The materials gathered within this collection reflect a period of thought and investigation roughly spanning three decades. While this research might appear to constitute some sort of linear development, my experience has been more akin to the rotation of a geometric object: I have been examining a set of issues and ideas from various perspectives as facets of some larger process of questioning. Hopefully the individual compositions or essays can be evaluated within an intellectual context of their status as research reports rather than as isolated works of art. This at least has been my intention. Towards this aim I have not revised nor altered statements and concepts that I now reject. My criteria for inclusion of material has been based upon the verity of representation of my investigative process.
My primary impetus in putting together this retrospective has not been the ego trip that it might appear to some. To the contrary, I have merely wanted to gather together an archive of work that is otherwise marginalized by the mainstream culture. Electronic publishing presents itself as a convenient means to this end. The various scores in particular, given the current state of music publishing, may otherwise not survive me and while many critics might applaud that eventuality, I at least want to give them a fighting chance.
Some of the various essays, recordings and scores have been previously published in a variety of journals and anthologies. I wish to thank these publications for their interest and support: Ars Electronica, The Aerial, Classic Essays on 20th Century Music (Schirmer Books), Crawl Out Your Window, IS Journal, Interval, Kunstforum, Leonardo, Leonardo Music Journal, Lingua Press, Music Today, Musicworks, News of Music, Perspectives on Musical Aesthetics (W.W. Norton), Perspectives of New Music, Post Neo, Stereoplay, Terra Nova, Site of Sound (Errant Bodies Press), Writing Aloud: The Sonics of Language (Errant Bodies Press), Music and Nature (Wesleyan University Press) and Words and Spaces (University Press of America).
David Dunn is at once an ecologist, a philosopher, a member of the 'new science', a performer, an integrator of human values with technological ones, and an artist.
Although I feel I can speak knowingly of him, it is nevertheless impossible to get a "fix" on him; (trying to do so only serves to show the elusive, ---sometimes contradictory---, and yet, precise nature of his work, and persona).
But simply said: David is a composer; ---to be sure a composer of 'music', and the 'musical'. But more significantly, David is a composer as in 'making', 'searching', `exploring', 'finding', 'synthesizing', 'questioning'. Yes, endless questioning. He strives, (as certain others do), to not box things in; to not assume that so-called "areas", "disciplines", (e.g., as between music and linguistics), can be bounded as-if they signify mutually-exclusive domains.
Contrarily, his works, thinkings, makings, et alia, exhibit diverse formations of 'wholeness', and beauty, thereby penetrating certain current theories of complexity. Above all, (at least in the cognitive domain, ---but also quite perceivable elsewhere---) his work, (his life?), has to do with the implicit connectedness of matter.
But this observation does not signify that disparent phenomena give up their distinction in order that they may be connected, (connectable), by some manner into a larger order of things. With David, any comparative issue is not a question of either/or; ---of distinct/or connected---; or of merely composing intrinsic connections. Rather, David's concerns are with the how, where, when, why, ---and with what/whom---, seemingly diverse matter is connected, and then, by way of David's 'hand', connectedness is revealed to us in one artistic form or another. In this sense, David is an explorer. In this sense it is also possible to suggest that David and his work are always "emerging"; as do the global-universal phenomenon continue to become clearer to us. Here, questions of "style", "technique", "political stance", et alia, become trivial; (even of little consequence).
It is true that in a public-popular sense David's work may often have a hard time of it. But precisely because he persists, because of his work's presence, and due to the implicit richness of each, there can be no question that the contributions David makes add substantially to those other voices who search for new pathways by which to make 'un-cute' sense of the world, ---(of the multiverse?)---, in which we find ourselves.
The expression: "in order to change things which need to be changed, we need to change the way we think about things", is much used, and is already 'cliche' given those who find pleasure in muttering the new word of the day, ---(whatever it is)---, as a kind of 'profound' social posturing.
But, David Dunn is not among them. He is dead-serious about what he does, who he is, and what he wants to become. He is just as committed to what the fate of the earth and all of its "creatures" might be, unless there is profound change. Between and among these kinds of wanting may be found David's working aesthetic. In these senses I suggest that David is a person of supreme integrity.
There are many who are able to intuit what can happen, ---(to say nothing about what is happening)---, to our culture. Among these are a lesser number of visionaries who are articulate and creative, and who alone can make a significant difference. These personae are continually being bombarded, ---(subverted?)---, however unintentionally or knowingly, by the agents of the many, (who unknowingly are having their visions taken away from them)---.
David Dunn is a visionary; ---(in his thinking, in his work, in his being)---.