DOI: 10.1386/tear_00116_1 ISSN: 1477-965X

Suzanne Ciani: The diva of the diode

Hussein Boon
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Philosophy
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts

The world of synthesizers and synthesists is historically male-dominated. Women in synthesis tend to be obscured by males, and their contribution suffers from erasure. This article considers Suzanne Ciani within the contexts of art, technology, science and culture and her work in composition, performance and media. In particular, her National Endowment for the Arts report of 1976 is a groundbreaking document detailing her composition and performance process using synthesizers. Her composition approach has parallels with techniques drawn from serialism, performed and improvised live using machines. Her performances utilize quadraphonic techniques for spatialized performance as part of the composition and performance. She was the first woman to score a major Hollywood film in 1981. Her work in media and technology highlights a space that women have always worked in but have frequently not been acknowledged as doing so. Ciani’s story reveals tenacity in the face of bias and rejection. It is a tale of someone who always has to claim her credentials, always legitimate her mode of expression, and always counter the assumption that somewhere in her work, there is a man.

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