Carolyn Chen‘s This is a Scream takes the rawest of emotions and transforms it into a constructed performance in a way that highlights its own artificiality. Pauline Gloss’s You Are a Speaker is a participatory language-sound game for 8 or more individuals. (Note: This program has changed slightly, and unfortunately Pauline Gloss will not be able to attend. Indexical staff & curators will lead her language-sound game You Are a Speaker in her absence.)

About Language as a Wilderness

This event is part of the series Language as a Wilderness, co-presented by Indexical and Radius Gallery at the Tannery Arts Center in Santa Cruz.

Language as a Wilderness is a five-week series of experimental music dealing with language extracted from its natural environment. It is co-presented by Indexical and Radius Gallery at the Tannery Arts Center in Santa Cruz, from Jan. 12 through Feb. 9. For more upcoming performances, visit

Carolyn Chen

Carolyn Chen’s This Is a Scream is an audio essay that began as a program note on a piece about a scream. It begins from an enigmatic clip from Kanye West’s “Monster” that inspired a through-composed piece for chamber ensemble dissecting and reassembling that scream, slowing down its sound to search for the feeling and the music in it. The essay traverses how I hear this scream, how I tried to remake it, and how I try to learn to scream myself, while accounting for my cultural upbringing. Featuring interviews with computer music pioneer Miller Puckette and my parents, Ya-Chen and Ting-Chung Chen.

Carolyn Chen has made music for supermarket, demolition district, and the dark. Her work reconfigures the everyday to retune habits of our ears, through sound, text, light, image, and movement. For over a decade her studies of the guqin, the Chinese 7-string zither traditionally played for private meditation in nature, has informed her thinking on listening in social spaces. Recent projects include a marble chase and commissions for Klangforum Wien and the LA Phil New Music Group.

Described by The New York Times as “the evening’s most consistently alluring … a quiet but lush meditation,” Chen’s work has been supported by the Fulbright Program, Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans, Stanford University Sudler Prize, ASCAP, and University of California Institute for Research in the Arts, commissions from MATA Festival, impuls Festival, and Emory Planetarium, and residencies at Djerassi, Hambidge, and Kimmel Harding Nelson. The work has been presented at festivals and exhibitions in 24 countries, at venues including Carnegie Hall and the Kitchen (New York), REDCAT and the Geffen MOCA (Los Angeles), the Menil Collection (Houston), Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Guggenheim Bilbao, PODIUM Festival (Esslingen), CYCLE Festival (Iceland), Tel Aviv Marathon, and the Institute for Provocation (Beijing). She has been fortunate to work with ensembles such as SurPlus, Southland, Pamplemousse, Mocrep, Talea, Curious Chamber Players, Chamber Cartel, Die Ordnung Der Dinge, Asamisamasa, orkest de ereprijs, S.E.M., red fish blue fish, and Wild Rumpus.

Recordings are available on Perishable, the wulf., and Quakebasket. Writing appears in MusikTexte, Experimental Music Yearbook, Psychiana, and China Academy of Art SIMA Journal. Chen earned a Ph.D. in music from UC San Diego, and a M.A. in Modern Thought and Literature and B.A. in music from Stanford University, with an honors thesis on free improvisation and radical politics. She lives in Los Angeles.

Pauline Gloss

Pauline’s current body of work is concerned with how the smallest bits of language— in both their sonic and meaning-making dimensions— can, through repetition, variation, and syntactical rewiring, create temporary sonic and semantic meaning-making structures.

Her work investigates and foregrounds the physicality of language by rendering it architecturally. She makes of its discreet bits shifty semantic and sonic building-blocks whose stability is always already in question.

With the character and reach of this tool set, she attempts to form a language in which the boundaries and traditional formations of selfhood are plied, questioned, and reformed.

Pauline Gloss is a writer and literary sound-artist based in Los Angeles. Her language-sound work attempts to dramatize and expand language in its timbral, rhythmic, textural, and meaning-making dimensions. Her current body of work is concerned with using highly reduced language to develop larger emotional and conceptual architectures whose stability is always already in question.

Pauline runs Spoken Records, a label specializing in the release of work in the Text-Sound tradition. She has been written about favorably in art and music publications and has performed or had work shown in Los Angeles, London, and New York at institutions including MoCA Geffen, Cal Arts, Human Resources (LA), Resonance FM, Poetic Research Bureau, The Lambda Literary Festival, Automata, Betalevel, and others.

Indexical’s Santa Cruz concert series is made possible through generous support by Arts Council Santa Cruz.

Arts Council Santa Cruz