INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
The Calgary Herald SEPTEMBER 3, 2010 - by Shelley Youngblut
MESMERIZINGLY BEYOND OUR CONTROL
For Calgarians with an affinity for challenging art forms, Brian Eno is the most exciting name to appear on the roster of upcoming events. And when you think about the degree to which Eno has defied categorization as an artist over his four-decade career, how perfect is it that we'll be experiencing 77 Million Paintings not at a concert hall, but at the Glenbow Museum as part of the 2011 High Performance Rodeo?
Sure, Eno is best known as a musician (he co-founded Roxy Music), a composer (he pioneered the concept of ambient sound), and a producer (he helped push David Bowie, the Talking Heads, U2 and Coldplay to explore brave, new frontiers), but his influence goes far beyond vinyl. (In fact, it has reached all the way to the ubiquitous PC - every time you booted up Windows 95, it was Eno's three-and-a-quarter-second-long arpeggio that greeted you.)
"He has impacted the cultural fabric of our daily life arguably more than any single artist," says High Performance Rodeo curator Michael Green, who travelled to the Brighton Festival last spring to experience Eno's instillation first-hand. "It's utterly mesmerizing - and so satisfying."
Glenbow president Kirstin Evenden, who jumped at Green's invitation to mount 77 Million Paintings in January, says "Eno is an internationally relevant, thought-provoking practitioner who blurs the lines between fine and pop art, high and low culture." An audio-visual extension of the "generative" sound experiments Eno undertook with Robert Fripp in the '70s, the piece consists of seventy-seven million possible combinations of Eno's hand-drawn images and soundscapes, shuffled randomly by a computer. "It would take four hundred and fifty years to be sure of seeing an image repeat," Eno has said. "You're not in control. I'm not in control - and I like it. You have to surrender to the experience, which is something humans used to have to do all the time."
A quick search for Eno on YouTube reveals that he's just as mesmerizing a speaker as he is an artist. When asked to confirm whether Eno will be following the lead of Philip Glass and Laurie Anderson by appearing at the Rodeo in person, Green is tantalizingly silent, then says, "As Calgary matures as a city, it makes sense that we would ask the stars of the contemporary scene to come here and help us put this festival on the map."