Fellow at The European Graduate School / EGS.
Peter Price (b. 1966) is a critical media theorist as well as a composer, electronic musician, and digital artist. Price is co-director of thefidget space, a platform for his collaborative work with choreographer and wife Megan Bridge. The project is based in Philadelphia as a research laboratory for new forms of art, performance, and media. Peter Price completed his doctorate at The European Graduate School / EGS in Switzerland.
Born in New Haven, Connecticut, into a family of musicians and political activists, Peter Price was exposed to a great variety of music as a child, listening to his mother practice Bach, Bartok, and Prokoviev on the piano every day and often staying up late to listen to the newest Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, or Led Zepplin album releases. Literally a child of the sixties, his earliest formative years were spent in a commune in Minnesota. His parents’ concern for social justice, and his own engagement with Henry David Thoreau as an adolescent, left him with a life-long anarchist sensibility. Peter Price’s own activism centered around the revolutionary struggles in Central America in the 1980s, leading him to spend time in Nicaragua in 1986 and 1987 in support of the Sandinista mobilization against the CIA-organized counter-insurgency. Price was present in Revolution Square in Managua for the signing of the Nicaraguan constitution in January 1987.
Peter Price composes sonic digital and visual environments for live audiences. His compositions for ensembles of acoustic and electronic instruments have been performed by the Relâche and Network for New Music ensembles; he has performed both as a laptop soloist in performances of works by John Cage and Pierre Boulez with Orchestra 2001 and as a duo with violinist Gloria Justen. As a composer and video artist, Price has collaborated extensively with Group Motion and other dance companies and performance artists in Philadelphia. Price’s work has toured in many cities and countries, including Tokyo, Poland, Lithuania, New York, Vienna, Berlin, Dresden, and South Africa.
Throughout his childhood, Peter Price trained in dance, music, and theater, finally focusing more exclusively on music with hundreds of professional engagements as a treble singer by the age of fourteen. Later, as a baritone, Price continued to study voice, ultimately at Oberlin Conservatory. In the meantime, he had developed an interest in composition, which he began to study formally at age 15, eventually earning a BMus in Music Composition from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where he studied with composer Andrew Rudin, a student of American contemporary classical music composer George Rochberg and the German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen. Peter Price chose Rudin as a teacher because of Rudin’s experience with composing music for contemporary dance, his early involvement with American electronic music pioneer Bob Moog, and his modular synthesizers.
Peter Price had developed an interest in electronic music, and in the Moog synthesizer specifically, as a young child. He began recording his own electronic music in 1983, heavily influenced at that time by American composers Philip Glass and Robert Ashley as well as by West African drumming, Tibetan chant, and German experimental krautrock. At the same time, he remained deeply engaged with the classical music world throughout the 1980s, while simultaneously becoming involved with the hardcore punk, Industrial, EBM, and Acid House scenes. In 1987, Price began to present his music publicly in live performances and wrote his first scores for contemporary dance.
Over the course of the 1990s, Peter Price became more and more involved with dance and theater communities, and increasingly alienated from music communities on both sides of the art/entertainment or high/low divide, which he saw as locked in conservatism on one side and subsumed by the culture industry on the other. A desire to understand the broader context of what seemed to him a crisis of musical meaning and what this meant for his own artistic production, combined with the political malaise brought on by the implosion of socialism and the resurgence of capitalist globalization, drove Price to begin engaging more deeply with critical theory and continental philosophy. At that time, Peter Price also started spending more time as a computer programmer and developer of multimedia productions. Price designed games for both CD-ROM and web delivery for large and well-known corporate entities, informational kiosks for museums, and eventually even financial database transactions for commodity futures trading, while redirecting his developing programming skills to his art projects, which were becoming more involved with intermodal transcoding and interactivity.
Peter Price met the dancer Megan Bridge in 1996 while she was working with a dance company that he was involved with as a composer. They began collaborating on multimedia dance theater works a few years later, and in 2003 they were married on stage in front of a sold out audience as part of the Philadelphia Live Arts festival in a ritual performance event that garnered international press attention. Price and Bridge have collaborated on nearly two dozen works and hundreds of performances since then. In 2009, they opened the doors of thefidget space, a grassroots experimental transdisciplinary arts research laboratory housed in a nineteenth-century factory building. The space presents music, dance, and theater performances, along with rehearsals and workshops, film screenings, lectures, discussions, and seminars. Visitors and participants have included choreographers Xavier Le Roy, Willi Dorner, Lucinda Childs, and Deborah Hay; composers and musicians Rob Haskins, Gloria Justen, Tim Brady, and King Britt; philosophers and theorists Brian Massumi and Erin Manning; filmmaker Andrew Repasky McElhinney; and media ecologist Christian Hänggi.
Beginning around 2000, Peter Price began incorporating live digital video in his work. Price’s approach to video is a synesthetic one, deeply resonant with the tradition of visual music and other historical forms of audio-visual experimentation, and overlapping significantly with contemporary VJ practices. As of 2012, over thirty of Price’s dance films and multimedia productions involving digital video have been shown internationally, including in Philadelphia, New York, Tokyo, Berlin, Vienna, Zurich, and Johannesburg.
Peter Price’s deepening engagement with digital media technologies and critical theory led him, in 2004, to study at The European Graduate School / EGS, where he earned an MA (with distinction) and a PhD (summa cum laude). Additionally, he was artist in residence at The EGS in 2009, scholar in residence in 2010, and was named the John Cage Fellow in 2012. Peter Price has published two books of music philosophy with the EGS’s Atropos Press, Becoming Music: Between Boredom and Ecstasy with Tyler Burba in 2010, and Resonance: Philosophy for Sonic Art in 2011. Both books are finding an eclectic readership from DJs to experimental musicians and theorists.
As a philosopher, Peter Price’s project is to reassess the nature of musical meaning in light of two epochal shifts in the twentieth century: firstly, the technological events of electricity and digital computation, and, secondly, the openings to thought initiated by Heidegger and unfolding today in continental philosophy. Price examines the history of Western music as an epiphenomenon of the unfolding of Western metaphysics. For today, that means music needs to be thought in the context of the event of technology as Gestell. Peter Price follows Adorno in diagnosing a serious crisis in musical forms of music making and hears this as linked to the ruptures and fault lines of technological modernity. Rejecting the dominant thinking of music through the filters of style and genre, Price asserts that locating musical meaning today means staying attentive to the entirety of sonic phenomena, from avant-garde experimentalism to DJ culture, from ring tone downloads to what remains of the classical music tradition, and from the disappearing musics of indigenous peoples to the persistent roar of capitalist globalization.
The year 2012 marked twenty-five years of professional engagement as a composer, and to acknowledge this landmark Peter Price has been working on a remix retrospective, sampling and manipulating material from that entire time frame into new and generally more experimental versions. In addition to his work as a composer, musician, media artist, and philosopher, Peter Price continues to curate at thefidget space, where he remains co-director, and is an archivist for the estate of electronic music pioneer Bruce Haack.
Price, Peter. Situation Becoming. (Digital audio and video for dance performance) Premiered: April, 2012.
Price, Peter. Who Walks. (Interactive digital audio for dance/theatre performance) Premiered: March, 2011.
Price, Peter. Cellular Tremor. (Digital audio and video for dance performance) Premiered: November, 2010.
Mauri and Lorin
Price, Peter. Mauri and Lorin. (Digital audio and video for dance performance) Premiered: September, 2010.
Morphic Resonances 1 – 4
Price, Peter. Morphic Resonances 1 – 4. (Digital audio and video for dance performance) Premiered: October, 2009.
Price, Peter. Process Project. (Improvisational interactive digital audio and video for dance performance) Premiered: June, 2009. Ongoing, 16 performances per year.
A Shadow in the Aeolian Palace
Price, Peter. A Shadow in the Aeolian Palace. (Digital audio and video for dance performance) Premiered: March, 2009.
Price, Peter. unEntitled. (Improvisational interactive digital audio and video for site-specific dance installation) Premiered: February, 2009.
Subject in Two Parts
Price, Peter. Subject in Two Parts. (Digital audio and video for dance performance) Premiered: May, 2008.
Price, Peter. Premonitions. (Live interactive digital audio for dance performance) Premiered April, 2008.
Physiognomy of the Spirit
Price, Peter. Physiognomy of the Spirit. (Digital audio and video for dance performance) Premiered February, 2008.
Sitting Naked at the Bottom of a Well
Price, Peter. Sitting Naked at the Bottom of a Well. (Music for a site-specific dance performance in a Philadelphia bar/band venue) Premiered February, 2007.
Price, Peter. Lamentations. (Digital video for dance performance) Premiered January, 2007.
Price, Peter. Traces Pathways. (Digital audio and video for dance performance) Premiered September, 2006.
The Passion for Dance: In the Spirit of Mary Wigman
Price, Peter. The Passion for Dance: In the Spirit of Mary Wigman. (Digital audio and video for dance performance) Premiered June, 2006.
The Magic Flute: An Unveiling
Price, Peter. The Magic Flute: An Unveiling. (Digital audio and video for dance/music/video remix of Mozart’s The Magic Flute) Premiered April, 2006.
Price, Peter. The Fold. (Interactive digital audio and video for dance performance) Premiered July, 2005.
Flesh and Stone
Price, Peter. Flesh and Stone. (film score) Premiered June, 2005.
The Nudity Project
Price, Peter. The Nudity Project. (Digital audio and live digital video for dance performance) Premiered September, 2005.
Price, Peter. Vortex. (Digital audio and video for dance performance) Premiered April, 2004.
Kiss Off (the Perils of Life in a Clique)
Price, Peter. Kiss Off (the Perils of Life in a Clique). (For violin and live interactive digital audio and video) Premiered March, 2004.
Time Signature Violin and Multimedia Concert
Price, Peter. Time Signature Violin and Multimedia Concert. (For violin and live interactive digital audio and video) Premiered June, 2003, Cabrini College.
Price, Peter. Kiss Off. (For violin and live interactive digital audio and video) Premiered May, 2003.
Price, Peter. CTRL. (Interactive video improvisation for dance performance) Premiered March, 2003.
Price, Peter. Cultures. (Digital audio and video for dance performance) Premiered January, 2003
Price, Peter. Species. (Digital audio and video for dance performance) Premiered January, 2003.
Price, Peter. Critical Mass. (A dance Film) Premiered November, 2002.
Price, Peter. The Park. (A dance Film) Premiered November, 2002.
Price, Peter. The Stage. (A dance Film) Premiered November, 2002.
Price, Peter. Application Space. (For Violin and live interactive digital audio) Premiered September, 2002.
Price, Peter. Interplay. (Interactive video improvisation for dance) Premiered September, 2002.
Price, Peter. Palate. (A dance film) Premiered September, 2002.
Price, Peter. Suitor. (A dance film) Premiered September, 2002
Price, Peter. Obelisk. (Electronic Tape) Premiered September, 2001.
Price, Peter. Slide Rule. (Electronic Tape) Premiered September, 2001.
Price, Peter. Sign Here_______. (Electronic Tape) Premiered September, 2001.
Price, Peter. Situation. (Electronic Tape) Premiered September, 2000.
Price, Peter. Teletime. (Digital audio and video for dance performance) Premiered November, 2000.
Price, Peter. Unknown City. (Electronic Tape) Premiered April, 1999.
Price, Peter. Projekt Desire. (Electronic Tape) Premiered February, 1998.
Price, Peter. Strange Tounges. (Electronic Tape) Premiered June, 1997
Love, Lithium, and the Loot of Lima
Price, Peter. Love, Lithium, and the Loot of Lima. (Flute, oboe, clarinet, saxophone, viola, bass, percussion, 8 ch. digital tape, live digital signal processing) Premiered June, 1996.
Price, Peter. Project 2012. (Electronic Tape) Premiered May, 1996.
Price, Peter. Critical Mass. (Computer, synthesizers, samplers, electric guitar, bass guitar, drums, percussion, live digital signal processing) Premiered May,1995.
The Flatland Project
Price, Peter. The Flatland Project. (Electronic Tape) Premiered March, 1995.
Price, Peter. 23 Reasons. (computer, synthesizers, samplers) Premiered April,1994.
Shake well before opening
Price, Peter. Shake well before opening. (Electronic Tape) Premiered March,1994
Flatland (part 1)
Price, Peter. Flatland (part 1). (Electronic Tape) Premiered February,1994
Price, Peter. Parallel Realities. (Electronic Tape) Premiered January,1994.
Price, Peter. The Wall. (Electronic Tape) Premiered January,1994.
A Place, a Plaza, a Wondrous Endevor
Price, Peter. A Place, a Plaza, a Wondrous Endevor. (Electronic Tape) Premiered July, 1993.
…and other contexual connundrums
Price, Peter. …and other contexual connundrums. (Computer generated sound, viola, percussion, digital signal processing) Premiered May, 1993.
Price, Peter. zxcvb. (Computer generated sound, Balalaika, digital signal processing) Premiered April, 1993.
Price, Peter. Entrupt Spyn’ingling. (Electronic Tape) Premiered 1992
Price, Peter. Chamunda. (Computer generated tape, flute, digital signal processing) Premiered 1991.
Price, Peter. Rain I. (Electronic tape, flute, percussion, digital signal processing) Premiered 1991.
Neuro-Muscular Intelligence (acoustic version)
Price, Peter. Neuro-Muscular Intelligence (acoustic version). (2 Flutes, Clarinet, Bass clarinet, Trumpet, Trombone, Guitar, Marimba, Piano, 3 Violins, Viola, Cello) Premiered 1989.
Price, Peter. Neuro-Muscular Intelligence. (Electronic Tape) Premiered 1989.
It doesn’t matter (back home)
Price, Peter. It doesn’t matter (back home). (SATB chorus, electronic tape, 4 solo vocalists, digital signal processing) Premiered 1988, Temple University, Philadelphia.
The Human Statistic, Part 2
Price, Peter. The Human Statistic, Part 2. (Electronic Tape) Premiered 1988
Flying Rhinerceri and other unfounded fears
Price, Peter. Flying Rhinerceri and other unfounded fears. (Electronic Tape) Premiered 1987
Digital Sound and the Post-Human Future
Price, Peter. “Digital Sound and the Post-Human Future,” in Poiesis Vol. 13 (2011). ISSN 1492-4986/2011.