Philippa Cullen … telepathic conductor



Philippa Cullen performed with Ballet Australia and Cell Block in Sydney as a young teenager in the mid 1960s, and studied with Pina Busch and Institute of Sonology in the 1970s. Arts critic Maria Preauer wrote of a Phillipa Cullen’s performance in The Australian newspaper, “… perhaps the biggest revelation of the night was not what Philippa Cullen did for dance (impressive as that was) but what her dance did for the music. It was she who usually called the tune. The change of mood, the change of pace came mostly from her. The players followed her lead intuitively. … In some strange telepathic way she became almost both composer and conductor.”

A photo of Cullen in an extraordinarily athletic pose with one leg raised in a sideways action to the level of her head, her torso extended in the opposite direction, with all fingers outstretched like a Shaman was accompanied by the apt caption “Philippa Cullen … telepathic conductor.” Cullen ran regular Sunday improvisation workshops in the Sydney University Quadrangle whilst doing an arts degree, where she began experimenting with the theremin, an electronic musical instrument in that generates tone via two high-frequency oscillators and pitch controlled by the movement of the performer’s movement to and from the circuit. Her workshops were later established as Philippa’s Electronic Dance Ensemble. She also experimented in the streets and public transport of Sydney, and with experimental musicians in Sydney such as David Ahern and his electronic improvisation group called Teletopa. Cullen was also a member of Bush Video collaborative group using video as an experimental art form in the early 1970s in Australia, in which concepts of telepathy accompanied creative thinking about video and technology. In her time spent with electronic composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, Cullen spoke of invisible rays between people, working with nonverbal sympathy, and transmission beyond emotion and communication. She also researched and worked with bio-music, biofeedback and the potential of electronic brainwave control and interaction.