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NO IDEAS BUT IN THINGS- The Composer Alvin Lucier

Screening as part of Marfa Sounding

Co-presented with CineMarfa & The Lumberyard 

Thursday, May 19, 2016, 6:30pm

Adobe Room at The Lumberyard

On Memorial Day Weekend 2016 Marfa Live Arts and Fieldwork: Marfa will presented Marfa Sounding—a series of site-specific performances, sound installations, and conversations exploring the work of musicians and artists Alvin Lucier and Charles Curtis curated by Jennifer Burris. In the month leading up to the concerts, Marfa Live Arts, CineMarfa, and The Lumberyard hosted a free, public screening of Viola Rusche and Hauke Harder’s feature-length documentary NO IDEAS BUT IN THINGS – The Composer Alvin Lucier (2014) offering an introduction to Lucier’s pioneering works in electronic music.


“No ideas but in things,” is one of Lucier’s favorite quotes by American poet William Carlos Williams when he is asked about his artistic attitude. It also reflects the filmmakers’ intention to create a portrait of Lucier that is primarily based on his work. Inspired by the motto "Don’t ask me what I mean, ask me what I’ve made" this documentary accompanies the American composer on concert travels to The Hague (Netherlands) and Zug (Switzerland). During interviews at at his home in Middletown, Connecticut, Lucier offers rare insights into the beginnings of his pioneering works, his time as a member of the Sonic Arts Union, his relations with John Cage and David Tudor, as well as his teaching practice at Wesleyan University. The authors invite Lucier to explain and comment on his œuvre – from his early live electronics performances up to the premiere of his ensemble piece Panorama 2 in 2011. One of Lucier’s key works, “I am sitting in a room” (1969), is introduced as a central structuring device in the film. 


“I am sitting in a room” is Lucier’s best-known composition. The stunning formal stringency in the acoustical exploration of the specific resonances of a room makes it one of the “classical” pieces of 20th-century art and a prototype of process-based music. In one of the film’s interviews, Lucier describes in detail how he got the idea for the piece and realized it for the first time. The touch of self-irony in the last lines of the text, where Lucier alludes to his own stuttering – “I regard this activity not so much as a demonstration of a physical fact, but more as a way to smooth out any irregularities my speech might have” – conveys the originality that stands out in so many of Lucier’s pieces.
Lucier performed “I am sitting in a room” in Marfa on Saturday, May 28 at the Crowley Theater along with other works by Lucier performed by cellist Charles Curtis




Marfa Live Arts and Marfa Sounding is generously supported by the 2016 Season Sponsors, the Texas Commission on the Arts, and City of Marfa. Education program supported by Texas Women for the Arts.  In countless ways, the following people were instrumental in moving this project forward: Pierre-Jean Galdin and the Fieldwork: Marfa team, Ida Soulard, Erik DeLuca, Brian Deleeuw, James Fei, Tim Johnson & Caitlin Murray, Abinadi Meza, Amanda Lucier, Jenny Moore of the Chinati Foundation, and Jennie Lyn Hamilton of Marfa Live Arts.


Graphic design by Yoseff Ben-Yehuda. In-kind support provided by LaVenture, Bridget Weiss of Marfa Table, Linda & Don Shafer, Chinati Foundation, Judd Foundation, and Marfa Brands. The official accommodation and hospitality sponsor for Marfa Sounding is Hotel Saint George and LaVenture restaurant. The official spirit 2016 Season Spirit Sponsor is Pura Vida TequilaVisit Marfa is a useful resource for planning your travel and time in Marfa. The closest airports are El Paso and Midland, both approximately three hours away by car.


Special thanks to Jessica Allen, Big Bend Sentinel, Mercer Black, Zach Buie and Andrew Peters of Marfa Independent School District, Joe Pat Clayton, Tim Crowley of Crowley Theater, Mayor Dan Dunlap, Dan Fitzgerald, Darby Hillman, Chef Allison Jenkins, Allison Josefowitz, Erin Kimmel, Jennifer Lane & David Hollander of CineMarfa, Taylor Livingston, Minerva Lopez, Sara Melancon and Tom Michael of Marfa Public Radio, Park McArthur, Andrea Mellard, Rachel Monroe, Eric Namour, Robert Potts and Megan Wilde of Dixon Water Foundation, Robert Saltonstall, Dan Shiman, Gory Smelley of Marfa Recording Co., Francisco Staton, Laura Tucker, Cory Van Dyke, and K.Yoland.

Credits: The Hague, May 2010. Shooting rehearsal MUSIC FOR SOLO PERFORMER, during interview of Alvin Lucier with Hauke Harder, Viola Rusche, and Martin Zawadzki (f.l.t.r), photo courtesy of Nicolas Collins.

On main page: Middletown (CT), January 2010. Shooting I AM SITTING IN A ROOM at Wesleyan University, Crowell Hall with Martin Zawadzki, Alvin Lucier (f.l.t.r), photo courtesy of Viola Rusche.

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