Discourse at thefidget space

Discourse at thefidget space is a free series initiated in 2011 which brings together a diverse group of people from all walks of life to discuss art and philosophy in a comfortable and welcoming environment. Over the years the topics of study have ranged from the intersection between contemporary thought and choreography, film and its relationship to the virtual, tracking the concept of resonance through electronic music history, a dance studies reading group, and many more. Historically, political unrest and social crises have often been grappled with through the arts and philosophy. We believe that bringing regular people from our community (hair dressers, scientists, moms, dads, software engineers, chefs…) together with artists and philosophers can provide a crucial space for deep thinking and political awakening.


Philosophical Frameworks for Experimental Artmaking (2017)

Led by Megan Bridge and Peter Price
What is the role of the artist in today’s rapidly evolving political landscape? How does critical reflection inform the attempt to balance the often conflicting demands of aesthetic exploration on one hand and engaged citizenship on the other? Are there philosophical frameworks for experimental artmaking that simultaneously support authentic political resistance? This series encounters and unpacks texts by both contemporary and historical thinkers, placing their work in the context of experimental artmaking and the politics of resistance.

Megan Bridge (co-director of <fidget>) is a dancer, choreographer, curator, and dance writer. She serves on the editorial board for thINKingDANCE where she has published twenty-four articles including critical reviews of performance work, book reviews, and features. She has also published articles in Dance Chronicle, a peer reviewed academic journal focusing on dance, Dance Magazine, and Pointe.

Peter Price (co-director of <fidget>) is a composer, electronic musician, digital artist and media theorist. He holds a B.Mus. in Music Composition from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and an MA and PhD (summa cum laude) from the European Graduate School (EGS). Peter has published two books of music philosophy with Atropos Press: Becoming Music: Between Boredom and Ecstasy with Tyler Burba in 2010, and Resonance: Philosophy for Sonic Art in 2011.


a/cephalic discontents / (2016)

Led by Das Unbehagen
a/cephalic discontents / is a series of text-based discussions on the question of community and group structure co-curated by various writerly, artistic and intellectual groups in Philadelphia and New York City. Sessions reflect on the possibilities and limits of alternative organization within the constraints of today’s capitalism while also functioning as nodes of intersection for various acephalic thinkers, groups and projects between New York City and Philadelphia.

Das Unbehagen sprouted from discontent with the atmosphere of conventional institutions, training procedures, and theoretical allegiances, and from a corresponding desire for different kinds of associations and events.  The problems of community and communication sounded by Das Unbehagen are echoed, today as in the past, by many other experimental organizations and groups involved in the arts, in thought, in politics, education and other practices.


HUMANOPHONE: Toward an Algorithmic Music for Humans (2016)

Led by Thomas Patteson
In this series of events, we will explore the possibility of algorithmic, emergent, rule-based, and generative forms of music performable by human beings. The goal is to work toward an idiom in which the sophistication of certain post-1950 practices is fused with the social and collaborative aspects of vernacular music-making. Although we will consider such relevant historical and theoretical phenomena as cybernetics, cellular automata, change-ringing, the American experimental music tradition, the focus will be on making music, with an eye to laying the foundation for an enduring performance collective.

Thomas Patteson is a professor of Music History at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. He is also Associate Curator for Bowerbird, a performing organization that presents contemporary music, film, and dance.


Instruments for New Music: Sound, Technology, and Modernism (2016)

Led by Thomas Patteson
Instruments for New Music: Sound, Technology, and Modernism tells the little-known story of experimental music technologies in Germany during the 1920s and ’30s. Musicians, artists, and inventors used the cutting-edge technologies of the time– radio circuits, player pianos, and optical sound film– in a quest for new forms of musical expression, redrawing the boundaries of the art and igniting debates about the role of technology in modern life.


A-and wait’ll those kazoos come on! & Pynchon’s Harmonica (2015)

Led by Christian Hänggi
The American writer Thomas Pynchon is loved and feared for his sweeping novels with historical depth, technological precision, slapstick witticism, and, all in all, a whole lot of general mayhem. Pynchon is also a literary musicologist, and one of the instruments he is particularly fond of is the kazoo and harmonica. In A-and wait’ll those kazoos come on!, Christian Hänggi will shed some light on how Pynchon stages the kazoo as an instrument of resistance. In Pynchon’s Harmonica Christian will talk about Pynchon’s intricate staging of the harmonica and how this ingeniously marketed German instrument whose history visits the major battlefields of the twentieth century as well as the counter-cultural campfires of flower-power America.

Christian Hänggi is a media ecologist and an aspiring literary scholar who is currently working on a dissertation on music in Pynchon’s work at the University of Basel, Switzerland. He has been a scholar-in-residence at thefidget space where he also presented talks on Philip K. Dick and Karlheinz Stockhausen.


Presence, Movement, Body: Contemporary Thought & Choreography (2013)

Led by Megan Bridge and Peter Price
This class will be designed as a reading and discussion group, looking at four areas over the four week class period: Heidegger on being, Derrida on presence, Deleuze on movement, and Foucault on body.


Earth Sound Earth Signal: Energies and Earth Magnitudes in the Arts (2013)

Led by Douglas Kahn
Douglas Kahn’s brilliant new book explores the frontiers between technology and nature in the experimental arts of the past 200 years. Kahn picks up Luigi Russolo’s “Art of Noise” thread and expands his seminal history of sound in the arts to natural radio, brainwaves, the signals of the earth and the music of the cosmos. This one night event features a reading, panel discussion, and live performances.

Douglas Kahn is widely recognized as an authority on experimental music and a founder of the emerging field of sound studies. Kahn is a Professor of Media and Innovation at the National Institute of Experimental Arts (NIEA), University of New South Wales, Sydney. He is a historian and theorist of the media arts and experimental music with concentrations in the study of sound, electromagnetism, and natural media. Kahn is the author of Earth Sound Earth Signal: Energies and Earth Magnitude in the Arts (University of California Press, 2013) and Noise, Water, Meat: A History of Sound in the Arts (MIT Press, 1999).


noise; sound; art (2013)

Led by Peter Price
As part of our Century of Noise 1913 – 2013 programming, noise; sound; art is a discussion series in search of the location of experimental sonic practices, and examines the trajectory of noise and sound as art in the last 100 years from improvisational electronics to DJ culture, from noise to contemporary philosophy.


Lacan, Cinema and the Perverse (2013)

Led by Peter Gaffney
Lacan, Cinema and the Perverse focuses on the way the works of French psychoanalyst and philosopher Jacques Lacan (1901–1981) help us understand how vision and visual culture engage a complex network of identification and desire, with profound consequences for avant-garde and subversive cinema of the 1960s and 70s.

Peter Gaffney teaches film theory, philosophy and literature at Haverford College and The Curtis Institute of Music, and is editor of The Force of the Virtual: Deleuze, Science, and Philosophy (University of Minnesota Press, 2010). He is a graduate of Stanford University (B.A., 1996) and the University of Pennsylvania (M.A., 2000, Ph.D. 2006).


Body, Dance, Discourse: Readings in dance and performance theory (2013)

Led by Laura Vriend
This course will explore several key theoretical issues in dance and performance studies. Beginning with an introduction to the history of the theory of performativity as a foundation we will then explore issues in dance and discursiveness, labor, politics, disappearance or “ephemerality” and ontologies of performance.  This is a seminar style course, meaning the focus will be on group discussion of readings and close readings of selected passages from texts. As facilitator, I may lecture and guide discussion as needed but I also encourage participants to consult dictionaries and/or Wikipedia in their reading and bring their own questions and concerns to bear on discussions.

Laura Vriend received her doctorate in Critical Dance Studies at the University of California, Riverside. Her dissertation project mines relationships between social and critical theories of space and choreographic uses and ideas of space in the site-based choreographic works of Philadelphia companies Headlong Dance Theater, Nichole Canuso Dance Company and Kate Watson-Wallace anonymous bodies.


Dancing the Constraint (2012)

Led by Erin Manning
Erin Manning’s writing addresses the senses, philosophy and politics, articulating the relationship between experience, thought and politics into a transdisciplinary framework moving between dance and new technology, the political and micropolitics of sensation, performance art, and the current convergence of cinema, animation, and new media.

Erin Manning holds a University Research Chair in Relational Art and Philosophy in the Faculty of Fine Arts at Concordia University (Montreal, Canada). She is also the director of the SenseLab, a laboratory that explores the intersections between art practice and philosophy through the matrix of the sensing body in movement. Publications include Always More Than One: Individuation’s Dance (Duke UP, 2013), Relationscapes: Movement, Art, Philosophy (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2009) and, with Brian Massumi, Thought in the Act: Passages in the Ecology of Experience (Minnesota UP, 2014) and The Minor Gesture (Duke UP, 2016).


Sound as Art: Sonic Philosophy (2011)

Led by Peter Price
Sound as Art: Sonic Philosophy investigates the diverse sonic practices of the 21st century placed in the context of music in the West and critically illuminated by an improbable mixture of Adorno, Heidegger, and Deleuze. This 9-week seminar is for anyone who enjoys listening deeply to any kind of music, and assumes no specialist knowledge or genre-specific commitment.


Art Form and The Virtual (2011)

Led by Peter Gaffney
Gilles Deleuze’s notion that existing patterns in thought and matter are supplemented by a “virtual” dimension – a kind of infinite reservoir of possible forms – has gained much ground (and criticism) in recent years. Art Form and The Virtual is a nine-week seminar that explores the precursors and counterparts of this concept, with an aim to understand how it emerges in various contemporary disciplines, technologies and expressive art forms, including artificial intelligence, computer vision, cinema, music and dance.


Stockhausen at Ground Zero (2011)

Led by Christian Hänggi
A few days after the World Trade Center attacks in 2001, German composer, Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928−2007) held a press conference in which − taken out of context − he made the remark that they had been the greatest work of art. This caused great uproar and led to a cesura in his career. With some ten years distance, media theorist, Christian Hänggi, will dissects the media response to Stockhausen’s comments and try to come to a less emotionally charged understanding of the ways in which these enigmatic comments may be interpreted.