Alan Sondheim
(Providence, RI)

Azure Carter & Alan Sondheim


Alan Sondheim was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; he lives with his partner, Azure Carter in Providence, RI. He holds a B.A. and M.A. from Brown University. A new-media artist, writer, and theorist, he has exhibited, performed and lectured widely.

Sondheim finished a successful residency at Eyebeam Art and Technology Center in New York in March 2012; while there, he performed with Foofwa d'Imobilite and Monika Weiss; created a series of sound pieces based on very low frequency radio and building vibrations; produced a number of 'dead or wounded' models of avatars usings 3d printing technology; and worked on a series of texts dealing with issues of pain and its relation to the virtual. He continues to work on these themes, which he presented at SXSW Interactive 2013. The same year he spoke at HASTAC on animal and plant extinctions and similar themes at Subtle Tech; he also spoke and demonstrated on a glitch panel at South-by-Southwest in Austin.

Sondheim's writings include Writing Under (West Virginia University Press, 2012) the anthology Being on Line: Net Subjectivity (Lusitania, 1996), Disorders of the Real (Station Hill, 1988), .echo (alt-X digital arts, 2001), Vel (Blazevox 2004-5), Sophia (Writers Forum, 2004), Orders of the Real (Writers Forum, 2005), The Accidental Artist (Fort/Da), Azure/Nature/Digital (Blue Lion, 2009), The Wayward (Salt, 2004), and Deep Language (Salt, 2010) as well as numerous chapbooks, ebooks, and articles. Sondheim's videos and films have been shown internationally; some of his work with Foofwa d'Imobilite is documented at . Sondheim co-moderates several mail lists, including Cybermind, Cyberculture and Wryting; Jon Marshall published a pioneering book-length ethnography of the first.

Since January, 1994, Sondheim worked on the "Internet Text," a continuous meditation on philosophy, psychology, language, body, and virtuality. The Text is coordinated with multi-media work on various websites. In 1999, Sondheim was the 2nd Virtual Writer in Residence for the Trace online writing community (Nottingham-Trent University, England). In 2008, Sondheim had a solo installation and nine-month residency at the Odyssey exhibition space in the virtual world Second Life; he currently works in the Odyssey sim and the MacGrid multi-server virtual world. He recently completed a Second Life residency through Humlab, University of Umea, in Sweden; this was accompanied by a gallery installation at the university. He has performed for LowLives and the Virtual Futures conference (both 2011). Sondheim has worked on augmented reality pieces with Mark Skwarek; he continues to work with motion capture files created at Columbia College, Chicago; and has been creating complex performances in OpenSim, Second Life, and MacGrid. This year, he was also keynote speaker at the MacGrid Workshop/Conference in Hamilton, Ontario.

In 2004,Sondheim had a five-week residency at the Center for Literary Computing and the Virtual Environments Laboratory, under the directions of Sandy Baldwin and Frances Van Scoy, both at West Virginia University; in 2007 he was a six-week resident of the same. In 2005 he was resident artist/writer at Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana. He produced two cds at the latter (his older recordings have been reissued by ESP-Disk and Fire Museum). Two new cds and a vinyl record have since appeared with FireMuseum, a record with Qbico, and another cd with Myk Friedman for Porter Records. Sondheim has played live in numerous venues around New York and Philadelphia, both solo and with others. His instruments include oud, saz, pipa, guitar, cura cumbus, violin, viola, sarangi, ghichak, tro, erhu, suroz, flute, and chromatic harmonica. In 2008 he was on an eight-month National Science Foundation (NSF) consultancy at WVU. His research is in the art and aesthetics of codework, body and behavioral modeling, virtual environments, and avatars in general. In 2007, Sondheim was also the recipient of a New Media New York State Council of the Arts grant.

In 2001, Sondheim assembled a special issue of the American Book Review on Codework, which was seminal in its genre; along with Mez and Sandy Baldwin, he co-edited an online issue of Leonardo. Codework was the subject of a major workshop at WVU in April, 2008. In 1999-2000, Sondheim was second virtual-artist-in-residence in the Trace online writing program. Sondheim has taught at a number of schools, including UCLA, RISD, NSCAD, Brown, and SVA. From 1994-2012, Sondheim worked with the Swiss dancer/ choreographer Foofwa d'Imobilite; their work premiered across Europe and the U.S. Sondheim's own laptop performances have been widely seen; most recently he has been involved in online avatar performance with Sandy Baldwin for live audiences in Paris, London, Basel, Portland OR, Providence, and elsewhere. In January, 2010, Sondheim, along with Foofwa d'Imobilite and Azure Carter, opened the season for Dance New Amsterdam in Manhattan; in 2010, he performed as part of a series at Mt. Tremper in upstate New York. Sondheim and d'Imobilite have worked on a series of dance/performance DVDs, including Aletsch, and three disks of performances in the Alps.

In 2006 Sondheim had a large exhibition at Track 16 Gallery in Los Angeles. There have been other installations at the Grand Central Art Center, West Virginia University, Eyebeam Art + Technology Center, and Arena/Uqbar and OCAD, the last two in Second Life. Sondheim's digital work is archived at Cornell; his tapes and other materials are archived at NYU's Fales Collection, Bobst Library; and much of his curatorial and written work is archived at Ohio State University's Avant Writing Collection in Columbus.
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