The Jack Ridl Visiting Writers Series of Hope College will feature Oni Buchanan and Jon Woodward performing a multi-media sonic work titled “Uncanny Valley” on Tuesday, Oct. 2, at 7 p.m. at the Knickerbocker Theatre in downtown Holland.
The public is welcome. Admission is free.
In this program, featuring a newly-commissioned concert-length piece by composer John Gibson, the piano performance of Oni Buchanan joins and reflects the spoken text of the poem “Uncanny Valley” as performed by its author, poet Jon Woodward. “Uncanny Valley” is a long serial poem in 16 sections, meant to be read out loud, with numerous optional repeats throughout the text. These repetitions act as accumulations of sound, maddening as well as hypnotic. Gibson’s piece provides a sonic environment in which the text floats freely, with its pacing determined by the two performers.
In 1970, roboticist Masahiro Mori coined the term “uncanny valley” to describe the emotional and empathic chasm between humans and imperfect human simulacra, a gap created by their imperfection. The piano work and poem cooperate in a search for what is most uncanny, and most human, in both language and music.
Oni Buchanan’s third poetry book, “Must a Violence,” is forthcoming from the Kuhl House Poets Series in September 2012, selected by Mark Levine. Her previous books include “Spring,” a Poetry Honors winner of the 2009 Massachusetts Book Awards and selected by Mark Doty for the 2007 National Poetry Series, and “What Animal,” selected by Fanny Howe for the University of Georgia Press Contemporary Poetry Series. Buchanan is also a concert pianist, has released three solo piano CDs, and actively performs across the U.S. and abroad.
Jon Woodward’s books are “Uncanny Valley” (forthcoming from Cleveland State University Poetry Center), “Rain” (Wave Books) and “Mister Goodbye Easter Island” (Alice James Books). He works at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology.
Buchanan and Woodward live in Boston, Mass., and are wife and husband.
Additional information is available online at hope.edu/vws.
The Knickerbocker Theatre is located at 86 E. Eighth St.