Determinism in Experimental Art

“Everything changes except the avant garde”

 — Paul Valéry

Our new place is walking distance from Libbey Bowl, so we sauntered over last night to hear some world-class contemporary classical as the kickoff to the 2007 Ojai Music Festival. The evening was predominantly focused on works for two piano performed by Helena Bugallo and Amy Williams. The most accessible piece was probably the two-piano arrangement of Stravinsky‘s Dumbarton Oaks. Other works ranged from a piece composed exclusively of decorations (glissandi, trills and the like) to an electronic piece made from cricket chirps. The finale was this:

Symphonic Poem For 100 Metronomes
by György Ligeti

Though I am tempted to spend the rest of this tirade denouncing the attribution of the word “poem” to any piece of art in which the artist wants to convey a quality of elegance, I actually want to talk about something more important to me: when the avant garde fails for me, and why.

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