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2021 Co-Incidence Proposal and Bio

The activity I am proposing came from an experience I had earlier this summer. A very slight moment to be certain. I live in a small, shoddy house in central Tucson. I had a drum set arranged underneath my evaporative cooler vents and noticed at random moments throughout the extremely hot summer days that small bits of dirt and rust were falling from the ceiling vents onto the cymbals below. These particles would fall in groupings, which would create quiet resonances. I am often thinking about the coalescing of labor and composing, which sparked a desire to record or perform a version of this moment. The idea turned to myself slowly emptying a sandbag onto a cymbal, over the course of several minutes, through a small slit cut into the bag’s corner.

I am proposing a group performance for those present at Co-Incidence, with individuals who are participating virtually given the option to join in the exercise if possible. The action would be centered around each person holding a sandbag over their shoulder and slowly pouring out the contents onto a cymbal, or a resonant piece of metal—which could be domestic or industrial in origin. The group would perform this simultaneously. It can happen indoors or outdoors. I would perform it from my location here in the Sonoran Desert at the same time. In considering how a collection of I’s become a We, I firstly imagine that the contents of each sandbag be filled by the participating individuals earlier in the day or week of the festival.

A walk through an area where they are able to gather soil, sand, loess, or cement detritus. Individual bags of difference. To gather and touch the material with their hands, only to let it go again at a later moment. Is this a letting go of proverbial baggage? I don’t know. Maybe it is. Maybe it’s just a simple act of the weight of concentrated listening. Is there resolution? I don’t know either. At the moment that the bags are emptied there remains a physical presence of its sounding on the ground beneath each person. Do we pick the debris up and do it again? Do we cast it outside or to another location? Do we leave the material where it stands? Was it right to have removed it from the ground to begin with? Does the participant decide what is to be done with the remains? These are all conversational starting points that both initiate the process of the work and follow its formal gesture. The only budgetary concern for me is the festival providing materials for this situation to happen locally (cymbals / metal / bags).

Ryan Wade Ruehlen Bio:

Ryan Wade Ruehlen (b.1984) is an interdisciplinary artist, predominately working in sound, performance, and installation who has exhibited his work internationally. He melts impromptu actions and ever-changing archives into anarchistic blobs using an array of objects and recording processes. His interest in multi-modal and feral sound encircle noise oriented, yet broadly defined, woodwind synthesis, utilizing exploded super-impositions and timbres as a method for improvising. Ruehlen received a BFA in studio art from Ft. Hays State University in 2007, an MFA in studio art from the University of Colorado in 2013 and a PhD in intermedia art from the University of Colorado in 2019 where he developed UAV drone radio towers for  remote capture  and broadcast of manipulated upper atmospheric weather for distanced, live audience.

He has shown work in a variety of D.I.Y. spaces, music venues and art spaces including the Denver Art Museum, Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, The Tank: Center For The Sonic Arts, the 2016 MediaLive Festival at Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Tucson Museum of Contemporary Art, Squeaky Wheel Media in Buffalo, NY, AS220 in Providence, RI, Vox Populi in Philadelphia, PA, 2014 Currents International New Media Arts Festival in Santa Fe, NM, The 2020 Borealis Festival's Radio Space in Bergen, Norway, as well as the Biennial of the Americas-Denver. He has past and forthcoming albums on Shadowtrash Tape Group, Never Anything Records, Ingrown Records, and Ephem-Aural Recordings. He has published multimedia textual work with Incite: Journal of Experimental Media, Materialities of Literature - Impactum Journal, Lunamopolis Press and his textual/sound work is in numerous collections including The Tate in London and The Whitney Museum / New School in New York. He has received numerous awards including the 2017 Project Society of the Integrated Remote and In Situ Sensing Program research grant from the IRISS Grand Challenge Society and was a recipient, with the Flinching Eye Collective, of the 2014 Idea Fund Grant, a program of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. He co-operates the label Shadowtrash Tape Group, co-founded the Flinching Eye Collective, and collaboratively programs The Golden Saguaro experimental music series in Tucson, Arizona. Ruehlen currently lives in Tucson, Arizona, which occupies the traditional territory of the Tohono O’odham Nation.


If you have any questions or would like to speak further about this project please feel free to email or call me! Regardless of whether this work is selected to be included I am excited to be with you all, from afar, for the 2021 event.

All the best,

Ryan Wade Ruehlen

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