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Ron Alexander Memorial Lectures in Musicology: George Lewis

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Topic: Spooky Interaction at a Distance – Telematic Afrofuturism

Abstract: The English term “telematics” is a translation of télématique, a merger of the words télécommunication and informatique coined in a 1977 report to the French government that predicted that the convergence of telecommunications and computers would “affect the major instruments of culture: language, in its relations to the individual, and even in its social function; and knowledge, as an extension of collective memory.”  While standard origin narratives for telematic art provide no place for Afrodiasporic involvement, the purpose of this talk is to add Afrological value to Eurocentric histories of the relation among art, technology, contextualizing my own Afrotelematic past and speculating on a telematic Afrofuture.

George Lewis is an American composer, musicologist, and trombonist. He is Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music and Area Chair in Composition at Columbia University, and currently serves as Artistic Director of the International Contemporary Ensemble.  A 2020-21 Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin,  Lewis is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy, and a member of the Akademie der Künste Berlin, Lewis’s other honors include the Doris Duke Artist Award (2019), a MacArthur Fellowship (2002), and a Guggenheim Fellowship (2015).   A member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) since 1971, Lewis's work is presented by ensembles worldwide. A Yamaha Artist, Lewis is widely regarded as a pioneer in the creation of computer programs that improvise in concert with human musicians. Lewis holds honorary doctorates from the University of Edinburgh, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Oberlin College, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, New England Conservatory, New College of Florida, and Birmingham City University, among others.

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