Dec 4th 2021

Every house has a door presents: 5 Beginnings ESS

Premiering Saturday December 4th, with screenings at 1pm (CDT) and 7pm (CDT)

As 2021 Archive Artists in Residence at Experimental Sound Studio, Every house has a door will premier a new short film 5 Beginnings ESS. Every house has a door director Lin Hixson and dramaturge Matthew Goulish selected five works from the ESS archives and invited collaborating artists to remake their beginnings, sequencing them into a five-part performance, a lyrical trajectory and a live mini-essay for the camera. We will direct new artists to perform the work of archive artists, facilitating a set of intergenerational introductions.

5 Beginnings ESS reinterprets the archival documents of 5 events within the ESS Collection of the Creative Audio Archive, from artists Laetitia Sonami, George Lewis, Ken Vandermark, Maria Gaspar, and Mark Booth.

From Every house has a door:

What constitutes a “beginning”? That remains to be seen. Morton Feldman said, “The next ten minutes… We can go no further than that, and we need go no further. If art has its heaven, perhaps this is it.” In our case, it’s the first five minutes.



Laetitia Sonami

What Happened II, 1995

Remake by Li-Ming Hu


George Lewis

Randolph Street Gallery performance benefit October 7th, 1995

Remake by Max Guy


Ken Vandermark

Option Series Performance, May 22nd, 2017

Remake by Corey Smith


Maria Gaspar

On the Border of What is Formless and Monstrous, August 26th, 2016

Remake by Tim Kinsella & Jenny Polus


Mark Booth

Quince Cabbage Mellon Cucumber, November 18th, 2000

Remake by Madeleine Aguilar

Of the seemingly infinite possibilities for selection, combination, and permutation in the vast ESS archives, we take a straightforward approach to our choices: a personal journey through the years. Non-comprehensive, with no positioning in relation to representation other than of our own memory, our collection of contrasts and fondnesses, of those moments and those years, the joy that they now induce, the renewed appreciation that time and distance afford. Concerts we attended, events in which we counted our younger selves among the audience, artists we knew and still know and admire—or, in one case, an artist we hope to get to know through this project—kinships across a decade or two or three.

I delight in the palpable imaginable visitable past—in the nearer distances and the clearer mysteries, the marks and signs of a world we may reach over to as by making a long arm we grasp an object at the other end of our own table. The table is the one, the common expanse, and where we lean, so stretching, we find it firm and continuous. That, to my imagination, is the past fragrant of all, or of almost all, the poetry of the thing outlived and lost and gone, and yet in which the precious element of closeness, telling so of connexions but tasting so of differences, remains appreciable.

 – Henry James, from the Preface to Volume XII of The Novels and Tales of Henry James (the New York edition), 1908.

This narrowly bounded project takes account of memory verging into history. While we may still recognize them, we gather the tender ephemeris of those moments, the accidental documentations of Hi8 & MiniDisc. Stored in those material traces, questions posed by the artists in their moment persist and haunt us now. How have those questions aged? How have we? How would we answer them? What have we lost, or failed to address in our daily rush into tomorrow, our chaotic progress? What modes and manner of creativity have we neglected in this strange future?


The Archive Artist in Residence program and releases – which has featured Every House Has a Door (working with the ESS Collection), Kamau Patton (working with Sun Ra), Marc Fisher of Public Collectors (working with The Ex & Tom Cora) – is curated & produced by ESS Archives Manager Matt Mehlan.

The Creative Audio Archive (CAA) is a Chicago based center for the preservation and investigation of innovative and experimental sonic arts and music. CAA is an initiative of the Experimental Sound Studio (ESS), a non-profit sonic arts organization founded in 1986 for the production, promotion, and preservation of innovative approaches to the sonic arts, including music in its many forms, audio art, radio art, sound poetry, sound installation, and intermedia, performative, and cinematic disciplines in which sound is a major component.

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