Laurie Anderson was digital before Wired coined the term digerati, a cybernaut before William Gibson discovered cyberspace, a composer of electronic music before electronica became the newest niche in the musical marketplace. But with the electronic revolution in art, we can see Anderson for what she always was: a gender-bending visionary. Years before boys started playing girls on-line and vice versa, Anderson was gleefully creating transgendered versions of herself–in sound and on video–through the miracle of computerized technology. A self-described “techno-ice-queen observer,” Anderson creates lyrical, literate, disturbing performances–like Sharky’s Day and her devastating satire of alienated answering-machine communications, O Superman. Woven into many of her works are wry observations every bit as wise and resonant as the ones Marshall McLuhan hammered into his essays. Anderson once called technology the campfire around which we tell our stories, and in her recent meditation on Internet culture, One World, One Operating System, she confesses that she really likes cyberspace rumors. “Like the recent so-called AP press release that the so-called Vatican had been bought out by Microsoft and a so-called bishop responded: ‘We’re thrilled. We’ve been using icons for over 2,000 years, and Microsoft has only been doing it for three. So think of the potential.'” Now Anderson returns to her hometown–she’s a graduate of Glenbard West–to build the fire a little higher with an even more overt work about cyberspace, The Speed of Darkness. Elgin Community College, Visual and Performing Arts Center, Stage 1, 1700 Spartan Dr., Elgin, 847-622-0300. Friday, October 3, 8 PM. $22-$23. Then at the College of DuPage Arts Center, main stage, 22nd and Park, Glen Ellyn, 630-942-4000. Saturday, October 4, 8 PM. $22-$23.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Gert Krautbauer.