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The Homunculus in a Jar

from The Barnum Museum by Barry Schrader

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You now find yourself in front of a large bell-shaped glass container, in which is housed The Homunculus in a Jar, the first you have ever seen. The small creature seems an imperfectly formed human, strange in some ways, yet familiar in others. At first glance, you see the thing is fully self-absorbed, busy doing some sort of arcane activity in its small universe. You regard it as frivolous, even foolish. But then the homunculus notices you, stops its maneuverings, and stares into your eyes. You are captured by its gaze and begin to see and feel the environment of the world inside the bell jar. Swirls of colored light seem to move around the inside of the jar, accompanied by gusts of wind. You feel compelled to watch whatever the creature has in store for you. But just as you feel you are being pulled into its domain, and you think something grand is about to happen, the homunculus quickly turns away and resumes the state of preoccupation you initially found it in, once again oblivious to you and the world outside its area of confinement. You decide that, after all, it is probably a mindless and soulless creature, and you walk on to the next exhibit.


from The Barnum Museum, released July 25, 2012


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Barry Schrader Los Angeles, California

Schrader's compositions for electronics, dance, film, video, mixed media, live/electro-acoustic music combinations, and real- time computer performance have been presented throughout the world. In 2014, he was given the SEAMUS Lifetime Achievement Award. He was a member of the Composition Faculty of the CalArts School of Music from 1971 to 2016. His web site is <barryschrader.com>. ... more

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