Michael Peters: O Kind Vel’d Sparrow

March 23–March 31, 2024

RECEPTION RESCHEDULED due to weather to Sunday, March 31, 2–5 pm
with performance by the artist and guest musician Al Margolis

On view during Open Hours, Bushel Programs, by chance, and by appointment

In this sound-imaging installation, the hylopathic-minded Michael Peters assembles poetry, sound, art (visual poetry), films (kinetic visual poetry), and weird symbolic objects to create an immersive environment, a kind of flight simulator where discovery, mind travel, and even transcendence become possible.

The work in the O Kind Vel’d Sparrow installation is part of a large work-in-progress, The Vast Bin Project (VBP), which is an expansion of the poetry and visual poetry emerging from Peters’ book Vaast Bin (Calamari Press, 2007). Taken together, the ever-expanding VBP attempts to, in the artist’s words, “elicit, activate, and enact injunctive semantic discoveries and ethical transformations through the experience of a sound-imaging environment,” cumulatively building multi-sensory effects with “the aim of locating an ethical point of awareness to the secret that objects share.”

Among the objects in the installation: a period cut in half with exposed gestating text, a black horse on a field of stars rearing above an orb-like door knob, a metal equal sign brought to life in the forge of the PostNeoAbsurdist Anti-Collective, cereal boxes from a dream the artist had, a “comet” tape measure, scientific meters, Joseph Cornell-like boxes bins, a big bang clock, and more—all of which rests upon a low-end drone offset by higher registers of AM radio static. Taken together, these strange elements gently congeal into a complexambient environment with meditative effects. The juxtapositions and congruencies of sound, image, text, objects, and ideas allow new ideas to appear, but with an improvisational logic open to the future. And what is the function of all that? Ask the artist, and you’ll get this:

“Like an ecological topologist or a f’d up interior designer and/or some kind of celestial DJ, we can remix and remake life itself, ethically reshaping it within the vast bin of this very real cosmos. Earth art? Sort of, in part. Space art? In part, but only kind of. I shake my fist at The Council of Bots overseeing the Center for Genre Clarification, cursing under my breath. The Linnaean apps are glitching, and you’re missing the point.This is more of an incomplete LP—a long player, of sorts—with ethical aims of reanimating our relations to the immediate environment, the earth at large, and the vast air space about us. Maybe it’s more of a flight simulator, something akin to a flight manual with injunctive guidance systems for departures and arrivals. Or maybe even a prototype for something akin to an ethical flight school where pilots are trained to undo the perils of social and planetary distress.”

Michael Peters is the author of Vaast Bin (Calamari Press, 2007) and an array of sound, image, and text-based works. In addition to print and online journals, his work appears in poetry and visual-poetry anthologies like The Last Vispo Anthology (Fantagraphics, 2012) and Resist Much/Obey Little (Spuyten Duyvil, 2017). His visual poetry has appeared in nearly 20 group shows, and is scattered in special collections such as the Sackner Archive and avant-garde libraries at Ohio State and University at Buffalo, as well as in private collections. Peters is also a member of the musical group Poem Rocket, and a label-mate of Sun Ra on Atavistic Records, the Chicago-based avant jazz and rock label. Whether it’s wild interdisciplinary work or only slightly more conventional multidisciplinary experiments, Peters is equally at home in variety of a media, exploring cross-pollinations of text, image, and sound with combinatory tactics in the service of ethical ideas. Peters is a recipient of an (obscure) prize from the Academy of American Poets; and performed at NYC’s The Bowery Poetry Club, St. Marks Poetry Project, Issue Project Room, and Zinc Bar, as well as the Boston Poetry Marathon, SUNY Albany’s Art Museum, Round Lake Auditorium, and Chicago’s MCA. Accolades have appeared in music magazines such as Pitchfork, All Music, The Wire, Melody Maker, AP, Magnet, CMJ, Chicago Reader, Atlanta Press, LA Weekly. Potentially worthless key words for the search engines of a genre-obsessed culture? Try these: poet, visual poet, sound poet, sound-imaging poet, musician, artist, polyartist, fictioneer, essayist, scholar, sound environment programmer, ecological topologist, art-life ecologist, ethical conceptualist. Of note, a “lost” Poem Rocket EP from 1999 has been scheduled for release in 2024 on Silver Girl Records. Who is this guy? Find more fragments at www.michael-peters.com.

Artist acknowledgements: This installation is made possible, in part, with a grant from the SUNY Oneonta Faculty Research & Creative Activity Grant Program.

Image: Michael Peters, detail from Area 24, 2022, 17 x 11 inches, acrylic, watercolor, ink, pencil on paper.