred buildings erected during this period. President Norman M a c K e n i z e (1944-1962) enlisted Sharp, Thompson, Berwick, and Pratt as the University architects and together they constructed the concept, design, and plan for the physical expansion of the university. In 1956, 12  W . A . C . Bennett's Social Credit provincial government allocated one million dollars  Stephen C o l l i s , Companions and Horizons: An anthology of SFU poetry, 13. W h i l e C o l l i s is referring to S F U ' s establishment in 1965 as a U t o p i a n p r o j e c t and considers U B C to be a traditional institution, I am arguing that in the early 1960s, prior to the founding of S F U , the Festival of the Contemporary Arts aimed to transform the U B C campus into a Utopia. " See Chapter Three for an analysis o f utopianism in relation to U B C and S F U . F o r an overview of the physical and "ideological" development of U B C , see L a r a Tomaszewska, "Post-war reconstruction," in Recovering the University Fabric, (project of the U B C Departments of A r t History, V i s u a l A r t & Theory, Architecture, and Geography) http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/u_fabric/index.html. 1 0  1 2  93 per year for ten years to the U B C expansion program, funding that paid for the 13  Buchanan Arts Building, the Medical Building, and student residences.  In 1955, the  Leon and Thea Koerner Foundation was established with a one million dollar endowment to fund projects i n the fields of culture, health, and welfare.  14  President John MacDonald (1962-1967) continued Mackenzie's drive for physical expansion particularly in the area of financial development. In 1963, he presented the "MacDonald Report" in which he called for the establishment of a financial commission to drive what he called academic "free enterprise."  15  The  campus newspaper The Ubyssey consistently reported on MacDonald's ambitions and while his entrepreneurial spirit prompted much needed development such as the 1964 architectural competition for the design of the new Student Union Building, he was also criticized for his fiscal politicking and for alienating the student body. For example, in a cartoon from February 19, 1965, Jeff W a l l commented on U B C ' s financial pandering to Bennett.  16  A disproportionately large bust of Bennett looms on  top of a commemorative pedestal in front of which a preacher stands on his soap box. The plinth reads "The W i l l i a m Andrew Cecil Bennett Student Union Building, Est. 1967," while the orator righteously addresses students: "Brothers - A l w a y s remember: wherever you go...the great Almighty is always looking down upon you!" See Chapter One for a brief history o f Bennett's Social Credit government. The Koerner Foundation was significant in the physical, academic, and social development of the campus. Certainly, the Arts faculty, including Fine Arts and the Festival o f the Contemporary Arts benefited from its funding. In 1963, Culture and Creative Arts received $29, 400 in funding; $31,650 in 1964; and, $28,150 in 1965. N o r m a n M a c k e n z i e Fonds, B o x 179-180, University A r c h i v e s , University o f British C o l u m b i a . The annual budget for the Festival o f the Contemporary Arts was approximately $3,500. B . C . B i n n i n g Fonds, University Archives. 1 4  15  The Ubyssey, 28 Jan 1963, 3.  W a l l was an A r t History student at U B C between 1964 and 1970 when he completed his M A thesis entitled Berlin Dada and the Notion of Context. Between Sept 1964 and M a r c h 1966, he was a staff cartoonist for The Ubyssey and contributed weekly cartoons during the academic year. H i s cartoons dealt with university, local, and provincial politics as w e l l as social issues affecting students, such as sexual politics and drugs. H i s cartoons also addressed contemporary academic and cultural ideas including literature, film, and popular culture. The cartoons not only reveal W a l l ' s satirical bent, but also the extent of his early engagement with social critique and M a r x i s t idealism, practices that he continued in his graduate work. 1 6  94 Accompanying W a l l ' s cartoon is an irreverent editorial by R o n Riter musing on the double-edged sword o f U B C expansion. O n a predominantly anti-Bennett campus, students felt that they would have to accept the financial control of the provincial government in order to enrich student life with improved facilities. The tensions between authority and student empowerment played out at U B C as they did in varying ways throughout campuses in North America. The development of U B C ' s "ideological" space did not necessarily match the growing institutional bureaucracy of the university. W h i l e funding increased and facilities grew increasingly bigger, the Arts faculty was home to small groups of writers and artists, including Tish poets, student journalists, and artists such as W a l l , who were engaged in the beginning of a critique of institutions and/or capitalist consumerism. W i t h the growth of the university made possible through financial support from the government and private endowments, faculty members had the space and vitality to expand their intellectual practices, i f they so chose. Tallman, Balkind, and Binning took advantage of the fertile period of expansion and nurtured the growth of a social, cultural, and intellectual milieu that would enable students such as W a l l to develop their own parameters for local critique.  17  The Festival of the Contemporary Arts, 1961-71 In 1966, Stolen Paper Review Editions in San Francisco published Astronauts of Inner Space: An International  17  Collection of Avant-garde Activity. Bringing  In Abstract Art Against Autonomy: Infection, Resistance, and Cure Since the 60s (New Y o r k :  Cambridge University Press, 2006), M a r k Cheetham analyzes Ian W a l l a c e ' s photographic series The Idea of the University (1990) and writes that W a l l a c e understands the idea of the university to be an "abstraction [that] must play out in specific circumstances i n interactions among specific people and places," 139. T h i s analysis parallels m y assertion that in the early 1960s, the cultural and artistic formations at U B C , including Tish and the Festival of the Contemporary Arts, were the result of a specific set o f individuals, their beliefs and their interactions - a milieu in which W a l l a c e himself became an active participant in 1965.  95 together the Situationists, Beats, and Black Mountain writers, the collection included 17 manifestoes, 28 poems, articles, letters, and a film script. A l l e n Ginsberg, Robert 18  Creeley, and Marshall M c L u h a n were featured in the collection, a grouping that had taken various forms in Vancouver both at the Vancouver Poetry Conference and also at the Festival of the Contemporary Arts. They were "astronauts of inner space" because of their philosophical and aesthetic preoccupation with perception and inner perception (proprioception) as well as a Whiteheadian interest in the metaphysics of being. Language, the body, and sensual experience were entities through which humans express the cosmic force o f living. F o r the "astronauts," they were inner fields; that is, they were manifested through cosmic and inner drives and only perceived externally. Language, dance, film, and visual art, therefore, were to be understood as "occasions" of the universe rather than as descriptive forms of external experience. The Festival of the Contemporary Arts was also a collection of the "astronauts of inner space" where the poetics of Olson, Whitehead, M c L u h a n , and Cage were foundational for film, dance, and visual art practices. B . C . Binning, founder of the Festival of the Contemporary Arts and chair of the Fine Arts committee, joined the U B C School of Architecture in 1949 and acted as founding Head of the Department of Fine Arts from 1955-1968. In an interview 19  with The Ubyssey's W i l l i a m Littler in 1963, Binning explained why "brushing up against the arts" in the Festival of the Contemporary Arts was a critical component of  18  Astronauts of Inner-Space: An International Collection of Avant-garde Activity, San Francisco:  Stolen Paper R e v i e w Editions, 1966 (Getty Research Centre, L o s Angeles). It was indeed an international representation with contributions from Raoul Haussman, Joh A r d e n , Jorgen N a s h and W . S . Burroughs. B i n n i n g ' s role i n avant-garde movements in Vancouver was crucial. In the 1950s, he initiated dialogues i n V a n c o u v e r on modernist discourses i n design and architecture and encouraged international perspectives. Trained in painting and drawing in the 1930s in N e w Y o r k and L o n d o n under M a r k Gertler, Amedee Ozenfant, and Henry M o o r e , B i n n i n g ' s teaching and practice in Vancouver reflected his dedication to international avant-gardism. 1 9  university l i f e .  20  Binning understood the university experience as one connected to  the contemporary moment, not only within the immediate environment but with also within the world at large. B y the nature of the academic environment, the university strove to be in the forefront of research and thinking across disciplines and its cultural dimension similarly needed to be up to the moment. Unlike N e w Y o r k and Paris that already benefited from infrastructure in the arts, Binning asserted that i n Vancouver "we have to create our own cultural environment, enrich it ourselves, and make it a part of our university experience."  However, in aiming to create a local culture of  the contemporary arts, Binning did not emphasize local production in the Festivals. O n the contrary, he suggested that through the importation of new ideas, the local environment could be enriched. Thus, the Festivals consisted of American, international, and non-local Canadian artists whose practices were imported to U B C and, i n many cases, adapted to the specificity of the new context. In February 1961, under Binning's direction and with the sponsorship of the Koerner Foundation and the Office of the President, the first Festival of the Contemporary Arts took place. In 1962, fine arts on campus continued to strengthen with the arrival of A l v i n Balkind as curator of the Fine Arts Gallery and with the 22 completion of the new Arts Centre (Lasserre Building).  Balkind arrived in  Vancouver in 1955 and set up one of the city's first contemporary avant-garde galleries, the N e w Design Gallery. In 1958, he was a founding member of the Arts C l u b of Vancouver and i n 1962 he started his tenure as the curator of the Fine Arts 2 0  W i l l i a m Littler, " B r u s h up against the A r t s , " in The Ubyssey (1 Feb 1963), 4-5.  Ibid., 4. The Lasserre B u i l d i n g was originally conceived of as an "arts centre" by B i n n i n g and his colleagues in Fine A r t s . Designed by Thompson, B e r w i c k and Pratt, the four storey building had a mandate: "let all creative arts be brought together, let all buildings face into a court where students can interchange ideas, let Fine Arts, Architecture and Planning be united in one building." B u i l d i n g description, Spring 1962, vertical fde, Fine Arts Library. University o f British C o l u m b i a . 2 1  2 2  97 Gallery at U B C , a post he held until 1973. Balkind immediately became involved 23  with the Festival organization and was passionate about its commitment to raising local awareness on international contemporary art and culture. He explained: The major arts undergraduate courses are slanted towards the total history of the Western W o r l d ; and many have a disconcerting way of assuming that the modern world ended about 1950...often earlier. Y e t there is nothing more explosive and more profoundly meaningful than the directions that the world has taken in the past ten or twelve years. Unless these dynamic forces are looked at and thought about by us, there exists a real danger that our intellects w i l l develop in a lop-sided, stunted manner, always looking backward, always judging on the basis of dead or dying philosophies. 24  Balkind was articulating the cultural and philosophical shifts that took place in the post-war period, namely the backlash against romanticism and humanism and challenges to cultural and societal tradition. Balkind called on U B C students as well as the Vancouver public to join the movement to carve out innovative and alternative strategies of living. L i k e the "culture of spontaneity," the Festival of the Contemporary Arts i n Vancouver included diverse aesthetics, including poetry, jazz, painting, and collage, and a particular concern for kinetic art, sound, and movement, or the process of art-making. John Cage, Stan Brakhage, Marshall M c L u h a n , and Bruce Conner were each participants in the Festivals and their practices represented what I am arguing were some of the key discourses of the emerging Vancouver avantgarde. Each one represents a case study in this chapter and, reflecting Binning's mandate to import contemporary ideas, my discussion w i l l primarily focus on nonlocal artistic practices that would come to be adapted by local visual artists in the mid-1960s.  25  See Chapter Three for a detailed analysis o f B a l k i n d ' s critical curatorial practice and his role as a profoundly influential educator and art critic in Vancouver in the 1960s. Report on the Festival of the Contemporary Arts, no date. A l v i n B a l k i n d Series, M o r r i s and H e l e n B e l k i n A r t Gallery Archives. Throughout this thesis, I argue that A m e r i c a n modernism, specifically open form poetics, was a foundational source for the development of the avant-garde i n Vancouver. Furthermore, I also assert 2 3  2 5  98 John Cage The aesthetics of John Cage were instrumental from the inception of the Festival of the Contemporary Arts. The inaugural Festival in 1961 included his music in a dance program by San Francisco dancer A n n Halprin. Cage himself was present at the 1962 and 1966 Festivals and his aesthetics had a major place in the formation of a west coast avant-garde, specifically in relation to Black Mountain language practices and notions of embodiment. The first Festival of the Contemporary Arts, February 6-11, included twenty-eight events of music, jazz, poetry, paintings, theatre, and dance. "Welcome and Think!" was the slogan urging students, faculty, and the Vancouver public to participate. Although international in scope, the Festival was oriented towards west coast practices. John Crown, Californian pianist and head of music department o f University o f Southern California; James Broughton, California filmmaker, poet and west coast experimentalist; and Robert Duncan were among the Festival's first invitees. L o c a l contributions included a lecture on architecture by Arthur Erickson and a Cinema 16 anthology of film entitled "Beat, Square and Cool."  A highlight of the Festival was the performance and lecture by Halprin. Her  dance was based on improvisation and also incorporated the spoken word, including poetry.  27  Halprin wanted to free dance from choreography just as projective poets  that the role o f A m e r i c a n expatriates in Vancouver, including B a l k i n d and T a l l m a n , was pivotal in creating an experimental and critical art milieu. However, I want to argue for V a n c o u v e r as maintaining Canadian specificity within this influx of A m e r i c a n (and international) ideas. W h i l e A m e r i c a n intellectuals brought the radicalism of N e w Poetry, they also gained from the Canadian venue in which their personal politics could be openly expressed and for w h i c h they w o u l d not be persecuted. In this sense, the cultural climate at U B C can be understood as reciprocal where non-local cultural figures could practice their dissenting art and politics and where young local artists could benefit from the newness and criticality of the artistic and intellectual milieu. "Beat, Square and C o o l " was a program of films chronicling the A m e r i c a n independent f i l m scene from abstract film to drama to documentaries and included filmmakers Kenneth A n g e r , Patricia M a r x , Jane Belson, and M a y a Deren. F o r local reviews, see The Ubyssey (2 Feb 1961), 2. F o r a brief history of A m e r i c a n post-war experimental f i l m , see Beat Culture and the New America, 1950-1965, ed. L i s a Philips, N e w Y o r k : W h i t n e y M u s e u m o f A m e r i c a n A r t , 1995. F o r a review of H a l p r i n ' s performance and lecture at the Festival, see The Ubyssey (2 Feb 1961), 2. 2 6  2 7  99 wanted to free sound from language. For Olson, the poem had to be as kinetic as the instant of its writing and, in opposition to traditional dance, Halprin's movements were instant, spontaneous, and an expression of inner experience. A reviewer in the Vancouver Province explained Halprin's performance: the philosophy of movement for its own sake, sounds for theirs, and objects for theirs; the element of improvisation captured and directed into a form, and the freedom of the individual clearly expressed.... the 'music' for all her dances is an extension of earlier experiments, along with those of John Cage: sound tracks of amplified natural sounds taken 28  from her environment. Halprin's dance workshops i n San Francisco were a significant site for the dissemination of instantism. She was particularly informed by the practices of John Cage. Cage was a central figure for the post-war American avant-garde, most famously for Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and dancer Merce Cunningham. I am suggesting that on the west coast, Cage's aesthetics were equally significant, specifically in how they related to the process philosophy of Whitehead and the kinetic art of O l s o n . Vancouver art history has associated Cagean aesthetics with the 29  performance-based work of the late-1960s and variations of F l u x u s . However, I am 30  referring to an earlier time, to the reception of Cage in Vancouver in the early sixties. In addition to his aesthetics, Cage's ideas on "freedom" and politics were particularly well-adapted to west coast notions of cultural and political alterity as well as its imagined affinity to the Asia-pacific region. In relation to New York, the west coast "Dancer is Applauded for ' B i r d s , ' " Vancouver Province (11 Feb 1961), n. pag. In this chapter, I aim to establish Cage as a significant figure in the formation of an avant-garde and want to outline his main aesthetic and philosophical concerns. See Chapter Three for a more detailed discussion of Cage in relation to the specificity o f visual art practices in Vancouver in the 1960s. The exhibition at the B e l k i n Satellite entitled "What Sound? What Silence? Fluxus, M u s i c a l Events, and John Cage," explored Cage's theories on silence in relation to the Fluxus movement o f the 1960s. Curated by Krisztina L a s z l o , 21 Oct - 12 N o v 2006, Vancouver. The exhibition was drawn from the M o r r i s and Helen B e l k i n A r t G a l l e r y A r c h i v e s . M y interest in Cage is in his direct presence in Vancouver in the early 1960s, before the advent o f Fluxus and in particular relation to open form and projective poetry. 2 9  3 0  100 was a different cultural context for the reception of Cage, where notions of freedom and disengagement took on altogether different meanings.  31  In line with Black Mountain aesthetics of language, sound for Cage, does not have inherent meaning or signify thought. Rather, sound is "occupied with the performance of its characteristics."  32  Cage wanted music to cease being about the  composition of meaning and to instead become about the aesthetics of sound. In other words, where traditional composition has a progression, sequences, patterns, and a narrative, Cagean composition was about the attributes of sound: loudness, length, tone. Thus, under Cage, music went from classical composition of programmatic scores to chance principles of sound.  33  H i s seminal work 4 '33" illustrates his  aesthetics, specifically the arbitrary nature of sound, what has been termed the aesthetics of silence or indifference. In 4 '33," first "performed" in 1952, pianist D a v i d Tudor raised and lowered the piano keyboard l i d for each movement, and after four minutes and thirty-three seconds not a single note had been played. Cage's piece consisted of three movements of musical silence: 30," 2'23," and 1'40" respectively. Within each movement, the silence is a compositional notation so that the ambient noise the audience hears is framed to become the subject of the movement. Thus, the sounds in each movement are everyday noises (coughing, breathing, echoes, shuffles, light buzzes) re-contextualized within a musical composition to have semantic  3 1  Neither Cdndida-Smith i n his analysis o f poetry and politics in California, nor R . Bruce E l d e r in The  Films of Stan Brakhage in the American Tradition of Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, and Charles Olson (Waterloo: Wilfred Laurier University Press, 1998) analyze the reception of Cage in the west coast milieu. D u e to the scope of this paper, I cannot provide a thorough analysis of Cage's aesthetics; however, I do want to identify his beliefs and practices that resonated in Vancouver and were adapted by local producers, such as his notions o f "freedom," nature, and his use of Z e n , and D a d a (see Chapter Three). John Cage, Silence, (Middletown, C o n n : Wesleyan University Press, 1961), 15. F o r a brief history on Cage's turn from classical to chance composition, see Ian Pepper, " F r o m the 'Aesthetics of Indifference' to 'Negative Aesthetics:' John Cage and Germany, 1952-1972," October (82, F a l l 1997), 32-3 and K o n r a d Boehmer, "Chance as Ideology," trans. Ian Pepper, October (82, Fall 1997), 62-76. 3 2  3 3  101 meaning.  34  In this sense, while they are random, chance noises, they become symbols  of sound to illustrate Cage's point. Similar to W i l l i a m Carlos W i l l i a m s ' "no ideas but in things," where objects are about themselves rather than a larger idea, Cage's sounds are meaningless and are not about anything but their own duration and performance. In this way, works within this aesthetic say nothing, are mute, and ultimately meaningless.  35  The Fall 1997 issue of October is dedicated to new scholarship on Cage and includes music theory, criticism, and reception in both European and American avantgarde contexts.  W h i l e North American art institutions have made Cage an iconic  figure of the mid-century avant-garde art based on the art historical appropriation of 4 '33," Cage has been brought to task i n European criticism for the unresolved tensions in his theory and practice. The October issue deepens Cage scholarship, initiating a critical discourse around his work that was previously lacking. It also provides insight into the larger international critical debates i n the mid to late 1960s around the aesthetics of Cage while likewise proving helpful in locating Vancouver and the west coast within these debates.  N o e l C a r r o l l , "Cage and Philosophy," Journal of Aesthetics &Art Criticism (vol. 52, no. 1, winter, 1994), 95. The "aesthetics of silence" became a crux of art criticism in the 1960s, specifically with writers like Susan Sontag and Barbara Rose (to be discussed in Chapter Three). Meaningless, chance, and randomness as approaches to art-making opened up new avenues of critical interpretation to practices that included text, simulacra, and montage, for example - practices which were not adequately dealt with by Kantian modes o f criticism in the vein of modernist formalism. O f course, chance and randomness i n art does not start with Cage. F o r example, automatism and collage techniques in abstract painting by P o l l o c k or in surrealist compositions also explored notions o f chance. However, in surrealist approaches, randomness was linked to psychoanalytic notions o f the unconscious and desire, as opposed to Cage who insists that there is no (structural) meaning in chance. In 1954, Cage toured Europe with Tudor and in 1958; he attended the Darmstadt summer school in Germany. The Darmstadt School consisted of European avant-garde composers, including Pierre B o u l e z and L u i g i N o n o . Cage and his practices d i d not go un-noticed in Europe; in fact, his work elicited particularly heated response in Germany. B y the 1960s, the reception o f Cage was included in various European periodicals, three of which are presented i n translated form in October. In Germany, Theodor A d o r n o ' s Philosophy of Modern Music conditioned the reception of Cage in a distinctly M a r x i s t manner. A d o r n o accused European composers who were similar to Cage o f "fetishism," claiming that they ignored historical and critical considerations o f the development o f composition. Ian Pepper, " F r o m the 'Aesthetics of Indifference,' " 35. 3 5  3 6  102 In Vancouver - "thousands of miles from history" - a new space opened up for new identities and practices.  37  Individual and collective "freedom" could be  achieved with the "spiritual raw materials" of the west coast: mountains, ocean, and forest. Concerned with similar discourses around freedom and nature, Konrad Boehmer i n "Chance as Ideology" argues that Cage absolved himself of historical 38  obligations through insisting upon the liberation of sounds from music.  Cage  claimed that by allowing sounds to occur by chance, music is "freed" from the "author" and sounds are "freed" from music. Cage likened this musical control to the domination of nature by humans, and through his chance composition, Cage wanted to liberate sounds from human-made systems. For Cage, freedom meant a state of "nature" where systems of domination and control do not exist. Boehmer vehemently rejects Cage's philosophy, claiming that it is plagued with "unresolved historical antagonisms."  39  For Boehmer, the antagonism in Cage's work is that Cage suggests  that music is not free but that sounds as they occur in "nature" are. Cage uses the principle of chance to signify freedom. In practice, chance is "the marriage of total isolation with the cult of unmediated nature."  40  The idea that there exists "unmediated nature" within or against which art is produced is a highly problematic assumption because it posits nature as an absolute rather than as a historically-contingent and discursive category. In his written treatise Silence, Cage insists that the world is "at no point free of sounds" and for Cage, these sounds also bear the mark of war, oppression, and misery - they are always present  In " V a n c o u v e r as Postmodern Poetry," in Vancouver: Representing the Postmodern City, ed. Paul Delaney (Vancouver: Arsenal P u l p Press, 1994), George B o w e r i n g described Vancouver as a "thousands o f miles from history." 122. Konrad Boehmer, "Chance as Ideology," trans. Ian Pepper, October (82, F a l l 1997), 62-76 (originally published in 1967). Ibid., 64. Ibid., 70. 3 7  3 8  3 9  4 0  103 and always audible. When music ends and ambient sound replaces it, then these sounds of the world become the substance of the piece. Boehmer argues that Cage gives misery and oppression trans-historical scale and argues that they always exist and it is Utopian to pursue their abolition. In this sense, Cage's notion of freedom and liberation is similar to Duncan's (and Olson's) view of history (or rejection of history). For Duncan, the "Indian" and the "primitive Greek" are one and the same, both human trajectories o f subjectivity. Cage, in a similar type o f historical collapse, 41  understands nature in a transcendental way  4 2  Boehmer writes:  Cage, who uses the term "freedom" unreflectively, surrenders to the rule of what seems to him to guarantee this freedom, namely, the contingencies of nature that are worthy of contemplation because they are not constituents of mental conceptions. In M a r x ' s German Ideology, what Cage demands was termed "animal consciousness," by which Marx means a relationship of man to nature that has not yet been modified historically. 43  It is clear that Boehmer's attacks on Cage are rooted in Marxist critiques of culture as articulated particularly by the Frankfurt School. A s is symptomatic of most Marxist critiques, Boehmer's tends to reduce Cage's work to a materialist understanding of culture, thus ignoring other philosophical aspects of Cage's aesthetics such as phenomenology. However, his arguments have merit. Cage insists that isolation is a condition for chance. However "isolation" itself is a deliberately created environment or perception. The logic that un-freedom is a pre-condition for freedom holds inherent contradictions. O n the west coast, there is a similar type of logic. Historical and political isolation was created through the disavowal of First Nations and AsianSee Chapter One for Duncan and O l s o n ' s use of myth and history in their poetry. In an interview with Hans H e l m s , Cage discussed his belief in socialist ideals of equality in relation to M a o i s t C h i n a where he locates the beginning of freedom o f consciousness and where communication and music is open and liberated from hierarchical systems. C o m m e n t i n g on M a o ' s revolution, Cage said: "The experience of the family has been extended through M a o ' s influence so that in a sense that nation is itself a family. A n d I find this very beautiful" (79). Cage places nature and freedom within discourses o f nationhood, similar to the rhetoric around the "pacific nation." F o r Cage's positions on China, the / Ching and socialist values, see H e l m s , "Reflections of a Progressive Composer on a Damaged Society," October (82, F a l l 1997), 77-93 (first published in 1974). Boehmer, 74.  4 2  4 3  104 Canadians, resulting in a space of "freedom." Boehmer's critique is useful in this sense because it raises issues that were crucial to the construction of the west coast "freedom" and "nature." These two terms are not neutral. They are discursive categories which are historically and culturally contingent. Given the cultural and social aspirations of the "pacific nation," it is not surprising that Whitehead and Cage were so readily accepted, especially Cage, whose aesthetics articulated and provided cultural legitimacy to the ideas of freedom and nature as they were being constructed on the west coast. Ian Pepper has also pointed out the contradiction in the work of Cage. However, rather than trying to subvert the legitimacy of his practice, Pepper wants to highlight the ambivalence and complexity of Cage's work, as well as many other practices that were involved in the avant-garde project of closing the gap between art and life. He summarized four contradictions in 4'33": 1) the structure is a predetermined whole divided into parts; the structure is at once rational and preconceived as well as mystical and anarchistic; 2) the composition is a graphic material thing completely separate and unrelated to the sound of its performance; 3) "performance" is the pedagogical demonstration of the philosophy where music is "liquidated" and all sounds become equal (liberated); and, 4) "music" is the immediate contingency and conjunction of chance sounds.  44  Cage's practice creates a  binary where "music" is writing on one hand and sound on the other. This duality, barrier, or binary is i n operation in many modes of avant-garde production - in performance, happenings, and conceptual art where there is a text, "script," or "score" and a corresponding (or not) performance.  45  Pepper, 34. In performance art of the 1960s, there is a third element added to Cagean practice: object production. Artists such as Joseph Kosuth, Robert M o r r i s , and George Brecht have three unrelated elements in  4 4  4 5  105 The Festival of the Contemporary Arts in 1962 was a site for experimentation in open form from Olson's poetics to Cage's aesthetics of silence. Black Mountain and beat poetics were represented by Robert Creeley and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.  46  They did not represent two diverse and separate movements - they had the same project o f releasing sound from the order o f language.  47  Additionally, the social and  political ethos of San Francisco poetry resonated on the campus. The Renaissance poets were engaged in a critique of American post-war consumerism. U B C students, while not necessarily emulating the rage and radicalism of the beats for example, were nonetheless active in the ideological debates of the cold war period, namely the polarization of capitalism and communism. O n campus, students formed their own political parties, including Communist, Liberal, N e w Democratic, and Progressive Conservative. They ran spirited student elections that included campaigning and debates.  Local, provincial, and federal lobbyists and politicians frequently visited  the U B C campus and the debate over communism in particular was prevalent  49  As  such, the dissenting politics of visiting artists in the Festival were of interest to many students. For example, Ferlinghetti's reading was reviewed twice in The Ubyssey. In  their work: language, performance and object production (video, photograph, or object). F o r a discussion of Cagean aesthetics in the art of Brecht, see L i z K o t z , "Post-Cagean Aesthetics and the 'event'-score," October (95, Winter 2001), 58-89. Ferlinghetti, founder o f C i t y Lights B o o k s and Publishing and author of Coney Island of the Mind, read from his new book of poetry Starting from San Francisco. H e was a major force behind beat poetry and art in San Francisco through both his bookstore and his publishing house. Robert Creeley, hosted by T a l l m a n , read his o w n work and D o n Hunter, H e a d of A u d i o - V i s u a l Department, University of Oregon Library, presented Color Spectacular in Stereophonic Sound, an event that consisted o f two slide projectors with rheostat dimmers and stereophonic tape recordings. Hunter blended and overlaid his slides i n coordination with music and sound effects. B . C . B i n n i n g Fonds. W h i l e Olsonian poetics v i a Duncan was at the heart of open form poetry, Cage was also a serious figure to the poets and one who was recognized as being significant to their o w n aesthetic and philosophical concerns. A s Creeley wrote to T a l l m a n after seeing Cage in 1962 in Vancouver: " H a v e been i n a trance of sorts from hearing & seeing Cage and M e r c e Cunningham. What a w i l d day that was. W o w . . . " 27 M a r c h 1962, T a l l m a n Fonds. F o r the campus political landscape, see student election coverage in The Ubyssey, 6 Feb 1962. The polarization o f capitalism and communism was contested and there was acknowledgment of the philosophical problem of this dichotomy. See Jack Ornstein, " I f peace equals communism, what does war equal?" in 77ie Ubyssey (8 Feb 1962), 2.  4 6  4 7  4 8  4 9  106 his recent book Starting From San Francisco that included an L P disc of sound to accompany the poetry, Ferlinghetti re-asserted poetry as a vocal art and incorporated contemporary audio technology into his poetic critique. Bowering reviewed Ferlinghetti's reading of his poem The Great Chinese Dragon: He writes quite inspired description of the San Francisco N e w Year's scene, and from that locale right out to an undiverted satirical blast at the war-making fringe of all America and the whole world.. .he works with a propelling sound that drives.. .his long dragon through the Chinatown America streets. 50  Certainly in Vancouver and at the Festivals, visiting American artists were able to stage "blasts at the war-making world" - comments and critiques that were accepted, digested, and adapted by local students, writers, and artists. Continuing Halprin's project from the year before, Merce Cunningham, John Cage, David Tudor, and Vancouver dancer Helen Goodwin performed at the 1962 Festival. Cunningham performed Antic Meet (1958) in conjunction with a score by Cage.  51  H i s dance, like Haplrin, was not choreographed in tandem with the music.  Instead, unmediated by music, Cunningham wanted to confront the environment, including "readymades," i n rhythmic and somewhat improvised movement. Cage's scores were linked to Cunningham's dance only in that they shared the same space at the same time.  52  The 1963 Festival of the Contemporary Arts continued Cagean aesthetics with the San Francisco Tape M u s i c Center's "electronic music and transformation," a  B o w e r i n g , review of Ferlinghetti, The Ubyssey (13 Feb 1962), 5. Cunningham's performances were entitled Aeon (music by John Cage), Crisis (music by C o n l o n Nancarrow), Antic Meet (music by John Cage). B . C . B i n n i n g Fonds. Cunningham and Cage met in Seattle in 1938 at a dance workshop (Cunningham was born in Centralia, Washington and his early training took place in Seattle) and started to work together in 1942 when Cunningham moved to N e w Y o r k to j o i n the Martha Graham Dance Company. See Dancers on 5 1  5 2  a Plane: John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Jasper Johns (Liverpool: The Tate Gallery Liverpool, 1990).  107 visual and sound happening.  Their piece Transformation caused a sensation. Set in  the U B C Auditorium, the program took place over a period of thirty minutes during which time the room was visually transformed. Objects, such as hammers, sticks, and miscellaneous junk, were hung from ceilings and walls. Sounds were brought from the outside through four large speakers in addition to internal canned sounds in the auditorium and the actual recorded sounds of the performance. These visual and sound changes resulted i n a new environment i n which two taped piano improvisations by Sender and Subotnick were played.  54  Balkind described the  performance: When thousands of I B M computer cards flutter down from the ceiling to the tune of electronic music made of recorded everyday sounds, interspersed with the resonant clanking of metallic junk taken from Vancouver dumps; and when a brass band bursts suddenly into the auditorium, marches out, and as suddenly bursts in a few minutes later, and then three plastic balloons inflate to enormous size before bouncing around on the heads of the student body, then we have defined the word 'festive.' 55  Everyday, ambient sounds, both live and electronically-produced, filled the space and the audience's transformative role used Cage's ideas of chance and indeterminacy. It used a script to choreograph the event but the sounds and actions of its performance were indeterminate, instantaneous, and improvised. In "Post-Cagean Aesthetics and the 'event'-score," L i z Kotz refers to Cage's written compositions as "event scores," arguing that his scores offer a sort of template for future performance and conceptual practices. She uses the term "event" in order to expand Cagean practice to include dance, multimedia, and performance. For Cage, sounds were events, albeit embedded  B a l k i n d wrote to A n n Halprin in October 1962 asking her to introduce him to the directors of the San Francisco Tape M u s i c centre. H e met R a m o n Sender and M o r t o n Subotnick later that month en route to San D i e g o for the annual meeting of the Western Association of A r t Museums ( W A A M ) o f which he was a member. The Tape M u s i c Center was also featured at the 1966 Festival, see Chapter  5 3  Three. 54  Description of Transformation by Sender and Subotnick, B a l k i n d Series, 15 D e c 1962. 5 5  Untitled document, B a l k i n d Series, 1963  108 in musical compositions. Kotz notes that in philosophical discourses, the word "event" has been used by Foucault to signify historical shifts or ruptures, rather than speaking in terms of essences. Duncan thinks of humans as "cosmic events," and Olson, i n reference to Whitehead, conceives o f acts o f poetry as events within the field of composition. In Cagean aesthetics, Kotz posits, the score is the conceptual outline of the events that are to be implemented or occur during the duration of the piece. Cage's duality of language and performance and his principles of indeterminacy and chance were present at the Festivals from the outset with Halprin's dance presentation i n 1961 (and in Cage, Tudor, and Cunningham in 1962, and the San Francisco Tape M u s i c Center in 1963). Seeking to generate movement through various events such as props and speech, sounds, in particular, were a major part of Halprin's practice. Using "task structures," she would stipulate the duration and 56  events of the dance, and within that, movements were generated i n an improvised manner. In San Francisco, Haplrin's dance studios were significant sites of practice and learning for artists, musicians, and dancers: L a Monte Young, Simone Forti, Yvonne Rainer, Trisha Brown, and Robert Morris attended her workshops i n the early 1960s. Rainer recalls that "Halprin had a tremendous flair for the dramatic. Her 57  emphasis was on using tasks to generate movement, which were then transformed into dance."  58  Halprin used scores for her choreography that also included Cagean scores for sounds. In this way, there is a second dichotomy in dance in addition to the language/performance: sound/body. In other words, while sounds are part of the  5 6  5 7  5 8  K o t z , 74. Ibid., 74. Rainer as quoted i n K o t z , 74. Simone Forti similarly emulated Halprin in designing "dance scores."  109 composition, the movement of the body is not dictated by them. Unlike traditional dance, where movement and music modify each other or work in conjunction to narrate a story or idea, in Cagean aesthetics, sounds are random and bodily movement does not aim to describe or act them out. W h i l e a Halprin dance may be tightly linguistically structured, it is totally improvised bodily and "multifocal and m o b i l e . "  59  In Halprin's workshops, the idea was to "get inside of a sound" so that instead of acting out a sound externally, the sound was experienced internally. L a Monte Y o u n g recalls: When the sounds are very long, as many of those we made at A n n Halprin's were, it can be easier to get inside them.. .1 began to see how each sound was its own world and that this world was similar to our world in that we experienced it through our own bodies, that is, in our own terms. 60  Sound experienced through bodies is similar to the city living inside the proprioceptive poet - where the city speaks out through the poet. For Olson, sound is kinetic, moving through the dancer's body as an energy transfer. In Halprin's practice, Cagean aesthetics and proprioception meet. In fact, Olson claimed that dance was at the base o f his discipline because it demonstrates the projective form to a greater potential than any other media, using mind, body, and soul as vectors of energy in the field. Trained as a professional dancer, Olson performed with Cunningham i n one of the first happenings and he was impressed by its nondescriptive kinetic features.  61  Lawrence H a l p r i n , " A Discussion o f the F i v e - L e g g e d Stool," San Francisco Sunday Chronicle, 29 A p r i l 1962. Ibid., 75. The performance inspired O l s o n ' s own research into cultures of the U p p e r N i l e and led to his creation o f a fictive "tribe" called the G u m n o i or Nakeds who had "taken direct energy from nature." Elder, 405. 5 9  6 0  6 1  110 Stan Brakhage American avant-garde filmmaker Stan Brakhage explored pure seeing and like Cage, who sought the liberation of sounds from human-made systems, Brakhage 62  wanted the eye to be untutored, unprejudiced and un-ruled by social laws.  In 1963,  he attended the Festival of the Contemporary Arts where his seminal film Dog Star Man (Part I) made its world premiere. H i s presence at the Festival played a significant part in the formation of the west coast artistic milieu as his films embodied the poetics of Olson and Cage and brought them into the realm of the visual. Brakhage's visit was not only a defining event for Vancouver filmmaking but it was also a key moment of cross-fertilization that brought the aesthetics of open form poetry into the realm of the visual. Dog Star Man is considered to be a paradigmatic example of synaesthetic and mythopoeic cinema. Seventy-eight minutes in length, the film is silent and consists of Prelude and Parts One through Four. Prelude is a fast collage of superimposed images, blurry and indistinct. Eventually through the speedy haze, certain images become discernable: earth, air, fire, water, and childbirth. One shot shows a man climbing up a mountain with his dog (Dog Star Man), and autonomous images are superimposed upon each other: the moon, sun, sex, blood vessels, a pumping heart, forest, clouds. They flash in a non-narrative, non-ordered fashion, what Eisenstein called "intellectual montage."  63  Part One slows down with fewer superimposed  images; shots are long, colourful, and fade in and out. A shot shows the visceral pumping human heart and vessels, the next shot is solar flares in the universe - a Brakhage explains his o w n theories i n Metaphors on Vision. A l s o see John G . Hanhardt, " A M o v e m e n t Toward the Real: P u l l M y D a i s y and the A m e r i c a n Independent F i l m , 1950-65," Beat Culture and the New America, 1950-1965, ed. L i s a Philips, ( N e w Y o r k : Whitney M u s e u m of A m e r i c a n A r t , 1995), 217. Eisenstein quoted in Gene Y o u n g b l o o d , Expanded Cinema (New Y o r k : E . P . Dutton & C o . Inc., 1970), 88. 6 2  6 3  Ill juxtaposition that demonstrates their shared universal energy. A s film critics Gene Youngblood and A d a m Sitney argue, Brakhage's film is a cinematic representation of consciousness as it manifests in the mind o f the artist. Brakhage is "attempting to express the totality of consciousness, the reality continuum of the living present."  64  Synaesthesia is the "simultaneous response of two or more of the senses to the stimulation of one, so that one hears (as well as sees) sights, tastes (as well as smells) odours, etc."  65  Youngblood defines synaesthetic cinema as film that models itself  after patterns of nature rather than attempting to conform nature to film's structure. He uses M c L u h a n ' s terms to explain: Synaesthetic cinema is the only aesthetic language suited to the postindustrial, post-literate, man-made environment with its multi-dimensional simulsensory network of information sources. 66  If the visual mode lends a sense of continuity to experience and perceptions, synaesthetic cinema destabilizes it to suspend visual space and create "acoustic space." Synaesthesia includes opposing concepts of syncretism and metamorphosis, where syncretism is the combination of many different forms, and metamorphosis is the creation of a whole new reality. Synaesthesia was also the mode used in Transformation by the San Francisco Tape M u s i c Center in 1963. The performance consisted of many parts (sounds, junk, music, objects) and through its duration, the space was transformed into a new reality. Mythopoeic cinema uses synaesthetic approaches to create cinema that expresses metaphysical reality as opposed to physical reality. It is neither reality nor fiction and does not fit into the typical genres of film: cinema-verite, surreal,  Ibid., 88. Elder, 470. Y o u n g b l o o d , 77.  112 constructivist or expressionist.  67  Rather, it is about myths and myth-making where  the superimposition of images is individual expression on a mythic scale. In Dog Star Man, solar flares and domestic scenes reveal that consciousness is located neither solely in the mind nor in the universe. In this way, it differs from Cagean aesthetics because there is no script and thus no language/performance dichotomy. Here, the two systems cannot form a dichotomy because both are subsumed into the whole mythopoeic form. For Brakhage, consciousness operates between and beyond systems o f language and performance.  68  Robert Creeley, also a participant in the 1963 Festival, was a major impetus behind bringing Brakhage from San Francisco to V a n c o u v e r .  69  In a letter to Tallman,  Creeley urged him to invite Brakhage, writing that as a protege of Duncan: He [Brakhage] would be completely equal to dealing in "literary" areas, you should hear him on Stein.. .his fdm is akin to the "field" of the poem, and what materials or means are considered to operate there. He is terrific, for example, on the issue of "image" and "continuity" and that is just where so much "drama" goes for me so very damn slack.  70  Not only does this letter illustrate the degree to which personal connections shaped the west coast, it also reveals the centrality, i f not dominance, of Olson's theories to the small California avant-garde. O n invitation from Duncan, Brakhage arrived i n San Francisco i n 1952 from Kansas and joined the bohemian circle. Duncan and Jess opened the K i n g U b u  Ibid., 106-8 for a discussion of cinematic modes and genres. Candida Smith argues that mythopoetics was the most significant artistic mode in California, placing poetry in opposition to history with personal experience and meaning-making as the most powerful cultural gesture of freedom. Charles Olson, in A Special View of History, had the belief that mythology had a more constitutive role in subjectivity than history. In a letter to T a l l m a n regarding the 1963 Festival, Creeley discusses ideas around the Maximus Poems and supports " O l s o n ' s characterization of the poem as a high energy construct, and as a transfer of energy, etc. so that the art becomes a relation to that energy, and a control thereof, as a transfer." This was likely the content of his Festival lecture. 27 M a r c h 1962, Warren T a l l m a n Fonds. Letter, Creeley to T a l l m a n , 29 A p r i l 1962, Brakhage stayed at the Creeley's during the Festival.  6 8  6 9  7 0  113 Gallery in 1952, bringing together literature, poetry, theatre and visual art. Duncan 71  directed theatrical performances, the first of which was The Five Georges by exiled San Francisco poet Gertrude Stein. K i n g U b u closed after only one year. In 1954, it 72  became the site o f the legendary S i x Gallery, the locus o f significant events o f the San Francisco Renaissance, including the reading of Howl. Both galleries cultivated Duncan's poetic and literary interests, from European dada to early American modernism. Brakhage's profound interest in Duncan's poetic practices led h i m to Olson's theories on open form and kinetic art and provoked Brakhage to explore notions of embodiment through his cinema. In his book, The Films of Stan Brakhage in the American Tradition of Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, and Charles Olson, R. Bruce Elder weaves an intellectually rich and philosophically broad context within which to approach the films of Brakhage. Connecting N e w England Transcendentalism with W i l l i a m s and Stein, and the open form poetics of Olson with philosophical questions of embodiment as dealt with by Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Whitehead, Elder's encyclopedic study fuses microanalyses with macrocosmic ideas o f metaphysics.  For the purposes o f this  study, I want to narrow the consideration of Brakhage to his role in the formation of west coast aesthetics. In particular, his translation of Olson and to a certain extent, Jess brought his colleagues from the California School of Fine A r t and exhibited B a y A r e a expressionism, junk, and assemblage. It was named U b u after the play Ubu Roi by Parisian poet Alfred Jarry, friend of Duchamp and satirist who was involved with dada, surrealism and the anarchist movement in Paris. F o r a history of U b u and other bohemian spaces in San Francisco, see Seymour H o w a r d , The Beat Generation Galleries and Beyond, Davis: John Natsoulas Press, 1996. A s Creeley remarked, Brakhage was seriously interested in Stein's poetry. Stein forms a major axis of analysis in E l d e r ' s book. L i k e Stein who used repetitions that build on one another and fragment, Brakhage's f d m involves "paratactical, non-hierarchical modes of construction." In Dog Star Man, "memories, perceptions, imaginings" are indistinguishable and have equal function, relating to the idea that consciousness is continually building and repeating itself, a process in w h i c h each repetition is similar but not identical. Elder, 294-5. L i k e Brakhage, Elder is also calling for the primordial and pre-verbal in art and for the expression o f human consciousness outside o f discursive systems. Elder demonstrates a critical command of twentieth-century discourses on art, literature, and philosophy and in his total celebration o f Brakhage, he posits some persuasive arguments about often marginalized spiritual, bodily and un-intellectual dimensions of art. 7 1  7 2  7 3  114 Cage, into visual modes provides a significant model of the cross-fertilization of poetics and art. For Olson, Whitehead, and Cage, "nature" is a crucial idea. Elder characterizes Brakhage's films as Romantic, especially Dog Star Man, and he likens them to the poetic romanticism of W i l l i a m Wordsworth and Ezra Pound where the individual must confront both nature and his consciousness. San Francisco beat poet Michael M c C l u r e reviewed the film for Artforum in 1963, commenting that "Brakhage shows the cosmic and divine drama o f flesh and thought and memory and hallucination and aspiration reaching towards the earthly."  74  The film's protagonist is  on a mythic climb up the mountain with his dog, but unlike the man who stumbles and falls, the dog frolics as i f laughing at the cosmic trick of humans believing in their ability to conquer mountain peaks.  75  The human imagination is an important  idea to both the Romantics and to Brakhage. Elder notes: "Dog Star Man rests on the Romantic myth of cosmogenesis, according to which the human imagination is identical with a creative force immanent in nature."  Cosmogenesis re-iterates  Duncan's repeated articulation that a human being is a cosmic event. Mythopoesis is the mode through which this can be expressed because it accounts for, and depends on, personal myth-making and cosmic energy. In Dog Star Man, Brakhage brings together the action of the protagonist, the myth of the cosmos, and personal images from his own l i f e .  77  Brakhage wanted to reveal vision's link to consciousness. For  Brakhage, "vision is an activity o f the world that takes place in us and through us."  M i c h a e l M c C l u r e , film review, Artforum (vol. II, no. 1, July 1963), n. pag. A review of Dog Star Man in The Ubyssey was not as positive as M c C l u r e ' s , stating that Brakhage's work is "too personal and too obsessed." The Ubyssey (21 Feb 1963), 4. E l d e r , 145. Ibid., 144-5. Ibid., 324. Elder posts that Brakhage, the Romantics and M a u r i c e Merleau-Ponty shared the same belief in the primordial awareness of the lived body in nature, awareness through vision.  7 4  7 5  7 6  7 7  7 8  115 Brakhage's film equates interior human space with cosmic energy, a philosophical idea known as embodiment. Embodiment is one of the most central philosophical notions to open form poetics, spontaneity, and cosmogenesis. The body is no longer considered to be separate from the mind. Instead, perception, ideas, and feelings reside inside the individual as non-rational forms. According to Maurice Merleau-Ponty (see Chapter One), a perception is an exterior apprehension. Following Whitehead, a perception is understood as a non-rational image of consciousness. A proprioceptive poet was aware that ideas, language and perceptions were formed through sensual experiences and so poetry had to be written as a projection of experience. In film, music and dance, the inner world is understood as part of nature. In Cartesian duality, as Belgrad points out, the mind-body split supported "mastery over nature." W i t h this duality erased and with subjectivity understood as dynamic and holistic, the world is internal. In spontaneity and open form, "nature" is the field of composition and no longer the object of consumption. The "bifurcation of nature" is one of the philosophical constructs against which Whitehead was w r i t i n g .  79  A product of Cartesianism, the bifurcation of nature  is the division of nature into the world of sensations, colours, sounds and feelings (body) and the world where nature is a scientific abstraction of particles and atoms (mind). Whitehead proposed embodiment to counter the bifurcation. That is, he 80  suggests that there are not two spheres of the world and that what we see, hear, feel and touch i n the everyday is the world. In Dog Star Man, the microcosmic sensations (human heart pumping) become macrocosmic perceptions (solar flares, the moon, and  See Chapter One for an outline of the main principles of Whitehead's process philosophy. Elder calls this "the modern bifurcation of the ontological universe into logic and abstractions." 387.  116 sun). For Brakhage, vision belongs to the body, the body of nature, and the human imagination (mind's eye) - each a part of the cosmos. Brakhage, following Whitehead, reconciles the divide in nature and instead posits its essential, unitary quality. Brakhage's experimental and low-tech aesthetic energized local filmmakers to take production into their own hands. A s cultural historian C o l i n Browne suggests, early Vancouver filmmakers, including Sam Perry, Gerry Gilbert, and Gary LeeN o v a explored the "spiritual, sexual, social, political and psychedelic possibilities of gi  cinema."  The Festival of the Contemporary Arts was in large part responsible for  provoking early cinematic production in Vancouver through providing a network of west coast filmmakers, including Brakhage, as well as San Francisco filmmakers R o n Rice and Bruce Conner. Brakhage's films provided a model of personal discovery with an emphasis on the frame of an image rather than on shots. Conner, to be discussed in a following section, practiced in the beat aesthetic of collage in which "stock footage" was organized in a non-narrative structure and often suggested political and social critique. In Vancouver, Lee-Nova made films i n a similar method to Conner, using "cut-up" archival footage collaged with his own shots in fragmented arrangements. Steel Mushrooms from 1967 presented "a violent reaction to the sign systems of technology, industry, nuclear war, and television."  84  Incorporating a multiple-track  sound score of rock music and ambient noise, the film's violent imagery is intensified 8 1  C o l i n B r o w n e , "Fugitive Events: A History o f F i l m m a k i n g in British C o l u m b i a , 1899-1970," in  Cineworks 2000: Twenty Years of Independent Filmmaking in British Columbia, ed. Justin MacGrego (Vancouver: C i n e w o r k s Independent Filmmakers Society, 2000), 110. F o r a brief history o f early Vancouver f i l m , see A l Razutis, " D a v i d R i m m e r : A C r i t i c a l A n a l y s i s , " in Take Two, ed. Seth Feldman (Toronto: Irwin Publishing, 1984), 276. A l Razutis, "Recovering Lost History, Vancouver Avant-Garde C i n e m a , 1960-69," in Vancouver: Art and Artists 1931-1983 (Vancouver: Vancouver A r t Gallery, 1983), 165-66. Ibid., 165. F o r L e e - N o v a ' s influences and practice, see also A l v i n B a l k i n d , " G a r y L e e - N o v a : Frustrums, Fragments and Spaces," in artscanada (vol. 26, no. 2, A p r i l 1969), 11-2. 8 2  8 3  8 4  117 by disjunctive sound and music. W h i l e Lee-Nova's filmic structure in Steel Mushrooms resembles the symmetry of his hard-edge paintings, his use of randomness and sound suggests an interest in Cagean aesthetics of chance.  85  Absent from most accounts of Vancouver film history is U B C student and filmmaker Larry Kent. In narrative feature-length films such as The Bitter Ash (1963) and Sweet Substitute (1964), both shot in Vancouver, Kent's main themes were 86  betrayal, sexuality, alienation and conformity i n North American society.  They were  both screened multiple times on campus and Kent was notorious for his sexually 87  explicit and taboo subjects. The Ubyssey frequently reviewed his films.  One report  included a cartoon in which Kent stands before "Kent Productions" with a suggestively-dressed woman - perhaps a prostitute or just a voluptuous student - and promises "yes, with all that talent I am sure I can find a role for y o u . "  88  In subject matter and style, his early works were consistent with beat-inspired narratives such as Robert Frank's Pull My Daisy (1959) and R o n Rice's The Flower Thief (I960), the latter of which was screened concurrently with Brakhage's Dog Star Man at the 1963 Festival. For example, The Bitter Ash, in an attack on mainstream 89  popular culture, follows the lives of young beatniks and students and explores sexuality, rebellion and conformity. The protagonist C o l i n , a playwright and young father, struggles to publish his work and in poverty, turns to prostitution - a dark plot that is accentuated by a free jazz score. Sweet Substitute also explores the theme that 90  was central to beat poetics - male sexuality. Using a jazz score, the film shows a 8 5  See Chapter Three for L e e - N o v a in relation to John Cage.  B r o w n e , 111. F o r a history o f K e n t ' s film production, see D a v e Douglas, " E x i l e on Hastings and M a i n Street: The Vancouver F i l m s o f Larry K e n t , " in Canadian Journal of Film Studies (vol. 5, no. 2, fall 1996), 85-99. The Ubyssey, 2 Sept 1964; 22 Sept 1964, 3; 2 Oct 1964; 9 O c t 1964. 8 6  87  88  89  The Ubyssey, 13 Feb 1964. The Ubyssey, 14 Feb 1963.  The Bitter Ash also includes a graphic sex scene for which the film was temporarily banned. Douglas, 91. 90  118 student's obsession with sexual conquest and experience. Kent allowed actors to improvise during their rehearsals and then used the taped improvisations as dialogue in the film. The result was a raw, free-flow narrative in the style of cinema verite.  Marshall McLuhan and Gerd Stern The 1964 Festival of the Contemporary Arts was built around the ideas of Marshall McLuhan. McLuhan himself presented three lectures and participated in a panel discussion that accompanied the exhibition of American pop art Art Becomes Reality at the U B C Fine Arts Gallery.  91  San Francisco artist Gerd Stern presented a  visual poem that was directly engaged with McLuhan's theories of multimedia sensory experience and synaesthesia. Through extensive correspondence with both McLuhan and Stern, Alvin Balkind put together a Festival that he hoped would address the massive shifts of the electric age, such as nuclear energy, space 09  exploration, computers and automation, developments he termed "cataclysmic." Furthermore, Balkind wanted to put McLuhan's ideas in dialogue with and against various contemporary artistic discourses, namely new American poetry and pop art. Balkind came into contact with San Francisco poet/sculptor Gerd Stern through the San Francisco Tape Music Center and he immediately identified a local west coast strain of McLuhanism. After meeting Stern in San Francisco, Balkind wrote to McLuhan: He [Stern] has for so long felt like a voice in the wilderness, where no one knew of Marshall McLuhan. The Gutenberg Galaxy lit up his world, M c L u h a n ' s three lectures were entitled: "Changing Attitudes T o Space in Poetry, Painting and Architecture Since T e l e v i s i o n , " (30 January 1962), "The Strange Tendency o f the Popular Arts to G o Iconic and H i g h b r o w , " (31 January 1964), and "The Europeanizing of the A m e r i c a n W a y o f L i f e Since Television," (2 February 1964). F C A Pamphlet, 1964. B a l k i n d ' s correspondence with M c L u h a n started on 19 Feb 1963 with an invitation to the Festival. T h e i r regular correspondence spanned one year until 6 Feb 1964 and included Festival brainstorming, administration and organization. B a l k i n d Series. 9 1  9 2  119 and evidently gave his life a strong direction. F r o m then on, his w o r k was a direct attempt to put i n t o v i s u a l a n d aural f o r m w h a t he has g l e a n e d f r o m y o u r w r i t i n g s . W h e n I t o l d h i m that y o u m i g h t b e at o u r F e s t i v a l , h e b e c a m e v e r y e x c i t e d . . .1 s a i d t h a t h e m u s t w r i t e y o u , t h a t y o u w o u l d b e e x c e e d i n g l y h a p p y to k n o w h i m . In  Gutenberg Galaxy,  9 3  M c L u h a n dissects the effects o f J o h a n n  Gutenberg's  i n v e n t i o n o f type over five hundered years ago. T h e advent o f linear type ruptured o r a l c u l t u r e a n d u s h e r e d i n p r i n t c u l t u r e , a shift that, M c L u h a n argues, p r o f o u n d l y altered h u m a n p e r c e p t i o n a n d c o m m u n i c a t i o n . W i t h p r i n t c u l t u r e , the e y e b e c a m e  the  p r i v i l e g e d sense - where words, language and sound became a p h y s i c a l , tangible s y s t e m . A c c o r d i n g to M c L u h a n , the print culture w a s n o w , h a l f a m i l l e n n i u m later, u n d e r g o i n g a t r a n s f o r m a t i o n c a t a l y z e d b y the e l e c t r o n i c age. T h e telegraph, g l o b a l t e l e c o m m u n i c a t i o n s a n d t e l e v i s i o n w e r e u n - d o i n g the p o t e n c y o f the t y p e d w o r d , thus o p e n i n g u p the f i e l d o f h u m a n interaction a n d o r i e n t i n g it b a c k t o w a r d s o r a l ( a u d i t o r y ) t r a d i t i o n . M c L u h a n i d e n t i f i e d this t r a n s f o r m a t i o n as the shift f r o m a n " e y e space to a n ear space," w h e r e the p r i n t e d p a g e w a s n o l o n g e r the central m o d e o f c o m m u n i c a t i o n . Instead, m u l t i p l e senses w e r e n o w c r u c i a l l y e n g a g e d i n r e l a y i n g , r e c e i v i n g a n d s h a r i n g i n f o r m a t i o n . I n V a n c o u v e r a n d at U B C , s t u d e n t s a n d a r t i s t s w e r e e n g a g e d w i t h the c u l t u r a l i m p l i c a t i o n s o f the e p i s t e m o l o g i c a l shifts that M c L u h a n w a s i d e n t i f y i n g , i n c l u d i n g L e e - N o v a a n d I a i n B a x t e r ( d i s c u s s e d at l e n g t h i n the n e x t chapter). J e f f W a l l a l s o addressed the r o l e o f m e d i a t e c h n o l o g y . I n a c a r t o o n f r o m J a n u a r y 1 9 6 5 , he d r a w s a " f o r m e r s c h o l a r " w h o sits atop an i m p r e s s i v e b o o k stack o f a c a d e m i c and classic literature and watches t e l e v i s i o n .  9 4  S u g g e s t i n g the  p e r c e i v e d r e d u n d a n c y o f literature i n the e l e c t r i c age, W a l l ' s c a r t o o n p r o v o k e s a d i a l o g u e o n the i n t e l l e c t u a l p o t e n t i a l o f the m e d i a age.  B a l k i n d to M c L u h a n , 18 Oct 1963, B a l k i n d Series.  The Ubyssey, 15 Jan 1965.  120 M c L u h a n , i n a c o m p l e x c o n s i d e r a t i o n o f the r e l a t i o n s h i p b e t w e e n s u b j e c t i v i t y , space a n d s e n s o r y p e r c e p t i o n , used the t e r m acoustic space to i n d i c a t e the space o f shared m u l t i - f a c e t e d c o m m u n i c a t i o n . A c o u s t i c space i s a u d i t o r y o r s o u n d space. It i s e x a c t l y the space that O l s o n , C a g e , synaesethic c i n e m a , a n d Tish w e r e c o n c e r n e d w i t h . It i s space i n w h i c h sound-energy reverberates a n d transfers: A u d i t o r y space has no p o i n t o f f a v o u r e d focus. It's a sphere w i t h o u t f i x e d b o u n d a r i e s . . . [ i t is] d y n a m i c , a l w a y s i n f l u x , creating its o w n dimensions moment by moment.  95  M c L u h a n ' s interest w a s m o t i v a t e d b y the same p h i l o s o p h i c a l p r e m i s e s o f O l s o n , B r a k h a g e a n d C a g e ; that is, the c o l l a p s e o f i n s i d e a n d outside, o r the e n d o f C a r t e s i a n d u a l i s m . H e shared w i t h B r a k h a g e a b e l i e f i n the p r i m o r d i a l nature o f art as a prev e r b a l state. O l s o n ' s poetics i n b o t h verse a n d dance also e n g a g e d w i t h a n i d e a o f the p r i m o r d i a l i n art, w h e r e the energy b e i n g transferred i n the f i e l d o f c o m p o s i t i o n is l i k e a u n i v e r s a l source or essence. E l d e r refers to p r i m o r d i a l awareness as " p r e v e r b a l , " w r i t i n g that: it is the awareness o f the c h i l d - it is f o r m e d as a cross between the awareness that w e c o m e closest to t a p p i n g i n o u r dreams a n d p r o p r i o c e p t i v e e x p e r i e n c e . It constantly undergoes change, a n d m o r e than that, it is s y n a e s t h e t i c .  96  Stern m a d e three c o n t r i b u t i o n s to the 1964 F e s t i v a l w h i c h addressed poetry, sculpture, p a i n t i n g a n d s o u n d : t w e l v e c o l l a g e p o e m s , the v i s u a l p o e m Mosaic, a n d excerpts f r o m h i s a u d i o - v i s u a l presentation The Verbal American Landscape.  Mosaic  c o n s i s t e d o f a poetry r e a d i n g a c c o m p a n i e d b y slides a n d e n d i n g w i t h c o l o u r footage o f h i s large p o e m - s c u l p t u r e Contact Is The Only Love o n d i s p l a y at the S a n F r a n c i s c o  M c L u h a n , "Acoustic Space," Explorations in Communication, E d m u n d Carpenter and M c L u h a n , eds. (Boston: Beacon Press, 1960), 67. Elder, 14. M c L u h a n linked the electric age with the primordial. In language, the senses are differentiated, but i n simultaneity, such as in mass communication, the senses merge: " W e now live i n a global v i l l a g e . . . a simultaneous happening. W e are back in acoustic space. W e have begun again to structure the primordial feeling; the tribal emotions from w h i c h a few centuries of literacy divorced 9 5  9 6  us." Medium is the Massage, 63.  121 97  M u s e u m of Art.  T h e p o e m , also entitled Mosaic, i s a stream o f free verse, c r e a t i n g  a montage o f i m a g e s to create an experience o f o v e r l a p p i n g c o l o u r s , w o r d s , a n d sounds. A l l u d i n g to M c L u h a n ' s b o o k p u b l i c a t i o n format, Stern u s e d the m o s a i c as a s y m b o l o f a n a l l - o v e r , m u l t i - d i m e n s i o n a l f o r m o f u n i t y that " c a n m a n a g e a d i v e r s i t y o f experiences gathered i n a single l i f e , o r a t r a d i t i o n a l awareness d e v e l o p e d i n a communal life."  In this sense, the m o s a i c f o r m is s i m i l a r to the f u n c t i o n o f m y t h i n  projective poetry. O l s o n , D u n c a n a n d Tish poets u s e d m y t h instead o f h i s t o r y as a w a y o f e x p r e s s i n g h u m a n awareness o r consciousness. B r a k h a g e , i n m y t h o p o e i c c i n e m a , also uses a m o s a i c f o r m where the w h o l e is m a d e up o f d i v e r s e parts. S e e n w i t h i n the context o f the west coast, S t e r n ' s a p p r o p r i a t i o n o f M c L u h a n was i n k e e p i n g w i t h the l o c a l p h i l o s o p h i c a l a n d aesthetic practices. Mosaic referenced M c L u h a n , p o p artists, and beat poets: u s i n g up o n a n y t h i n g as c o m m o n objects out o f p o p u l a r culture sculptors a n d painters fortune tellers like Coplans i n A r t F o r u m 6 on a painting of Lichtenstein's o f a h a n d h o l d i n g hair-spray "the v u l g a r i t y o f the i m a g e i t s e l f is s h o c k i n g i n the w a y h o w l o f the B e a t poets i s . . . " s o m e b o d i e s w r i t i n g o n o r o f f p o p art A s a n e w n a m e b r a n d o f s o c i a l satire a n d p r o t e s t . . . " T h e p o e m continues w i t h w o r d s a n d images f r o m art a n d culture ( " S h a z a a m , " " S n a p C r a c k l e P o p " ) a n d literary a n d s c h o l a r l y references ( M c L u h a n , P h i l i p L a m a n t i a , W a l t W h i t m a n , M i c h a e l M c C l u r e ) . W h a t is m o s t c r i t i c a l is Stern's l i n k a g e o f M c L u h a n ' s n o t i o n s o f e m b o d i m e n t w i t h p o p art:  Letter from Stern to B a l k i n d describing his three contributions to the Festival, 12 D e c 1963. B a l k i n d Series. Stern, " W h y the T V C h i l d cannot see ahead: Unconscious bias of the V i s u a l M o d e : a note on the meaning of mosaic," unpublished, 5. B a l k i n d Series. Mosiac, unpublished, B a l k i n d Series.  9 7  9 8  9 9  122 Lichtenstein explodes blows up a cartoon bigger than L I F E (no five cent magazine) a question of scale Try projection the medium is the message can you get into the strip on the canvas off the easel or is the jump into that world only into the panel on the newsprint p a g e . . .  100  The poem finished with a projected view of his poetry-sculpture Contact Is the Only Love. The octagonal sculpture had inset signs that flashed the traffic commands " G o , " " Y i e l d , " and "Enter with Caution," at a rate o f 480 flashes per minute.  101  In  this work, Stern investigated both the effects of signs and commands, as well as movement, light and sound on human perception and behaviour. In The Verbal American Landscape, Stern focused on eyes, words and ears and incorporated elements from everyday life in the happening, such as billboards, newspapers and television.  102  U B C students, familiar with M c L u h a n ' s theories, beat and open form  poetry, and performance art, responded with enthusiasm: The San Francisco poet-artist has captured with sound and sense and sight all the kaleidescope of signs and sex symbols that all The Others tried to portray in mere words i n their b o o k s .  103  Acoustic space that was created by electric media meant that museums and art galleries were no longer the only viable environments for art production. Cage and Kaprow, for example, were doing performance and installation art (including  Ibid., n. pag. "Poet M a k e s Contact with L o v e , " Independent Journal, 29 Oct 1963. Gerd Stern, "Proposal for the Verbal American Landscape," document, B a l k i n d series, n. date. Stern gives the "score" for the performance: "[it] is designed for presentation in medium-sized auditoriums, theatres, galleries. V i s u a l elements w i l l be constructed o f second-hand signs, marquees and billboards combined with projected images and with specially built effects and controls. A u d i o w i l l consist o f multiple pre-recorded tapes amplified through a series of speakers." 1UU  1 0 1  1 0 2  103  The Ubyssey (7 Feb 1964), 5.  123 happenings) in everyday, multi-sensory space. M c L u h a n ' s theories of nonperspectival acoustic space allowed for an understanding of happenings and assemblage, where the viewing body, the dimensionality o f the work and the sensory perceptions of experiencing the work, are all activated. Richard Cavell has briefly noted Stern's engagement with M c L u h a n focusing on the kinetic and electric aspects of his work in the context of happenings.  104  However, Cavell's analysis of M c L u h a n  considers mainly performance, installation and kinetic art. In Vancouver art history, M c L u h a n has been most frequently applied to the performance-based collective Intermedia (1967-72) and the conceptual-based group The N . E . Thing C o . , established by artist in Iain Baxter in the mid-1960s.  105  Rightfully so, as both groups  explore and develop precepts in M c L u h a n ' s work, such as synaesthetic experience and discourses around space, language and the body. However, in 1964, the collaboration of Stern and M c L u h a n in conjunction with the pop exhibition Art Becomes Reality is a significant moment o f intersection between M c L u h a n , N e w American poetry (beat poet Michael M c C l u r e read at the Festival), and pop art. Balkind's Art Becomes Reality directly addressed the relationship between art and life and the avant-garde insistence that the two were not separate.  106  Selected and  borrowed from the Bagley Wright collection of Seattle, works by R o y Lichtenstein, Robert Indiana, E d Ruscha, Jasper Johns, Bruce Conner, Robert Morris, Robert Rauschenberg, and A n d y Warhol were included. Hesitating to name it "pop art," Balkind acknowledged various labels such as neo-dada, art of the common object, and new realism, and saw a commonality in their investigation of "things." Included  C a v e l l , McLuhan in Space, 176. C a v e l l briefly discusses the Festival of the Contemporary Arts at U B C though he does not acknowledge Stern's presence there in 1964 or refer to poetry or visual works by Stern, 181-2. Ibid., 182-6. 1 0 4  1 0 5  1 0 6  The exhibition, on loan from the B a g l e y W r i g h t private collection i n Seattle, was reviewed by B a r r y  L o r d in " P o p A r t in Canada," Artforum, v o l . II, no. 9, M a r c h 1963.  124 was Warhol's Do It Yourself XI962), a partially painted pastoral image of a seaside cottage, wooden boats out o f water and seagulls overhead. The stenciled numbers indicate the areas to paint thus handing over the so-called creative act to the viewer. The painting becomes both an aesthetic object and a thing or object for everyday use. Referring to the merging of art and life, Balkind wrote that "those who contend that the 'vulgar,' the common, the material aspects of our culture cannot rightly constitute the subject matter or the inspiration of art are being proven wrong by this generation of artists."  107  Art Becomes Reality made an impact on local audiences and the University 1 D8  Fine Arts Gallery experienced an unprecedented number of visitors.  Robert M o r r i s '  Box with the Sound of its own Making caused particular excitement. Displayed as an ordinary wooden box but with recorded noises of its construction emanating from it, M o r r i s ' sculpture confounded boundaries between media and between art and life. A sculpture, a music box, and a geometric structure, the work was about the concreteness of an object. The viewers, having already been exposed to John Cage, Merce Cunningham, The San Francisco Tape M u s i c Centre and Stan Brakhage in the recent past, were not unfamiliar with contemporary art practices that used sound. Vancouver audiences had their first encounter with pop art and the responses were vivid. In a letter to the Bagley Wrights, Balkind wrote: The mingled cries of love and pain, the explosive laughter and the audible silence of contemplative observation all joined and merged with the sounds and sights o f the show. M y own feelings have been complex (for me); but the overall emotion I feel is a salad composed of gratification, personal satisfaction, and great joy through freedom.  109  B a l k i n d , Art Becomes Reality, exhibition pamphlet, Feb 1964, n. pag. B a l k i n d Series. L o c a l press reviews included "Pop art exhibit U B C first," Province, 25 Jan 1964; "Avant-garde art show set for start o f 10-day run," Ubyssey, 31 Jan 1964; " U B C Pop A r t Popular," Vancouver Sun, 31 Jan 1964; "Careful on this newspaper - it's art!" Ubyssey, 6 Feb 1964. Letter from B a l k i n d to the B a g l e y Wrights, 7 February 1964. B a l k i n d Series. 1 0 7  1 0 8  1 0 9  125 A s evidenced by the intersection of M c L u h a n , beat poetry and Gerd Stern at the 1964 Festival, "pop art" was not a rigid category in Vancouver or on the west coast. Accepted as a pop artist, Stern's poetry and performance incorporated elements of beat kineticism and fragmentation. Similarly, Robert Morris, represented in Art Becomes Reality with Box with the Sound of Its own Making, incorporated Cagean juxtapositions of sound.  110  Art historical discourses have assigned Cage and  M c L u h a n to Fluxus and Intermedia. A s I have aimed to demonstrate, these divisions are too absolute. Cage was an important figure for early dance, happenings and film, as was M c L u h a n for pre-Intermedia considerations of beat poetry and pop art. M c L u h a n identified the increasing institutionalization and bureaucratization that was occurring within globalization and recognized academic institutions as becoming the "social control towers for the entire society."  111  H i s lecture at the 1964 Festival "The  Strange Tendency of Popular Art to G o Iconic and Highbrow," addressed the relationship between "popular art" and the university and argued that pop art was being appropriated by the university to become "high brow." The university is part of what he called the global nervous system: "the instantaneous network [that] alters all spatial factors and all inter-personal relations, and the entire procedure in education. It 112  changes the entire character of work, also. W o r k and learning become one."  *  This  lecture complemented Art Becomes Reality and threw into question the contexts of art, specifically pop art, from the university setting to the everyday. M o r r i s has been categorized as a conceptually-oriented artist rather than a pop artist, who, similar to Robert Smithson, was concerned with institutional critique. In "Robert M o r r i s and John Cage: Reconstructing a D i a l o g u e , " Branden W . Joseph argues for a re-consideration o f M o r r i s ' position in avant-garde discourses. Specifically, he wants to look at M o r r i s ' production vis-a-vis Cagean aesthetics. M o r r i s exhibited i n San Francisco at the D i l e x i gallery in the 1960s and began to explore Cagean aesthetics at H a l p r i n ' s dance workshops. Branden chronicles some of M o r r i s ' artistic activities and posits them as explorations in Cage, such as f d m experiments and audience collaboration. Branden W . Joseph, "Robert M o r r i s and John Cage: Reconstructing a D i a l o g u e , " October (81, Summer 1997), 59-69. Letter from M c L u h a n to B a l k i n d , 5 Jan 1964. B a l k i n d Series. Ibid., 5 Jan 1964. 1 1 0  1 1 1  1 1 2  126 M c L u h a n ' s theories continued to resonate i n Vancouver at the 1965 Festival with the multi-media happening, or "environment" entitled the Medium is the Message.  113  One of the first Vancouver-produced visual presentations at the Festival,  the performance synthesised or mechanized perception by using sound and light. In one hour, with "event tasks" such as painting, sculpture, architecture, projection, photography, words, electronic tapes and movement, the barn-like Armouries was transformed into a projection space. Screens hung on the walls and featured constantly changing colours, patterns and images and dancers' silhouettes swayed behind hanging cloths. Audience members altered the space through their own touch, voice and movement as they created objects and sounds.  114  The Amouries itself was  a model of M c L u h a n ' s acoustic space: an ear-space where viewers were no longer passive recipients of visual spectacle but rather active participants i n a process of kinetic energy. The Medium is the Message was a Vancouver project, conceptualized by Helen Goodwin, Iain Baxter, David Orcutt, Courtland Hultberg, Abraham Rogatnick, Takao Tanabe, A l v i n Balkind, Sam Perry, and R o y K i y o o k a .  115  Incorporating the diverse aesthetics that had been explored i n Vancouver - Cage's aesthetics of chance, Halprin's bodily improvisations, and Stern's visual and moving poetry - the performance was a crystallization of west coast aesthetics.  C a v e l l identifies this 1965 event as the most exemplary o f M c L u h a n ' s ideas at the Festivals, 181. M y account positions the 1964 Festival as the most pivotal for the significance of M c L u h a n on the west coast. Letter from A b r a h a m Rogatnick to Julia Gatter of N e w Y o r k C i t y . Gatter inquired about M c L u h a n ' s visit to V a n c o u v e r after reading about it in an article in Life. Rogatnick described some reactions: "some compared their feelings to that which might occur during a brilliantly conducted mass in a cathedral. A godly [sic] number felt cheated: the lack of familiar organization, the emphasis on chance and the absence o f a sequential 'story line' disturbed them or at any rate, bored them." 16 M a r c h 1966. B C B i n n i n g Fonds. Festival Press Release, 1965. B a l k i n d Series. 1 1 3  1 1 4  1 1 5  127 Bruce Conner The 1965 Festival included The Medium is the Message, a reading by San Francisco poet Jack Spicer, and a disturbing and intense exhibition by filmmaker and assemblage beat artist Bruce C o n n e r .  116  A cartoon by Jeff W a l l from Feb 5, 1965  shows audience reactions to the diversity of the avant-garde practices on display. The accompanying article discusses the "mental blocks" of some of the students participating. W a l l mirrors this "fear" in his drawing, where some spectators declare, "Gee, I hope nobody recognizes me!" while another disgruntled viewer attempts to burn the artist's rear end with a lit cigarette - the artist being an "avant-garde" tattooist at work on a naked woman. However, the student body was serious about the contemporary international political climate and their activism increased on campus. For example, one former U B C arts student called on the university community to support the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, writing: this is a serious struggle - an attempt to alleviate restrictions imposed upon student participation in political activity on campus... A s Canadians benefiting from the freedom of political association and activity, support of U B C would be appreciated. 117  Conner's critique of American post-war society found a friendly venue at the Festival where many students were engaged with political activism and had strong anti-Vietnam sentiments.  118  In a 1965 Festival press release, Balkind explained his  choice of exhibitions: So far, this has been a century that Genghis Khan might envy; and for those who are inclined to be Pollyanna about it, it might be suggested that they do a little detailed reading of recent history. It is no wonder that Bruce Conner's work is permeated, as Leider says, with the spirit "of the extermination camps, Hiroshima, horror comics, and sexual pathology" — 1 1 6  1 1 7  1 1 8  See Chapter Three for a discussion o f Jack Spicer in relation to the Vancouver avant-garde. Joan Hafeez, "Berkeley Support," The Ubyssey, 22 Jan 1965. See Chapter Three for more on student protest and activism at U B C in the mid-1960s.  128 in other words, the entire list of social ills that continue to proceed from man's limitations and the lunacy of some of his institutions. 119  Conner used objets trouves, or more appropriately, objets perdus, to construct his collages and assemblages.  120  He used certain materials and themes almost  obsessively i n his works: pearls, rubber hose, feathers and mutilated nylon stockings. When these elements were juxtaposed, various themes emerged: death, sexual perversity and societal sickness.  121  H i s exhibition in Vancouver, the result of a year1 22  long correspondence with Balkind, featured five assemblages and six collages. Conner also screened three of his films - collages of documentary footage, discarded film reel and individual frames of random images. Collage is perhaps the medium par excellence of the "inter-face," as K i y o o k a defined it. In collage, the juxtaposition of disparate objects and images creates linguistic (semantic) and visual meaning through their jarring, overlapping and discontinuity.  124  Dada and surrealist techniques used collage and assemblage, and  with artists such as Stern and Conner, the dada lineage was re-ignited.  1 25  Like a  Bruce Conner exhibition pamphlet, Fine Arts Gallery, U B C , Jan 1965. B a l k i n d Series. Located i n a black suburb of L o s Angeles, the Watts Towers, considered to be quintessential California assemblage, were built over the course of three decades and completed in 1954. Constructed o f plates, bottles, shells, tiles and concrete, they are a testament to the locally-developed assemblage movement. B a l k i n d borrowed an exhibition o f photographs o f the Watts Towers from the L o s Angeles County M u s e u m of A r t for the 1963 Festival and displayed them i n the U B C Fine Arts Gallery. Conner's show elicited strong responses from students and the Vancouver public. B a l k i n d claimed that it had had the Festival's largest attendance for an art show. Newspapers covered extensively its reception: Exhibition review, Vancouver Times, 2 Feb 1965; " S i m i a n protestors crash art show," The Ubyssey, 4 Feb 1965; D a v i d Watmough, " A r t Show Strikes Note of Horror," Vancouver Sun, 5 Feb 1965; Belinda M a c L e o d , "Horrifying collage depicts w o r l d ' s i l l s , " The Province, 6 Feb 1965. The exhibition was brought to Vancouver by B a l k i n d after extensive correspondence w i t h Conner (letters spanned Feb 1964 to Feb 1965, B a l k i n d Series). It was organized by the Batman G a l l e r y in San Francisco and circulated by W A A M . W o r k s by Conner included: Holiness Temple In Christ, collage; Blessed be thy Sweet Mercy, collage; Ratbastard#l, assemblage; Primavera, collage; Clock, assemblage; Deceitfish, assemblage; Ask Tucker, assemblage; Through the Window; collage, Resurrection, assemblage; Spider Lady House, assemblage. 1 1 9  1 2 0  1 2 1  1 2 2  Three o f Conner's films were shown on 2 February 1965: Cosmic Ray, A Movie, and Report. B a l k i n d organized an exhibition at the U B C Fine Arts Gallery i n October 1964 entitled " C o l l a g e in the Sixties" that explored the re-emergence o f dada and surrealist techniques o f collage in the work o f Iain Baxter, K i y o o k a , Jack Shadbolt, and bissett. Exhibition Pamphlet, B a l k i n d Series. R e v i e w s of Conner and Stern in Artforum identify them both as having "dada roots," v o l . II, no. 6, D e c 1963, n. pag. 1 2 3  1 2 4  1 2 5  129 mosaic form, where a whole contains overlapping, colliding and complementing parts, dada-inspired collage uses text and ready-made objects such as newspapers and magazines. Conner's first film A Movie uses left-over film strip that he purchased cheaply at a local film supply shop. Sutured together, Conner put the assembled film to random music that was playing on the radio. While Conner's assemblages call up the satire and rage of the San Francisco beat scene, his filmmaking methods use techniques of chance. Conner articulated his interest i n Cagean musical practices: "I performed with Terry Riley and LaMonte Y o u n g and other musicians who were doing experimental music events. I performed in a John Cage piece."  He used  footage that was from discarded films, the debris of popular culture. The musical scores were randomly acquired and applied, resulting in cinematic collages of disjunctive meanings and images.  127  However, Conner claimed that his initial  approach to filmmaking was purely economical and that without being able to afford 1 98  to buy a movie camera, he had to buy ready-made  film.  Thomas C r o w describes  California's assemblage movement along a similar economic model: California artists, largely excluded from participation in any real art economy, were regularly drawn to the cheap disposability of collage and assemblage. O n a cognitive level, they exploited these means in order to make sense of their own marginality, recycling the discards of post-war affluence into defiantly deviant reconfigurations. 1  9  West coast artists' alienation from New Y o r k and international art centres was certainly a factor i n their choice of materials. Without major institutional support or  Interview with Bruce Conner by Scott M a c D o n a l d in A Critical Cinema: Interviews with Independent Filmmakers, Scott M a c D o n a l d , ed. (Berkeley: University o f California press, 1998), 252. A l s o screened at the Festival were Cosmic Ray (1962) and Report (1965) both used found footage. Cosmic Ray included footage of a dancing girl collaged with military images to the music of R a y Charles. Report was about the media life o f J.F. Kennedy and his assassination using repeated loops o f images. For descriptions of Coner's films, see Rebecca Solnit, Secret Exhibition: Six California Artists of the Cold War Era (San Francisco: C i t y Lights B o o k s , 1990), 120-1. Ibid., 254. 1 2 6  1 2 7  1 2 8  129  Thomas Crow, The Rise of the sixties: American and European art in the era of dissent, N e w Y o r k :  Harry N . A b r a m s , Inc., 1996, 25.  130 an established n e t w o r k o f g a l l e r y a n d private f u n d i n g , artists l a c k e d f i n a n c i a l resources, but were also independent agents. W h i l e m a r g i n a l i z a t i o n w a s an issue o n one l e v e l , o n the f l i p side, c r u c i a l e n v i r o n m e n t a l qualities were p r o m o t e d , n a m e l y , i s o l a t i o n , independence a n d f r e e d o m . C a l i f o r n i a assemblage art d r e w o n l o c a l practices s u c h as b e a t - i n s p i r e d s o c i a l c r i t i q u e a n d C a g e a n notions o f chance. I n c l u d e d i n the F e s t i v a l e x h i b i t i o n , Ratbastard # 1 referred to C o n n e r ' s s e l f - p r o c l a i m e d status as a "rat b a s t a r d . " S e e k i n g to reject the b y n o w m a i n s t r e a m t e r m "beat," C o n n o r established the R a t B a s t a r d P r o t e c t i v e Society ( R B P )  1 3 0  - a p l a y o n the P r e - R a p h a e l i t e B r o t h e r h o o d ( P R B ) .  1 3 1  C o n n e r also  rejected m o s t aspects o f c o n v e n t i o n a l art practice, f r o m e x h i b i t i o n practices, s i g n i n g o f w o r k s a n d sales. H i s aesthetic was dadaesque i n m a n y w a y s , p a r t i c u l a r l y i n his b e l i e f i n the e n d o f art. O f Ratbastard #1, h e s a i d : I dealt w i t h i t l i k e i t was a p h y s i c a l t h i n g , this s m a l l square canvas, and I stuffed a b u n c h o f n y l o n stockings i n i t so that i t l o o k e d l i k e its innards were c o m i n g out, w i r e s and such, w r a p p e d a n y l o n s o c k o v e r the front o f it, stuck a picture that I f o u n d i n Life m a g a z i n e o f a cadaver l y i n g o n a table, a n d after i t was a l l f i n i s h e d , it was a f u l l threed i m e n s i o n a l t h i n g . T h e r e was no r e a l reason to h a n g i t o n the w a l l as a n art object, so I put a h a n d l e o n it, a c l o t h handle, so that I c o u l d carry i t a r o u n d a n d put i t o n d i s p l a y any t i m e I w a n t e d t o .  1 3 2  C o n n e r ' s e x h i b i t i o n h e l p e d to secure a place f o r the discourses o f the v i s u a l avantgarde i n V a n c o u v e r a n d represented the diverse practices o f the west coast. B r i n g i n g together beat aesthetics, the theories o f M c L u h a n , c o l l a g e , a n d C a g e a n n o t i o n s o f  Candida Smith, 169. Membership R B P S included Joan B r o w n , Jay DeFeo, W a l l y Hedrick and Wallace Berman. D u r i n g the 1960s, pre-Raphaelitism had a revival in both the U K and in North A m e r i c a , when the 19 century painters were celebrated for their scandalous love lives, free sexuality, and interdisciplinary efforts in both painting and poetry. The pre-raphealite journal Germ was analyzed in literary reviews and large-scale exhibitions surveyed the work and lives o f the P R B . The link between the culture of the San Francisco Renaissance and the culture of the Pre-Raphaelites is a provocative research idea. W h i l e dada formations are the most frequent comparisons with Californian bohemianism and Vancouver cultural production in the 1960s, English pre-Raphaelitism may provide an equally, i f not more, appropriate comparison. Conner quoted in Solnit, 61. 1  1 3 1  th  1 3 2  131 indifference and chance, Conner's exhibition at the 1965 Festival marked the fullness, diversity and inter-disciplinarity of west coast art production. In this chapter, I have argued that Vancouver was a site of the crossfertilization of poetics and art and that this process or, more pointedly, space, was central to the aesthetics of the west coast. Vancouver offered the venue of a university campus to bring together cultural producers in all media. The Festivals of the Contemporary Arts not only brought together diverse aesthetics and practitioners, they also initiated, secured and sustained the west coast milieu through the personal connections that were made there. In my analysis o f the first five years o f the Festival, there is an under-representation of local (Vancouver) producers. The programs largely consisted of California poets and artists. In this sense, Vancouver seems like an American projection - a California avant-garde seeking to expand its project of freedom and isolation, or a manifestation of American expansionism in Canada. However, at the Festivals, American cultural hegemony was critically analyzed as both a dominant and productive force. Avant-garde artists in Vancouver were participants in a space of cross-fertilization that shaped their practices and rooted them in the artistic modes of the west coast. If they joined an "American" avant-garde, it was an avant-garde that imagined itself to be free of national designations. The University o f British Columbia, at least within certain departments, provided institutional support and a context for experimentation and transnational discussion. In the next and final chapter, I w i l l analyze a group of Vancouver avant-garde artists who emerged within the context of the Festival of the Contemporary Arts around 1965, including Iain Baxter, Ian Wallace, Michael Morris, and Gary LeeNova. Open form poetics and pragmatism were central on the west coast and in art  132 criticism and had particular resonance in journals such as Artforum. B y 1965, the "pacific nation" had materialized as a concrete form. Simon Fraser University opened and San Francisco poets Robin Blaser and Jack Spicer were pivotal figures in the continuation of Vancouver as a poetry producing locality. A spectrum of experimental studios and galleries operated in Vancouver and collaborations continued across neighbourhoods - across Tish, U B C , blew ointment, and the Vancouver A r t Gallery. Similarly, collaboration across borders continued, and while Vancouver maintained an intimate relationship with the poetics of the San Francisco movement, Los Angeles also became a site of productive exchange with Vancouver as the discourses around language and pop art resonated in both cities.  133 CHAPTER THREE Utopia in Vancouver, 1965-68: The Probable Union of Dada, Zen, and American Pragmatism  1  Vancouver is an earthly paradise that I could and must escape to. - Jack S p i c e r  2  I doubt that language can clarify art - as hundreds of issues of Artforum have shown. Yet I think we must always try while we are waiting for Godot. - A l v i n Balkind  3  In 1963, Vancouver was declared a "cultural backwater" by the protagonist in Larry Kent's film The Bitter Ash. However, by 1969 the city had become one of the most desirable destinations for visual artists and art critics across North America, including Robert Smithson and L u c y Lippard. Earlier, in 1967, the Canada Council recognized Vancouver as an emerging centre for vanguard art with an unprecedented grant that lead to the formation o f the artist collective Intermedia. W h i l e Vancouver had already established itself as a site of avant-garde poetry with the Poetry Conference in 1963 and with diverse expressions of open form poetics at the Festival of the Contemporary Arts, it must be asked: how did a visual avant-garde form here? In this chapter, I argue that the production of visual art and poetry were not separate but rather intersecting practices. This assertion runs counter to the accepted N e w Y o r k art critic Barbara Rose positioned John Cage as the source of A m e r i c a n post-war neo-dada art and identified his aesthetics as rooted i n the "improbable alliance" o f dada, Z e n and A m e r i c a n pragmatism. "Problems of C r i t i c i s m , V : The Politics of A r t Part II," Artforum (vol. 7, no. 5, Jan 1969), 47. This chapter set outs to illustrate how this union of seemingly diverse methodologies was not only philosophically consistent but also at the root of the west coast avant-garde. Letter from Jack Spicer to E l l e n Tallman, 23 Feb 1965. Contemporary Literature Collection, S i m o n Fraser University. B a l k i n d in a written interview with Charlotte Townsend in 1972. B a l k i n d Series, M o r r i s and Helen B e l k i n A r t Gallery Archives, University of British C o l u m b i a . 1  3  134 version of Vancouver art history as Scott Watson has outlined i n "The Generic C i t y and its Discontents: Vancouver Accounts for Itself." In constructing a genealogy of the "defeatured landscape," an urban semiotic that has continued to inform Vancouver artists to the present, Watson dismisses the early and mid-sixties as a time when "the usual glut of candy-coloured fiberglass and epoxy-resin" objects were being produced and re-iterates that the late 1960s were the beginning of "critical" Vancouver art. Maintaining the Dan Graham/Robert Smithson effect, Watson writes, "the most important American artists of the period were Robert Smithson, Dan Graham, and Yvonne Rainer. It was from their example that art with a critical edge began to be produced." Citing New Y o r k as the source for Vancouver artists and 4  only briefly acknowledging the significance of the west coast culture of poetry, Watson mentions that, " i n other respects" Black Mountain was a cultural touchstone for Vancouver poetry that was influenced by Robert Duncan, Robin Blaser, and Jack Spicer. L i k e Watson, I identify the early sixties as the moment when Vancouver turned away from regional art practices, such as romantic landscape representation, and towards international movements, including pop phenomena and an interest in technology. However, I am arguing that N e w Y o r k was not the major source of critical art production in Vancouver. Vancouver art developed from practices and connections on the west coast that provided context, source, theory, as well as infrastructural and institutional support. (Of course, N e w Y o r k played a role in 1960s art discourses in Vancouver, not least because of its hegemonic position as the centre of modern art but also because of its sheer capacity to exhibit, support and publish  Watson, "Generic C i t y and Its Discontents: Vancouver Accounts for Itself," in (Arts Magazine, February 1991, 60-4), 62.  4  135 art.) Most importantly, however, I am arguing that Vancouver poetry was not the "other aspect" of Vancouver cultural life, distant and unrelated to the visual production. The poetry movement, based largely in the San Francisco Renaissance, was interconnected in a fundamental way with the visual arts.  5  The development of the visual avant-garde in Vancouver can be traced through the following phases: first, the carving out of a Utopian liminal space - the west coast and specifically Vancouver as "paradise"; second, emptying this space of tradition, specifically the rejection of European aesthetics; and third, the building of new artistic paradigms within this space. The new artistic practices used open form poetics as a major source and adapted them from their American context (primarily Californian) to operate in Vancouver as a Canadian rejection of European philosophical idealism. The uniqueness of the Canadian university context and diverse art and language practices, including poetry, sculpture, happenings, dance, film, and painting, gave Vancouver specificity within the west coast milieu. Three main themes and ideas w i l l be identified and analyzed as major factors i n the formation of the Vancouver avant-garde: the curatorial practice of A l v i n Balkind; the west coast milieu as the main social and cultural impetus; and, the driving philosophical and critical discourses that were part of pragmatism and open form poetics. The determination and curatorial practice of A l v i n Balkind was pivotal to the formation of a new avant-garde in Vancouver. A n American expatriate, he embraced American modernism and nurtured intellectual and personal intimacy with colleagues  W h i l e the presence o f A m e r i c a n new poets and open form poetics is mentioned by commentators in relation to V a n c o u v e r art production, the interconnection has never been analyzed. For example, N e w Poetry, referred to as "the poetic c o m m o t i o n " of Blaser, Spicer, and Duncan, had an enduring influence in Vancouver, yet it has not been brought to bear on visual production. See " A Dance with Orpheus," i n Collapse 2, 21.  5  136 in San Francisco and Los Angeles in particular. However, Balkind's dedication to 6  Vancouver was paramount. He hardly disguised his ambition to transform Vancouver into a serious art-producing locale and this was revealed through his work on the Festivals, the N e w Design Gallery, the Vancouver A r t Gallery, and especially the Fine Arts Gallery at the University of British Columbia.  7  Philip Leider of Artforum  acknowledged Balkind's pivotal role i n Vancouver: Perhaps the most knowledgeable and supportive figure on the current Vancouver scene is A l v i n B a l k i n d . . .If there is a single archive of the art history of the present and recent past in Vancouver, it is in the head of A l v i n B a l k i n d .  8  Balkind led the way for a new avant-garde formation in Vancouver and as an "initiator of discourse" he gave voice to a new generation of artists in the city. A s Russell Jacoby has noted, in "the lives of intellectuals - of all individuals - it just takes several friends to make the difference; and these friends can meet in a coffeehouse or a bookstore.. .Bohemia can be this small, this vital."  9  In addition to  being a relentless champion of local art, pedagogue, curator, and writer, Balkind was also a critic. H i s critical voice, though smaller in scale than his N e w Y o r k  W h i l e I focus on the role of Warren Tallman and B a l k i n d , both expatriates i n Vancouver, I do not mean to i m p l y that it was only A m e r i c a n modernism that drove and emboldened local avant-garde activity. Rather, I am arguing that these figures nurtured a specific intellectual and artistic climate which in turn enabled local Vancouver artists to explore their o w n social and artistic agency. In response to a letter from Jean-Paul Morisset, Director of Extension Services at the National Gallery of Canada, who questioned the standards o f the Fine Arts Gallery at U B C , B a l k i n d wrote: "This gallery puts on an exhibition program which is far more adventurous, far higher in quality and far more impressive than the space w o u l d seem to suggest. B u t I refuse to be intimidated by space. I challenge it just as I challenge accepted notions on the arts, in philosophy and in life. I cannot and w i l l not accept small-mindedness. I w i l l not reduce what goes on here in a passive and acquiescent manner." 30 A p r i l 1968, B a l k i n d Series. A s Leider explained, with no real art economy B a l k i n d faced a lack o f financial support. Despite this fact, B a l k i n d ' s productivity was in large part due to his extensive personal letter-writing and his continual invitations to diverse cultural figures to visit Vancouver. Leider wrote: " B a l k i n d works with the impossible handicap of an absurdly small budget; many of the important art events that occur (with remarkable frequency) at the university gallery go without documentation, publicity, or extensive notice..." L e i d e r quoted by Stan Persky in " B a l k i n d ' s basement filled with j o y , " unknown publication, 1967. Russell Jacoby, The Last Intellectuals: American Culture in the Age of Academe (New Y o r k : Basic B o o k s , Inc., 1987), 21.  6  7  8  9  137 counterparts, nonetheless had the same vital role in the development of Vancouver art. Balkind's critical voice as seen in his exhibition pamphlets and catalogues, while small i n both length and distribution, went beyond descriptive or light-weight treatments of local art production. His critical methodology and approach to artistic production were grounded i n American pragmatism. Philosophical pragmatism, expounded i n the writing of Charles Saunders Peirce, W i l l i a m James, John Dewey, and recently continued by Richard Rorty and Cornel West, rejects idealism in philosophy and, rather than eliminating the Cartesian subject, revises it to find human agency within the autonomous subject. Pragmatism has claimed status as the first American philosophy, one in search of ostensibly democratic values. Its purpose was and is to deconstruct hegemonic regimes of thought and hierarchical systems in order to allow for alternative methodologies and approaches. A s the word implies, the pragmatist also uses introspection, deliberation, and facts in search of "truth." In the domain of culture, specifically within the post-modern context, pragmatism has been a particularly provocative model because of its belief in the ever-changing nature of culture. In a type of bricolage, a pragmatic approach investigates cultural paradigms, critiques them and re-builds them.  10  Balkind's role as a critic also needs to be understood within the context of Clement Greenberg's critical dominance in North American art discourses. B y the early 1960s, Greenberg's formalist criticism came under fire from many critics who believed that North American post-war culture and art production could no longer be adequately considered and critiqued by European models, specifically by Kantian  F o r a summary o f philosophical pragmatism, see E l l e n Peel, Politics, Persuasion, and Pragmatism: A Rhetoric of Feminist Utopian Fiction (Columbus: O h i o State University Press, 2002), 8-9. 1 0  138 notions of taste. Barbara Rose, M a x Kozloff, Lawrence A l l o w a y  11  and, in Vancouver,  Balkind, turned to pragmatism as a new model for cultural critique. However, far from constructing a counter-Greenbergian history of Vancouver art, I want to instead argue for a "modernist visibility" that permeated diverse art practices where vision was explored and challenged. In Eyesight Alone: Clement Greenberg's and the Bureaucratization  Modernism  of the Senses, Caroline Jones presents a particularly useful  critical history of Greenberg. W h i l e Greenberg's texts lend themselves to analysis using Marx, Freud, Althusser, Foucault, and Lacan in relation to late capitalism psychoanalysis, performativity, and ideology - Jones argues that Greenberg must be read in terms of visuality. Using the term "modernist visibility," Jones explains how Greenbergian aesthetics were part of broader artistic and social discourses on space and power relations in which modernity was internalized through vision and visuality. They were part of a larger post-war phenomenon that Jones names the "bureaucratization of the senses," a process that occurred over time i n which human 12 experience was reduced and intensified.  * In the emerging era of syntheticism,  artificiality, and simulacra, eyesight gained new and profound social, political, and  ' The break-down o f formalism was the crux of a significant amount o f art criticism by a nexus o f art writers including H a r o l d Rosenberg, Susan Sontag, Rose, Kozloff, and A l l o w a y , and across various publications such as Artforum, Art International, Art in America and Art News. The art critics who challenged Greenberg objected to three main ideas in formalist modernism. First, formalist painting was essentialist; that is, in its self-referential and medium-specific composition it claimed an essential quality. F o r an increasing number of critics, essentialism of any kind was no longer acceptable as consumer capitalism and mass media communications had blurred divisions between people and spaces. Second, the notion of "purity" in Greenberg's formulation maintained the division between high and l o w culture where "kitsch" was low culture and modernist painting "genuine culture." They rejected "purity" and instead supported art that allowed for the " c o m m o n object." Last, Greenberg's formula for evaluating art was based on fixed ideals such as quality and value. In the context of post W o r l d W a r II technological globalism, his critics found these criteria to be inadequate to deal with art that used simulacra and readymades. S y l v i a Harrison, Pop Art & The Origins of Post-modernism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 32-4. 1  Caroline A . Jones, Eyesight Alone; Clement Greenberg's Modernism and the Bureaucratization of the Senses, Chicago: University o f Chicago Press, 2005. For a summary of the bureaucratization of the senses in post-war culture, see x v i i - x i x . 1 2  139 personal functions; the latter perhaps the most significant as individual subjectivities were in part formed by visual information. The "Greenberg effect," described by Jones as being at the core of several farreaching and variously interpreted artistic practices, was operating in Vancouver i n the 1960s. Greenberg's theories on painting had a bi-coastal impact and although Vancouver artists did not engage with h i m directly, his critical power informed many approaches. For example, while R o y K i y o o k a was trained in and taught formalist painting, he simultaneously questioned its applicability to personal, political, and spiritual aspects o f art. In this sense, he investigated several angles o f visuality, sometimes rejecting, sometimes accepting, but still working within the terms of the aesthetic question. Jones writes: "on opposite sides of the continent, both aspiring artists and established ones were tunneling through the same stratum - a modernist visibility articulated in Greenbergian terms."  In Vancouver, Greenberg's terms were  repeated, challenged, and undermined as in K i y o o k a ' s Untitled from 1967 where shaded discs are elevated from the flat surface of the canvas creating dimensionality. Symmetry and over-all balance are maintained but the discs lift off the canvas to challenge its autonomy. The ovals instead become symbols of something else spirituality, Zen - their potency comes from elsewhere, outside of formalist d i c t u m .  14  O n the west coast, artists, critics, and curators were engaged with the breakdown of formalism. Specifically, the dramatically new social and cultural conditions brought on by mass communications and media meant that painting in terms of formalist practice alone was no longer seen as valid. This was demonstrated by the  Jones, x x v . A s I discussed in Chapter One, K i y o o k a was a poet, painter, photographer and teacher. H i s poetic practices were informed by Charles Olson and although his paintings evidenced a formalist control of composition and colour, his philosophy was guided by the openness o f cultural exchange and kinetic verse. 1 3  1 4  140 California pop art show Six More at the Los Angeles County Museum of A r t in 1963 that elicited nation-wide critical attention and marked a west (and east) coast dedication to pop. In 1964, the critical failure of Greenberg's Post Painterly Abstraction exhibition also at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art signaled the operation of the "Greenberg effect" on the west coast.  15  Although it was poorly  received, the exhibition not only re-invigorated dialogue on modern art practices but also strengthened the rivalry between California and N e w Y o r k .  1 6  W i t h Vancouver as  a participant on the west coast, these dialogues were made more complex as they broadened to include transnationalism and local artistic histories. Open form poetics in particular challenged traditional modernist poetry and visual arts. Projective verse translated into new modes in film and dance with artists such as Stan Brakhage and Merce Cunningham, as evidenced in Vancouver at the Festival of the Contemporary A r t s .  17  Balkind was pivotal in securing open form  poetics in Vancouver, specifically in his capacity as a director of the Festival. He was also an active member of the Western Association of A r t Museums ( W A A M ) of which he was elected vice-president in 1964. M a k i n g frequent trips down the coast to San Francisco and Los Angeles to attend the annual general meetings, Balkind's connections included contemporary art world figures such as curator Walter Hopps, gallery director R o l f Nelson, and artists Jess Collins and Judy Gerowitz (Chicago). Balkind's involvement i n both open form poetics and pragmatist discourses laid the foundations for Vancouver visual art production. The intermingling of  F o r a discussion o f the critical reception of the exhibition as well as the L o s Angeles art scene, see D a v i d H o w a r d , "The G o l d e n A g e as Catastrophe: The L o s Angeles Cultural Renaissance and the 'Post 1 5  Painterly Abstraction' exhibition," in Bordering on the New Frontier: Modernism and the Military Industrial Complex in the United States and Canada, 1957-1965, P h D thesis (Vancouver: University of British C o l u m b i a , 1993), 224-332. Canadian artists included in Post Painterly Abstraction were Jack Bush, Kenneth Lochhead, and A . F . M c K a y . Post Painterly Abstraction, L o s Angeles: L o s Angeles County M u s e u m of A r t , 1964. See Chapter T w o for a history o f The Festival of the Contemporary Arts between 1961 and 1968. 1 6  17  process philosophy and pragmatism in Vancouver created a sound philosophical paradigm for artistic production. The two philosophies are intertwined schools of thought - both Whitehead and Dewey held that experience was the foremost premise for knowledge. In this sense, both process philosophy and pragmatism can be understood as anti-Kantian, or at least challenging Kant, in the rejection of idealism and objective truth. Both favoured realism over idealism and fallibilism over intuition. In Vancouver, this was repeatedly demonstrated in the rejection of expressionist painting and in the challenge to Greenbergian formalism. Furthermore, and crucial to the development of North American post-war avant-garde formations, process philosophy and pragmatism each mounted a self-conscious counter-attack against European traditional philosophy (by which they were both marginalized in academia from the 1960s).  18  Structured around a tight a chronology of events and exhibitions between 1965 and 1968, this chapter attempts to explain how and why an avant-garde formed in Vancouver, with particular focus on the specificity of its west coast context. It consists of five sections, each representing five artistic events that were significant to the formation of the Vancouver avant-garde: San Francisco poet Jack Spicer's infamous Vancouver Lectures (1965); the exhibition Beyond Regionalism  at the U B C  Fine Arts Gallery (1965); the 1966 Festival of the Contemporary Arts; the exhibition Joy and Celebration at the U B C Fine Arts Gallery (1967); and concluding with the exhibition The West Coast Now at the Portland Art Museum (1968).  19  Robert C u m m i n g s N e v i l l e , "Whitehead and Pragmatism," in Whitehead's Philosophy: Points of Connection, eds. Janusz Polanowski and D . Sherburne ( N e w Y o r k : S U N Y Press, 2004), 19-39. This constellation of events represents artistic practices that ran counter to the majority of the exhibitions held at the Vancouver A r t Gallery in the early to mid-sixties that promoted the established regional school o f painters, including Jack Shadbolt, G o r d o n Smith, and D o n Jarvis. F o r a history o f exhibitions at the Vancouver A r t Gallery, see Vancouver: Art and Artists, 1931-1983, Vancouver: Vancouver A r t Gallery, 1983. 1 8  1 9  1965: Jack Spicer, Utopia, and the Vancouver Community of Poetry In February 1965, Jack Spicer read from his book Language at the Festival of the Contemporary A r t s .  20  Concurrent with Bruce Conner and his beat-inspired  assemblages, Spicer represented the poetics of the San Francisco Renaissance, a phenomenon that had a profound role in the shaping of the emerging Vancouver avant-garde. A player in the California junk movement at the Six Gallery in San Francisco along with Wallace Berman, George Herms, and Conner, Spicer's poetry incorporated diverse sources - folklore, pop culture, populist, esoteric, and religious sometimes all in one poem. A s noted in Chapter T w o , California assemblage was epitomized in Rodia's towers that used local industrial material and in Conner's assemblages that appropriated media and objects from post-war consumerism. Spicer similarly took bits of material culture to put together linguistic mosaics. The University of British Columbia alternative newspaper The Artisan commented on Spicer's visit: Spicer is a legendary person in avant-garde American poetry. W i t h Robert Duncan and Robin Blaser, he was a leading figure i n a revolt during the late 1940s against academic poetry at the University of California. The influential San Francisco school of poetry emerged from this revolt with Spicer as a chief revolutionary and conscience ever since - a poet who has exerted barbed intelligence, integrity and w i t . . . 21  Spicer, in turn, was enraptured with Vancouver and wrote to Warren Tallman, "I got more from my three days Vancouver (spiritual bread) than I've gotten i n the last two years i n San Francisco."  22  Four months later, in M a y 1965, Spicer returned  Spicer claimed his birth year to be 1946, the year he met Robert Duncan and R o b i n Blaser at Berkeley. Spicer taught history at the California School o f Fine A r t in San Francisco and was also part  of the " s i x " o f The Six Gallery where Ginsberg read Howl. Peter G i z z i , The House that Jack Built: the Collected Lectures of Jack Spicer (Hanover and L o n d o n : University Press of N e w England, 1998), x x xxiv. 21  The Artisan (vol. 4, no. 5, 1 Feb 1965), n. pag.  2 2  Letter from Spicer to W . Tallman, 20 A p r i l 1965. Contemporary Literature Collection, S F U .  143 to Vancouver when Balkind invited him, Stan Persky, and Robin Blaser to read their recent work at the N e w Design Gallery. Blaser and Persky became permanent Vancouver residents and Spicer stayed on as a guest of Tallman to deliver his Vancouver Lectures in June and July 1965. The three lectures took place at the Tallman residence between 13 June and 14 July at the cost of two dollars each or five dollars for the series.  23  The lectures were  intense interactive discussions requiring knowledge of Spicer's work and his vast poetic sources, including W i l l i a m Carlos Williams, Olson, Duncan, Pound, Donne, Blake, Stein, O v i d , Homer, and Arnold to name a f e w .  24  Between fifteen and twenty-  five people attended, including poet Dorothy Livesay, violinist Harry Adaskin and poets connected with Tish, such as Peter Auxier, George Bowering, Judith Copithorne, and Jamie Reid. Filmmakers and poets Sam Perry and Dennis Wheeler were also present. Spicer was an important figure for Tish, challenging the young 25  poets and pushing them to recognize their poetic naivete. Specifically, Spicer encouraged the poets to find what he termed their own voice and to resist imitations or importations of American new poetry. Elusive, contradictory and non-didactic, he also reflected on himself. About one of his own poems, he questioned: How can the [my] poem be so Canadian (like the packages of cigarettes or kleenex) when all the poems I've seen i n Tish were packaged like American cigarettes or American kleenex?  Gizzi, xxii. Spicer's poetic knowledge was encyclopedic and his poetry was complex. It refused stable meaning and alluded to theology, politics, poetry, history, love, and death. Spicer's intertextuality is the subject of G i z z i ' s analysis and one of his main arguments is that Spicer's work needs a method or practice of reading. See "Jack Spicer and the Practice of Reading," in The House that Jack Built, 173-228. Dennis Wheeler was a student of E n g l i s h and A r t History at the University of British C o l u m b i a from approximately 1965 to 1971. In addition to studying poetry, he also wrote literary and poetic reviews for The Ubyssey, independent art criticism, and in 1971, he completed his M A thesis in A r t History entitled Kasimir Malevich and Suprematism: Art in the Context of Revolution. Wheeler's participation in Spicer's Vancouver Lectures indicates an early interest i n revolutionary or at least, radical artistic practices. 2 4  2 5  Letter from Spicer to E . T a l l m a n , 23 Feb 1965. Contemporary Literature Collection, S F U .  144 For Spicer, the issue of the local in an age of corporatism was central to his radical poetry. W h i l e Tish poetics were theoretically based in American modernism, the poetry represented an intangible Canadian-ness. For him, Vancouver was "paradise," 27  continuing California's Utopian promise of freedom up the coast of the Pacific.  The  Canadian Pacific was even more desirable largely because it was free from government sanctioned violence i n Vietnam and military conscription. I have identified three main themes in the Vancouver Lectures that relate to the avant-garde milieu in Vancouver, particularly to its development as a liminal space or Utopian city. The first is what Blaser has termed "the practice of Outside," a 28  concept central to Spicer's poetry but pertinent also to artistic issues in the city.  For  Spicer, "Outside" is a liminal ambivalent space created when the poet steps outside of the poem, creating a vacuum in which the poem is written. The poet writes backwards, posthumously, to the poets before h i m and, at the same time, towards the readers. The past and the future, what Spicer calls the Real, then floods the vacuum to occupy the space of the p o e m .  29  In Language, death represents the alterity of poetry,  an X space that is frequently in the foreground of the Pacific Ocean: This ocean, humiliating i n its disguises Tougher than anything N o one listens to poetry. The ocean Does not mean to be listened to... It pounds the shore. White and aimless signals. N o One listens to poetry. W h i l e his formulation suggests a critique of romantic regionalism and even west 30  coast Zen, the ocean is a touchstone for Spicer's west coast location, both  It is likely that Spicer would have continued his association with Vancouver but he died just one month after his last Vancouver lecture at the age o f forty. Blaser, "The Practice of Outside," in The Collected Works of Jack Spicer, ed. R o b i n Blaser (Santa Rose, California: B l a c k Sparrow Press, 1975), 271-326. G i z z i , 175. Jack Spicer, Language (San Francisco: White Rabbit Press, 1965), n. pag. 2 7  2 8  2 9  3 0  145 geographically and psychically. For him, the Pacific Ocean exists across human death and war; its sounds are heard - but "no one listens to poetry." Spicer called for a community of poetry and for "not selling-out." In Vancouver, he found "paradise," where people did listen to poetry and where he found his "spiritual bread." Blaser has noted: "Jack's voice remained.. .outside the paradise or city of its concern because such a city is outside our time or at the edge of i t . "  31  For the American poets, and for  Balkind and Tallman, the city existed on the outside edge of time and in between two nations - perhaps Vancouver was the vacuum into which the Real could flood. The second theme is Vancouver as a paradise, where the city is the primary construction in the cross-temporal framework of the Outside. In The Maximus  Poems,  Gloucester speaks through Charles Olson. In the Vancouver Lectures, Spicer builds Vancouver, a process "literalized i n the imaginary construction of Vancouver from the baselines of a baseball diamond."  32  Baseball was a leitmotif i n Spicer's work. He  used it to represent the field of composition using populist, athletic imagery. In baseball, a pragmatist symbol of American (not necessarily Canadian) democracy, a player transcends his social standing. The game takes place at the edge of time, without a clock, until the plays are made. He read from Book of Magazine Verse on Vancouver: We shall build our city backwards from each baseline... W e shall clear the trees back, the lumber of our pasts and and futures back, because we are on a diamond, because it is our diamond. Pushed forward from. A n d our city shall stand as the lumber rots and Runcible mountain crumbles, and the ocean, eating all of the islands, comes to meet us.  3 1  3 2  3 3  33  Blaser quoted in G i z z i , 183. G i z z i , 194. F o r an analysis o f Spicer's use of baseball, see 196-9. Spicer quoted i n G i z z i , 195.  146 Spicer "clear-cuts" Vancouver to empty it of nature as well as its history of ecological destruction. The Pacific Ocean washes away Vancouver's land and history. For Spicer, it is the city's most definitive force providing the power necessary to empty, clear and free Vancouver so that the city can re-shape itself into a construction of equality and balance.  34  The city has become a diamond, where fair play and equality  within a social group operate within timeless narrative. The third theme, a continuation of the second, is the idea of the west coast as an alternative community of image production. The Pacific delineated both a geographic and temporal edge. O l d growth-trees and Indigenous cultures marked the "oldness" of the west coast while the emptying of these simultaneously marked its youth. Peter G i z z i remarks on this doubleness in Spicer's conception of California: It represents a limit: the geographical limit of the West, the ocean the sunset, The End. A t this extremity is a defining narrative of American geographical conquest and media-expansion, it is a narrative based in repetition. The narrative of the edge becomes caught i n its own echoes and the re-iteration of temporary endings: the repeated projection of cultural icons, the crash of the surf, the fade-out, etc. 5  For Spicer, California was antipodal to the east coast - it was the "seacoast of bohemia." Throughout the Vancouver Lectures, Spicer talked the profound emptiness of Vancouver, but also about the west coast as richer, older, as "the other end of the rabbit hole," a place where you could dig and "fall into China." He thought the Pacific should be the extreme limit of a separate country - a "post-apocalyptic, image-making, border culture." Vancouver, Spicer's paradise, invited this "narrative 36  of the edge" up the coast into Canada where the debris of the past and the future readers of poetry could co-exist.  " R u n c i b l e " is from E d w a r d Lear's "The O w l and the Pussycat," rendering a feeling of geographic fantasy in the poem. G i z z i , 203. G i z z i , 201. 3 4  3 5  3 6  147 The Pacific Ocean marked the edge of a coastline of Utopias. For Spicer, Balkind, Blaser, and Tallman - a l l American-born - Vancouver's potential as a paradise lay in both its closeness with the United States but equally in its political distance from it. The Utopian potential of Vancouver was located in "the university," specifically the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University.  37  In lieu  of San Francisco's bohemian cafes, the universities gathered American expatriates who believed that the radical cultural power of American modernism, particularly open form poetics that included Black Mountain and projective and beat poetry, could effect social change. The university offered the possibility of artistic and cultural transformation where the past was released and new paradigms could be constructed. Students strove towards this with exuberance, first challenging institutional power relations and second, fighting for their own agency. They sought to protect freedom of protest and speech and battled for tolerance of expressions of sexuality and drugs. The little bohemia led by Balkind and Tallman at the University of British Columbia bloomed even within the growing bureaucratization and physical expansion of the institution. W i t h John MacDonald as the University President reporting to social credit Premier W . A . C . Bennett who i n turn responded to fiscal initiatives of the liberal federal government, students began to articulate their sense of frustration and alienation. When Bennett received a nineteen million dollar operating grant to distribute between the new Simon Fraser University, U B C , and Victoria College in early 1965, students became enraged with the U B C President when he proposed fee increases later that year. The Ubyssey consistently published editorials on these  S i m o n Fraser University opened in September 1965. Designed by V a n c o u v e r architect A r t h u r E r i c k s o n (a previous invitee at the Festival o f the Contemporary Arts), the university was meant to embody harmony, both in its architectural volumes and spaces and also in its liberal and progressive academics. R o b i n Blaser j o i n e d the E n g l i s h department in 1966 and from there wrote The Pacific 3 7  Nation.  148 events, including in satirical cartoons by Jeff W a l l . In a cartoon from February 18, 1965, W a l l drew Bennett as a wily dog-trainer who, flaunting a steak over the heads of three dogs, demanded, " N o w , sit up and beg."  The vignette allegorized  MacDonald's desperate petition to Bennett for a fair share of the grant in order to accommodate salary increases for faculty. In turn, MacDonald was also criticized 39  when he failed to address the entire student body to explain the proposed fee hikes. W a l l satirized h i m as Marie Antoinette who, reclining in her royal regalia and reading a newspaper with student protests as the headline story, declared "Let them eat cake." W a l l ' s cartoon reframed the students' rage within a revolutionary context where students were fighting for republican values against a ruling monarchy. Models of collective revolt, including the contemporary Berkeley protests, ignited student activism on campus. W i t h plans for a new student union building (funded by the provincial grant) there were new meeting spaces and legitimacy to student government and organizations. Advocating non-violence, students were 40  calling for increased cooperation between the student body and administration. O n National Student Day on October 27, 1965, over one half of the Canadian students who marched were from the University of British C o l u m b i a .  41  In addition to active protesting, students also explored social dimensions of empowerment. For example, the right to birth control became a heated debate that played out on the pages of The Ubyssey and sexuality, while remaining a taboo subject, was also a topic being increasingly exposed. For example, one of W a l l ' s cartoons from September 30, 1965 draws a young male student pondering the  The Ubyssey, 18 Feb 1965, 1. ' W a l l signed this cartoon with the dictum " M o n e y is the root of all e v i l . " The Ubyssey, 21 Sept 1965. 'The Ubyssey printed proposed plans for new student U n i o n building, 21 Jan 1965.  The Ubyssey (28 Oct 1965), 5.  149 influence of contemporary literature on his girlfriend.  42  Perturbed by her  impressionability, the student remarks how his girlfriend ran away to San Francisco after she read On the Road. However, he becomes increasingly delighted when he recalls the positive outcome of his girlfriend's reading of the American soft-porn classic Candy. W a l l ' s cartoon was printed within the same weeks as the controversy around birth control was being editorialized and concurrently with the campus screening of Larry Kent's sexually explicit film Sweet Substitute.  43  The University of British Columbia was a site of bureaucratic and government tensions, but also the home to academics, students, and a small group of poets and artists who vehemently believed in democratic liberties and the importance of critical activism. Certainly an expatriate like Balkind and an avant-garde poet such as Spicer viewed the campus as a paradise where possibilities were endless.  44  In the midst of  American student violence, war in Vietnam, and c i v i l inequalities i n the United States, the Utopian promise of Vancouver was ripe. However, the 1960s as a Utopian moment has become a cliched notion, not to mention a misleading one. When heightened violence in Vietnam followed Utopian movements in the early 1960s, utopianism was cast as naive and futile, even dangerous.  45  However, as Russell  Jacoby argues, it is short-sighted to understand Utopia as being followed by dystopia. Instead, both should be viewed as contemporaneous. He asserts that radicalism  The Ubyssey,30 Sept 1965. Kent was a student and filmmaker at U B C and his f i l m s Bitter Ash (1963) and Sweet Substitute (1964) were screened on campus upon release and again in January 1965. See Chapter T w o for a brief discussion o f Kent in relation to west coast avant-garde filmmaking. A m e r i c a n expatriates and visitors served as catalysts in the development o f the local intellectual and artistic milieu i n Vancouver. Americans in particular, were drawn to V a n c o u v e r to avoid military conscription and also to be able to voice opposing or dissenting political and social positions for w h i c h they would be persecuted in the United States. However, it must also be noted that Canadian, British, and other international figures were also catalytic figures in Vancouver and at the University of British C o l u m b i a , such as B . C . B i n n i n g and Marshall M c L u h a n . E l l e n Peel challenges the dismissal of U t o p i a n ideals based on their p e r c e p t i o n as naive, silly, fruitless and even immoral. Instead, she wants to re-formulate notions o f U t o p i a as more p r o d u c t i v e sites of analysis. Peel, 8-9.  n  4 3  4 4  4 5  150 vitalizes liberalism so that in the 1960s, anti-war protests, for example, perpetuated a dialogue between radicalism and liberal democracy, strengthening both. In this sense, utopianism on North American campuses should be re-framed as spurts of activity and growth for both radicalism and liberalism, rather than futile attempts at idealism. Understanding Utopia as dynamic as opposed to static has been theorized by feminist literary scholar Ellen Peel as "pragmatic utopianism." Where static Utopia 46  is a representation of perfection - unattainable and bound to fail - pragmatic Utopia is a process of critique in the present towards an ideal future. For pragmatic Utopians, the inability to attain an ideal society is not a failure because by its very definition Utopia does not exist. Instead, the Utopian drive motivates change and constant modification, progress rather than failure. Because pragmatic utopianism operates through changes and stages, it can work to disassemble fixed binaries such utopia/dystopia, good/evil, male/female. I think this is a fruitful way of conceptualizing avant-garde art and poetry i n the 1960s, specifically in Vancouver. In the poetry of Blaser, Spicer, and Tish poets, ideal cities were imagined where nature, spiritual travel, and freedom were embraced. Energized by people such as Spicer, U B C students enacted pragmatic utopianism and wanted to build Vancouver through experimentation and change. In Imaginary Communities: Utopia, the Nation, and the Spatial Histories of Modernity, literary and cultural theorist Phillip Wegner analyzes the role of utopianism in modernity, tracing its trajectory through relations of space, subjectivity, and the nation-state. He writes: The Utopia's imaginary community is not only a way of imagining subjectivity, but also a way of imagining space, thereby helping the nation-state to become both the agent and locus of much of modernity's history. 47  4 6  4 7  Ibid., x i x . Wegner, x v i i .  151 A s discussed i n the first chapter, the west coast imagined itself as a distinct nation constituted by relations between its cities, its specific histories, Indigenous populations, and the Pacific Ocean - subjectivities that were defined within these cultural and spatial matrices. Literary and artistic practices on the west coast mapped out this terrain and in turn, poetic and visual representations of "west coast Utopia" transformed space into a "real" place.  48  What emerged was a sense of regional  identity based on imagined communities (this process i n which represented relations become "real" has been variously termed interpolation, semiosis, and the performance of discourse). Thus, the Utopian ideals of the west coast i n the 1960s should not be dismissed. Rather, they must be recognized as doing significant symbolic and cultural work, ultimately creating the "pacific nation."  1965: Beyond Regionalism Spicer's visit, student activism, and a desire to carve out a climate of possibilities translated into a drive for freedom from the constraints of tradition and from colonial regimes and systems o f thought. Balkind's exhibition Beyond Regionalism  i n October 1965 was motivated by this drive. Including works by Iain  Baxter, Claude Breeze, Brian Fisher, A n n K i p l i n g , David Mayrs, Gary Lee-Nova, Marianna Schmidt, and Jack Wise at the Fine Arts Gallery at the University of British Columbia, the exhibition was part of the larger social and political shifts that were taking place on campus, in Vancouver and on the west coast. For his part, Balkind was articulating the complex aspects of these shifts. Specifically, he outlined fresh  I n relation to the construction of the west coast, another productive concept o f utopianism is M i c h e l Foucault's formulation of heterotopia. Heterotopia and pragmatic U t o p i a are similar i n several ways. F o r example, both: 1) consist of several sites juxtaposed i n one space; 2) are spatio-temporal constructs that break with traditional time, and; 3) are isolated and penetrable at the same time and embody their o w n rites. See M . Foucault, " O f Other Spaces," Diacritics (Spring 1986), 22-7. 4 8  152 parameters for artistic production that included, first and foremost, a rejection of romantic landscape painting. " N e w art" dispelled heroic and lyrical modes of landscape and replaced it with social, political, and spiritual dimensions of life. Students at U B C , including many young artists, were absorbing the political fallout from American intervention in Vietnam and trying to make sense of their position as Canadians and members of the west coast. In November 1965, Lester Pearson secured his second term as Prime Minister with a minority liberal government and, although he continued to refrain from involvement i n Vietnam, relations between Canada and the United States strengthened for the first time since W o r l d War IT. John Diefenbaker, conservative Prime Minister during the Cuban Missile Crisis, had been decidedly anti-American in foreign diplomacy and domestic trade issues. Reluctant to comply with President Kennedy's call for backup on Cuba in October 1962 and looking to Europe for increased trade, Diefenbaker wanted to create more Canadian independence from the United States. In 1963, when Pearson gained power, Canada and the U S , under Lyndon Johnson, became closer partners. Despite the tumultuous relationship between the two leaders, the Canada-United States Auto Pact was signed in January 1965 which led to a dramatic decrease in Canadian unemployment.  49  Even though Canada refused to support American activity  in Vietnam and provided refuge to thousands of draft-dodgers during the crisis, economic ties between the two countries strengthened. Published on November 9, 1965, the day after Pearson's re-election for a second term as Prime Minister, a cartoon by W a l l shows Pearson engaged in a friendly telephone call with Johnson following his victory. A s i f picking up where he left off before the interruption of the A l t h o u g h Pearson and Johnson had a strained relationship, mostly due to Pearson's refusal to support the U . S . i n V i e t n a m , the economic partnership strengthened. F o r a political and economic history of the post-war years in Canada, see E r i k a Simpson, "The Principles o f Liberal Internationalism according to Lester Pearson," Journal of Canadian Studies (vol. 34, no. 1, Spring 1999), 64-77.  49  153 election, Pearson is quick to get back to business and asks, "Hello Lyndon? .. .Now, where were we?..." The cartoon suggests a critique of the neighbours' close relations and raises the question of Canada's complicity i n securing the post-war economic hegemony of the United States. A t U B C , while American foreign policy was reviled, American intellectual activity and its potential for radical change were embraced. Reciprocally, Americans saw Vancouver as a safe-haven from conscription and from their complicity in the atrocities of war. A n example of this reciprocity on campus was the visit of Paul Krassner, editor of the N e w Y o r k political magazine The Realist, on October 20, 1965. Speaking to over six hundred students at U B C , Krassner condemned the 50  Catholic Church, the prohibition of birth control, and the Vietnam War. H e was particularly vocal on the polarization of the two ideologies of communism and capitalism and warned that anti-communism was an American obsession or witchhunt that threatened human freedom. Despite being a dedicated demonstrator, he was also critical of anti-war protest. H e addressed U B C students: Y o u have to stop the brutality and inhumanity before you think up an alternative. A k i d who has just been burned out of his village doesn't care about a teach-in. W e have really become callous in the United States. 51  Krassner also did a written interview for The Ubyssey. W a l l accompanied it with a full-page cartoon satirizing the North American fear of radical thought, specifically the "threat" of Krassner to the establishment.  52  Caricatures of the pope, Edgar  Hoover, the biblical Madonna and C h i l d , Fidel Castro, and Bobby Kennedy declare that the Realist editor is "one of the greatest threats to c i v i l liberties and fundamental  The Realist was a magazine o f free speech, criticism, and satire. Krassner led teach-ins across the United States and had been active with A l l e n Ginsberg i n demonstrations at Berkeley. The Ubyssey (21 O c t 1965), 2. 50  51  52  The Ubyssey, 8 Oct 1965.  154 privacies of the individual." W a l l ' s iconic figures flank images of sexually-explicit advertisements for the Volkswagon beetle and fabric softener with the tag lines "Does the stickshift scare your wife?" and " H o w to make a hard man a softie." W a l l transformed consumer products into sexualized symbols of power and desire. The caricatures of the world leaders, by contrast, were made to appear impotent. The Vietnam War and Berkeley protests were at the forefront of reporting and student activism on campus. M a n y students condemned the political, economic, and military intervention in Vietnam and they rejected imperialist and colonial attitudes both globally and nationally. The Quebec separatist movement received coverage i n The Ubyssey on both sides of the issue and the role of the British monarchy in federalist debate was declared obsolete. O n the Queen's visit to Quebec in early October 1965, one student journalist wrote: "The Queen should have stayed home.. .the purpose and ideals of Canadian unity at this time would have been better served in her absence."  53  The Fine Arts Gallery was by no means removed from the fervor on campus. Balkind and emerging artists were participants and were concerned with artistic practice within the climate of activism. Beyond Regionalism signified a resounding rejection of romantic painting and with it, European traditionalism. In the 1950s, Jack Shadbolt, Alistair B e l l , J . A . S . MacDonald, D o n Jarvis, and Gordon Smith formed a loosely connected school of expressionistic "animistic" and figurative painters.  54  They were acquainted with Seattle artists Morris Graves and Mark Tobey, two of the most prolific American painters on the Pacific coast and the foundation of the Ecole du Pacifique that worked towards being an alternative to the N e w Y o r k Abstract  53  The Ubyssey (14 Oct 1965), 1.  5 4  Watson, " A r t in the Fifties: Design, Leisure, and Painting in the A g e o f A n x i e t y , " in Vancouver: Art  and Artists, 1931-1983, 82-8.  155 Expressionists. Both the Vancouver and Seattle painters were preoccupied with 55  nature and its mystical tranquility and were united by their somewhat theosophic painterly abstraction. In 1965, at the time of Beyond Regionalism,  the British  Columbian landscape painters of the 1950s no longer held social or aesthetic currency. Balkind wrote: It was an art of lyricism, passion and occasional symbolism; its mystique was romantic, inescapably involved as it was with the omnipresent mountains, fjords, fogs, and rain forests o f this part of the coast. Its intellectual basis was essentially School of Paris...with a background scrim - like a racial memory - on which was projected a slide of English Landscape Painting. 5  The "pacific school" gave way to the "pacific nation" and a concern for artistic composition and style was eclipsed by a desire to create an alternative social and cultural formation. Young Vancouver painters no longer identified with lyrical landscape painting. Ian W a l l a c e , writing for The Ubyssey, reviewed the work of J . A . S . 57  MacDonald and Gordon Smith. MacDonald's attempt to express existential loneliness, Wallace wrote, resulted in visual cliches due to technical ineptitude. He continued: "MacDonald's problem is one of language. Whatever he is trying to say, he is incapable of saying it through painting." H i s review of Smith, less scathing, 58  revealed Wallace's distaste for the genre: "There is little in Smith's work which leads the viewer into any visual experience that does not smack of the deja-vu."  59  By  Peter Plagens, Sunshine Muse: Contemporary Art on the West Coast ( N e w Y o r k : Praeger Publishers, 1974), 46-7. Beyond Regionalism, exhibition pamphlet, 6-23 O c t 1965, Fine Arts Gallery, U B C , n. pag. In addition to being an artist and a prolific art writer for The Ubyssey and for Vancouver news media, Wallace was a student in the A r t History department at the University o f British C o l u m b i a . A n instructor in the department between 1967 and 1970, he completed his M A thesis (under the  5 5  5 6  5 7  supervision o f B . C . Binning) in 1968 entitled Piet Mondrian: The Evolution of his Neo-plastic Aesthetic 1908-1920. Similar to Wheeler, Wallace was interested in twentieth century European avant-garde artistic practices. Wallace, "This guy's so bad it's sad," The Ubyssey (26 N o v 1965), 12. 5 8  59  The Ubyssey (4 N o v 1966), 10.  contrast, the "plastic landscapes" of Iain Baxter in Beyond Regionalism were praised by Wallace who called them "nervy common objects.. .uncommon and enigmatic."  60  Baxter included fifteen plastic or laminate "paintings" in the exhibition. B.C. Landscape was completely encased in plastic, an isolated synthetic landscape. The 61  plastic de-romanticized the landscape transforming in into a banal object. The "clothing of our time," Baxter called the plastic that wraps the electric age - "all that information running around the world through little plastic wires." Baxter used 62  plastic as if it were human skin - wrapped objects transformed from everyday things into extensions of humans. In keeping with Marshall McLuhan, he believed in the interconnectivity of entities, including humans, objects, and nature. Landscape, what had traditionally been a genre of expressionist and romantic painting, was reworked in Baxter's plastic landscapes, such as Bagged Landscape. Through placing a "readymade" toy boat, real water, and a little plastic cloud in a transparent bag, Baxter transformed an otherwise traditional landscape into a plastic microcosm. A bagged landscape is transparent, therefore promoting awareness of both the superficiality of the landscape genre as well as the technological aspects of plastic that, for McLuhan and Baxter, are just as natural as "landscape." Balkind's rejection of romantic landscape painting in favour of "new art" was justified by two main aspects in contemporary art discourses: 1) new art was based in internationalism; and 2) new art was grounded in a new dada concern for the everyday, common object. In part reflective of the theories of British art critic 6 0  The Ubyssey (22 Oct 1965), 10.  It is not clear whether B.C. Landscape was included i n Beyond Regionalism, however it closely resembles the exhibition's Landscape with Cumulus Cloud, both from 1965. Baxter i n a taped interview, 6 Feb 1967, National Gallery of Canada Archives, Artist Files. Philosophically, Baxter's work denies Cartesian duality and recognizes sensory experience as fundamental to perception. In this sense, it can be read as anti-Greenbergian. However, as Caroline Jones points out, Greenberg's aesthetics operated within broader discourses o f visuality within the electric age. Baxter was engaged with M c L u h a n who was also concerned with the "bureaucratization of the senses." Jones, x v i i - x i x .  6 1  6 2  6 3  157 Lawrence A l l o w a y , the first aspect was in keeping with the idea that there is a "fine art-pop art continuum." Balkind raised the problems around notions of high-art. B y illuminating the common object, he wanted to challenge "elite views of art" while at the same time pointing to the new designation of art as communication. For 64  Balkind, this was not solely an American phenomenon but rather a general condition of post-war urbanized cultures. In his essay for Beyond Regionalism,  65  Balkind wrote:  In the majority of the works, the landscape has disappeared, and with it any claims to regionalism. In its place, a new internationalism steps to the forefront. It has certain qualities which may be seen simultaneously in Los Angeles, Winnipeg, Chicago, Stockholm and Dusseldorf.  66  Diverse metropolitan areas were all plugged into a global media network and through air travel, instantaneous communications, internationally published art journals, and traveling exhibitions, any "cranny" of the world could be an art centre. Balkind asserted that the eight artists represented in the show were working within this global context. Claude Breeze challenged high art by using a widely circulated image from the newspaper media - Otis Pruitt's controversial photograph of a double lynching in Mississippi from 1935. In September 1965, The Ubyssey reproduced Pruitt's image that had been re-created as a poster by the American Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.  Breeze's painting Sunday Afternoon: from an old  In many of his essays, B a l k i n d makes indirect reference to Lawrence A l l o w a y ' s theory o f fine artpop art continuum that he used to dismantle regimes of hierarchy. See Lawrence A l l o w a y , "The A r t s and M a s s M e d i a , " (1958); "Popular Culture and Pop A r t , " Studio International, J u l y / A u g 1969, 17-21; American Pop Art (1974). In "Transmission Difficulties: Vancouver Painting in the 1960s," Watson incorrectly states that Beyond Regionalism took place in 1966, Paint (Vancouver: Vancouver A r t Gallery, 2006), 15. This is important because the exhibition established a strong local scene that was based in international avantgarde discourses. B a l k i n d , Beyond Regionalism, n. pag. W h i l e there is a partially comprehensive list of works from this exhibition, it is not clear i f Breeze's painting was included in Beyond Regionalism even though it is consistent with the exhibition dates and W a l l a c e ' s review. 6 5  6  6 7  158 American Photograph reproduced the graphic image of the hanging against a background pastoral landscape in an emotionally-charged palette of bright yellow and green. Breeze not only identified himself with North American student activism, but also violently subverted the previously lyrical landscape genre with human atrocity. Wallace wrote of the image: W e look into the maps of their faces for signs of the elusive self within, that slips out of focus at the moment of recognition, of the cold horror. The second critical aspect of "new art" was its use of the everyday as source and subject matter. Barbara Rose wrote that the new generation of artists "uses the content of life [but] stands apart from it - amused, detached."  69  Rose referred to  these practitioners as "new dada" for their use of readymades; that is, objects from the commercial and consumer realm. Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, and A n d y Warhol, for example, re-created objects that, i n juxtaposition with life, forced viewers to evaluate both art and life together. Balkind thus contrasted the artists in Beyond Regionalism to the previous generation of regional landscape painters with their romantic and emotive expression, arguing that the new artists possessed an attitude that was "cooler, more detached"  70  Balkind's essay brought art and life into play.  Vancouver artists, he wrote, were responding to a "world nearly overcome by political and social convulsions, conjoined to the wild, galloping horses of technology and science." Using synthetic materials such as plastic and readymade objects, Balkind asserted that Vancouver artists responded with "irreverence, humour, frank sensuality, anti-heroics, and anti-monumentality."  71  Wallace, "Plastic A x e s dream frenzy in U B C art," The Ubyssey (22 Oct 1965), 10. Rose, "Dada, then and now," in Pop Art: A Critical History, ed. Steven Henry M a d o f f (Berkeley: University o f California Press, 1997), 57. B a l k i n d , Beyond Regionalism, exhibition press release, 24 Sept 1965, B a l k i n d Series. Ibid., n. pag. 6 8  6 9  7 0  7 1  159 Balkind quoted Rose with frequency in his texts. She was prolific and accessible but she also provided a model for new methodologies in art criticism, specifically a return to dada as a way to counter Greenbergian formalism. A brief comparative analysis of Rose and Balkind reveals the extent of Balkind's engagement with American art discourses but also the specificity of his position in Vancouver. Balkind's critical approach shares two main similarities with that of Rose: first, his attachment to philosophical pragmatism and second, his belief in the extra-visual character of "new art." A form of pragmatism underpinned Balkind's curatorial practice and theory. In practice, his elucidation and evaluation of art was based i n a Duchampian dialogue about the limits and nature of art. A s a critic, Balkind saw his role as illuminating the position of the artist for the viewer. H e said, "art is everything and everywhere. A r t is not everything and everywhere, but depends upon intention: either the intention as put forth in the production of an object, as the postulation of an idea, or as an eye which selects."  72  Balkind's intention was to transmit an idea and to create dialogue, both on  the part of the artist and the critic, in hopes of bringing about the critique and undoing of one movement (regional landscape painting) and the building of an entirely new one (new dada). Balkind shared this methodology with Rose who believed that a pragmatist critic had greater depth than a formalist, calling for comparative or relativist judgment as opposed to idealist judgment. Relativist judgment was made through the direct and immediate experience of the critic and not on an already-fixed set of evaluative criteria as in Greenbergian formalism. Similarly, Balkind situated experience as the foundation of his critical approach, writing that evaluation comes "out of our own personal vats.. .instincts, genes, inherited tendencies." H e claimed  7 2  Written interview with Charlotte Townsend, January 1972, B a l k i n d Series.  160 that a critic absorbs information over the course of time and eventually makes value judgments based on experience and personal characteristics, hopefully tempered with "richness of soul and humanity."  73  Balkind's practice emphasized experience, openness, and subjectivity. He wrote: "a verification process would be, in my terms, something that my experience tells me, yet always retaining the right to change m y m i n d . "  74  He embraced an open  critical method where process and deliberation replaced idealism, more specifically, the idealism of the European-based criticism of Greenberg. Balkind's theoretical praxis, therefore, rejected European models of aesthetic judgment, along with European landscape painting, in favour of American grass-roots philosophy. Rose's texts provided philosophical and theoretical arguments for pragmatism. Arguing that Greenberg's aesthetic discourse was primarily neo-Kantian, where judgment and taste were objective qualities, Rose implied that Greenberg's (and Kant's) theory unites art and aesthetics, thereby limiting art from being anything other than expressions of beauty, quality, and taste. Formalism retained links to European epistemology and 75  was deemed to be obsolete in the American cold war context. B y contrast, philosophical pragmatism grew out of American democratic and republican values and, for critics such as Rose and Balkind, could respond more legitimately to North American cultural formations.  Ibid., n. pag. Ibid., n. pag. In Kant after Duchamp (Cambridge, Mass: M I T Press, 1996), Thierry de D u v e explains how Kantian philosophy informs Greenberg's theory. Kantian aesthetics necessarily embody Cartesian duality where judgment is understood as a facility o f the mind and intellect that is divorced from bodily experience. The role o f the critic is particularly privileged as only a highly sensitive connoisseur could have the taste and ability to identify value and timelessness i n art. The act o f aesthetic judgment is a universal truth that Kant calls the "supersensible substrate of humanity." The supersensible is an Idea o f Reason that, going beyond ordinary reason, is a rare quality possessed by the critic and therefore imbuing h i m with universal ability.  7 4  7 5  Rose mounted a case for the pragmatic character of minimal and pop. She argued that Greenberg's formalism was based in an idealist European tradition whereas pop and m i n i m a l i s m were "uniquely 7 6  161 The second similarity that Balkind shared with Rose was his belief that "new art" or new dada, had its source outside the visual arts, namely i n Black Mountain aesthetics. John Cage and Merce Cunningham, in particular, epitomized the potential of visual art to re-contextualize both art and life while philosophically challenging traditional systems of representation. Rose advocated Cage as the source for "antiformal" art. For example, she argued that happenings and environments were the visual equivalents of Cagean chance and silence. In the same manner, Balkind posited Cage as central to art practices on the west coast, such as to dancer A n n Halprin and the San Francisco Tape M u s i c Centre. Balkind's engagement with Black Mountain was direct, beginning in 1961 with the visits of Robert Duncan and Robert Creeley, and then continuing with Cage and Cunningham in 1962 and 1966. Cage was significant not only for his theories on chance, but also for his attachment to Zen that resonated with particular force i n Vancouver. The liminality of the Pacific coast and its projection as a Utopia held the promise of social and spiritual transformation. In Silence, Cage commented on transformation, particularly as it relates to repetition: In Zen they say: i f something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, try it for eight, sixteen, thirty-two, and so on. Eventually, one discovers that it's not boring but very interesting.  77  Brian Fisher's Maya # 5, featured in Beyond Regionalism,  consists of narrowly drawn  precise hard-edge lines i n a repeating pattern that evoked, on one level, preColumbian culture. Pacific, also from 1965, with its obvious allusion to the west coast, is painted with a similar symmetrical harmony. Both paintings use illusion created by repeating lines to create a sense of rhythm and movement, one drawing on A m e r i c a n . " This polarity marked the end of the European A g e and the emergence of the United States as the world power. Harrison, 123-4. John Cage from Silence, quoted by Rose i n " A B C A r t , " i n Art in America (vol. 53, no. 5, O c t / N o v 1965), 65.  7 7  162 ancient culture and the other on natural oceanic rhythms. The process of looking at the repeating symmetry was akin to the process of gaining self-awareness where physical activity (seeing) transforms into internal awareness. L i k e Cage, Fisher wanted the viewer to concentrate on his paintings for at least half an hour to 78  experience this transformation. Gary Lee-Nova included Magic Mirror i n Beyond Regionalism.  L i k e Fisher,  Lee-Nova painted in the hard-edge idiom and wanted optical illusion to guide the viewer out of the internal world of meaning towards visual experience. Lee-Nova produced in several media - painting, drawing, sculpture, and film - and in each he was influenced by the activities of the Festival of the Contemporary Arts, especially by Conner, Brakhage, and Cage. In a letter to poet Gerry Gilbert in 1964, Lee-Nova wrote: John Cage has written a book on S I L E N C E Silences are multitudinous - the speaking silence of this page when I am writing and you are reading. The silent spaces between things.. .before the word there is space and silence - after it and before.. .in spatial silence there are no words or fear or doubt or love or hate.. . 7 9  The paintings of Fisher and Lee-Nova were described by Wallace as having "freedom 80  not of the imagination, but of the release of the psyche from memory." W h i l e Balkind was in keeping with Rose in terms of his adherence to pragmatist methodology and his positioning of Black Mountain poetics as a main source for new art, his critical practice was specific. First, i n contrast to Rose, Balkind did not completely reject formalism, nor did he promote a binary opposition between  Watson, Paint, 19. Letter from L e e - N o v a to Gilbert, 1 M a y 1964, L e e - N o v a Fonds, M o r r i s and H e l e n B e l k i n A r t Gallery Archives. The Ubyssey (22 Oct 1965), 10. 7 8  7 9  80  Greenberg and Cage.  81  Balkind did not embrace Cagean practice for its difference  from Greenbergian formalism, but rather because Cagean aesthetics embraced open form poetics that were so central to Vancouver cultural practice. Furthermore, Balkind perceived other strands of influence in Vancouver, such as surrealism and hard-edge painting, as coexisting rather than competing. Second, and most important, Balkind did not consider the new art to be "purely American." Balkind was building the "pacific nation" that transcended national boundaries and incorporated diverse, 82  even European, sources. Balkind's curatorial openness had a counterpart in the teaching and artistic practice of R o y Kiyooka. A s discussed in the previous chapters, K i y o o k a ' s involvement with Olsonian poetics and blew ointment provoked his exploration into subjectivity and history. A t the same time, his practice in abstract and hard-edge painting, which he eventually abandoned at the end of the 1960s, represented an adherence to formalism. K i y o o k a arrived in Vancouver in 1960 from Regina where he was a teacher and participant i n the E m m a Lake Artists' Workshop with Barnett Newman in 1959 and again with Greenberg in 1962. B y 1964, K i y o o k a had become known for his large-scale hard-edge canvases, an idiom that he taught at the Vancouver School of Art between 1960 and 1964 to students such as Lee-Nova, Rose's insistence on Cage (and Cunningham) as the source of 1960s anti-formalist art strengthened throughout the decade. B y the late 1960s, her critical approach was articulated through an oppositional binary that polarized Greenberg and Cage. Where Greenbergian aesthetics represented European traditions o f idealism locked within systems o f taste, Cagean practice represented A m e r i c a n democratic values, such as freedom. Rose most clearly articulates the Greenberg/Cage binary in "Problems o f C r i t i c i s m , V : The Politics o f A r t Part II," Artforum (vol. 7, no. 5, Jan 1969), 44-9; and, "Problems o f Criticism, V I : The Politics of A r t Part III," Artforum (vol. 7, no. 9, M a y 1969), 46-51. W h i l e European romantic painting was being challenged, certain European avant-garde expressions were o f interest to Vancouver artists, specifically the L o n d o n pop scene. F o r B a l k i n d , the French nouveau roman of A l a i n Robbe-Grillet was also a valuable model of non-narrative literary practices. In the exhibition essay for Art Becomes Reality in 1964, he referred to the nouveau roman as a provocative avant-garde model. F o r the theory o f the nouveau roman, see R o c h C . S m i t h , Understanding Alain Robbe-Grillet, C o l u m b i a : University of South Carolina Press, 2000 and Raylene Ramsay, Robbe-Grillet and Modernity: Science, Sexuality and Subversion, Gainesville: University o f F l o r i d a Press, 1992. 8 1  8 2  164 Michael Morris, Bodo Pfeifer, Fisher, Glenn Lewis, and Breeze.  83  H i s hard-edge  aesthetics were derived from New Y o r k post-painterly abstraction but his students, OA  particularly Lee-Nova and Morris, modified it with London hard-edge and pop. Both had trained in England, Lee-Nova at the Coventry School and A r t (1961-2) and Morris at the Slade School of A r t in London (1965-66).  85  Over the course o f the late 1960s an early 1970s, K i y o o k a ' s focus shifted to poetry, sculpture, and photography but his influence as a teacher did not diminish - to his students, he embodied the cross-over between places, cultures, and media. H i s first book of poetry Kyoto Airs (1964) and his hard-edge and elliptical paintings were representative of the openness and exploratory nature of his teaching and practice. Just as significant as his work at E m m a Lake was K i y o o k a ' s participation in open form poetics in Vancouver, years he referred to as extraordinary: A s k anyone who heard B o b Creeley read poetry. O r listened to John Cage while Merce Cunningham danced. O r participated i n one of A n n Halprin's dance/happenings. O r went to the Cellar to listen to A l N e i l . . .Poetry was very much in the air.. .The west coast landscape school had lost its hold on a new generation who were looking for a relevant aesthetic and I, unwittingly, became their collaborator. I brought the hype of the contemporary with me and shoved it in under the trees with everything else.  86  But before that, K i y o o k a brought internationalism to young Vancouver artists, training them in formalist painting and hard-edge techniques. In his preoccupation with harmony and balance, he also encouraged exploration into the metaphysical and  F o r a discussion of K i y o o k a vis-a-vis A m e r i c a n modernist painters and Greenberg's treatment of the "Regina F i v e " painters, see John O ' B r i a n , "White Paint, Hoarfrost, and the C o l d Shoulder of Neglect," in Kiyooka (Vancouver: Artspeak, 1991), 19-25. V a n c o u v e r artists followed the London pop scene. For example, in a review of the exhibition London: the New Scene at the Vancouver A r t Gallery, Wallace celebrated the excitement, humour, and satire o f L o n d o n artists. Wallace, The Ubyssey (5 N o v 1965), 9. L o n d o n hard-edge and pop were significant to V a n c o u v e r art production and were brought directly to the city by L e e - N o v a and M o r r i s . Their British training was supported by Canada C o u n c i l grants pointing to both the acceptance of L o n d o n as a significant art centre but also illustrating Canada's enduring cultural association with Britain. F o r a discussion of the L o n d o n scene in the 1960s, see Art & the 60s: This Was Tomorrow, eds. Chris Stephens and Katharine Stout, London: Tate Britain, 2004. K i y o o k a in Roy Kiyooka: 25 Years (Vancouver: V A G , 1975), n. pag. 8 3  84  8 5  8 6  165 spiritual dimensions of these attributes.  87  Kiyooka's role as an artist, poet, and teacher  is central in the formation of a Vancouver avant-garde.  1966: The Festival of the Contemporary Arts and the west coast avant-garde Beyond Regionalism  signaled Vancouver's artistic break from tradition.  Young local artists started to engage with international movements and with the go  social and political factors that shaped their lives.  Tallman and Balkind began to  build new artistic paradigms while Vancouver cultural producers selected specific sources with which to re-construct their aesthetics. What guided their choice of aesthetic and artistic models? The 1966 Festival of the Contemporary Arts, February 2 - 1 1 , brought together the three most significant sources for the formation of the Vancouver avant-garde: John Cage, the poets and artists of the San Francisco Renaissance, and Los Angeles pop art. Each of these artistic practices resonated 89  with Balkind's affinity with both pragmatism and open form poetics. Balkind did not have to look further than the west coast milieu. W i t h his personal and professional connections, the sources were physically and culturally accessible and easily adapted to Vancouver. Even Cage, who was not a west coast artist, had become central to many practices in California that incorporated Black Mountain aesthetics, such as the San Francisco Tape Music Centre. The Festival was also significant because for the first time it highlighted a Vancouver artist, Iain Baxter. Emerging local artists were 8 7  F o r a discussion o f K i y o o k a ' s central role i n the production of early Vancouver A r t , see Watson,  Paint, 18. A s I have mentioned in previous chapters, V a n c o u v e r ' s modernist movement o f the 1950s also had an international dimension, most notably due to the influence o f B . C . B i n n i n g . See Chapter T w o for his role as director o f the Festival o f the Contemporary Arts w h i c h featured international avant-garde artists. The Festival was organized by B . C . B i n n i n g , M u r r a y F a i r , and A l v i n B a l k i n d and attendance was approximately seven thousand people. Other performances included: music for piano and viola by Barbara Pentland; films b y Storm de H i r s c h , M a r i e M e k e n , Jonas Kekas, and Kenneth A n g e r ; "Evolution o f the B l u e s " musical program; premiere o f the play " F r i e d h o f ' by D a v i d Watmough; "non-verbal" poetry; L e s Puces Jazz T r i o ; live music with tapes by the Department o f M u s i c ; electronic music by V l a d i m i r Ussachevsky. Festival pamphlet, B a l k i n d Series. 8 8  8 9  166 active participants i n the Festival i n various ways, including Ian Wallace who reviewed the Festival and Dennis Wheeler who interviewed Robert Duncan. Jeff W a l l also contributed an illustration promoting the Festival to The Ubyssey. "Blammo! Kapow! Zowie! and Zap!" announced the Festival's events and a collage of photographs and drawings showed an environment by Baxter, dance by Cunningham, films by Perry and Brakhage, and a play by Robert Duncan. It is not surprising that Balkind repeatedly invited Cage to the Festivals. A s discussed in the previous chapter, Cage's aesthetics were founded i n a search for freedom from entrenched ways of seeing and thinking. Epitomizing pragmatic utopianism, his work consistently destroyed and created aesthetic boundaries.  90  In his  approach to art writing and curating, Balkind also sought to break-down totalizing systems. In this sense, both embraced pragmatism - for Balkind, it offered an open methodology of curating and evaluation, and for Cage, it was the philosophical basis of his work. Taking his pragmatism from John Dewey and using ideas of cultural critique and renewal, Cage positioned experience as the point of departure for contemplation and analysis.  91  O n an artistic level, Balkind understood that Cage's principles of chance and indeterminacy in music could be adapted to other media such as film, happenings, and environments where process and perception became the most crucial aspects of the work. Cage wanted to merge art and life but more specifically, he created  Wilfried Raussert identifies u t o p i a n i s m as being at t h e heart of Cage's practice: "at the roots of Cage's aesthetic and cultural intentions there lies a U t o p i a n force; a belief i n the p o s s i b i l i t y and actual realization of aesthetic and cultural spaces beyond conventional borderlines." "John Cage: L i m i t s and Possibilities of Crossing Cultural Boundaries," in The Sixties Revisited: Culture-Society-Politics, ed. Jiirgen H e i d e k i n g (Heidelberg: Universitatsverlag, 2001), 167-87, 171. F o r more on D e w e y ' s pragmatism, see Cornel West, "The C o m i n g of A g e o f A m e r i c a n Pragmatism: 9 1  John Dewey," in The American Evasion of Philosophy: A Genealogy of Pragmatism, Madison: University o f Wisconsin, 1989), 69-111.  167 interplay between diverse practices, namely pragmatism, Zen, and dada.  92  The  intersection of the disjunctive elements of bricolage, open process, and randomness created what he called "anarchic harmony."  In Vancouver, where young students  and emerging artists were dismantling old systems and seeking political, social, and intellectual engagement, Cage's aesthetics provided a provocative model. A t the 1966 Festival, Cage presented two musical works that were accompanied by Cunningham and his dancers - Suite for Five and How to Pass, Kick, Fall, and Run. The latter piece was composed with random hammering, knocking, and scraping. Each minute, Cage randomly selected a passage from his text Indeterminacy  to read aloud while musician David Tudor controlled audio equipment  to record, distort, and fragment the excerpts and then re-play them to the audience through speakers. The dancers were not dictated to by the musical score but coexisted with it and moved spontaneously for the duration of the piece. Praising its freedom of movement and expression, a reviewer for The Ubyssey wrote: "our attitudes and reactions to Cage are, like his music, indeterminate. But there is one constant in his work - the reactionary experience of the listener makes them art."  94  Wallace whole-heartedly embraced Cage, writing that Cunningham and Cage's interplay between independent forces are at the "juncture of every single experience and i n everything we d o . "  95  The poetry and art of the San Francisco Renaissance was the strongest catalyst for the formation of the avant-garde in Vancouver in the 1960s, starting with Robert Duncan's visit i n 1961 that prompted the creation of Tish. The San Francisco Tape  F r o m Z e n , Cage adapted the notion of process, penetration, unimpededness, and egolessness. H i s teacher was Daisetz S u z u k i at C o l o m b i a University. A s already discussed, Z e n and "eastern" spirituality were particularly prevalent i n Vancouver and on the west coast. R a u s s e r t , 177. The Ubyssey (11 Feb 1966), 7. 9 2  93  94  168 M u s i c Centre, Robert Creeley, L e w Welch, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gerd Stern, A n n Halprin, Bruce Conner, Stan Brakhage, Blaser, and Spicer each contributed to the Festivals and to the artistic formation of Vancouver. The bohemian culture of San Francisco that included beat poetry and film, assemblage, collage, and open form poetry permeated Vancouver. In 1965, the Sound Gallery opened. Poets, visual artists, musicians, and dancers exchanged their work and ideas. In June 1966, Tish promoted the Sound Gallery: The Sound Gallery has moved and a new media has been added: the dance.. .we arrived last Saturday night and were overwhelmed by the A l N e i l trio...Tapes, moving mirrors, projectors, strobe, dancers, and often all at once.. .The attendance has doubled every week and the police have been told that people are happy here, happier than those in the licensed shit across the street. 96  A crucial contribution from San Francisco to Vancouver (and beyond) was the publications of City Lights Books. Texts such as Astronauts of Inner Space, Spicer's Language, and recent works by Creeley and Duncan had a straight trajectory to Vancouver v i a Tallman and Tish. City Lights printed both Californian and international avant-garde literature and poetry and disseminated texts that shared aesthetic and political aspirations. For example, i n M a r c h 1966, C i t y Lights released an anthology of French radical playwright, poet, and avant-garde prophet Antonin Artaud. In a book review, Wallace wrote that Artaud's theories on the "theatre of cruelty" from the 1930s had become relevant to the "neo-barbarian, hung-up generation of 1966." Artaud's bitter and confessional writing mourned the death of 97  the spirit under the cruelty of life. For him, literature was complicit in the death of the spirit. H e rejected literary tradition, writing instead in irrational and absurdist  Tish 36 (18 June 1966), n. pag. The Sound G a l l e r y was established in 1965 by G r e g g Simpson, S a m Perry, and A l N e i l who were also responsible for organizing the Trips Festival i n July 1966 that included the Grateful D e a d and Jefferson Airplane. The Ubyssey, 11 M a r c h 1966, 6.  96  97  language. Artaud, for Wallace, represented a viable European avant-garde model of radicalism. O n the Anglo-Saxon reaction to Artaud, Wallace wrote: " H i s emotional effusiveness and catholic spirit run counter to W A S P emotional selfconsciousness."  98  City Lights Books nourished and energized the west coast avant-  garde and Vancouver was a major site of reception for its disseminations. The San Francisco Tape M u s i c Centre had been a regular feature at the Festivals and performed for the third time in 1966. L i k e Cage and Cunningham's conversion of sound and movement i n random order, the Tape M u s i c Centre projected electronic sound and light images in the auditorium. Enveloped by the spectacle, the viewers experienced it as a kinetic display of juxtaposing elements. Wallace wrote that the happening was a "chance fluctuation between harmony and dissociation, where sight meets sound as an independent force." Wallace observed 99  that the interplay of independent forces is an inevitable function of living and that electronically reproduced simulations only extended possibilities of human expression. Invoking Artaud's theatre of cruelty, Wallace argued that Cage, Baxter's plastics, and the Tape M u s i c Centre each provided an alternative language using gestures, light, electronics, and sound. Robert Duncan was a regular contributor to the Festival. In 1966, he held readings of his poetry and his allegorical and fheosophical play Adam's  Way.  m  Duncan's poetics, politics, and philosophical orientation continued to impact young Vancouver poets and artists. For example, in an interview with Wayne Nyberg and Dennis Wheeler in January 1966, Duncan espoused Whitehead's process philosophy, particularly Whitehead's belief that the universe is always i n a state of creating itself.  9 8  Ibid., 6.  99  The Ubyssey, 11 Feb 1966, 7.  1 0 0  See " A Dance with Orpheus" for a brief description of Adam's Way, Collapse 2, 23-4.  170 Duncan said: "our aliveness at this moment is our only experience of God. The poem is one of the means of being intensely a l i v e . "  101  The culture of the Festival embodied  the philosophical notions of Duncan and Whitehead, not only in selecting work by Cage and the Tape M u s i c Centre but also in the Festival slogans, "There is no tomorrow," and "The world ends last w e e k . "  102  Adam's Way, although an allegorical and surreal piece commenting on M i l t o n ' s Paradise Lost, was also a testimonial on the Vietnam War. Duncan published a statement on the play i n The Ubyssey, writing that his drama was ultimately about freedom through personal self-fulfillment and service to humanity. Using Dante, gnostic gospels, and the book of Genesis, Duncan's play included good, evil, Satan, creativity, and destruction. In his statement, he wrote that communism is a spiritual idea of brotherhood and that capitalism is an "exaggeration of human greed and selfishness.. .a doctrine of Satanic perversion." Despite his stated desire to keep his theatre removed from party politics, Duncan's play did focus on the poetic and spiritual dimensions of the contemporary moment: "I see the war in Vietnam as a profound evil, an evil at the level that has poetic potentialities."  Duncan's approach  was echoed in Vancouver art practice where work did not usually openly engage directly with the political. Instead, the social and political context inspired artists to search for alternative modes of perceiving and expression in order to find freedom from them. Duncan also had an interest in contemporary visual art, including pop art. A t the 1966 Festival, Duncan officially opened Iain Baxter's environment Bagged Created in collaboration with T o m Burrows, Ian Wallace, Murray Fair, Dallas  1 0 1  1 0 2  1 0 3  "Robert D u n c a n . . . o n his m i n d , " The Ubyssey (21 Jan 1966), 6. "Contemporary arts Festival pours over w o r l d , " The Ubyssey (27 Jan 1966), 7. "Robert Duncan...and his play," The Ubyssey (21 Jan 1966), 6.  Place.  171 Selman, and Gerry Walker, Bagged Place simulated a one-bedroom apartment, complete with furniture, utensils, appliances, and food, and was covered entirely i n plastic. L i k e Cage and the Tape M u s i c Centre, Baxter's apartment provoked viewers into considering and analyzing their environment. Wallace praised the environment: Absolute realism! Except for one fact. Everything is bagged. Bagged coffee, bagged rug, bagged water in bagged sink, bagged room.. .Is it a satire on pop art, which chooses to glorify the common and inane? Is it a satire of our sterilized plasticized super-valu society where everything comes packaged and bottled? 104  Baxter's ironic use of plastic indicates a closer tie to Los Angles than to San Francisco open form poetics. Baxter has often been pigeon-holed as a conceptual artist and certainly his work from the late sixties and early seventies reveals a dedication to the critique of consumer culture. W i t h his wife Ingrid, Baxter established the N . E . Thing C o . , a title that replaced Baxter as "auteur" and focused on site-specific and photographic production. However, I am asserting that i n the midsixties, Baxter should be understood as primarily a pop artist. Balkind placed h i m within the pop aesthetic, specifically within L o s Angeles p o p .  105  O n a trip to L o s  Angeles in early 1965, Balkind met gallery owner R o l f Nelson. U p o n Balkind's return to Vancouver, he wrote to Nelson about Baxter: He has an exciting potential, and might very well prove of considerable interest to a good dealer in Los Angeles.. .He is a gentle young man, and one with an authentic pop orientation, as well as one with considerably more imagination (in materials, at least) than any other artist up in these parts. 106  Wallace, " L o v e Affair Bags Place," The Ubyssey, 4 Feb 1966, n. pag. Baxter's affinity with L o s Angeles pop art was part o f V a n c o u v e r ' s broader artistic connection with L o s Angeles. The connection was evidenced in M a r c h 1966 when L o s Angeles art writer and critic John Coplans delivered a public lecture at the Vancouver A r t G a l l e r y on the L . A . scene. The Ubyssey, 25 M a r c h 1966, 14. A g a i n , in 1968, Coplans organized Los Angeles 6 for the Vancouver A r t Gallery, an exhibition that included works by E d w a r d K i e n h o l z , Robert Irwin, C r a i g Kauffman, L a r r y B e l l , John M c C r a c k e n , and R o n D a v i s . Los Angeles 6, Vancouver: Vancouver A r t Gallery, 1968. 1 0 4  1 0 5  1 0 6  Letter from B a l k i n d to Nelson, 4 D e c 1965, B a l k i n d Series.  172 Baxter, among other Vancouver artists such as Dallas Selman, Duane Lunden, and Lee-Nova, used synthetic materials, especially plastic, in his rejection of traditional landscape painting, instead, they engaged with the materials and products of industry and the everyday. While San Francisco provided a model of multidisciplinary bohemia and collaborative galleries, Los Angeles provided approaches to art that included new materials and a raw, cool manner that appealed to artists who wanted to counter histories of expressionist and lyrical painting. B y mid-century, Los Angeles had become the city par excellence o f imageproduction. Growing by five hundred people per day, its freeways and suburbs expanded at an unprecedented rate. The history of Los Angeles' urban development, as Edward Soja has noted, engenders a polarization between a social Utopia and dystopia where cycles o f boom and expansion were punctuated by extreme social 107  upheaval.  B y the 1950s, Los Angeles had become an economic and cultural rival to  New Y o r k as a leader i n the film industry, and petroleum, automobile and aircraft industries. Growing to ten million people i n between 1940 and 1970, it also became a crucial link i n the American "military industrial complex" with its aerospace industry that supported W o r l d W a r II and the Korean and Vietnam wars. In the 1960s, Los Angeles had endured the McCarthy era in Hollywood but had also ghettoized racial groups into barrios and inner city neighbourhoods. In 1965, in the black neighbourhood o f Watts (where Simon Rodia had erected his towers as a testament to  In The City: Los Angeles and Urban Theory at the End of the Twentieth Century (Berkeley: University o f California Press, 1996) A l l e n Scott and E d w a r d Soja explain the utopia/dystopia model of L o s Angeles history, including the booms o f the 1910s, 1920-40s, and 1950s when petroleum, production and refinement, H o l l y w o o d and the aircraft industries positioned L o s Angeles as a serious economic force i n the United States. The editors also outline the social unrest that characterized this rapid growth, including strong anti-Asian sentiments, the ghettoization o f Chinese, M e x i c a n , and European labourers, and the internment of thirty thousand Japanese-Americans in 1942. Introduction, 3-9. 1 0 7  173 the Californian culture of debris) the most violent race riots in the United States to 108  date erupted, revealing the dark side of the California "dreamscape." The assemblage aesthetic of the Watts towers was shared by artists throughout California. However, i n L o s Angeles, in addition to beat and junk practices, a specific style began to emerge known as the " L . A . L o o k . " Larry B e l l , Craig Kauffman, E d Ruscha, B i l l y A l Bengston, and Robert Irwin exemplified the " L . A . L o o k " that Peter Plagens has described as "the aroma of Los Angeles - newness [and] postcard sunset colour."  109  A s epitomized in Kauffman's Untitled (1967), plastic was L o s Angeles'  canonical material for its permanence and high polish that rivaled the traditional bronze or marble. Los Angeles hard-edge painting was re-incarnated in plastics where lines and geometric forms transformed into reflective objects. In Vancouver, the " L . A . L o o k " resonated strongly, particularly with artists such as Baxter, but also with Lee-Nova and Michael Morris who recognized the potential to take their hard-edge idiom into new directions. The development of the Los Angeles art scene played out in the pages of Artforum. Vancouver artists followed it closely as they recognized affinities with many aspects of Los Angeles art practice. First, L o s Angeles artists were employing the formalist idiom of hard-edge in innovative ways. For example, at the Ferus Gallery, Robert Irwin and Larry B e l l used straight lines and hard-edge forms in painting and sculpture to explore illusion and perception.  110  Second, Los Angeles  artists were also active in the cross-pollination of art and poetics, specifically in "little  See Edward Soja, " L . A . 1965-1992: F r o m crisis-generated restructuring to restructuring-generated crisis," in The City, for a racial history o f L o s Angeles and an analysis of race, urban space and imageproduction, 426-62. 1 0 8  Plagens, 120. Walter Hopps opened the Ferus in 1957, the first avant-garde gallery in L o s Angeles. F o r a history of the gallery, see The Last Time I Saw Ferus, 1957-1966, Newport: Newport Harbor A r t M u s e u m , 1976. 1 0 9  1 1 0  174 mag" format. Wallace Berman bridged photographs, drawings, collage, and poetry in his journal Semina.  111  Edward Kienholz and George Herms contributed to Semina, re-  iterating the collage aesthetic both in poetry and visual art. In Vancouver, blew ointment paralleled Semina with contributions from A l N e i l , Selman, Wallace, and Lee-Nova. Third, the " L . A . L o o k " used local industrial materials to create a specific style that fused graphics, sleek materials, and visual iconography. For example, Edward Ruscha's word paintings and reductive colour, such as Large Trademark with Eight Spotlights (1962), operated in the space between pop and graphic art. In Vancouver, artists such as Michael Morris also put language into question within the paradigm of "modernist visibility." Last, the Ferus Gallery and the R o l f Nelson Gallery i n L . A . exhibited diverse art practices including hard-edge, assemblage, beat,  112 and pop, a type of openness that was mirrored in Vancouver, especially by Balkind. In 1966, Baxter exhibited at the R o l f Nelson Gallery marking his entrance into the Los Angeles pop scene.  113  1967: Joy and Celebration In 1967, the year of the Canadian centennial when national unification was at the forefront of national political discussions, Robin Blaser wrote his journal The  Semina was produced between 1955 and 1964. D r a w i n g significantly from C i t y Lights publications, the issues were assemblages o f loose-leaf paper, poems, drawing, and photographic reproductions. Berman included B l a c k M o u n t a i n poets, historical poets and philosophers, and contemporary visual and literary artists, including A n t o n i n Artaud, Hermann Hesse, Jean Cocteau, W . B . Yeats, Charles Baudelaire, W . S . Burroughs, M i c h a e l M c C l u r e , A l l e n Ginsberg ,and Charles B u k o w s k i . P h i l i p Leider considered the R o l f Nelson Gallery to be the second most important gallery in L A . John Baldessari remembers the gallery as an alternative to the hegemony o f the Ferus, both in the city and in the pages of Artforum. A m y N e w m a n , Challenging Art: Artforum 1962-1974 ( N e w Y o r k : Soho Press, 2000), 118-9. B o t h Baxter and M i c h a e l M o r r i s were part of the R o l f Nelson roster. Referring to themselves as the "derriere garde," Judy Chicago, George Herms, Robert Indiana, and L l y n Foulkes exhibited at the R o l f Nelson Gallery, N e w m a n , 119. Artforum occasionally reviewed exhibitions at the R o l f N e l s o n Gallery: L y n n Foulkes, v o l . II, no. 3, Sept 1963; George Herms, v o l . II, no. 8, Feb 1964; P h i l Hefferton, v o l . n, no. 9, M a r c h 1964; Group Show, v o l . I l l , no. 2, N o v 1964. 111  1 1 2  1 1 3  175 Pacific Nation from Simon Fraser University. Embracing an international community of poetry that transcended national borders and cultural boundaries, he stated: I wish to put together an imaginary nation. It is my belief that no other nation is possible, or rather, I believe that authors who count take responsibility for a map which is addressed to travellers of the earth, the world, and the spirit. Images of our cities must join our poetry.  114  Blaser's idea of the "pacific nation" embodied Utopian notions of artistic, spiritual, and political freedom. In his exhibition Joy and Celebration, Balkind echoed Blaser's belief in a new Pacific region that was international in spirit and free from tradition. Joy and Celebration featured forty-six works by thirty-two local artists and demonstrated the diversity of Vancouver practices as well as the adaptation of aesthetic and philosophical sources.  115  Including sculpture, painting, prints, and  mixed media, the exhibition displayed "love of materials, delight in colour and form [and] an absence of rhetoric...."  116  A "remote, lotus-eating city," Balkind named  Vancouver's sense of freedom as a factor in the range and diversity of works presented. He referred to the "umbilical cords" and "precious body fluids" linking Vancouver with Los Angeles and San Francisco. Balkind again used Rose to frame the parameters of the exhibition. However, instead of re-iterating the "purely American" orientation of "new art" in his triangulation of Vancouver, San Francisco, and L o s Angeles, he asserted the transnational identity of the west coast. Joy and Celebration has been glossed over in Vancouver art history, largely because of its pre-1969 date. In his article "Discovering the de-featured Landscape,"  Blaser, The Pacific Nation, v o l . 1, no. 1, 1967. Contemporary Literature Collection, S F U . Joy and Celebration, U B C Fine Arts Gallery, 3 July to 18 August 1967. Circulated by the Western Association o f A r t Museums, its itinerary was: 20 N o v 1967- 4 Jan 1968, A r i z o n a State University, Tempe; 20 Jan-23 Feb 1968, Occidental College, L o s Angeles; M a r c h 1968, Tuscon A r t Centre, Tuscon; Sept 1968, Nevada Southern University, L a s Vegas; Jan 5-Jan 24 1969, College o f the Desert, P a l m Desert; Feb 1969, Seattle Pacific College, Seattle; M a r c h 1969, L i n f i e l d College, Oregon. B a l k i n d Series. B a l k i n d , Joy and Celebration, 1967, catalogue, n. pag. 1 1 4  115  1 1 6  176 Watson refers to the exhibition as representing the "bouncy" spirit against which artists such as Jeff W a l l , Ian Wallace, and Duane Lunden began to practice within the paradigm of the "defeatured landscape."  117  O n the other hand, I consider the  exhibition as a milestone in the development of the Vancouver avant-garde. Not only did it include the early works of Wallace and Lunden as part of the art scene rather than outside of it, but the exhibition also represented a first international appearance for Vancouver artists. Joy and Celebration traveled throughout the western and southern United States, demonstrating the specificity not only of the west coast avantgarde, but particularly that of V a n c o u v e r .  118  Balkind asserted that the most important aspect of the new sensibility on display in Joy and Celebration was a concern for conceptual, reductive illusion. Quoting Rose, Balkind suggested that the works displayed "a multiplicity of selfcontradictory spatial illusions...minimized artiness, pretense, mannered selfconsciousness, phony posturing and pseudo-philosophizing."  119  Balkind asserted that  it was through a detached use of colour, shapes, and illusion that Vancouver artists questioned the very nature of art. H e also identified another influence on this group of artists - that of Duchamp: "Marcel Duchamp's smile hovers over much of it, like 120 some ironic ghost, alternately compelling and mocking." In Joy and  Celebration,  Watson ultimately dismisses the exhibition, writing that it displayed "a pitiful sensuality in which bright colours, new plastics and shiny surfaces had been abstracted from the explosion of consumer commodities, but especially cars. The essence of new nothingness mingled with the last stand o f patriarchal notions of male-active, female-passive sexuality in works that are now mostly forgotten, lost or destroyed." "Defeatured Landscape," 248-9. The east/west opposition was a particularly divisive issue and was played out i n Artforum, critically and physically. The marginalization of art in San Francisco, L o s Angeles (and Vancouver) was reaffirmed by the move of Artforum to N e w Y o r k i n 1967. Rose quoted by B a l k i n d , Joy and Celebration, n. pag. B a l k i n d also went on to identify the specificity o f V a n c o u v e r production: "a lack of personal aggressiveness suggests the use of psychedelic drugs, or perhaps it is merely a determination to avoid the cruelties of the past; or it may, in part, reflect the cool, neutral, unemotional air of this city, w h i c h neither proposes nor disposes of what these younger artists produce." Ibid., n. pag. D u c h a m p was not a distant figure on the west coast. H i s major retrospective exhibition was organized by Walter Hopps at the Pasadena A r t M u s e u m , 8 Oct-3 N o v 1963, where many 1 1 7  1 1 8  1 1 9  1 2 0  177 Balkind wanted to exhibit how Vancouver artists, employing avant-garde vocabularies and practices, including poetics, were challenging traditional painting  121 and sculpture in order to re-define the conception and function of art. Reductive illusionism characterized the work of Lunden and Wallace, two artists who had rarely been exhibited before 1967. Lunden was preoccupied with geometric shapes, primarily the triangle, i n both formal and metaphorical terms. Wallace, intensely active in the art scene as a writer, was also a painter. Both artists used minimal forms to explore the formal and physical limits of painting and treated paintings as objects to be experienced i n space. The act of seeing was conceived of as function of perception where both the object and the environment were separate but interacting entities. A t the same time, both were exploring language, specifically open form poetics where language became about the mechanics of sound rather than its semantic or symbolic function. For Lunden and Wallace, visual art was dematerializing but poetry was materializing. In Joy and Celebration, Lunden sprayed a triangle onto the corner of a wall using enamel paint. Corner Painting exemplified Lunden's fixation with triangles, a geometric form that he used to explore the experience of space in an environment. Measuring almost eight by ten feet, the work consisted of seven horizontal stripes and California artists met Duchamp and viewed his work. Paul Wescher, " M a r c e l D u c h a m p , " Artforum (vol. II, no. 6, D e c 1963), n. pag. W h i l e B a l k i n d (and Rose) embrace Duchamp for dada aesthetics, Thierry de D u v e places Duchamp and the readymade within neo-Kantian aesthetics that were at the heart of conceptual art practices in the 1960s. Situating D u c h a m p within the aesthetics o f Greenberg and Kant, de D u v e argues that it was Greenberg in "After Abstract Expressionism" (1962) that allowed for a blank canvas to be art. In this way, formalism developed into minimal art and eventually into conceptual art. A c c o r d i n g to de D u v e , both Greenberg and Joesph K o s u t h cling to the Idea o f art, in the Kantian sense - for Greenberg, it is aesthetic and for Kosuth, it is a concept. The readymade is the link that allows for both art and aesthetics. See Kant After Duchamp (1996), 252. Cage, on the other hand, represents the merging of art and life. Everyday objects and readymades function to close the gap and to force viewers to be aware o f their o w n perceptions. C a g e ' s aesthetics are distinctly un-Kantian - neither the "Idea" o f art nor the concept of art plays a role. Instead, chance informs sound and movement and experience is the philosophical underpinning rather than judgment, taste, or ration. Based in the philosophy o f pragmatism, these aesthetics rejected idealism and hierarchies, and used process and experience to renegotiate perceptions o f art. 1 2 1  one larger monolithic top section. Without canvas or a frame, each separate part synthesized to make a whole form. A monumental painting, the triangle was at once fragmented and whole, both encompassed within and removed from the environment. Similar to Merce Cunningham and John Cage who used movement and sound to explore the disjunctures and connectedness between bodies and space, Lunden used paint and, most often, the inverted triangle to represent opening and recession. The viewer experiences the undulation between the vortex that opens up and the apex that regresses to a single point. H e was interested i n the points of recession or regression 122  where an idea, experience, or sound narrows and diminishes.  Lunden's  philosophical and poetic approach to the triangle contrasted with the function of geometry in traditional painting where a triangle was used for perspective and depth in landscape painting. L i k e Baxter who made plastic landscapes (and was also included in Joy and Celebration), Lunden's "landscape" took away painterly artifice and left only the landscape of the wall, enamel paint, and gallery space.  123  Wallace's painting Neon Red, also reductive in form, used acrylic and day-glo to address the formal aspects of painting such as the shape of the canvas and the application of materials onto the surface. However, Wallace did not put forth his canvas as a traditional painting but rather as an object that has both an internal structure as well as a relationship to the space around it. Analyzing Wallace's paintings that were installed at the Simon Fraser University Gallery in 1968, Marguerite Pinney noted: Essentially they remain objects in space. Not integration with but relationship to the environment is Wallace's concern. Primarily, he stresses the relationship of the arbitrarily painted frame around the unframed edge to its surroundings and to its contained inner universe Interview with Duane Lunden, July 2003. A l s o like Baxter, Lunden used plastics and high finish and looked to L o s Angeles artists such as Robert Irwin and L a r r y B e l l for both form and materials. 1 2 2  1 2 3  179 of paint.  124  The context of art was Wallace's main concern; a continuation of his aesthetic questions from 1966 when he critically embraced the San Francisco Tape M u s i c Center's interplay between sound and movement. Wallace also explored sound and vision in his visual poetry that was featured i n blew ointment. Several visual artists contributed to local little magazines including Gary LeeNova, Sam Perry, A l N e i l , and Dallas Selman. Wallace was included in the June 1967 issue of blew ointment with a textual collage. In a crossword-like pattern with random 1 25  words and letters juxtaposed, Wallace's collage was similar to Cage's mesostics. L i k e waterfalls or ideograms, mesostics negotiate the verbal and the visual. Their form on the page is determined by a central axis from which radiates random letters. In Cage's Merce Cunningham, for example, the word "merce" is not spelled out but rather is part of a collection of letters that were determined by chance, specifically by the / Ching.  m  In this way, both English and Chinese language systems occupy the  same physical and semantic space and therefore fulfill Cage's aesthetic goal of juxtaposing diverse elements.  127  Wallace's collage uses whole words from popular  print culture to put into play sexuality and language. "Liquid, meat, peach," transform Marguerite Pinney, "Duane Lunden and Ian Wallace, S i m o n Fraser University," artscanada (vol. 25, no. 3, A u g 1968), 34. blew ointment, v o l . 5, no. 2, June 1967. A l s o included in this issue are five collages by L e e - N o v a depicting geometric forms and celestial maps. Mesostics are part of Cage's broader inquiry into Z e n and A s i a n pacific "ideologies." A s discussed in Chapter T w o , his preoccupation with A s i a n philosophies made Cage particularly adaptable to the west coast that had an imagined affinity with A s i a . Furthermore, Cage's mesostics had a political dimension where he was trying to dislodge the artificial binary between east and west, specifically the ideological battle between communism and capitalism. Raussert writes: " H i s [Cage's] artistic experiments attempted to correct what the ideological and military confrontation between the East and the West - the Korean war, the V i e t n a m war - failed to do: namely to establish a basis for mutual recognition and acceptance." 186. The west coast's Pacific location allowed for an imagined connection with A s i a n philosophy. Classical Chinese philosophy and A m e r i c a n pragmatism are intellectually related. F o r example, both are concerned with a type of humanism where experience, thought and action guide intention. See K u a n g - m i n g W u , "The Spirit of Pragmatism and the Pragmatic Spirit" in The Recovery of Philosophy in America, 59-91. 1 2 4  125  1 2 6  1 2 7  180 from linguistic signifiers into a waterfall of erotic imagery where "meaty, juicy, and sweet" juxtapose, verbally and visually, to create a climactic frenzy on the page. Working in what Kiyooka called the "interface," Wallace built his collage in the space between the verbal and the visual. Michael Morris, included in Joy & Celebration with two hard-edge canvases entitled Painting and Painting For Ernst Jandl, was also concerned with the "objectness" of painting and language in a Cagean sense.  128  Painting for Ernst Jandl  was a variation of his successful painting The Problem of Nothing shown the previous year at Painting 66 at the Vancouver Art Gallery. The Problem of Nothing has been canonized in Vancouver art history, not only as a symbol of the increasing redundancy of modernist painting, but also as a marker of a new aesthetics - that of nothingness and silence. The image, in saturated colour of imprecise hard-edge lines, contains four shapes that advance and recess, creating dynamic illusion. A grey pyramid rises in the foreground atop a powerfully horizontal blue band at the bottom. Against a background of vertical pink and red stripes, a thought bubble advances on the surface and, instead of a textual declaration, contains opposing horizontal stripes in a clashing palette - purple, yellow, black, and grey. Op-art, pop and colour-field intervene on the canvas, resulting in the inability to utter a statement on the future of painting. The painting, with its concrete shapes and colour forms, undeniably puts forth its own objectness yet its muteness subverts any obvious meaning that may be attached to it. Painting for Ernst Jandl was named for the twentieth century Austrian poet who abstracted words into their phonetic components. First influenced by dada, Jandl  See Sharla Sava, "Determining the Cultural Ecology: R a y Johnson and the N e w Y o r k Corres Sponge Dance School of Vancouver," in Ray Johnson, (Vancouver: M o r r i s and Helen B e l k i n A r t Gallery, 1999), 11-26. 1 2 8  181 later became integral to the dissemination of American new poetry and Black Mountain poetics with his translations of Gertrude Stein, Robert Creeley, and John Cage.  129  M o r r i s ' dedication of the painting to Jandl re-contextualizes The Problem of  Nothing as a problem of language. Painting for Ernest Jandl doubles the singular column from the Problem of Nothing, thus making vision and language two halves of a whole function. W i t h two thought bubbles emanating from two pyramidal forms, it is a representation of a mute conversation. Letters of the alphabet are displaced from the central thought bubbles into their own separate and isolated circles at the bottom of the canvas. In this way, they are stripped of their linguistic function and instead become characters, symbols, and aesthetic shapes that are divorced from language, speech, and thought. Painting for Jandl engages with Cage's aesthetics of silence and, despite the rigour and control of the hard-edge idiom, language is freed from its semantic restraints.  130  Audrey Capel Doray also worked with sound and visuality. Rather than using minimal forms, however, she integrated popular iconography into her work. She was represented i n Joy and Celebration by Hexagon, a six-foot tall paneled light box that taped the sounds of the gallery and played them back through speakers. S i x panels of plexiglass with polarized film were attached by wire to a motor that projected comiclike images of pop culture - a blond bombshell, prisoner of war, political campaigning i n the media spotlight, group meditation, and a scenic image of a man feeding a bird. O n a loop, the "sculpture" used timed light to illuminate the images as  Stephen Scobie made reference to Jandl i n an essay on concrete poet Ian H a m i l t o n Finlay who became a central figure to Vancouver concrete poets. "Concrete Poetry," The Ubyssey, 9 Feb 1969, 2. L u d w i g Wittgenstein's language-based epistemology was also central to philosophical explorations into the logic of language and his work has often been considered i n relation to pragmatist understandings o f language such as those put forth by W i l l i a m James. W h i l e it is certain that Vancouver poets were absorbing B l a c k Mountain poetics v i a Olson and Cage, it is not evident that they were reading Wittgenstein directly. See R . B . G o o d m a n , "Wittgenstein and Pragmatism," in Parallax (vol. 4, no. 4, Oct 1998), 91-105. 1 2 9  1 3 0  182 taped s o u n d added a t h i r d sensory element to p r o v o k e the v i e w e r s ' awareness. I n Rebirth of Venus, C a p e l D o r a y incorporated o p e n f o r m poetics b y i n c l u d i n g r e c o r d e d poetry o f J u d i t h C o p i t h o r n e .  1 3 1  C o p i t h o r n e studied w i t h C h a r l e s O l s o n d u r i n g the  s u m m e r o f 1963, w a s a participant i n the V a n c o u v e r L e c t u r e s w i t h J a c k S p i c e r , a n d a p r o l i f i c poet i n Tish and blew ointment. C a p e l D o r a y , l i k e M o r r i s , used poetic practices to deconstruct the v i s u a l , and w i t h C o p i t h o r n e ' s poetry i n c o n j u n c t i o n w i t h  1 32 her i c o n i c female figures, she d e - s t a b i l i z e d stereotypes o f f e m i n i n i t y . C a p e l D o r a y was also a f o u n d i n g m e m b e r o f the artist c o l l e c t i v e I n t e r m e d i a that was established i n 1 9 6 7 .  1 3 3  A n u m b r e l l a o r g a n i z a t i o n that i n c l u d e d sculpture,  s o u n d , m u s i c , performance, poetry, and f i l m , Intermedia d e v e l o p e d f r o m the m u l t i d i s c i p l i n a r i t y o f the F e s t i v a l o f the C o n t e m p o r a r y A r t s as w e l l as the v e r b a l / v i s u a l practices at blew ointment and the S o u n d G a l l e r y .  1 3 4  Established with  the f i n a n c i a l support o f the C a n a d a C o u n c i l , a grant g i v e n n o doubt as a result o f the c i t y ' s artistic a c t i v i t y i n the p r e v i o u s f i v e years, Intermedia p r o v i d e d support and venue to a diverse and l o o s e g r o u p o f artists, i n c l u d i n g G l e n T o p p i n g s , L e e - N o v a , K i y o o k a , M o r r i s , Selman, H e l e n G o o d w i n , Perry, D a v i d R i m m e r , A l Razutis, Doray, bissett, G e r r y G i l b e r t , A l N e i l , and G r e g g S i m p s o n .  1 3 5  Differentiating between  Interview with Capel Doray, 25 January 2004. Copithorne's poetry was also included in Capel Doray's0n'gin(1967). Performance and feminism became a crucial aspect of Vancouver art practices b y the early 1970s but started earlier with Capel Doray, Copithorne, and Helen G o o d w i n . F o r more on early feminist performance art, see Jayne W a r k , Radical Gestures: Feminism and Performance Art in North Ameri Montreal and Kingston: M c G i l l - Queen's University Press, 2006. F o r a brief history o f Intermedia, see N a n c y Shaw, "Expanded Consciousness and C o m p a n y Types: Collaboration since Intermedia and the N . E . T h i n g C o . , " i n Vancouver Anthology: The Institutional Politics of Art (Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1991), 85-103. Intermedia nights at the Vancouver A r t Gallery were an example o f the interface between performance, sound, and visual art. V i c t o r Doray has compiled several essays outlining the history and activities o f Intermedia. H e stresses the technical aspects, saying that artists were using more technological and industrial materials and need space and expertise. D o r a y stresses the "cooperatively shared approach to obtaining and using equipment and space." Doray, written account, personal archives o f V i c t o r Doray, N o v 1997. D a v i d W i l c o x o f the Canada C o u n c i l visited Vancouver in 1966 and the Canada C o u n c i l followed with an unprecedented grant o f $40,000 to aid in the formation o f Intermedia. F o r a complete history, 1 3 1  1 3 2  1 3 3  1 3 4  1 3 5  183 " p r o d u c t " a n d " p r o c e s s , " I n t e r m e d i a artists w e r e interested i n the s y m b i o s i s o f t h e t w o , s u c h as w h e n dancers, poets, a n d m u s i c i a n s w e r e i n t r i n s i c to s c u l p t u r e a n d film.  1 3 6  I n t e r m e d i a w a s j u s t o n e m a n i f e s t a t i o n o f the d u a l i t y that h a d e x i s t e d i n art practice i n V a n c o u v e r since the early 1960s. Poet G e r r y Gilbert defined the terms o f the d u a l i t y i n the w o r d s o f C h a r l e s O l s o n , w r i t i n g that the d u a l i t y e n c o m p a s s e d  both  the " p o e m as a t h i n g l y i n g i n i t s e l f a n d t h e " p o e m as a c h a n t . " G i l b e r t a s s e r t e d that this duality w a s also clear i n the v i s u a l a r t s .  1 3 7  Lunden, Wallace, a n dMorris, for  e x a m p l e , w a n t e d to e m p h a s i z e the objectness o f paintings. A tthe same time, they d e l v e d into the d y n a m i c relationship between the object a n d its environment a n d system o f signification (language).  1968: The West Coast Now Joy and Celebration  represented the diversity, cohesiveness, a n d  i n t e r c o n n e c t i v i t y o f artistic practices that the V a n c o u v e r art scene h a d a c h i e v e d b y 1 9 6 7 . T h e s p e c i f i c i t y o f V a n c o u v e r avant-garde art w a s f o u n d i n the c r o s s f e r t i l i z a t i o n o f art a n d p o e t i c s . A l t h o u g h this w a s a n i n t e r n a t i o n a l  avant-garde  p h e n o m e n o n - f o r e x a m p l e , i n N e w Y o r k " a n t i - f o r m a l " art also e m b r a c e d C u n n i n g h a m a n d C a g e as aesthetic m o d e l s - i n V a n c o u v e r , its adaptation w a s f o r a different purpose. A d a p t e d to a C a n a d i a n context, A m e r i c a n avant-gardism h a d the p o t e n t i a l to d e - s t a b i l i z e E u r o p e a n traditions o f art that h a d b e e n d o m i n a n t i n  see Rebecca Fairbairn, " A Short T r i p on Spaceship Earth: Intermedia Society, 1967-1972," M A Thesis, Vancouver: University of British C o l u m b i a , 1991. South of the border, Experiments in A r t and Technology ( E A T ) was exploring a similar union of art and technology, and the L o s Angeles branch was a particularly appropriate site for the meeting of pop artists and technology. Companies in L o s Angeles were enlisted to participate in art and technology programs as part of E A T . Rauschenberg worked at Teledyne, Lichtenstein at Universal Studios, Robert Irwin at L i f e Sciences, Larry B e l l at R a n d , R o n Kitaj at Lockheed, and W a r h o l at Coules Communications. Barbara Rose Papers, Getty Research Centre. Letter from Gerry Gilbert to L e e - N o v a , 3 D e c 1966, L e e - N o v a Fonds, M o r r i s and Helen B e l k i n A r t Gallery A r c h i v e s . 1 3 6  1 3 7  184 Vancouver. W i t h Vancouver as an avant-garde nodal point on the west coast, the Pacific region was able to break down national(ist) borders and distinctions, thus creating a transnational region that was both culturally and socially alternative. The west coast was recognized as a distinct transnational cultural region in the 1968 exhibition The West Coast Now. Circulated by the Portland Art Museum, the exhibition included recent work from British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and California. The exhibition claimed a specific west coast milieu, epitomized in curator Rachel Griffin's words: It might be argued that there is a specific "seacoast" way of thinking... a commonly-held sense of being a region is exactly what makes a region. The entire west coast is emerging as vital for the future of America and C a n a d a . 138  Balkind and Doris Shadbolt, art historian and curator at the Vancouver A r t Gallery, were asked to select artists for the British Columbia portion of the exhibition and included Iain Baxter, Claude Breeze, Michael Morris, and Bodo Pfeifer. Baxter's Clear Tube, Breeze's Home Viewer #5: Riot Victim, M o r r i s ' Atlantis, and Pfeifer's Untitled represented the range of art practices and discourses in Vancouver. Baxter's eighteen-foot vinyl inflatable tube and Breeze's acrylic and fiberglass figure both used industrial materials and forms of the readymade. Morris and Pfeifer painted in the hard-edge idiom. Morris used steel, lacquer and acrylic, and repeating lines to evoke the other-worldliness of Atlantis. Pfeifer fused hard-edge and pop to create an image of the common object. A s new dada forms, these works transcended national designations, Balkind argued, and formed part of the dialogue of the west coast avantgarde.  1 3 8  The exhibition included eighty-eight works by sixty-two artists from British C o l u m b i a ,  Washington, Oregon, and California. The West Coast Now: Current Work from the Western Seaboard (Portland: Portland A r t M u s e u m , 1968), n. pag.  185 B a l k i n d , S p i c e r , B l a s e r , a n d T a l l m a n were active i n creating the " w e s t coast." In a process s i m i l a r to p r a g m a t i c u t o p i a n i s m , they brought together d i v e r s e artistic m e d i a a n d aesthetic practices w i t h i n an i m a g i n a r y , timeless space.  Poets,  f i l m m a k e r s , dancers, and v i s u a l artists f r o m C a n a d a a n d the U n i t e d States c o n v e r g e d at the u n i v e r s i t y a n d i n the c i t y a n d their interface characterized the " p a c i f i c n a t i o n . " B a l k i n d i n p a r t i c u l a r created a p h i l o s o p h i c a l f o u n d a t i o n f o r V a n c o u v e r . P r a g m a t i s m a n d o p e n f o r m poetics (process p h i l o s o p h y ) g u i d e d his theory a n d practice. O p e n f o r m poetics that was based i n D u n c a n , O l s o n , a n d W h i t e h e a d represented a tangible and adaptable m o d e l o f A m e r i c a n r a d i c a l m o d e r n i s m . M e a n w h i l e , p r a g m a t i s m offered a progressive a n d o p e n a p p r o a c h to art c r i t i c i s m . H o w e v e r , the f u s i o n o f the t w o p h i l o s o p h i e s o c c a s i o n a l l y engendered tensions. F o r e x a m p l e , Tish poets, i n their c h a l l e n g e to t r a d i t i o n a l poetry, were against r o m a n t i c i s m i n language a n d verse. H o w e v e r , they h e l d a d e e p l y r o m a n t i c v i e w o f " n a t u r e " a n d b e l i e v e d i n the p o s s i b i l i t y o f t r a n s c e n d i n g o n e s e l f a n d one's h i s t o r y t h r o u g h " u n i v e r s a l m u s i c . " In the v i s u a l arts, a s i m i l a r tension o c c u r r e d . N e w artists were c o o l , detached, a n d i m p e r s o n a l , yet at the same t i m e they b e l i e v e d i n art's transformative p o s s i b i l i t i e s . B a l k i n d referred to this as a n e w k i n d o f r o m a n t i c i s m , w r i t i n g that " l i k e G o d , [it] is not quite as dead as has been suggested." B a l k i n d d e s c r i b e d the n e w r o m a n t i c i s m : [It is] one less theatrical, less blatantly e m o t i o n a l , m o r e detached; yet one b r i m m i n g o v e r w i t h the j o y o f n e w d i s c o v e r i e s , the excitement o f the as yet u n k n o w n ,  Wegner discusses the role of de- and re-territorialization in Utopian formations where older formations are dissolved and new cultural flows are created, 25. Branden Joseph also acknowledged de-territorialization as a process integral to post-war avant-garde formations and noted that John Cage was a source for Deleuze and Guattari's theory of de-territorialization: "lacking any stable, localizable, autonomous, or subjective outside, Cage would set himself the task of articulating an understanding of difference, or what he still termed the 'outside,' as an imminent force within the totalized sphere itself." Joseph, Random Order: Robert Rauschenberg and the neo-avant-garde (Cambridge, M a s s : M I T Press, 2003), 20. 1 3 9  186 and the huge challenge of new forms, new colour possibilities, 140  new concepts. New romanticism, as Balkind called it, was an avant-garde expression that used new painting strategies and the readymade to carry out a direct critique o f the tradition of landscape painting i n Vancouver. The reprisal of early twentieth century avant-garde devices such as collage, assemblage, and the readymade has been identified by H a l Foster as lying at the heart o f the "neo-avant-garde" of the 1950s and 1960s.  141  As  demonstrated by The West Coast Now exhibition i n 1968, the "neo-avant-garde" i n Vancouver had achieved a strong and clear voice. B y 1968, increased violence i n Vietnam, the events of M a y '68 in Paris, and the assassination of Martin Luther K i n g , Jr. resonated i n North American culture, including i n V a n c o u v e r .  142  Disillusionment set i n and the culture of "endless  possibilities" where advocacy could effect change started to wane. In theory and intellectual practices, structuralism and post-structuralism, primarily i n the work of Roland Barfhes, M i c h e l Foucault, and Jacques Derrida, ushered i n new strategies o f cultural critique where representation was explored and analyzed using semiotics, deconstruction, and psychoanalysis. Institutions, such as schools and museums, became objects of social critique. Specifically, they were understood as playing a productive role i n structuring social power relations through linguistic signification and identity performance. Feminism in particular critiqued the role of institutions in constructing and embedding gender roles and patriarchal structures of language. The artistic avant-garde shifted with these social and intellectual developments. Language  1967 Festival o f the Contemporary Arts Press Release, n. pag. H a l Foster, The Return of the Real: The Avant-Garde at the end of the Century (Cambridge, M a s s : M I T Press, 1996), 1. F o r a summary o f international events i n 1968, see W i l l i a m H . Chafe, "The 1960s: The Critical Decade for Postwar A m e r i c a , " in The Sixties Revisited: Culture-Society-Politics, 12-4. 1 4 1  1 4 2  187 and conceptual art, for example, became sites for exploring social and psychic subjectivity and institutional critique. Certainly by 1969, avant-garde art production in Vancouver had a critical edge, in the Foucauldian sense. In photographic and language work, Wallace and W a l l , for example, engaged in an analysis of power relations informed by Marxist social critique and structuralist queries into the signifying power of language. However, I do not want to suggest that the preceding Vancouver artists such as Baxter, Lee-Nova, Breeze, and Fisher, for example, were apolitical or that they worked in an intellectual vacuum because their critique was not as pointedly theoretical. These artists were political - their awareness of the local, their rejection of regional tradition, and their artistic self-definition were all political acts. Furthermore, their role in the construction of the west coast as an alternative space alternative to American militarism and anti-communism, to Euro-Canadian cultural tradition and to the artistic dominance of N e w Y o r k - was a profoundly political act. Part of my argument is that in order for the avant-garde of 1969 to emerge, there had to already have been a form of local social and cultural awareness and a critical motivation for change. Following The West Coast Now, art practices in Vancouver splintered. Groups pursued diverse avenues of production and criticism, such as concrete poetry, performance, language art, and photography. Foster's formulation of the neo-avantgarde can be applied to Vancouver, specifically his assertion that it included two interdependent formations. The first in the early 1960s reprised dada devices, specifically collage, the readymade and happenings and, in effect, institutionalized the historical avant-garde. This return provoked the second incarnation o f the neoavant-garde in the late 1960s to critique both the process of institutionalization and  188 previous avant-garde formations.  143  This double-action of the avant-garde played out  in Vancouver. In the mid 1960s, artists such as Lee-Nova, Morris, and Baxter used collage and the readymade as returns to dada. A t the end of the sixties, W a l l and Wallace took up language and conceptual practices as both an extension of and challenge to their critique. In both cases, artists of the 1960s were grounded in the philosophical and aesthetic strands that Kiyooka, Balkind, Tallman, and Blaser, among others, had woven into the cultural fabric of Vancouver.  H a l Foster, 21-4. Foster uses the examples of Robert Rauschenberg and A l l a n K a p r o w as artists of the first neo-avant-garde and Daniel Buren and M a r c e l Broodthaers o f the second. 1 4 3  189 EPILOGUE Intersection Points: Towards a Poetics of the West Coast Avant-Garde  In December 2005, the Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst in Antwerp launched Intertidal: Vancouver Art & Artists as part of a series of exhibitions examining localities of art production within globalization. Other "peripheral" sites of investigation in the series were post-Soviet Russia and China where the post-cold war politics of de-territorialization took specific cultural forms. A s claimed by the exhibition catalogue's introductory essay, Vancouver's historical status as a peripheral city was finally shattered with the emergence of the "Vancouver School" of photo-conceptualism in the 1980s that included artists Jeff W a l l , Ian Wallace, K e n L u m , Rodney Graham and R o y Arden, a legacy that continues still with contemporary art practices in a "tradition of unparalleled intellectual rigour." The 1  Belgian curators, asserting that Europe and the "Atlantic" remain the strongholds of global hegemony, set out to explore how margins operate in global cultural exchange, and in particular how Vancouver, on the outside edge of the Pacific, formed an avant-garde that plays a central role in (post)modern art discourses. Intertidal's  2  substantial exhibition catalogue consists of nine critical essays,  including contributions from Ian Wallace, Scott Watson and W i l l i a m Wood, that address both the formation of the avant-garde in Vancouver and the continuing legacy  Bart de Baere and Dieter Roelstraete, "Introducing Intertidal," in Intertidal: Vancouver Art and Artists (Antwerp and Vancouver: M u s e u m van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen and M o r r i s and Helen B e l k i n A r t Gallery, 2005), 10. In Canada, the geo-political and art historical mandate of the exhibition was eclipsed by a debate that ensued over R . M . Vaughan's controversial review of Intertidal published in Canadian Art ("Antwerp D i a r y , " Summer 2006, 54-68). Vaughan's questionable critical skills and unjustified negative criticism, many felt, led to Richard Rhodes, editor of Canadian Art, being taken to task on the quality of criticism that he was a l l o w i n g to be disseminated i n Canada's most w i d e l y circulated art magazine. 1  2  190 of its "first generation" i n contemporary production. In writing about the genesis of 3  the Vancouver avant-garde, two themes recur throughout the essays. The first is the argument that the earliest vanguard art (that is, the first avant-garde impulses that can be related to the Vancouver School) "hit the shores" of British Columbia in the late 1960s - "an age-defining, inaugural moment that is known as the axial 'Dan Graham/Robert Smithson effect.'"  4  Jeff W a l l ' s Landscape Manual (1969) and the  broadside Free Media Bulletin (1969) edited by Duane Lunden, W a l l and Wallace, were two of the first avant-garde expressions that are said to have evidenced the Graham/Smithson effect. The second is the argument that Vancouver art history is 5  best understood as a series of three renaissances - in the fifties with modernist landscape painting, architecture and design; in the late sixties with critical "cosmopolitan" art; and i n the eighties with photo-conceptualism. In this configuration, the avant-garde of the fifties came to an end and was re-born ten years later in a totally new form generated by external forces. According to this history, most of the sixties were spent shaping a counterculture - a context that provided the backdrop for the "critical" production that would begin in 1969. W a l l secured this dichotomous understanding of Vancouver art history when he argued that art in the sixties branched into two opposing groups - "island" art vs. urban art, the latter representing art inflected by the Graham/Smithson effect.  6  The history o f art i n V a n c o u v e r has in sizeable part been written by the practitioners themselves, for example, W a l l , Wallace, L u m and Arden, who have also been the teachers o f succeeding generations. Vancouver art history, or history o f the avant-garde, has been dominated by a type of pedagogical lineage which has further been supported by historians (and critics) such as Watson and W o o d . See W i l l i a m W o o d , "The Insufficiency of the W o r l d , " in Intertidal, 62-77. D e Baere and Roelstraete, 11. In "The Frontier of the Avant-garde," Ian W a l l a c e also argues for the late 1960s as the beginning of the avant-garde. Intertidal, 50-62. Scott Watson, " U r b a n Renewal: Ghost traps, Collage, Condos, and Squats - V a n c o u v e r art in the Sixties," in Intertidal, 35. Jeff W a l l , "Four Essays on K e n L u m , " in Ken Lum (Rotterdam: Witte de W i t h and W i n n i p e g : W i n n i p e g A r t Gallery, 1990), 39. Despite the intentions of Intertidal curators, including Watson, who named the exhibition for the hybridity that characterizes tidal zones, thus challenging fixed binaries 3  4  5  6  191 M y study ends where most histories of Vancouver avant-garde art begin. Free Media Bulletin has been framed as an early avant-garde text that demonstrates the "importance of consciousness to conceptualist thinking." However, in my narrative, 7  the broadside was the culmination of vanguard activities that had already taken place in Vancouver during the 1960s. In subject matter and format, the broadside was an extension of the poetics and aesthetics of the west coast, including both the San Francisco Renaissance and Los Angeles art practices. W a l l , Wallace and Lunden included i n Free Media Bulletin dada texts on the radical potential of the readymade, including "Readymade Notes from the Green B o x 1912-1923," by Marcel Duchamp, "Dada Lives!" by Richard Huelsenbeck, and "Toward a Poetic of the Readymade," by Arturo Schwarz. The editors were also informed by the philosophy of the west 8  coast avant-garde. For example, from City Lights Books they included " A Revolutionary Proposal," by Alexander Trocchi and "Revolt Against Poetry," by Antonin Artaud, the latter of which had already been made part of the cultural dialogue by Wallace in The Ubyssey in 1966. The editors also included a text by visionary environmental architect Paolo Soleri who was featured at the 1963 Festival of the Contemporary Arts. From the San Francisco anthology Astronauts of Inner Space (1966), they selected W . S . Burroughs' "The Literary Techniques of Lady Sutton-Smith." These inclusions derived less from N e w Y o r k conceptualist thinking than from the ethos of the west coast and open form poetics in California. Astronauts of Inner Space and Wallace Berman's Semina were two broadsides that, like Free  such as centre/periphery and island/urban, the dichotomy still endures i n the writing o f V a n c o u v e r art history. Watson, 35. The broadside republished "Hostile A r t " (Jean Toche) and "The N e x t Revolution in A r t " ( A d Reinhardt). A l s o included were two photographic projects by B i l l V a z a n . 7  8  192 Media Bulletin, assembled dada, surrealist, Situationist, beat, and other avant-garde texts. Trocchi, Artaud, and Burroughs were each featured i n one or both of the California anthologies. In addition to sharing intellectual and aesthetic sources, the physical layout of the Free Media Bulletin was in keeping with the tradition of the west coast little magazine. A hand-made assemblage of photocopies, type-written pages, and floating images, Free Media Bulletin was constructed in the same manner as blew ointment, Semina and Astronauts of Inner Space. Unlike E d Ruscha's little books that were sleek and clean, Free Media Bulletin, gritty and raw, was an aesthetic manifesto that continued to query the readymade and its implications in experience, awareness and art.  9  W a l l and Wallace in particular were drawn to the little magazine and its typed page format. In addition to working prolifically as an art reviewer in local newspapers, Wallace also produced visual and textual collages in blew ointment. W a l l ' s two-year role as a satirical cartoonist for The Ubyssey revealed his interest in the relationship between image and text. In Free Media Bulletin, the interface between image and text and its effect on the viewer/reader/listener was a major theme. Burroughs' "Literary Techniques of Lady Sutton-Smith," for example, was a playful instruction on the technique of literary cut-ups derived from the intersection between sight and sound. A s early as 1966, Wallace had expressed an interest in "intersection points" and argued that in the work of John Cage and Merce Cunningham the interplay o f independent forces is "at the juncture o f every single experience and i n everything we d o . "  10  Dennis Wheeler described Free Media  Bulletin as an envelope of socio-aesthetic documents that grounded the work of W a l l , In an interview with John Coplans in 1965, Ruscha asserted that his books were not concerned with the readymade but rather with "a kind of polish.. .a clear-cut machine finish. They have none of the nuances of the hand-made and crafted limited edition book." Artforum ( v o l . I l l , no. 5, Feb 1965), 25.  9  1 0  Wallace, The Ubyssey (11 Feb 1966), 7.  193 Wallace and Lunden in a new formulation of "landscape." A continuation of the reconfiguration of landscape that started in Vancouver in 1965 with Balkind's Beyond Regionalism, the Free Media Bulletin "landscapes" were about urban and industrial environments and the viewer's awareness of them. Wheeler asserted that the relationship between subjects and their environment can be understood as "intersections in time and space of objects and even our own imaginations.. .[and] are determinates more powerful than any reductive formalist statement."  11  In " A Literature of Images," Wallace presented a new strategy for the production and reception of images. Based on a structuralist understanding of representation - that language and words are material "facts" that acquire meaning only through perceptual and cognitive relationships - Wallace wanted objects and images to be treated as i f they were "free words." In art production, Wallace argued, images had become burdened by history and loaded symbols of media power. In order to "free images from the cliches of historical and aesthetic interpretation," they needed to be released from their historical and social systems of control, particularly the gallery system.  12  When freed from the stultification caused by the art market, Wallace argued, images could act as points of intersection or indexes in consciousness. H e looked to the little magazine poets as a valuable model for not "selling