Beautiful forms that exist briefly

I am deeply grateful for the writing and teaching of Ursula Le Guin, who I just learned has passed away on Monday. Here’s a favourite passage:

„They don’t have any representative arts. They decorate their pottery and whatever else they make only with their beautiful writing. The only way they imitate the world is by putting words together: that is, by letting words interrelate in a fertile, ever-changing complexity to form shapes and patterns that have never existed before, beautiful forms that exist briefly and create and give way to other forms. Their language is their own exuberant, endlessly proliferating ecology. All the jungle they have, all the wilderness, is their poetry.“

– “The Nna Mmoy Language”, Ursula K. Le Guin (1929 – 2018)

A year of lost paper cards: Completion of Composition Exercise #51

I’ve completed Composition Exercise #51, a meta-Exercise which goes like this:

Buy a set of 50 flashcards.

Write a Composition Exercise on each one.

Go for a walk and drop the cards in public places.

It’s taken me almost a year, and many walks – much longer than intended. There were long breaks in between where I forgot to bring cards, lost my unused ones, or even forgot that I was still doing the piece. I’ve photographed and publicly shared some of the cards in the wild. Here they are for your enjoyment:

#compositionexercise51 Fifty

Ein Beitrag geteilt von Tobias Reber (@tobiasreber) am

#compositionexercise51 Forty-seven

Ein Beitrag geteilt von Tobias Reber (@tobiasreber) am

#CompositionExercise51 Thirty-five

Ein Beitrag geteilt von Tobias Reber (@tobiasreber) am

#CompositionExercise51 Thirty-three

Ein Beitrag geteilt von Tobias Reber (@tobiasreber) am

#CompositionExercise51 Thirty

Ein Beitrag geteilt von Tobias Reber (@tobiasreber) am

#CompositionExercise51 Twenty-nine

Ein Beitrag geteilt von Tobias Reber (@tobiasreber) am

#CompositionExercise51 Twonty-Fivo

Ein Beitrag geteilt von Tobias Reber (@tobiasreber) am

#CompositionExercise51 Twenty-two

Ein Beitrag geteilt von Tobias Reber (@tobiasreber) am

#CompositionExercise51 Twenty-one

Ein Beitrag geteilt von Tobias Reber (@tobiasreber) am

#CompositionExercise51 Seventeen

Ein Beitrag geteilt von Tobias Reber (@tobiasreber) am

#CompositionExercise51 Fifteen

Ein Beitrag geteilt von Tobias Reber (@tobiasreber) am

#CompositionExercise51 Fourteen

Ein Beitrag geteilt von Tobias Reber (@tobiasreber) am

#CompositionExercise51 Twelve

Ein Beitrag geteilt von Tobias Reber (@tobiasreber) am

#CompositionExercise51 Seven

Ein Beitrag geteilt von Tobias Reber (@tobiasreber) am

#CompositionExercise51 Five

Ein Beitrag geteilt von Tobias Reber (@tobiasreber) am

#CompositionExercise51 Three

Ein Beitrag geteilt von Tobias Reber (@tobiasreber) am

#CompositionExercise51 One

Ein Beitrag geteilt von Tobias Reber (@tobiasreber) am


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Composition Exercise #90

Create a set of sound files.

Upload them to your phone or tablet.

Compose a piece with in which these sounds are triggered only through singular or recurring reminders which you set in a reminder app.

The duration can be anything from several minutes to several months.


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Setting a reminder is an act of composition

Setting a reminder on your phone is an act of composition: deciding and initiating that a certain thing is to happen – and, literally, a sound is to be played – at a certain point in the future.

Setting multiple, even many, such reminders creates a polyphony, a polyrhythm of intentions. Such an approach lends itself to systematization and automation.

Taking a systematic, flexible and thus generative approach to handling our  intentions, commitments and observations is to move towards a life in which these can begin to resonate with each other: a move towards integrity and growth.

Davos, December 29, 2017 / Biel, January 3, 2018