Project – Derek D

Description: Derek DiMartini –

For my final project, I’ll be drawing text from three different sources:

1) an section from Cioran’s “A History of Decay” entitled Dislocation of Time
2) The Band Director’s Guide to Instrument Repair
3) quotes from the blog “Academic Men Explain Things to Me” (

Centering around ideas of repair and reconstruction, I want the movement to feel as if it is being quoted as well, (in fact, I might take excerpts from other choreography) so that it has this feeling of being able to be assembled, disassembled and rearranged in order to illuminate and/or obscure meaning. The idea of perspective is also an interesting one that I would like to play with, and how the audience’s physical perspective of identical movement phrases can severely alter the quality of the movement. This is paralleled in the text from “Academic Men Explain Things to Me”, where the two different perspectives on the same work/person are in radical disposition.

As for now, I’m thinking of all text from the instrument repair book to be pre-recorded and containing some sections that go through some heavy aural alterations, but that could change.

Response: Hari Ganesan –


I can’t seem to find either the Cioran text or the Instrument repair guide online, but I do really like the tumblr blog, and I think that some of the stories would be interesting text to work with. I also like the idea of assembling and disassembling pieces, to build-up and break down a particular idea or phrase, as well as rearrange elements within an idea, especially when it comes to music. I’m not sure how I would be using all of the pre-recorded text within the scope of the music, as well as how much pre-recorded text there would be, but we can discuss that later.

I like a wide variety of music – I’m a pianist at heart; however, my favorite genre of music probably lies somewhere between progressive rock and metal (I also play guitar). I would say I’m mostly driven by complex harmonies and interesting chord progressions rather than rhythmic detail and unique timbres. Your proposal seems fairly open-ended; I would probably try to at least draw from band instruments and use some interesting sense of time in the music, since that seems to fit with your sources.

Hari Ganesan

Response: Baldwin Giang –

Hi Derek:

Like you, I’m very interested in problematizing repair and reconstruction as applied to the human body.  Your idea to use text from the Band Director’s Guide to Instrument Pair is very appealing to my aesthetic, which I might characterize in one word as gritty.   I’m imagining the juxtaposition of playing back quotations like “twist the mouthpiece” or “plug the resonating cavity” etc. to feel objectifying, clinical, and cold when presented with choreography.  Definitely like the feel of this.

Building off your wonderful idea, I’d like to engage with the problems of gender reconstruction and body dysmorphia as well.  The case of David/Brenda has been in the back of my mind lately since I’ve been taking a WGSS seminar called “Sexuality and Social Justice.”  In case you’re unfamiliar with this case: David Reimer was born biologically as a boy but suffered a traumatic accident during a circumcision procedure which took away the function of his penis.  A psychiatrist convinced the parents to raise David as a girl, called Brenda, including a sexual reassignment surgery, to test his social constructionist theory of gender.  Horrifyingly, the psychiatrist experimented with various “clinical techniques” to smooth gender reassignment such as forcing Brenda to engage in faux’coitus with her male twin.  Violently resistant to this therapy, Brenda never felt comfortable in her skin and fell into suicidal depression at age 13.  At 14, Brenda decided to live as a boy again, and therapists like Neil Diamond used the case to refute socially constructionist gender theory in favor of gender essentialism.  Tragically, David committed suicide at age 38.

I find both socially constructionist gender theory and gender essentialism to be inadequate in describing Reimer’s experience.  As Judith Butler says, the David/Brenda case exists on the “limits of intelligibility,” which gives Reimer a unique ability to critique our societal norms.  But the question for me is if anyone can understand Reimer, and if the English language gives Reimer the necessary vocabulary to really describe his problem?  What does it mean to do justice to David?

I don’t have the answers to these questions, but I’m very interested in exploring the ideas of body and gender reconstruction through art.  We could incorporate text from the social-constructionist therapists’ published studies, his critic’s responses, and testimony from Reimer himself.  I think these sources would pair really well with your ideas.

A little about my musical taste: I’m very attracted to music with significant timbral interest.  I love the sensous harmonies of the french tradition, composers like Debussy, Messiaen, and the Spectralists and Post-Structuralists (Saariaho especially).  That being said, I also love post-minimalism.  Perhaps I’m attracted to slowly evolving processes in music in general.  However for this project, I would consider being very rhythmic to match the mechanical nature of the sources.  In terms of electronic music, I’ve been thinking about ways to process sound live and interactively.  Perhaps we could experiment with using physical movement as triggers and algorithmic parameters.    Hope you will consider collaborating with me!


Response: I’noli Hall – – and Ben Kwok – – (duo)


We like your ideas of decay, repair, reconstruction, and perspective.  We plan to create an accompanying piece that is constructed out of a purposefully limited amount of musical material. We then plan to present this material multiple times but with it being
recontextualized with each appearance, analogous to your descriptionof how there can multiple perspectives and interpretations of identical physical movement phrases.

In response to your processes of assembly, disassembly, and rearrangement, we think these processes would also apply greatly to music and aid us as specific ways to recontextualize the music as formerly mentioned. Musically, we can do this way breaking musical phrases into their respective building blocks and smallest elements, highlighting them in their individual forms at different moments in time, and then recombining as a new entity. This would be most effectively accomplished with material of modular construction and strongly defined rhythms which easily lend themselves to deconstruction.

Timbrally, this would involve an emphasis on crisp dry sounds that stress the attack of the sound. This can be applied to a usage of recorded text, for example from the instrument repair book as you mention. We would break up the text and apply audio effects to turn it into an instrument with the desired qualities, which we can then mold according to the structure of the music and the performance. We could then complement these sounds with atmospheric sounds and ambient textures. We could also cause the dry sounds to decay and corrode through the use of audio effects, which could be especially effective with spoken text that slowly becomes unintelligible.

I’noli and Ben

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