Miller’s Conceptual Art is based on transmuting the prosaic. From his chamber music translation of vine residue on a garage wall, to utilization of record surface noise and interpretations of traffic patterns in Davis Square, Somerville, MA, this has been a driving force behind his ideas. The rejected is reintegrated, and the abstract is made concrete. Sometimes ideas loop with humor. At other times, they spiral around Nature’s very existence and laugh in the face of traditional anthropocentric ideals. Civilization is both a wonderful mystery and a hoax.
1. His 15 minute film “The Davis Square Symphony”, which translates traffic patterns in Davis Square, Somerville MA, into an orchestral score, will run continuously.
2. Five “Modified Vinyl” conceptual art pieces, all playing with the medium of records, will be hung on the wall. The first of these, “POP Record/evolving” (1986), consists entirely of record noise which changes each playing as old pops wear away and new pops appear. It was reviewed in Art New England along-side Christian Marclay’s “Record without a Cover”. A listening station (turntable with headphones) will be placed in front of each piece on the wall. At each station will be a copy of the record on the wall or a recording of a performance of the record on the wall.
Miller will be artist in residence, giving a talk and two concerts. One of these will feature his electric guitar work with loops and devices, all based on his Dream Interpretation composition technique. The other will feature his work for string quartet, culminating in his new composition, “Music for String Quartet and Two Turntables.” This piece will feature Miller as turntablist with records he created specifically for the composition, referencing the “Modified Vinyl” work on the walls. Both record noise and pre-recorded string quartet music will be played on the record, in continuous interaction with the live string quartet.
“Hello America” by Joseph Wardwell. MassMoCA.
In a very different approach to conceptual art, the lyrics to Miller’s Mission of Burma song “Fame and Fortune” were employed by artist Joe Wardwell for his large mural, “Hello America: 40 Hits From 50 States”, installed at MassMoCA in 2017 and on view throughout 2019.
“The work begins with a silhouetted line of bare winter trees taken from the scenic vistas of the Berkshires. Over this, Wardwell paints a dusky post-apocalyptic landscape of yellows and blues. On top of it all, he layers large letters — a slogan camouflaged within the landscape, with lyrics such as punk band Mission of Burma’s “Fame and fortune is a stupid game / Fame and fortune is the game I play.” The final layer is a series of screen-printed texts — 40 texts for the top 40 hits — in repeated vertical bands.” – from Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.