Over the past several weeks the ground level of the Mill, our shop, has undergone an incredible transformation. Fellows, participants and the local community have worked together, repairing and painting every window, stacking 200 year-old barn-wood to form an inhabitable stair and stage, built a new indoor and outdoor kitchen, constructed a 24’ long projection wall, and cleared a generous open space, providing the foundations of this year’s workshop: Constitution.
During the four-week intensive workshop, we brought together Architects, Artists, Filmmakers, Musicians, Composers, Physicists, Poets, Craftspeople, Photographers, Actors, Mimes, Chefs, Magicians, Historians, Scientists, and Scholars to co-construct a disciplinary Zoëtrope: a living system of knowledge-transformation turning within light and time, water and clouds, life and still life, cameras and projectors, nights and days, words and voices, an emergent microclimate that evokes the origins of life itself—animation, anima, zoë, life—a “Zoëtrope Sun”.
Over the course of 2 months, 40 RISD students worked closely with David Gersten and Michael Harrison. The works emerged in to ‘Galapagos In C’: an interactive, multimedia performance combining architecture, performance, and music.
The 2015 summer’s workshop was arranged as a five-week intensive program. Inspired by the Galapagos Archipelago and the knowledge transformations that emerged from Darwin’s five-week experience within their dense bio-diversity, the Galapagos workshop invoked the first principle of the theory of evolution. The structure and nature of the questions offer different ways in which the experience can be meaningful for each individual and where the contribution of one’s own work supports the larger body of work.
In March 2015 a group of 25 people from all over the world, and representing a wide spectrum of disciplines, convened upon a snow-covered House on the Hill to take part in “Oppenheimer’s Table” - a workshop examining and expanding upon the nature of 132 doodles generated from the secret joint committee meetings held in 1947 and chaired by Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer.
On May 9th, 2014 Arts Letters & Numbers acquired the house on the hill above the mill. Built in 1859, this house previously served as the original mill owner’s residence. Now it has become the residence for Arts Letters & Numbers ongoing programs. This moment in the evolution of Arts letter & Numbers demanded our present tense creativity. We decided to focus our third summer workshop on the very immediate questions we are all asking: What is space between the house and the mill? How do we inhabit this new geography?
The 2013 summer's workshop grew out of the perfect combination of planning and poetry. Building from the experiences of our first summer workshop, and incorporating discoveries found through our recent work, we developed this summer’s workshop titled ‘Exquisite Broken Circle; Suddenly a Chora’. Structured through six disciplines; construction, drawing, film/photography, writing, theater and music/sound the workshop was conceived of as a disciplinary exquisite corpse. Each of these disciplines worked in parallel and in close proximity, directly interacting though a framework of shared questions and actions.
Circles: Drawing on Friendship" was the first of the Art, Letters & Numbers workshops to be held in our Mill in Upstate New York. Through a deep intellectual, emotional, and creative questioning, we drew up a series of works and created new structures, new spaces, new stories which culminated in a celebratory performance. The collective creative urgency was a crucible of emotive precision from which we pour the foundation for our future workshops.
The 'Aarhus Arc' was built by 150 master students at the Aarhus School of Architecture. In an act reminiscent of the Globe Theater, the arc was carried in large segments through the snow and (re)constructed within the school’s theatre. Performing as a wall, a drawing board/film screen, it divided the space, inviting people to whisper through it, draw through it, cut through it. Through these acts of empathy for those on the other side, the arc transformed into an architecture, a theater, a film, a drawing, a conversation, an action, a school, and a contribution to a city culminating in a series of performances of magical moments, smoke and fire!
The 'Open Book' Workshop was an initial step towards what has become Arts Letters & Numbers. The students from the studio "Making Real" participated in this collaborative workshop orchestrated by David Gersten and Anne Romme. The workshop explored the interrelations between gravity, bodies, drawing, time through inhabiting plans on floors, sections on walls, and the space in between.