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the-open-space.org

THE HISTORY OF OPEN SPACE

 

Starting with the “jkrbabboxes” in 1979 (floated as an idea but never materialized), the discussion was about the way to separate the dissemination of our work from any institutional or commercial intermediaries. Records of new music were piled up in New York record stores and languishing forlorn and disregarded - even an interested listener had no way of distinguishing among 200 composers none of whom she was sure she had heard of. So we asked ourselves why we shouldn’t use our own resources, our academic jobs, as a funding source for a project in which we would reverse the producer-consumer configuration and choose our recipients from whatever bases we had to know about them - people (mostly colleagues) and libraries and radio stations who would respond to our invitation to receive our music and writings as a gift from its producers.

 

The Inter/Play cassettes of real-time playing/composing sessions taking place at Princeton and at Bard College during the years (beginning in 1979 in fact) were the first wave of our project, the first 20 mailed from Princeton, the next 16 from Bard. Then Elaine produced her Image: a collection book and proposed that we expand the Inter/Play project into a full-blown publishing and recording cooperative, operating on the same inverted marketing model as Inter/Play. Jim and I leaped to embrace this idea, and it was dubbed Open Space, a name we borrowed from a long-running weekly community happening associated with (eventually) Music Program Zero at Bard College. Elaine’s book was the first issue; she edited a collection of my music reviews in The Nation as the second release; and a recording of two fraternal piano pieces by Jim and me was made at Bard College by Brad Garton and released as Open Space CD 1 (1989). By the end of the century Open Space had produced and distributed in its unique way 20 CDs, with music by a number of composers but principally the work of the Open Space cooperative (Barkin, Boretz, Randall); and also books by Barkin (Image; e: an anthology), Boretz (Music Columns from The Nation; Meta-Variations) and Randall (Compose Yourself).

 

In 1999 we decided to initiate a periodical open to writing on any subject which was exploratory and not necessarily likely to get published in conventional journals - also, without overt restriction as to subject matter. So The Open Space Magazine was inaugurated in 1999 as a print and a (separate) web magazine, edited by Boretz and Mary Lee Roberts (who had joined the cooperative in the mid-1990s), and sponsored by and published at Minnesota State University at Moorhead where Roberts was teaching (it moved to Bard College shortly thereafter). It was aimed particularly at young creative people who were employed and living in dispersed locations around the world and would benefit from a forum/focus through which it might be possible to create virtual communities. Distribution was on the same basis as the other Open Space releases, though we did accept subscriptions (on the grounds that - unlike the other Open Space projects, each of which was produced and funded by its principal participating artist - the magazine disseminated the work of many people and had no individual funding base). As of 2016, The Open Space Magazine has published and distributed 20 issues (of approximately 150 pages each, and several double issues). Open Space has also collaborated in producing joint releases of CDs, and a print and audio memorial for Milton Babbitt, with Perspectives of New Music. The Open Space editorial/production group has expanded to include Dorota Czerner as co-director, producer, and principal co-editor, along with Tildy Bayar, Jon Forshee, and Dean Rosenthal.

 

Open Space has a website (the-open.space.org) where listings of and links to all of its productions are accessible.

--BAB, 2020

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