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Audio/Visual Performance Collaboration: art.tech at the LAB, 06 Sept 2009

September 8, 2009

I had the pleasure to work with Peter Foucault and Jonathan Grover on an audio/visual performance installation that marked the closing of the LAB’s first annual art.tech festival. This is the second iteration of a collaboration that first came together for Peter’s solo exhibition at the Richmond Arts Center last October.  I hope to place audio and video documentation of the event in the near future; in the meantime, I’ve included some still photos culled from Amy Pelman’s videography (thanks Amy!):

art.tech still 1art.tech still 2art.tech still 3art.tech still 5art.tech still 6

Also check out the photos by Kally Kahn on the SFStation website.

For my part, this performance marked a departure into new territory.  As I recently recounted to a fellow musician:

“I’m glad that the audio arrangement came together pretty nicely, and that the concept for the whole piece (robot drawing/video-projection/sound) melded together so well.  I brought out some work that isn’t ancient but isn’t exactly newly-minted: Outside Forces (from a split EP with Thanaton) and a piece called Sky Crossed With Wires.  These two I modified heavily for the live performance, layering and relayering the original material, cloning and refolding it on itself.  I ended the “set” with some really new stuff that I intend to put on a new record by the end of the year.  All in all, 30+ minutes of audio with no guitar present…artists are bringing laptops and assorted analog and digital hardware to the performance sphere, and I’ve turned the page to embrace that approach, particularly with respects to how it aids me in realizing a live manifestation for the sound.  That vision trumps the re-creation of sounds with a single bass through loop pedals.  That’s merely my (very important) source material: I’m painting with shades of dark paints.  I came with a briefcase full of hardware including loop pedals; I even drove some loops with my iPod, assembling a playlist of higher-quality wave files exported from the recording software.”

I fed pre-programmed loops and long audio phrases culled from my recorded works into three autonomous amplifiers distributed beneath the surface of the table.  This configuration allowed me to mix and crossfade audio, as well as “shift” sound from one side of the table to another.  I would like to further explore the relationship of sound and space, particularly from a geographic perspective, and perhaps also from an immersive-experience perspective.

As the robot can respond to percussive sound, the drawings Peter produces in this method bear evidence to the sonic context of this piece: a visual record of changes in sound stimuli over time.  During the performance, louder passages shook the plexiglass table surface, leaving staccato marks that added another texture to the fluid marks the result from single percussive events (like clapping).  Peter’s robot drawing environment, my atmospheric drones, and Jonathan’s pixelated ghost-cloud imagery made for a cohesive piece that evokes the confluence of controlled and chaotic circumstances.

My thanks to Peter, Jonathan, and the LAB for making this happen.  Also thanks to Ellis and Oliver for loaning me some gear!  More to come in the next few weeks…

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