Artist Statement for Fanning Rejection
The question may be asked, "Which comes first? The concept or the technology?" For me, method usually trumps meaning as technical innovation often results from child-like play and meaning from what I call the "retrofitted metaphor." In this case, once I came up with the idea of using a piezo (the golden disk on the back of each letter) as a speaker transducer, and thermal fax paper as a transmission medium, I then went on the hunt for something meaningful. Something I could inject back into my technical concept. I had used rejection letters years ago as part of a performance art piece called "The Schlemiel" and now, the idea of suspending these, having them seem to talk, and then moving them lightly around with an oscillating fan...oh well. It all hit me as being very funny, interesting and very likely relevant to lots of people. Furthermore, the use of robotic computer-generated voices would be useful in intensifying the feeling of isolation and failure one experiences up receiving such a letter. And so, while methods tends to preempt meaning in my art, this installation is a rare exception where, perhaps, the reverse is true.
All the rejection letters in this installation were sent to me in the spring and summer of 1978 just as I was completing my class work for a doctorate at the University of Illinois-Urbana in Music Composition. There must have been 30 or more that year. By the end of the next year, I had landed a position at the Canberra School of Music in Australia, but the steady rhythm of rejection was most difficult at this time of my life. These days, I am pretty inured.