Ultrasounds: The Time is Now

Ultrasounds: The Time is Now

Works Performed or Excerpted:

1.       "The Time Is Now"  voice and recording by Nessie Lessons, text by Melody Sumner Carnahan

2.     "Answer" voice and recording by Barbara Golden, Mary Oliver, violin, text by Melody Sumner Carnahan

3.        “Victims” voice and recording by Robert Ashley, text by Melody Sumner Carnahan

4.       “She Began Cutting the Situations into Sections” voice and recording by Maggi Payne, text from “Victims” by Melody Sumner Carnahan

5.       “Tuesday 3 a.m.” voice and recording by Brian Reinboldt, text from “Victims” by Melody Sumner Carnahan

6.        “What Happened” voice and recording by Laetitia Sonami, text by Melody Sumner Carnahan

7.       “Ruby’s Story” voice and recording by Susan Stone, text by Melody Sumner Carnahan

8.       “One Pink Mask” voice and recording by Sheila Davies, text by Melody Sumner Carnahan

9.       “My Pleasure” voices by Barbara Golden, Ben Azarm, Sheila Davies, Carla Fabrizio, with Carla Fabrizio, cello and Barbara Golden, keyboards, text by Melody Sumner Carnahan

10.        “The Future is Our Only Invention” voice and guitar by Steven Clark with Jim Hrabetin, bass and Marc Weinstein, drums, text from “For Immediate Release, Symbol” by Melody Sumner Carnahan


Melody Sumner Carnahan


SUMNER CARNAHAN has nine books in print (Burning Books and Clear Light) and over forty short works published in national and international periodicals and anthologies, including Lawrence Ferlinghetti's City Lights Review, Five Fingers Review, How2, Leonardo Music Journal, THE Magazine, Factorial (Japan), At a Distance (MIT, 2005), and The Closets of Time (Mercury Press, Canada, 2007). Her first novel, Only a Messenger, was released in November 2011 by Burning Books, as part of the Quadrants Series: "debut novels by seasoned writers," along with a companion volume of shorter works.

Carnahan received an MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College (1982) working at the Center for Contemporary Music with composer Robert Ashley, and in the Book Arts Program with Kathleen Walkup. At Mills, she began collaborating with composers and musicians to present her writing “off the page.” Her fiction has found form for over twenty-five years as intermedia creations in which she provides stories, lyrics, and prose for recordings, installations, video, and live performance, notably the widely praised “performance novels” of Laetitia Sonami.

Carnahan’s third story collection, One Inch Equals Twenty-Five Miles, received an Eric Hoffer Book Award 2010 in the Legacy Fiction category. In 2005, Carnahan received an Associate Artist Residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, working with writer William Gass. In 2003, KUNM’s AetherFest commissioned a half-hour audiowork, Dido’s Revenge, featuring the voices of Susan Stone, Jay Cloidt, and Joan Stango. Morton Subotnick commissioned four stories for his Gestures performance and interactive CD/DVD (Mode Records 2001). Carnahan was the Creative Media Arts Fellow for 2000 at ABC Radio and the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia, where she produced The X, Y, Z of It—a half-hour audiowork broadcast internationally, which features the voices of Robert Ashley and Joan La Barbara, as well as Sydney-based actors and musicians. Carnahan received an Independent Publisher Award 1999 in Audio-Fiction for her book/CD, The Time Is Now (Frog Peak/Burning Books). Woody Vasulka commissioned “The Maiden” for his installation (and catalogue), The Brotherhood, at NTT/ICC in Tokyo, 1998. New American Radio commissioned two audioworks: Manananggal (with Laetitia Sonami and Marie Goyette, 1994), and The Bench (with Laetitia Sonami, 1995), both broadcast nationally on public radio and archived at www.somewhere.org. 

Other awards, and acknowledgements have come from NYC’s Experimental Intermedia Foundation, the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Many composers, artists, and performers have commissioned words: including, Barbara Golden, At the Corner of Alive & Jesus; Elodie Lauten for her Deus Ex Machina Cycle; Susanna Carlisle, Tango Two and A Different Train (video w/soundtrack by Joan La Barbara); and Michael Sumner’s Between 5th & 6th (movie with soundtrack by The brilliant Dullards). The Out of Context ensemble, directed by Dino J. A. Deane, interpreted Carnahan’s One Inch Equals Twenty-Five Miles in live performance, and as a re-mixed version for audio CD (Burning Books/High Mayhem) 2005. Molly Sturges and Chris Jonas commissioned text for live performance at SITE Santa Fe’s Biennial, 2007. Carnahan has also collaborated with Elizabeth King, Pamela Z, Mary Armentrout, Alex Neville, Maggi Payne, Elizabeth Wiseman, Mark Weber, Patrick McFarlin, Marghreta Cordero, Evangel King, and many others, on works released from Burning Books, Tellus, NonesuchElectra, Zerx Records, 4Tay Records, and Frog Peak Music. 

Carnahan has contributed to books for major museums, such as the Guggenheim (NYC) and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. She has interviewed and edited significant artistic minds of our time, including John Cage, Yoko Ono, Robert Ashley, Laurie Anderson, Evan S. Connell, Woody Vasulka, Steina, George Lakoff, Arakawa, and Madeline Gins. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with her husband, Michael Sumner, with whom she co-founded the independent press, Burning Books, in 1979, which continues producing books, audioworks, posters, and installations


Melody Sumner Carnahan on the Experimental Intermedia Series


"I didn’t like the sound of my own voice and my first story collection had just been published as part of my MFA thesis at Mills College in 1982. Most of my friends were musicians and performers at the Mills Center for Contemporary Music, then directed by Robert Ashley. One day I got the idea to ask them to “do something with the words, anyway you like.” The audioworks from The Time Is Now came together in ways I couldn’t have imagined. When Experimental Intermedia Foundation approached me in 1985 with the idea of creating a program for radio broadcast, with Susan Stone as co-producer, I felt elated, encouraged, and challenged to continue with my collaborative approach for presenting my words “off the page.” EIF fostered a legendary community of innovative artists by presenting their works with courage and dedication, which created an ongoing platform for decades of intermedia explorations. I am honored to be a part of the archive." -Melody Sumner Carnahan, 2011


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