Dillon Gisch & William Dougherty
Rehabilitating the “Modest Venus” Replica Series; or, Legacy Data and the Imperative to Interpret
Archaeology is a queer science: its ability to produce knowledge about things and people in the past is predicated on destroying its own archive. To make matters worse, the knowledge that archaeological endeavor produces at this high price all too often remains cryptic, and artifacts that lack apparent aesthetic or didactic value are left to languish in museum storerooms and dusty catalogs filled with laconic prose descriptions, never to be seen or interpreted again. In this talk, Dillon Gisch makes the case for reconceptualizing this archaeological detritus as legacy data, and he surveys how this approach can challenge longstanding misogynist and Eurocentrist attitudes toward an extensive series of ancient Roman sculpted replicas of “modest Venus” and generate novel interpretations of these images in their ancient viewer contexts.
Dillon Gisch is Arthur Ross/Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Rome Prize Fellow in Ancient Studies and a PhD candidate in classical archaeology at Stanford University.
Music and the Collective Awareness
As a composer, William Dougherty is fascinated by sound’s “inner life”—small flashing rhythms, shifting tones, and momentum within sounds. Uncovering these often overlooked inner fluctuations is something he aims to do through immersive sonic experiences, highly reduced musical structures, and by treating psychoacoustic phenomena as essential material. In his recent work, he has turned to the sounds of early recording technology where, beyond the surface of clicks and distortion, one can “peer” into the past.
Dougherty’s focus on sound’s “inner life” is not only a personal speculative sonic project, but a call to action—a way of reorienting our way of listening and thus our way of perceiving the world. He believes that music, as a cultural, communal, and social practice, has the power to mirror society and to shape it. Writing music is an imaginative project—an opportunity to build a world which is more just and compassionate—a world in which our senses, our awareness of others, and our collective spirit is amplified.
In current projects for Ensemble Proton (Bern), the Sun Ra Arkestra (Philadelphia), Ensemble Resilience (Amsterdam), the Konus Sax Quartett (Bern), pianist Jared Redmond (Seoul), and Nahal Recordings (Paris), Dougherty is asking these questions: How might my creative process itself practice counterhegemonic thinking in the social relations it builds? How might I construct musical norms that circumvent the hierarchies which underlie the problematic structures of the Western classical concert music tradition, and afford glimpses of more equitable possibilities?
William Dougherty is the Luciano Berio Rome Prize Fellow in Musical Composition and a doctoral candidate in Columbia University’s Department of Music.
The shoptalks will be held in English.