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Automatic Writing

Object Collection

October 26 - October 30

The Brick and Object Collection presents
Automatic Writing
A Staged Adaptation of Robert Ashley’s Seminal 1979 Composition

October 26–29 @ 7pm
October 30 @ 5pm

The Brooklyn-based performance group Object Collection, acclaimed for its invigorating blend of music and theater, will remount its live, staged adaptation of Robert Ashley’s seminal studio composition, Automatic Writing (1979). The piece premiered at Incubator Arts Project in 2011, with subsequent performances in London and Birmingham in 2014. This revised adaptation will take place at The Brick in Brooklyn, October 26–30, 2022.

Composed by Robert Ashley
Adapted by Travis Just and Kara Feely
Directed and Designed by Kara Feely
Fulya Peker and Travis Just (voice)
Aaron Meicht (vocal processing)
John Hastings (guitar)
Kara Feely (actions)
Paula Matthussen (programming/electronics)
David Pym (video)

Originally composed in recorded form over five years, Robert Ashley’s Automatic Writing is the result of the composer’s fascination with involuntary speech. Ashley said, “I went towards the idea of sounds having a kind of magical function – of being able to actually conjure characters. It seemed to me that in a sort of psycho-physical sense sounds can actually make you see things, can give you images that are quite specific.” Is there a source? He recorded and analyzed the repeated lines of his own mantra, extracting four musical characters and creating an early form of ambient music that is incredibly evocative.

On a stage strewn with television monitors, video cameras, and dim pools of slowly shifting light, Object Collection evokes the four characters – or parts – while crafting an environment that aims to heighten the enigma and melancholic mood of the original. Performers inhabit four disparate islands, contributing to a dense sound environment. The recording, which never had a score for performance, is treated as a composition that can be interpreted instead of recreated: Genders and languages get switched up, electronics are used over analog, and objects and scenic elements are introduced to give the work a visual dynamic. The result is a mirage-like, transient, and vibrant environment, conducive to listening to the music, as well as enriching it.


About the Artists
Robert Ashley (1930–2014) is particularly known for his work in new forms of opera. In Ann Arbor in the 1960s, Ashley organized the ONCE Festival and directed the legendary ONCE Group, with whom he developed his first operas. Throughout the 1970s, he directed the Center for Contemporary Music at Mills College and toured with the Sonic Arts Union. He produced and directed Music with Roots in the Aether, a 14-hour television opera/documentary about the work and ideas of seven American composers. His opera for television, Perfect Lives, is widely considered the precursor of “music-television.” Stage versions of Perfect Lives, Atalanta (Acts of God), Improvement (Don Leaves Linda), Foreign Experiences, eL/Aficionado and Now Eleanor’s Idea toured throughout the US, Canada, Europe, and Asia during the 1980s and 90s. Dust, followed by Celestial Excursions and The Old Man Lives in Concrete toured from 1999–2012. He finished his last two operas, Crash and Quicksand, in 2013. Crash was presented as part of the 2014 Whitney Biennial; the Kitchen presented Quicksand in early 2016. www.robertashley.org

Kara Feely is a writer, director, designer, and performer for experimental theater and interdisciplinary performance. Her work draws inspiration from experimental writing and music composition strategies, and combines a variety of materials, from found text fragments and landscapes of objects to recorded interviews and radio broadcasts. Feely has been a guest artist at Aarhus University in Denmark, Ca Foscari University of Venice, Wesleyan University, and Kenyon College. Additionally, her texts have been published in Antennae, a journal of experimental writing and performance, PLAY A JOURNAL OF PLAYS, MusikTexte, and the Japanese imprint futow. She has a BA from Barnard College (1999) and an MA from Columbia University (2010). She is co-director of Object Collection.

Travis Just is a composer. His music often uses text, objects, and gesture in addition to instruments, voice, and electronics. He has composed six operas: Problem Radical(s) (2009), Innova (2011), NO HOTEL (2013), cheap&easy OCTOBER (2015), It’s All True (2016), and You Are Under Our Space Control (2019). His writings on music and art have appeared in John Zorn’s Arcana series, MusikTexte, the journal Tempo (Cambridge, UK), and the Experimental Music Yearbook. Just received a BFA (composition/performance) in 1999 from the Mannes College of Music/New School University while studying with Andrew Cyrille. In 2002 he received an MFA (composition/performance) from California Institute of the Arts and studied with James Tenney, Wadada Leo Smith, and Michael Pisaro. Just was a 2003 DAAD Scholar at the Hochschule für Musik, Köln, and studied composition there with Johannes Fritsch. He is co-director of Object Collection.

Object Collection was founded in 2004 by writer/director Kara Feely and composer/musician Travis Just. The Brooklyn-based group operates within the intersecting practices of performance, music, and theater. They are concerned with simultaneity, complexity, and radicality, combining dense layers of text, notation, objects, and processes. They work to give audiences unconventional viewing experiences through a merging of theatricality and pedestrian activity. The company’s works upset habitual notions of time, pace, progression, and virtuosity, and value accumulation above cohesion.

Object Collection performances can take the shape of large-scale performance projects, experimental operas, and duo performances. Object Collection has premiered six original operas. Their work has toured to Norway, Denmark, the UK, Japan, Canada, Italy, and the US. Object Collection’s pieces have appeared in New York at La MaMa, Performance Space 122, Ontological Theater at St. Mark’s Church, National Sawdust, Chocolate Factory Theater, Abrons Arts Center, Invisible Dog Art Center, Roulette, and Issue Project Room, among others. Albums have been released on Slip Imprint, Infrequent Seams, and khalija. Object Collection has received extended profiles in Frieze magazine, Pitchfork, The Guardian, The Wire, BOMB, and on BBC Radio. www.objectcollection.us

In consideration for the health and safety or our staff members, artists, and audiences, The Brick remains committed to maintaining vaccination requirements and mask mandates for our in-person presentations for the foreseeable future. We ask that all audience members remain masked. All staff and performers will be vaccinated; performers may not be masked. Audience can provide proof of vaccination with a government issued I.D. along with a physical copy or picture of your COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card, the NYC COVID Safe App or the New York State Excelsior Pass. Please be patient with staff.



October 26, 2022
7:00 pm


Brick Theater
579 Metropolitan Ave
Brooklyn, 11211 United States
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