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On the other hand Stravinsky effectively said ‘No’ to giving up on tonality. Instead, he and other contemporaries found how to create pieces in which the listener could hear the notes ‘describing’, as the piece progressed, two or more tonal centers playing off against each other at the same time. It is called polytonality. By analogy what happened was just like several centuries earlier when composers learned to play one or more single voice lines off against each other at the same time such that a listener could hear them separately but still somehow as belonging together as a ‘whole’ called ‘more-part music.’But in an Individualist culture such as Western Society where for centuries much stress has been put on a composer to keep finding novel things to say in his music, trying to do so in any system, tonal, atonal, or polytonal, gets harder and harder as he and other composers keep harvesting and, in the process, exhausting the system of its novel possibilities. It gets more and complicated figuring out how to say anything new or that, at least, the listeners can hear as new. At some point even the greatest composers become stymied. For example, take the novel possibilities inherent in the music of Baroque period beginning around Sixteen Hundred; by the early Seventeen Hundreds, these possibilities had been so thoroughly mined that it took the genius of Bach to find more to say (and a great more it was at that). As a result, there was nothing left in the Baroque style for composers following Bach. Some of them, thus, created a new style having new possibilities to explore. This ‘style galante’ has been identified with the Rococo period.Something like that has been going on in today’s music. The ability to find something novel or creative to say within classical or even some branches of popular music is dwindling. Given our burgeoning technologies, one of the ways for composers to flee, of course, is into the exploration with what opportunities for making music the instruments of those technologies have to offer. But with the composer’s and the listener’s fascination over the many possibilities that have indeed opened has come the danger of losing track of one’s cultural origins, one’s sense of continuity, one’s contact with the roots of our musical traditions in Western civilization that date back at least to Gregorian chant in the Eight Hundreds. In addition, the young consumers of the arts are more interested in what many of these technologies has the ability to feature-enhance and make available, art having high arousal value, such as threat and sex and so forth, very primitive type stuff. Their interest is fanned yet more because it’s being done by computers in very interesting ways and distracting ways.So we have fled to a new thing, but it seems to produce almost an amnesia. and you see it in the concert hall. There are no young people in the concert hall; it’s all grey hairs who still understand where they come from! Information is flowing so fast these days because of computers and that one can’t hold on to anything new long enough before it’s replaced by something else. There is really a kind of blithering out of stuff. Milly has been worried about this in the art world. And before her, Kirk Varnedoe had a symposium in 1993 on this whole issue on the loss of contact with one’s roots, one’s cultural artistic roots in the arts. Everything has gotten so democratized; there is no sense of what it more important than anything else. Do you get what I mean?TT: Yes, it’s a bit of a free-for-all.TC: Yes, a free-for-all—so democratic that you lose a sense of perspective if you don’t have hierarchies. Now hierarchies can be bad, but they are also very good ways to organize things.TT: Yes, George says this, to learn the grid because then within the grid you find your freedom.TC: That’s right! And by how you work with old things, you find the ability to say new things. It’s important to somehow keep something old in order to appreciate the new. With the new, if that’s all there is...with no indication of what went before it, then what’s left can only consist of the very primitive and basic “here and now.” That may consist of only what experiences can be worked with that are sensory, autonomic, and rhythmic, etc., all very basic stuff animals also respond to. In today’s music, a lot of what is going on in music, appeals in my view mainly to such basic arousal characteristics. And maybe so in the visual arts, I don’t know.TT: Yes, interesting parallel.TC: So it’s a big problem of how to find value in a sea of change.TT: Speaking of something new, you have so generously established the Ted Coons Dissertation Prize at IDSVA. You have overseen and directed many dissertations. What is your advice regarding the selection of the dissertation topic and the overall dissertation process?TC: Selecting topics, well of course one thing is to try and understand where you are coming from and deciding what you might want to go to. I think a certain amount of philosophy is important, but you really need to get an overview of where you are coming from and then of course your choices, well you may see in the data something that needs to be said or needs to be investigated. Do something that turns you on!TT: If you had to do your dissertation again what would you do?TC: I have thought about this. Oddly enough I was interested in the relationship between form and feeling. My work with rats and the brain and stimulating various areas of the brain, so in fact that was looking at the effect of this … instead of having an audience of people out there in the auditorium to respond to whatever was I was composing, I was essentially changing to see how different neurons would respond to different patterns of stimulation.TT: So still science?TD: Yes, it’s a big theme in my life, and it’s become more and more important. There’s a book that’s just been written called Why Does The World Exist by Jim Holt, it’s a wonderful book. The New York Times called it one of the best books of the year two years ago. I have read the book and I love it. But I am interested in a separate question, not why does the world exist but why does it persist? How is it that we survive? There have got to be some very deep principles that are involved and some things don’t survive because somehow they aren’t meeting a demand, and we sometimes we don’t know what the demands are until we have had enough experience about not surviving to discover what they are. But it’s an interesting thing, so I guess if you try to relate it to the arts, why does a particular art form catch on? People are out there trying out different things. You have got to try something or else you don’t have anything to work with. Chance plays a lot of roles, but then before you can have anything to work with you do need to have ‘happenings.’ But then among the happenings it is your duty to select which you are going to work with, so the survival of something depends upon what gets selected. Many things don’t persist but why do the ones that do persist persist? So that could be lots of people’s theses!TT: Thank you, Dr. Coons. **THREE IDSVA-MOTIVATED INTERCHANGES BETWEEN MILLY GLIMCHER AND TED COONS REGARDING SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE ART WORLD “HAPPENINGS” OF THE LATE 1950s—EARLY 60s AND THE MUSIC WORLD “ELECTRIC EAR/INTERMEDIA” SERIES OF THE LATE 1960s—EARLY 70s(1) On 1/12/2015 5:55PM Ted Coons emailed:Hi Milly (re: IDSVA discussion session at the 534 W. 25th St. Pace Gallery on 01/08/15),I am grateful to you for crediting me with a terrific performance at Thursday’s event since I left the evening feeling a bit inadequate about it. The little that got communicated before Thursday between me and your substitutes, Julie Martin & Bob Whitman, didn’t at all explain to them the original plan for your and my dialogue, namely, the ways the visual arts Happenings and the musical arts Intermedia resembled & differed and to what extent the Intermedia took the Happenings as its inspiration. Of course I knew you wouldn’t know much if anything about the Intermedia movement−and even less would they. Thus, toward the goal of relating the two movements, I felt it my responsibility: 1) to show you and the audience what the Intermedia movement was, 2) to study carefully your assessments of the goals and overall approaches of the Happenings so as to meaningfully relate to them the Intermedia’s own goals and overall approaches, 3) to communicate all this to you−hopefully intelligently−in front of our evening’s public, and then 4) for me to engage you in a discussion about your “take” on my “take.” Even if I hadn’t gone off to California (a programed trip I couldn’t cancel) and even if Arne’s trip to the Mayo Clinic hadn’t taken you away, I now see in retrospect that the plan outlined above for which I had indeed prepared during my trip by studying your fabulously insightful Happenings book was perhaps too ambitious to implement and present clearly even had our dialogue come off as planned. Finally, last Thursday evening’s opening with Julie and Bob’s focus not on the Happenings with its cardboard boxes, dirty fabric, and the like for scenery but instead on their involvement with a very sophisticated computerized technology from a much later period left me confused which didn’t help. Here’s more or less what my plan had been: I would open−which indeed I did−by explaining (in association with a slide show) how I got involved with the Intermedia multimedia movement via the Electric Circus disco on Saint Marks Place in the East Village. I had inspired a highly noticed and praised Electric Christmas show in 1967 at Carnegie Hall and an Electric Easter at the Circus in 1968. That led Thais Lathem, a former Yale music-student associate of mine who was now involved with Judith Blinken in producing multimedia shows at Hunter College, to contact me. I introduced her to Dennis Wright (manager) and Jerry Brandt & Stan Freeman (owners) of the Electric Circus. With them she worked out an agreement to let a composer/media artist of her choosing (with advice from Morton Subotnick, Tony Martin, and David Rosenboom, the Circus’s music and lightshow programmers) put on a multimedia production each Monday night in the Electric Circus during the summer of 1968 and spring of 1969. The concert series that resulted was called the Electric Ear, the productions of which were assiduously reported upon by the New York Times, mostly very favorably but especially so regarding those of Lejaren Hiller, Salvatore Martirano, Terry Riley, Rosenboom, and Subotnick/Martin . The series then changed its name to Intermedia and moved uptown to Theodore Kheel’s Automation House on East 68th St. where it continued its mode of staging performances during the fall of 1970 and spring of 1971 when it ended. Milly, initially it seemed to me that the Electric Ear/Intermedia movement was going to be easy to represent as inspired by the Happenings and that you and I could make much of this in our discussions. After all, both movements emphasized theater, multimedia, and seemed to have John Cage as a philosopher leader in common. Certainly Gordon Mumma, David Tudor, Nam June Paik, and Lejaren Hiller credited him as an important influence. But as I more closely studied what you had written, especially about Allen Kaprow’s guiding role in instigating the Happenings. and more carefully examined what the Electric Ear was about from Mort Subotnick’s and Tony Martin’s perspectives and motivations, I began to see critical differences in the two movements and what they were trying to accomplish within themselves and in relation to the zeitgeists−approximately 10 years apart−in which they existed. I’ll start with what I make of Kaprow’s motives. But first I want to state some deep physical reality distinctions I see as relevant to the differences between the plastic and the performance arts:The Heisenberg Principle in quantum physics holds that the position of a particle and its momentum (thrust or speed) cannot both be precisely determined at the same time. Finding a particle’s exact position rules out determining the exact thrust with which it is traveling. Conversely, knowing its exact thrust rules out determining its exact present position. A trade-off dichotomy exists about how the particle’s reality can be known in the above regards: the more exactly one of its aspects is determined the less exactly can the other be determinedA similar kind of quantum-like dichotomy also tends to exist in the arts:1) The visual arts typically emphasize position in which the focus is on the “hereness”, the underlying specious moment of reality, as the fundamental measure of artistic worth. Hence, movement is minimized as a distractor by a kind of tunnel vision attention.2) The performance arts typically emphasize movement in which the focus is on the processtoward an overarching reality as the measure of artistic worth. Attention to the deep “hereness” reality of each position along the way becomes a distractor which can be minimized by a process known as backward masking. I understand the Happenings as Kaprow’s attempt to circumvent (so-to-speak) the Heisenberg Principle by including process as the art without sacrificing the specious moment. Allen Kaprow saw in Hans Namuth’s blurred photographs of Jack Pollock painting the validation of process as itself the art. However, in an attempt to still maintain the focus on the moment he relied on Cage’s embracing of Buddhist mindfulness (vipassana) in which attention is to be paid to each moment of experience as a “necessary” thing in itself having its own character or absence thereof without relation to any other moment or thrust toward other moments (characterized by Henepola Gunarantat as “Looking into something with clarity and precision, seeing each component as distinct and separate, and piercing all the way through so as to perceive the most fundamental reality of that thing"). To further insure the unrelatedness of each specious moment as it arises in the process of making art, Allen Kaprow also embraced Cage’s I Ching method of using chance to protect each moment from the tyranny of cause from the past or result into the future. Nevertheless Kaprow’s need to see the process of making visual art as itself art required that there be a succession of instances albeit it unrelated. The solution was to create a theater of aleatoric events and objects in which even their viewing by viewers had to be orchestrated by chance and the selection could not be governed by any traditional values. Hence the objects served best that were at least to some degree not sought for but “found” by happenstance and treated therefore as democratically equal. Out of this emerged his 18 Happenings in 6 Parts doled out even to viewers by random order of assignment who, as a consequence, themselves became a part of the theatrical production. There was, however, yet one more question to be settled in Kaprow’s attempt to cross-over the visual arts into the performance mode. Until the invention of the photo- and phonograph technology and film, performances were evanescent, disappearing as objects as soon as the performance was over except insofar as they could be retained in memory. Thus, should visual theater events also be evanescent except as captured by memory? Kaprow, reinforced by the Buddhist mindfulness goal of being able to give up as well as accept an instant, strongly entertained the view that the visual theater events should remain evanescent and uninstantiated by recording devices even despite the fact that some of his notions of making art as being art itself was aroused from the capture on film of Pollack in the act of painting. Luckily, some examples of Kaprow’s art in motion exist as captured on film. Other examples exist of the use of photography and film to capture the making of art as art, a famous one being Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Le mystẻre Picasso. Perhaps, because of Kaprow’s reputation, his friendship with other artists, and the enthusiasm with which the art cognoscente greeted his Happenings, Kaprow’s experiment was imitated by other artists in his circle even though, as I understand from Bob Whitman, the others did not use the term Happenings as a label for their own productions. Nevertheless, the term stuck as a moniker for the movement. Its acceptance as a modus vivendi by his fellow artists and a coterie of influential, informed viewers may also have had something to do with its consonance with the zeitgeist of the late 1950’s and ‘60’s, namely, the national striving for racial equality. The Happenings’s democratization of individual instants as all co-equal and the free selections among a multimedia of art, dance, music, poetry, etc. fit in the major societal goal of racial equality toward which the nation was moving at the time and with the energy and economic optimism, as you noted, to back it up._______________ Now I will fast forward to the 1967-1971 years to take a look at the Electric Ear/Intermedia movement that primarily made the process art of music its base of departure. As already said, it resembled the Happenings movement in using multimedia, being largely theatrical, and having John Cage as one source−but by no means the only source−of inspiration. However, it differed in being intensely dedicated to discovering and employing in its multimedia productions the uses of technology, especially computers. Many of the pieces of equipment embodying this technology were in easy readiness for use, having been intensely developed and manufactured in the course of the competition between the United States and the Soviet Union in their race to the moon and were being explored by multimedia artists for their usefulness as “musical and visual” instruments in the artists’ productions. But as a result, the types of so-called orchestras into which this new technology equipment could now readily be readily assembled would no longer fit on stage of a traditional concert hall. The caverns of discos and dance halls were much more suitable. Conveniently consonant with this new location suitability was a looming social demand. The children which the veterans of WWII started producing upon their return from the war, the so-called Baby Boomers, were becoming teenagers and young college students. Their gravitation for entertainment was not to the concert hall but to the very discos in which the new “orchestra” with its capabilities for creating psychedelic effects could fit and, as a consequence, also lucratively garner unto itself, its creators, artistic programmers, and operators some of the prices of admission that these Baby Boomers were willing to pay. Mort Subotnick and Tony Martin, joined later by the young David Rosenboom, were principal among this group in having the wisdom to see what was needed and that their multimedia creativity would help meet that need and, as a consequence, affiliated themselves with one of the new locations, the Electric Circus, into which the new type orchestra of technical instruments would fit. The New York Times (NYT) was obviously aware that a burgeoning youth demand for a new kind of entertainment hall was rapidly developing along with a new kind of orchestra and art form to help provide that youth its entertainment. Hence, the NYT’s reviewers paid very close attention to the multimedia concert series, the Electric Ear, which Thais Lathem produced at the Electric Circus and the kinds of expressions the creators of this new multimedia art form could find for it and exhibit there and with what success to the disco audience. Sociologically, one of the reviewers, Theodore Strongin, even commented off the record to me that it was a particular pleasure to be a reviewer at those Electric Ear events because his teenage children−usually off into their own activities and disdainful of his−liked coming with him there. Again, as with the zeitgeist operative at the time of the Happenings, a zeitgeist, albeit a different one, was at work to reinforce the attention to and success of the Electric Ear/Intermedia movement of that period. However, unfortunately, by 1972 the Intermedia movement lost much of its spirit when the period in which it thrived began to deteriorate. That period’s initial good mood for having achieved racial equality to which the previous period had been directed was finally overcome by the nastiness of Vietnam and the associated political upheavals that ensued. I understand that even Buddhist mindfulness itself entered into something of an eclipse.Thus, Milly, as I see it, the two periods we had been commissioned by George Smith to compare did indeed have similarities but also major differences although both were more deeply similar in serving as the mirrors of their times. I’d love to hear your own views as well yours in response to mine. I am sorry that last Thursday didn’t and probably couldn’t have adequately served that purpose. Perhaps another IDSVA occasion may arise.Fondly, TedADDENDUM: Other factors in the breakdown:1) The artist’s search for something new to say within a style (a departure from the expected) can exhaust the style’s potential for yielding a new novelty to be exploited within it. At that point, the artist may abandon the style for a new style. Of this also depends upon whether the viewer/listener can see/hear anything new enough to continue supporting the artist’s work.2) The viewer/hearer often attends to an art form to discover some engaging novelty within it. This discovery of what’s novel depends on the viewer/hearer (observer) having a good enough appreciation of a style to recognize what constitutes novelty within it. To the degree the observer is very familiar with a style subtle departures from it can be experienced as engagingly novel. However, this in turn depends on the observer having enough experience with the style to recognize departures. And even then, like as with the artist, there may come a time when subtle departures of style become too subtle for the observer to recognize as such.3) Historically, high art has depended on its clientele having enough exposure to it (often via leisure time) to recognize as engagingly novel any departure from it. For centuries only members of the upper class (nobility, chiefly) had that leisure time. But with the Industrial Revolution, a middle class arouse who had not only the necessary leisure time but found it to their interest to use the criteria held by the nobility as their rules for what constituted art to engage in and support.4) However, beginning in the 20th Century leisure time began to disappear. Via the increases in communication and its shifting demands on attention, the viewer/hearer couldn’t maintain an attention on a style to absorb its subtleties. With that and the other factors described above the observer lost contact with the styles prevalently governing the standards of art and music over the past several centuries. Thus, for novelty, the observer had to look to more basic and crass aspects of art to get his kicks.5) Combined with that was the increasing attraction of new technologies and instrumentations.(2) On 1/22/2015 3:34 PM, Mildred Glimcher emailed to Ted Coons:I hope this finds you well. I learned a lot from both what you said and what Julie and Bob said but I don’tthink any connections were drawn which was a pity. So I have read your presentation to me several times. I slightly disagree with a couple of issues. Mainly I feel Kaprow’s impetus for making the Happenings was a little different than your interpretation. He did take Cage’s classes at the New School but he was mainly interested in learning about the way Cage was producingsound, using everyday objects to create the sounds, and also to learn how he used the recording equipment itself. He was less interested in Cage’s attachment to CHANCE. In his earliest Happenings, the ones I document in the book, he really left nothing to chance. For /18 Happenings . . . /he worked from June through September organizing every aspect of the action and the sound. The cast had many rehearsals. Even in the last one in the book called /Tree /that took place outdoors, and there was no audience, only participants, he still tightly choreographed the action and sound. In the works he made during the late 60s and early 70s he was much more willing to set a process in motion and then let things devolve naturally. For instance he made a work in 1967 that he titled /Fluids, /he had an enclosure built of very large blocks of ice, one part of the work was the community it took to build the enclosure, working together etc. and the secondpart was letting it melt, over which he had no control. It was one of his best pieces I think. There is a U-Tube video of a recreation that took place in 2008. I believe that some of the original impetus for Kaprow was not to circumvent the Heisenberg Principle but rather to circumvent the Art Market. Although there really wasn’t an Art Market at the time he was very prescient and in much of his writing he worries that as artists begin to make money from their art, their art will be corrupted and no longer art. He really wanted to make art that couldn’t be sold!!! He repeats that again and again. So the Happenings were his answer to that. And the Happenings evolved from his Installation Art and really had little to do with theater per se. The other artists who followed him, Oldenburg, Dine, Whitman etc. were much more interested in theater and they strongly believe they were doing something quite different from what Kaprow was doing. They saw what they were doing as a means to enhanced ‘personal’ expression and NOT the expression of a theoretical idea or philosophical stance, which is how they viewed Kaprow’s work. They respected him but they resented that the public saw him as their public spokesman. I left most of that out of the book as I thought it would be fodder for a whole group of writers who would then turn that resentment into something greater than it was.I guess we could have had a discussion based on those points but after reading your description of the Electric Ear and Electric Circus I think a joint discussion about them and Happenings would be less than fruitful and perhaps rather a discussion of the music groups and Pop Art might be more useful, explaining how and why “high art” devolved into popular culture during the late 60s and early 70s. What forces were at work in the culture at large to break down the barriers between high and low culture. Kirk Varnedoe and Adam Gopnik curated an exhibition addressing that subject at MOMA in 1991 that was roundly criticized everywhere but it was simply ahead of its time. All the best, Milly (3) On 2/11/2015 8:45PM Ted Coons emailed in reply:Milly,Indeed, you find me well and, after reading your illuminating "My response," even 'weller.' What you said about Allen Kaprow largely invalidates the theories I had concocted. However, I don't feel bad about the concoctions; they were valiant efforts to make sense of the only thing, your book, I had with me during my trip to California. I now no longer see--associated with Kaprow’s reluctance to have his Happening filmed--a conflict between: 1) his viewing "the flow of making art as a part of the art" and 2) what I took to be his ‘Buddhamystic’ intent (a la Cage) to protect each precious specious moment of a flowing art's deep reality from contamination and dilution by its preceding and following moments. Rather, I now understand from you that Kaprow's reluctance stemmed, instead, from his wanting to make an art that was transient so that it could NOT be sold, the reason being his opposition to encouraging a monetary-value-based Art Market which he feared would corrupt artists' own making of art. Hence, "out the window" goes a lot of my Heisenberg theorizing as no longer applicable to him. By the way, Milly, my appreciation of Kaprow goes way up, given his fears about the Art Market. As an aside, have artists’ outputs been crassly affected the way he feared? Who might be examples... Warhol, Jeff Coons, Schnabel? If so, isn't their art's crassness nevertheless creative and of value because of its recognizing and personifying to our culture that this crassness is indeed happening as part of it (even making the news by “making the news”)?I already picked up from Bob Whitman at the Pace discussion that he and the other artists who followed Kaprow did not share hisphilosophy, ethics, and interest in theater in doing so or even the influence Cage had on him, limited though it was just to making sounds. Nevertheless, they saw something worth emulating. Was it some other intrinsic value in his Happenings, such as the greater liberty for personal expression? Or, was it because they were trying to hitch a ride onto the art cognoscentes' enthusiasm for the novelty and theatricality of Kaplow's project, even though its deep raison d'être was probably uncomprehended? And I have another question which relates to the planned "appearance of chance" in Kaprow's initial Happening: How much did his disciples, too, let undercover plans masquerade as chance in their productions?So, from what you say, except for their both being involved in multimedia and theatre, I see much less relationship between the Happenings and the Electric Ear movements than I originally did. True, John Cage was somewhat of a link but not much other than standing for a kind of liberty for what could be taken from the environment as an object or an event for "artistic" contemplation (including non-musical or unintended sounds). Rather, as I’ve said in an earlier document, the Electric Ear and Intermedia provided focused opportunities for exploration of what opportunities the new age of electronics, computers, and other such equipment provided for aesthetic creations. It attracted the media’s attention in large part because of the need and emergence of new kinds of stages—discoes—for entertainment of the baby boomers. Associated with the Electric Ear movement’s ability to ENGAGE the baby boomers was, indeed, something related (to quote you) to the “forces [that] were at work in the culture at large to break down the barriers between high and low culture,” namely the ability to use and manipulate powerful stimuli that attract attention by their ability to commandeer in playful practice our very basic autonomic arousal processes. These are processes designed to deal with the anticipation of and hopeful success at: 1) coping with threat, or 2) attaining sexual gratification, and 3), in either case, often doing as a tribally and sometimes orgiastically organized group.”To continue with your quote above, it brings to mind a theory of history proposed in the Seventeen-Hundreds by Giambattista Vico. He speculated that there were two underlying forces, “Unity” and “Diversity,” cyclically and sometimes overlappingly at work in society’s historical evolution. In European history beginning with the domination of Christianity from the downfall of Rome, Unity reigned alone for about 450 years in the form of a Theocracy dominated by the Church starting around 700. Then, beginning with about 1150, Diversity began overlapping with Unity to produce an Autocracy dominated by the Nobility faction. But starting around 1600, the overlap ceased so that Diversity has ruled alone to produce a culture in which the idea and practice of Democracy has been dominant. Add another 450 years to that and what one sees ahead (beginning around 2050) is the beginning of Unity’s overlap with Diversity with the result being a Chaos that will reign until out of it will cyclically crystalize according to Vico’s plan a new Theocracy of some sort around 2500, perhaps a Brave New World. By the way, the previous “Chaos” ran from about 250 AD in Rome that was characterized by a period of degradation of Roman rule and its downfall as the Gauls, Goths, Visigoths, etc. swept in and true chaos ensued.The above little “presentation” was not made with a strong belief in Giambattista’s theory but to make another point perhaps explanatory of the increasing individuation and breakdown in constraining societal conventions and taboos over the history at least of Judo-Christian culture that Vico noticed and felt the need to explain. The theme I want to promote is