John Lane

percussionist | composer



The Innocents (2006/Rev. 2018)
by Allen Otte and John Lane

Language is a tremendous gift, but language does not deliver experience, it only describes experience. It mediates between us and reality. And while music and performance cannot be equated with the actual experience of prison or arrest, it avoids the symbolic. It creates experience. What they managed to do was create an experience that brought the listener directly to the horror of what they wanted us to know. From where I sat, this was absolutely ingenious.
— Russel Gabriel, Clinical Professor & Criminal Defense Practicum Director, University of Georgia School of Law
The inspiration to start The Innocents had to come from a deep and profound love for mankind, which is so gratifying. I hope more young people can get to see them and are able to find a reason to fight for a worthy cause as both John Lane and Allen Otte are doing.
— Dr. Lester Shaw, Founder/Executive Director of A Pocket Full of Hope, Inc, Music Instructor at Booker T. Washington High School, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Allen Otte, John Lane, and Clarence Harrison (first person exonerated by the Georgia Innocents Project) University of Georgia Residency/Performance, 2017

Allen Otte, John Lane, and Clarence Harrison (first person exonerated by the Georgia Innocents Project)
University of Georgia Residency/Performance, 2017

What a magnificent project. You managed to be a chronicler of injustice, a reporter and an ally. I never felt like you were a tourist of some else’s pain and suffering, but rather a celebrant of survival and freedom and the individual escape from tyranny. The hopeful triumph of the wrongly convicted is truly awe inspiring.
— Dr. Michael Barnhart, composer and Associate Professor of Music and Media, Shawnee State University
I regularly listen to and am moved by stories of wrongful conviction, but it was not until The Innocents performance that I really felt what it must be like to be convicted of and imprisoned for a crime I did not commit. This gripping abstract performance takes you deep into the dark world of a wrongfully convicted prisoner and is one of the most moving performances I have ever witnessed — who knew banging rocks together and tearing up sheets of paper could be so powerful! I didn’t know what to expect ahead of the performance, and I certainly didn’t expect to be moved to tears. You will be spellbound.
— Clare Gilbert, Executive Director, Georgia Innocence Project

The Innocents was originally conceived by Allen Otte and John Lane as a performance art piece in collaboration with Cincinnati director Michael Burnham and a group of actors from Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Drama Program, which complemented an exhibition of photography by Taryn Simon, The Innocents, at the Cincinnati Contemporary Art Center.

In the year 2000, photographer Taryn Simon traveled across the US photographing and interviewing individuals who had been wrongly convicted and served time for crimes they did not commit. The individuals photographed were exonerated through DNA evidence, some after serving as many as 18 years in prison. In most cases, mistaken identification was the primary cause of the wrongful convictions. Simon photographed the men at sites thathad particular significance to their conviction: the scene of the crime, arrest, or the scene of the alibi. The Innocents, which is the resulting collection of photographs, have been exhibited internationally and featured in numerous publications, including The New York Times Magazine, and Vanity Fair. In these photographs Simon confronts technology's ability to blur truth and fiction. In the cases and subsequent lives of the Innocents, this quality of technology had profound consequences.

The enormity and weight of the images and words of those individuals compelled us to create and to perform...

From the larger performance art piece, which included movement, music, spoken word, and drama, we have distilled music and words into an ever-expanding concert work. Through the use of non-traditional instruments, such as found or street percussion (rocks, pots, pans, trash cans, etc...), African mbiras/kalimbas, and the use of electronics, the music and text illustrate some of the strong and complex emotions brought about by Simon's original work.

It is our sincere hope that our music can bring about a greater understanding and awareness on the issue of wrongful conviction.  Music from The Innocents was recently featured on the DVD "In Their Own Words," released through the Innocents Project. The Innocents has been performed in various venues including the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center, University of Georgia (3-day Interdisciplinary Residency with new music ensemble Bent Frequency), Georgia State University, the Center for Civil and Human Rights (Atlanta, Georgia), Innocence Network Conference, University of Washington, Oklahoma City University, the Woodie Guthrie Center, Sam Houston State University, and the Percussive Arts Society International Convention and numerous high schools throughout the US.