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Assistant Professor Robert Adams speaks at the Smithsonian American Art Museum

On March 13, 2010, Taubman College Assistant Professor Robert Adams joined the 21st Century Consort at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington D.C. for a pre-concert discussion of the relationships among architecture, music and science.

Professor Christopher Kendall, Dean of the School of Music, Theatre & Dance at the University of Michigan and Artistic Director of the 21st Century Consort moderated the discussion among noted composer Scott Wheeler, New York Times science columnist Natalie Angier and Adams. The program Flora and Fauna was dedicated to Natalie Angier’s extraordinary writing and “fantastical forays into the plant and animal life of our minds.”

The discussion revolved around topics of computational complexity and the dynamic approaches to musical composition and design methodology shared across the disciplines. Adams’ contribution emphasized the impact of high-speed urbanization in countries such as China, and the euphoria around the radical evolution of the landscape, including the sonic overtones of cultural production and construction effort in China. The discussion cited numerous mutations of how emerging ecological, infrastructural and artificial constructs are redefining the naturalized terms of flora and fauna.

Adams screened the video “Chicken Speak to Duck, Pig Speak to Dog,” produced by Guangzhou artist Zhou Tao, which depicts seven construction workers from a common rural village in China speaking in the tongues of farm animals perched in a large tree illuminated by green light. The video opened the second half of the musical program, “Dragon Mountain,” composed by Scott Wheeler, and inspired numerous questions and discussions with the audience.