The Fist of Fibonacci

An Interactive Poem Project for MetaDada

by Rhonda Pettit and H. Michael Sanders

Image01-Fist of Fibonacci


“Golden Numbers with Line by Jack Spicer” is a poem based on the well-known Fibonacci sequence of numbers, in which each number is the sum of the two preceding numbers. This pattern of numbers occurs repeatedly in nature, with the stabilization of the ratio between numbers reaching .618 to 1. Many have believed that this ratio, known as the Golden Section, represents a way of arranging parts to each other and to the whole of a piece in an aesthetically pleasing way. Modern artists, musicians, architects, and poets have applied this ratio to their work.

Image02-Fibonacci Diagram

In our poem, we applied the sequence to the number of lines in each stanza. Rhonda Pettit started with a borrowed line by poet Jack Spicer (“Imaginary Elegies I”; the remaining lines to be original). H. Michael Sanders followed with another single line (1 + 0 = 1) stanza; Rhonda responded with a 2-line stanza (1 + 1 = 2), etc. The writing is largely improvisational, drawing on the spontaneous aesthetic they used in their collaborative work for the Gaps & Overlaps exhibition at the UC Blue Ash College Art Gallery (

Image03-Fibonacci Numbers on Paper

How long will they be able to keep it up before the poem metastasizes into stanzas consisting of hundreds and thousands of lines? How long before the Fist of Fibonacci pounds these hapless poets into mute, slowly settling layers of dust?


Golden Numbers with Line by Jack Spicer
by Rhonda Pettit and H. Michael Sanders
srednaS leahciM .H & titteP adnohR

First published in the MetaDada Blog []
as a serialized feature titled The Fist of Fibonacci

Fist of Fibonacci – Installment 1 Published on February 25, 2016

Stanza 1 (1 line)
Poetry almost blind like a camera

Stanza 2 (1 line)
An image resolves in the gap between impulses

Stanza 3 (2 lines)
Rises to tone untangled from chord and rends
all dissonance, consonance, chemistries of stance

Stanza 4 (3 lines)
Buzzing like hot insect breath in the ear canal,
calcifying jellied membranes into photo emulsion
through which visions arise and faintly flicker

Stanza 5 (5 lines)
to sweep and to swap such mechanical indignities
as numbers always dictate, lodging here and there
like tics between follicles, for the space
filled with meaning i-chinging possibilities
with exposed surfaces and supposed persons (O, Emily!)

Stanza 6 (8 lines)
I can hear the phone ringing but can’t find it…
where is that damn thing and who keeps calling me?
then the phone stops ringing and it’s so very quiet,
so quiet that I begin to hear my heart beating and
the rhythm of my blood surging through my arteries…
where is that damn phone and why is it so quiet,
why doesn’t it ring, why isn’t anyone calling me?
why do I keep asking these questions of myself?


Fist of Fibonacci – Installment 2 Published on March 04, 2016

Stanza 7 (13 lines)
Because poetry almost deaf like a phone keeps calling
all the unlucky numbers, keeps dialing with its thumbs
the image transmissions of words and music we need
in these our times trying hard to be and knot. Be. Cause
poetry almost hard and shiny as a plastic case (or a case
of plausibilities) reflects what it sees through its thorn-
colored glasses and ouch! what we wouldn’t give for
vision so sharp, for a series of sharp visions, for serious,
Sirius-less visions. Because poetry almost free as the ag-
gregate that used to be your driveway and far more
sharp and colorful when it’s lodged inside your shoe
is on the ball and better than a cell phone a bell tower a bell
curve. A blister not a diamond is a supposed poem reaching

Stanza 8 (21 lines)
Peering intently into the thick and blistering darkness,
thumbs resolutely thrust into raw, bulging eyes while
familiar voices ring hollow – as empty and wooden as a
napping ventriloquist’s dummy face down on the stage –
teeth chattering in odd rhythms that can only be followed
with fugitive and transitory attention without any thought
or meaningful intervention into the thinning, ephemeral
mist condensing into rivulets of sweat stinging the eyes…
fuzzy edges embedded in glib, transient interpretations
trapped in the slow, inevitable process of disappearing
into languorous foetuses emerging directly from the hot
entrails of the poet, issued singing the diabolical songs of
charlatans with tongues of flame flapping like loose sails…
thoughts, ideas and words transformed into cheap tourist
souvenirs and dropping like fat sausages into a cosmic
conflagration swirling into the fine royal jelly of bees…
transfixed by breathing and formulating urgent plans for
childhood while wearing the deep, red scars left as tracks
by the ticking clocks of history… still ticking… ticking…
with minutes before the alarm goes off to betray the faith
in silence [                                                                        ]


Fist of Fibonacci – Installment 3 Published on March 11, 2016

 Stanza 9 (34 lines)
. But by now we all know what it all adds up to: the Fugitive Poem bursting out
of and blurting out from the white space, the silence, the old cold
blanks shot by the corporate snow that carpets our membrains.
Less than a birth and more than a muse, a genie, a goddess,
the gods or the godless, and ranging from mountain-sucking
electric clouds of digital digitless ink pots to hand-held inklings
on their slow-to-go scratching on the backs of pages, with secret
sages leaning over their shoulders, shushing the pouters,
the doubters, the internal editors, and stomping the little rats running
their wheels of spin screaming faster faster more more faster faster
better better this sucks that way that sucks this way faster more, and Splat!
goes the rat for a moment or two, those secret sages like Big Foot
or somebody’s Lassie saving the day. And out scats the loco fermenti,
the voco con jello, the verso contrivo, the here it is, Gumby, and the rest
of us can read it, ride it, jump from it, or swim in it, all it takes
is our two eyes and a few minutes of our lives. The time it takes
to imagine singing an aria with a blistered tongue. Let’s leave it there.
Whoever follows can play it like pick-up sticks. Less than a birth
because whatever it says and is by saying, it suckled on sweat and worry
and suffering and joy and confusion and foolishness and vast red balloons
of egomaniacal dry dreams before the teat of the pencil or keypad
stroked it into wordstock, and more than a birth for the same shenanigans.
And more than divinities of whatever shape and size and sex since
those same shenanigans invented same! Give credit where credit is due –
Splat! – because when all is said and done – Splat! – all we can do
is follow the integrity of the Fugitive Poem, whether dressed as a plain-
clothes cop, or dolled-up ducky like contestants at a Michael Jackson look-
alike contest, whether empty as a girdle on the line or lined up like girders
on a beach-sucking high-rise condominium in beautiful downtown
Florida. In either case the Fugitive Poem knows what it’s like to be
behind bars (& in a few) and wants to tell us how to not be what it was
before it came down to words, knowing it’s impossible, knowing
the laugh’s on us, knowing if we knew we wouldn’t write it in the first
place – Splat! – and hearing the distant smack of a closing book or laptop.

Stanza 10 (55 lines)
A pinched, grimacing face covered in sublime inscriptions,
shouting aloud a quite brittle series of mysterious cries in a
strained and high-pitched voice shaped like an hourglass…
Fine white sand flowing through a purposeful constriction
to become its own measure of time and space and volume…
White space and silence cover the inherent noise of living
with a thin veneer of hot divinity and itching, liquid dreams
that spew into consciousness on the backs of burning words…
Burning words that curl into the ash of the Fugitive Poem as
it transforms from impulse to object of spiritual imagination…
An object impregnated with animal intensity staring into the
void while wearing the thin cloak of art, which is the only
concealment possible from the icy emptiness of uncertainty…
Only the thinnest of vestments may be procured to shield us
from the brutal and relentless emptiness of utter certainty…
A twitching voice emerges amid the brittle cries brandishing
much less imagination than that of a worm wriggling on a
rain-soaked sidewalk of fitful sleep winding through theory…
The worm begins to speak in a polyglot of symbols through
a transparent grin adhering to its toothless protuberance…
After a fine speech the worm tires of its efforts and changes
its mind, committing henceforth to only utter the most clear
and definitive statements about the ideas of mushrooms…
A young boy on a bicycle swerves down the sidewalk in the
rain, leaving the worm with a noble attitude of rotting meat…
The language of light spills through clouds of unknowing to
illuminate inconceivable immensity seen only by a wall of
spider eyes confounded by the vague, shimmering vision…
Exhaling a blue-grey vapor the spiders read the book of
clouds in a chorus of voices that ascend the Tower of Babel…
Babbling cacophony and tumultuous clamor reverberate in
throbbing patterns of simple awareness throughout a dimly
lit collective dream that collects in shallow pools of hope…
Only spirit, dream and sex can result in an authentic sense
of collectivity amid the hurdy-gurdy dialectic of pure reason…
Spontaneous collisions and arbitrary associations are blurred
by distinctions, a consumptive form of labor, that convey the
burdens and pleasures of choosing one thing over another…
Neither nature nor its witness is static, but are only known in
their constant state of perpetual flux and wide circular forms…
Palpitations emanate from the darkness of promising speech
glimmering like daemonic magic lanterns that twist and turn
into beautiful neckties from which we hang ourselves to dry…
Pushing hard pencils through the surface of the paper as the
palpitating text is inscribed to become poetry and philosophy…
A naked hand smears the lines into dry undulating rituals of
sound as they are spoken by a dancing tongue and drumming
lips sculpting the body’s hot breath in hard, chiseled verses…
In this way we sanction lunacy in small bright fragments that
we revere as content to memorize and soberly meditate upon…
Transfigured by experience and gracious recollections of it
through the fragrant splendor of memory we hurtle without
weight through space and time with a multiplying voice…
A voice that fractures and multiplies like an echo; that bears
contradiction, repetition and multiplicity in radiant patterns…


Fist of Fibonacci – Installment 4: Published on April 15, 2016

Stanza 11 (89 lines)
. . . and then: Text marks the spot. The Fugitive Poem becomes
the very thing it tries to break away from, the enlightened
worm of the sidewalks cut in two, a copy of itself.
And the Fugitive Poet becomes outraged at the outrage
committed against the worm, whose time-honored job
was to bring us all down to earth. Can you imagine?
Be. Cause. Breath is a verse. A universe. A multi-verse.
And reverse. Cola-coca! is the Fugitive Poet’s curse.
But isn’t the Fugitive Poet only as ornery
as the beekeepers of time allow her to be?
For they know almost as well as the bees themselves
the manifest Honor in ornery (remember the Fugitive
Poet named Honoré?), that it takes more than color
and buzz to get the honey, that at some level
far and away below the midnight of hives it sometimes
takes a little sting to get the honey, though the bees
will never admit this, and the beekeepers try
to forget this, though netting and gloves have something
to say about that! Meanwhile the Fugitive Poet
has stings from within that make her
buzz the silences into submission for just
long enough to set the rhythm free,
and bingo-bango! there goes the little poem
dancing its crusty feet to a sonorous
orneriness while the Scholars of the Glorious
Assumption drool with – aw, shucks! They’ve stopped
reading by now anyway! And thank goodness for that
because the Fugitive Poet long ago rattled
that rusted red caboose in her brain
and made it her semi-concrete mission in life
to stay out of little boxes on the hillside,
even the fib of a box she has made for herself
and Dr. Daretaker that is adding up to this:
In contemplation of the intimidation of the inundation
it would take to write 8ty-9ine lines – that’s practically
a barn of a stanza, livestock, hay bales, field mice,
tics, and pitch forks included – the Fugitive Poet breaks
least she’s not writing one syllable per line
and including the pauses and spaces between words
and letters, at least she breaks the making the broken
rule just made and gets back to the business – Splat!
of fugitating (meanwhile the Scholars of the Glorious
Assumption are shaking their beards and tightening
their bra straps and leaning in to confer, and there
hasn’t been this much conferring since Walt Whitman
conferred with the creatures along Elkhorn Creek)
which brings us back to bees and stings and honey
and the state of the Fugitive Poem. Because by now
we are noticing the missing planks, the space between
ribs, a skeletal barn with a holy roof that leans a little
to the left, and wants to be loved for its use and beauty,
and loves better the white horse grazing beside it
like a floater in the eye of the Fugitive Poet. Blink
and follow it and forget where you are and now
you know what it is to be a Fugitive Poet.
Which brings us back to ornery. And the possibility
that if the Fugitive Poet were to pony up and pontificate,
to issue a rebus of regeneration amid vultures on the barn,
economies of steam, and stationary fronts of progress,
she might say                                                  eventually
something like this: Practice random acts of pruning!
Sprawl your scratchings hither and yon!
Be a wall poet! A boxcar poet – minus the box of course!
Carve your love epistles into the bark of the page!
Stop and stomp with the interstate daffodils! Because really.
If all of us hadn’t come along and transformed
the wilderness into an I-Hop, there would be plenty
of stings and honey and bears to be the poets. Or poems.
But sshhhh! It’s mid-March and the redbuds are whispering.


To be continued with next MetaDada update…



Profile 4: HANS RICHTER (1888-1976), Founding Member of the Zurich Dada Group


The realization that reason and anti-reason, sense and nonsense, design and chance, consciousness and unconsciousness, belong together as necessary parts of a whole – this was the central message of Dada. – Hans Richter

Hand-Engraved-RJohannes Siegfried Richter was born in 1888 in Berlin. While he wished to be a painter, his father convinced him to pursue architecture instead of painting, and he entered a one-year carpentry apprenticeship. From 1908 to 1911, Richter did follow his own calling and studied at the Art Academies in Berlin, Weimar and Paris. Two years later, he joined groups of expressionists from Berlin’s Sturm Gallery, Dresden’s Brücke, and Munich’s Blaue Reiter and, in 1914, joined Die Aktion, led by a group of expressionist artists and writers sharing socialist and antiwar sentiments. Mainly using its literary and political membership as subjects, Richter produced black and white drawn, woodcut, and linocut portraits for the Die Aktion Journal. Such visual abstractions borne of political thought informed much of his life’s work.

In 1916, Richter was wounded shortly after entering the war, and was discharged from active duty. Seeking medical treatment in Zurich with his new wife, Richter visited friends at the Café de la terrasse on a date proposed two years previously. New friends were made: Dadaists Tristan Tzara, Marcel Janco, and his brother, Georges.

Richter participated in Dada events from 1917 to 1919 and first showed his paintings at the Galerie Corray. His “visionary portraits” – abstractions of his Dada friends, including woodcut “Dada heads” – were done in “trancelike states” beyond the visible world toward “a universal image.”

In 1918, Tristan Tzara introduced Richter to Viking Eggeling, a Swedish painter whose “systematic theory of abstract art” led the two collaborators to co-author “Universelle Sprache” (Universal Language), which posited “abstract art to language based on polar relationships of elementary forms derived from the laws of human perception.” This novel communication would be devoid of associations realted to the horrors of World War I.

Eggleling and Richter later produced abstract films, which were also novel in form and content. Universal Language also served as the basis of other films such as, Rhythmus 21 and Rhythmus 23, which introduced temporal elements into their abstractions. These inflections are also evident in Richter’s 1927 film, Vormittagsspuk (“Ghosts before Breakfast”), with its potent Dadaesque parodies of life.

Richter collaborated with Werner Graeff and Elizar (‘EL’) Lissitsky on the abstract film-focused magazine G (“Gestaltung” – “Structure”), funded by architect Mies van der Rohe, and to which Dadaists Tzara, Haussmann, Ray, Gross, Schwitters and Arp, among others, contributed. However, Richter’s membership with the Association of Revolutionary Artists forced him to flee from Germany, whereupon he landed in the US in 1941, and taught in New York’s Film Institute of City College. Richter retired in 1962 and returned to Locarno, Switzerland, where he died in 1976.

Other important Dada-inflected films by Richter include Dreams That Money Can Buy (1947), 8×8: A Chess Sonata (1957) and Dadascope (1961). He is notable as the author of an important book on Dada by one of the movement’s core founders, Dada: Art and Anti-Art (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1965. Reprint edition, London: Thames and Hudson, 1997). – MEKHand-Engraved-L



MetaDada Broadsides by David Hartz

Hand-Engraved-RWe are pleased to present two new MetaDada broadsides by contributor David Hartz: “Dada-Pain” and “Dada For Money.” Our thanks to David for these tickets to Dada-dom. We will take this opportunity to invite other friends of the journal and readers of the MetaDada blog to contribute material for possible inclusion in future weekly updates.Hand-Engraved-L

David Hartz, “Dada-Pain,” digitally-manipulated found advertisement (2016)

Click to download a PDF of David Hartz’ broadside, “Dada For Money.”


MetaDada Broadside No. 6: Why Are We Dada?

How can one expect to put order into the chaos that constitutes that infinite and shapeless variation: man?
– Tristan Tzara, “Dada Manifesto 1918” (1918)

DBS-Why Are We Dada-Final2

Hand-Engraved-RWhy are we Dada? The very question itself is an oxymoron. Hence we are compelled to ask. The answer to this tenuous question is physically embedded in the web of neurons firing perceptions and impressions at the active screen of our mind; a screen that can’t help but intertwine sensory input with memory and fantasy and dream. We force these wiggling shapes into a flexible mold of reason; a matrix of liquid intent. Imposing our rational mental structures on the world is our illness with some undiscovered bacterial origin or viral mutation. We randomly swivel our heads and ask, “Why?” Rarely, if ever, do we fully recognize what we are doing. We dance the dance of reason, we shovel the muck of progress, we roll rocks endlessly up steep hills of rhetoric. We ask, “why?”Hand-Engraved-L

Thought is made in the mouth.
– Tristan Tzara, “Dada Manifesto on Feeble and Bitter Love” (1920)

H. Michael Sanders and William Boyle. Why?, single-channel video, 4:30 (2009)

I know you’re expecting some explanations about Dada. I’m not going to give you any. Explain to me why you exist. You’ve no idea… You’ll never know why you exist, but you’ll always allow yourselves to be easily persuaded to take life seriously.
– Tristan Tzara, “Lecture on Dada” (1922)

MetaDada Broadside No. 5: Dada Menace

As the weather begins to fluctuate from blustery winter to uncertain spring, the Dada virus can erupt unexpectedly. Beware and be cautious. Report all suspected Dada activity to protect yourself and your loved ones from certain infection.


Profile 3: SOPHIE TAEUBER-ARP (1889-1943), Founding Member of the Zurich Dada Group


It is not possible for us to take ourselves back to the exact circumstances of those in a past era, attempting to create art in the style of the past is always inauthentic. – Sophie Taeuber-Arp

Hand-Engraved-RE  Sophie Taeuber was born in Davos, Switzerland, and became one of the few Swiss members of Zurich Dada. In 1906, she studied drawing, design and decorative painting, and left for Munich in 1910. While there, she studied under Wilhelm von Debschitz in his textile workshop, and after spending a year in Hamburg’s School of Applied Arts, she returned to von Debschitz, until relocating to Zurich. She met Hans Arp in 1915, married him in 1922, and together they collaborated on “duo-collages,” based on her past abstract textile works. With Arp, she introduced “applied arts” to abstract arts in weaving his designs into her work.

In addition to her weaving, Taeuber was truly a multi-media artist, including modern dance, painting, tapestry, embroidery, drawing, interior design, furniture, architecture, and marionettes. Her sculptures were “parodies” of the human head, and merged art and utility as decorative hat-stands. Through her Dada years, she was a professor at the School of Applied Arts in Zurich, teaching textile design and techniques.

Because her school rejected Dada events, at the Café Voltaire, she used a pseudonym to pursue her dancing, and became quite proficient. Hugo Ball claimed that his recitations of his sound poems evoked “the strangest effect and movements” (by Sophie). Her dancing, in fact, informed the movements of the marionettes she created.

Taeuber designed the set and marionettes for Carlo Gozzi’s Il re cervo (König Hursch/King Stag), which provided a novel production for the 1913 Freud – Jung libido controversy.

Taeuber endeavored to free her art via pictorial approaches “at the service of pure feeling.”  She and Arp discontinued working in “pretentious” oil paints, and used simple cloth, paper and other materials to capture the purity of their art.

After leaving the School of Applied Arts, she and Arp moved near Paris into a house of her design. The building now houses the “Foundation Jean Arp.”

Taeuber-Arp died of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning in 1943. She has been honored by being the only woman represented on a Swiss bank note. – MEKHand-Engraved-L


The intrinsic decorative urge should not be eradicated. It is one of humankind’s deep-rooted, primordial urges. Primitive people decorated their implements and cult objects with a desire to beautify and enhance…it is a sense emanating from the urge for perfection and creative accomplishment. – Sophie Taeuber-Arp, 1927


An Interview with H. Michael Sanders by Betsy Keefe

February 15, 2016

In addition to his primary job as professor and department chair of Electronic Media Communications at University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College, H. Michael Sanders is editor of MetaData: The International Journal of Dada Mining. He is also currently curating the upcoming exhibition, Dada Lives! for the UC Blue Ash Art Gallery (April 25-June 3, 2016). This international exhibition is designed to celebrate the centennial of the founding of the Dada movement with works by contemporary artists whom are, in Sanders’ words, “infected with the Dada spirit.”

Image-01-Duchamp Bicycle Wheel

BK: Why have you chosen to take on the project of publishing a contemporary Dada journal and simultaneously curate an international exhibition for the UC Blue Ash Art Gallery at this time?

HMS: Well, it’s the centennial celebration of the founding of the Dada movement in 1916, so my deep interest in Dada as an historical research topic, and the abiding influence exerted on my visual work and writing by Dada artists has suggested little alternative but to pursue this fool-hearty mission to the bitter end. I began several years ago producing what I term ”interpretive reenactments” of Dada works. In 2013, I produced a set of four reimagined versions of Marcel Duchamp’s Bicycle Wheel (1913), as musical instruments. My Duchamp Bicycle Wheel Quartet is designed to function as both percussion and string to perform indeterminate sound compositions guided by the deal of cards from an oversized deck of Bicycle brand playing cards. One of my indeterminate compositions for this ensemble is called “John Cage Rolls Over in His Grave.” I hope to perform some version of this at the opening of Dada Lives! In the college faculty art exhibition last spring, I presented for the first time a piece titled, Unhappy Readymade Redux in which I reimagined Duchamp’s instructions to his sister to suspend a geometry textbook in the elements until it disintegrated. In my version, I photographically documented the slow destruction of the book each day over almost three years. The display included the remnant of the book, a video showing the book dissolving, and a booklet of historical background and my performance rules for conducing the reenactment. These are explicit instances of Dada infections in my artmaking, and there are more subtle and pervasive examples, such as my extended collaboration with Rhonda Pettit to explore ways to generate spontaneous works in both visual and written forms.

Image-02-Unhappy Readymade Redux

BK: How do you explain your interest in Dada thought and art?

HMS: I was apparently making Dada objects before I knew that there was a label for such weirdness. Even though I had no formal art classes between the sixth grade and when I decided to abandon a career in science for photography and film during my junior year in college, I did improbably begin making photographs, collages, and disturbing sculptures in about the seventh grade. However, I did seriously study poetry in high school and college, and began writing poetry in high school. I also listened to an inordinate amount of Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention during high school, as well as Captain Beefheart, to the utter mystification of most of my friends. Although I didn’t know what to call it at the time, these guys were Dadaists to the core. During my freshman year in college, a friend enrolled in an art history course introduced me to the label “Dada” when he looked at some of my peculiar manipulated objects and pronounced them “dadaesque.” I was thrilled to discover that my spontaneous, hermetic preoccupations were something other than simple mental illness. At least I keep convincing myself that. But I was reassured and affirmed in my preoccupations as I began reading about Dada.

BK: So your study of art history helped to focus your thinking about Dada?

HMS: Certainly reading art history was helpful. My parallel study of Taoism also suggested lots of connections between this mode of Eastern through and Dada. There were lots of reverberations of the Shamanistic aspects of Taoism in the 20th century manifestations of the Dada movement. The scholar Ko Won wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on the relationships between Dada and Zen Buddhism, which is derived from Taoism, particularly comparing the work of Japanese Dadaist and Zen poet Takahashi Shinkichi with that of one of my Dada heroes, Tristan Tzara. So, despite holding down a job, raising a family, and essentially being a grown-up, I have unbending, unyielding, and at times dangerous Dada impulses toward the twin towers of destruction and making; toward creating work in a cavalierly spontaneous manner. Thus, I was naturally attracted to Dada. It’s the freeing spontaneity of Dadaistic approaches, practices, chance methods, and found materials that I love. My Dada impulses also provoke me to stick my fingers down the rhetorical throats of various cultural manifestations that I find pernicious. These include advertising, banking, politics, corporate business and any number of other things that are fun and profitable to hate.

BK: The scope of your current project to produce a new Dada print journal and simultaneously a centennial Dada exhibition is large, and no doubt widening. How would you describe how this began and has evolved?

HMS: The idea for the journal MetaDada evolved in an isolated little place in my head toward the end of the first year of my continuing collaboration with poet Rhonda Pettit. It was a spontaneous collaboration in both written and visual formats that we initiated as part of a faculty learning community at the college. At the same time I was developing the new college art gallery with my colleague John Wolfer. The result of this intersection was the Gaps and Overlaps exhibition (March 27-May 1, 2015) for which I edited the catalogue. This editing project sparked the thought about doing a Dada journal that explored both contemporary creative activity and historical Dada scholarship. The 100th anniversary of Dada seemed as good a time as any to initiate such an inane venture, and I wanted to use the journal as a way to share the spirit, spontaneity, and humor of Dada with others. I developed MetaDada as homage to my artistic forbearers and as communion with contemporary artists with outlooks similar to my own. My operating principle is “dada mining,” finding and exploring Dada wherever it is found, since it appears to deeply embedded in our culture at this point. We’re planning on a forty page, full-color, 8 1/2” x 11” format journal filled with layers of poetry, imagery, and commentary. I think of it as a journal of accretions: past and present layers of historical material, short scholarly works, avant-garde poetry, and visual art relating to the Dada spirit. The process also involves annotating or glossing on the content. We apply notations to submissions in a creative and scholarly way to connect to Dada: theory, concept and practice. We may publish material not actually Dada, but “Dada them up” in the “Dadalizer.” Dada mining is finding the Dada lurking out there and shining a light on it to expose the viral infection of culture that it is.


BK: So how did the exhibition, Dada Lives! come about?

HMS: The exhibition evolved from my discussions with UCBA gallery director John Wolfer. To finish our successful gallery season this year we decided to mount a celebration of the Dada centennial, and planned for it to coincide with the anniversary of the May 15, 1916 publication of Cabaret Voltaire, the first Dada publication. MetaDada will serve, in part, as exhibition catalogue but other material not part of the show will be included, and vice versa.

BK: What are the challenges you’ve experienced in this undertaking?

HMS: Well, it’s a lot to do on your own, so I persuaded a colleague, Matt Bennett, who has an interest in art and culture, into becoming associate editor of the journal. We had worked together on curating and preparing the catalogue for an exhibition of the Tao of Photography and found that collaboration very fruitful and productive. He has a great deal of social media experience as well, so I wanted to see if he would leverage that experience to help promote the journal through a blog and related social media tools. So, I’ve christened Matt our “Web Tzara.” I need to clarify that this is not an institutionally supported journal. I am personally financing the startup with the generous support of my long-time collaborator, Howard M. “Burnt” Nortonn as publisher. I’m also relying on the slightly bemused and mostly tolerant support of my wife Nelly. My daughter Chelsea is a professional designer and has agreed to give me the “friends and family” rate to take on the design of the journal, so every little bit helps. However, Matt and I hope to raise some money through a crowd-sourced funding project that is connected to the MetaDada WordPress site, hence the importance of the social media marketing efforts.

BK: So do you anticipate that the journal will continue after the planned anniversary/exhibition catalogue publication?

HMS: Dada is a state of mind, of viewing the world through a web of techniques, or a stylistic way of viewing. I’d thought that the Journal would be a one-off commemorative for the 100th anniversary, but the more I work on it and invest in it, I find it’s developing into a stain that won’t wash out. This project keeps growing heads and arms, and that’s OK – creative and spontaneous – that’s Dada. I follow these eruptions through a Dadaistic worldview: trust in spontaneous choices and opportunities that present themselves. So the journal metastasized into an international exhibition with now over 100 artists seeking to participate. The large number of video works submitted for the exhibition has precipitated the development of a concurrent TV program for UCTV, since we can’t possible show all of the videos in the gallery… one thing just keep twisting into the next.

BK: What have you learned in pursuing this project?

HMS: To be honest, I haven’t learned anything. I’m operating on pure instinct. I have no magazine publishing experience. I’m doing everything intuitively. When I get to the other side, I may perceive that I’ve learned something. People are submitting lots of incredible work to me because they want to be part of this centennial celebration and are moved by the Dada spirit, which moves in mysterious ways. Frankly, I’m worried about some of it. Dada is a state of mind, a way of working, a way of viewing the world. Dada is an infection – and it’s hard to learn from an infection.

Image-06-Dada Graphic