SAN DIEGO, 1996 — Eight years earlier the University of California, San Diego had altered the trajectory of my life when I studied here with Allan Kaprow in 1987 & 1988, now UCSD was altering my trajectory again as I spent some time in the summer of 1996 here with Miller Puckette. I’d already spent 2 years in the graduate dance program at Koninklijk. My work was becoming increasingly avant-garde, which felt ever better to me and was, I would later learn, ever less interesting to the dance faculty.
I had met, but didn’t yet know that well, Louis Andriessen from music, this was before he dropped the bombshell on me that the dance faculty wasn’t ever likely to grant me a masters degree in dance. I told Andriessen that I was going to California for part of the summer to visit Mark, and he said I really ought to look up Miller Puckette, that it might offer me a fresh perspective and some valuable “career insight.” So when Mark drove down from Palo Alto to LA to hang out with his old peeps at CalTech, I went a little further south and visited Miller Puckette.
THE HAGUE, 2012 — At that point I’d spent 2 years at Koninklijk in dance, and after I’d spend 2 more in New Media and then finally receive an MFA in New Media Studies. I never studied music, but I doubt I’d have a graduate degree at all if not for Louis Andriessen’s support and guidance. It’s one of those funny things, I look back and can’t for the life of me understand why a giant like Andriessen gave a lanky twentysomething who wasn’t even in his department the time of day.
There but for the kindness of strangers!
Back then I felt like I was some sort of special project of his and for sure he believed in me way more than I believed in myself. As the years have gone by I’ve come to understand that he supported a lot of students that way. I suppose as faculty that was sort of his job, but he existed on a whole other level from even the best faculty I’ve ever know. Just thinking about him today in the Spring of 2012 makes my eyes well up.
When I met Puckette in 1996 he didn’t even own a copy of Max/MSP, the music and media game-changing software that he’d created and later sold, but he really didn’t seem to care as he was excited about his new, better, open source version, Pure Data. It seems crazy unthinkable to me that Cycling ’74 wouldn’t give a copy of Max/MSP to it’s freaking inventor, but as I said, he really didn’t seem to care.
I’ve actually never done much with Pure Data, although like having Ironyca and Moni teach me 3ds Max, it’s on my long list of things to do / learn. It wasn’t so much that Puckette taught me anything specific about Pure Data, honestly, it was simply that he pulled these ballet blinders off my eyes and showed me a world of art exploration and art experience a million kilometers away from ballet. Kaprow had already done that for me 8 years earlier, but I seem destined to learn the same lessons over and over. And over. And over.