Tilted Axes: Music for Mobile Electric Guitars will present a new performance procession entitled Fabrication in partnership with Theaterlab in NYC’s Garment District. Tilted Axes is a group of guitarists and percussionists lead by classically trained post-rocker Patrick Grant. They perform original music untethered via mini-amps strapped over their shoulders. This event is part of Tilted@10 celebrating Tilted Axes 10th anniversary season. The performance begins at Theaterlab, 357 W 36th in NYC, and will stop along the way at various landmarks to perform special compositions significant to that location. The performance is free to the public and can be joined at any point along the route. They will eventually bring the procession full circle, returning to Theaterlab to complete the performance. Afterward the public can join Tilted Axes for a meet and greet in Theaterlab’s performance space and find out more about their work. Procession route TBA.
As promised, here’s a rundown of the interactive projects by Chronotronic Wonder Transducer that will be featured in Theaterlab‘s Studio C during the MMiX Festival. You can check these out 6PM to 7:45 PM on October 8, 9 and 10 – come out and play, it’s free:
OUTIS(Mike Clemow) Thursday
Outis is a Greek word that means “nobody” and was originally intended to be an “intelligent” composition/performance using a video file or live stream as a score, which would be analyzed by a software program and turned into sound. It has become more of a performance tool since the project began in early January, 2009. Today, Outis is a performance that combines many of the same programs that comprised the first iteration of the project without the focus on artificial intelligence that characterized the first version, leaving the intelligence up to the performers themselves. For MMiX, Outis will be presented as a interactive installation in which audience becomes performer.
SANCTION OF THE VICTIM (Joe Mariglio) Thursday
“Sanction of the Victim”is a composition for a network of computers. Each computer has two tendencies, which are in tension with each other: a flock, by which the computers cooperate to build rhythmic phrases, and a virus, by which the computers compete and, as a result, cause the router to malfunction. The flock sounds like banging on metal, and the virus sounds like swarms of locusts. The result is an chance-based composition that exploits the physicality of the medium for which it was conceived.
POWER BIKE PARADE(Mike Clemow & Amy Khoshbin) Friday
Power Bike Parade is a bike-powered electronic orchestra that demonstrates the use of an alternative power source by converting the kinetic energy of pedaling a bike into electricity used to create a festival of electro-acoustic music and glittering LED lights. The two-rider parade takes this everyday act of riding a bicycle, and expands it into a visual and sonic spectacle, re-appropriating the act as a performance and a venue for expression.
SPACE EGGS(Ted Hayes) Friday
EggBeater uses the intuitive power of rhythm to let anyone control the playback of music. Shaking this small, wireless device in regular patterns can automatically adjust the tempo and timing of loops. Just start playing the EggBeater just as you would a traditional shaker, and listen as the song slows down as you slow down, or speed up as you do!
The instrument uses an accelerometer coupled with an XBee radio to send your movements to PureData, where they detect your downbeats and rhythmic tempo. The software can then control playback within PureData or send OSC or MIDI messages to other platforms.
CRUDLABS’ GINORMOUS THING(Steven Litt) Saturday and Sunday
Steven Litt spent most of the past two years designing CrudBox, a hardware step sequencer which controls essentially whatever electronic devices are plugged into it: doorbells, motors, power tools, flamethrowers, you name it. He has spent the past 6 months performing highly energized and abrasive electro-acoustic dance music as CrudLabs and CrudLabs Sound System using only his precious CrudBoxes. At MMiX, he will for the first time ever he presents an interactive installation in which attendees may play a CrudBox making rhythmic music out of a 500 square foot room full of clangorous amplified objects being struck, shaken, and generally abused by various mechanisms.
1. Where did you grow up and how did you end up where you are now?
I grew up in Detroit where I studied music composition and classical performance by day while playing in Punk/New Wave bands by night. I read about the loft and gallery concert scene in 1970s NYC and that sounded more preferable to me than LA. It was artsier and I wouldn’t need to have a car. When I moved here in the late 80s that scene had played and wasn’t to return in a new form for a while. I quit the band I moved out here with found work writing and performing music for downtown theater groups and assisting well-known composers like John Cage. It was experiences like that that taught me more about making a living as an artist than the Juilliard education I never completed and even so, as they say, only in New York.
2. What do you look for when you’re seeking out new work?
I fell into the role of curator-by-proxy through various self-produced concert series. Early on, I sought to fill the void that was left when the loft and gallery concerts that brought me to NYC had (temporarily) fallen out of vogue in the late 80s and early 90s. My association with theater music always meant that I at least had a space to work and to do concerts. The same was true when I expanded into Chelsea galleries in 2000. Being in spaces such as these creates circumstances which are “extra-musical” so care is given to selecting artists which are a compliment to and an augmentation of the hosting venue’s creative discipline. Ultimately, it is really about audience and community building. Being a composer and performer myself I would naturally pick artists whose work I admired and wished to collaborate with. That’s how I get to meet people. That’s my microcosm. The macrocosm is in introducing artists, performers, and audience members to each other who might not normally cross each other’s path. When I see further collaborations being made as a result of these events, I consider that a great success. That’s something we all benefit from well beyond the scope of the seeds that were planted.
3. What was your most remarkable moment as a curator/presenter/producer?
I may be speaking out of turn here but so far it’s been the upcoming MMiX Festival of Interactive Music Technology on Oct. 8-11 at Theaterlab. Truly, and I can back that up. At the beginning, I envisioned it taking place at the same time as the Audio Engineering Society’s annual convention in NYC. If you’re into audio and musical gear, that’s a big deal. Deciding to have the festival then quickly gained us the support of interactive software leaders Ableton and Cycling ’74 (makes of Live 8 and Max/MSP/Jitter respectively). This in turn brought us some of the best and most diverse performers in that field. The idea of having something bigger than the festival itself to tap into has been very powerful. It’s given me the power to call up complete strangers, some of them very well known, and get them to come onboard. I couldn’t see myself doing that a couple of years ago and that, for me, is remarkable.
4. Which performance, song, play, movie, painting or other work of art had the biggest influence on you and why?
Anyone who knows me knows that I always cite Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 film “A Clockwork Orange.” That may sound strange but let me explain. ACO was originally released as Rated-X by the incipient rating system (along with “Midnight Cowboy” and “Last Tango in Paris” due to their adult themes) and was re-released in 1974 reduced to an R-rating. The porn industry had made a joke of the X-rating by saying, “Well then, we’re XXX,” so it became meaningless. So, with an R-rating, ACO was able to air television commercials. I was eleven at that time. One day I heard it on the TV: The “Glorious 9th Symphony by Ludwig Van” but, as we know, being “performed” by Wendy (née Walter) Carlos on the Moog synthesizer. I didn’t know then what the music was or what was making those strange sounds. It was to be the very first LP that I ever bought for myself. Coming home from the store, I was reading the back of the album (who were these guys with the foreign names?) and couldn’t figure out which track I had heard on TV. I dropped that needle everywhere on the disc, but could not find it. What was up with all this classical stuff? I thought that was only used for goofing around in Warner Bros. cartoons! I noticed that one of the tracks looked a bit different in the middle, a darker color due to less activity in the grooves. I cued up that spot, and there it was: the march section of the 9th’s choral movement. It rocked my 11 year-old world, or as the Moog tagline ran at the time, I was instantly “switched-on.”
Why? It enabled me to listen to music stripped of fashion, the opposite of popular music (which I love too). It led to the original book by Anthony Burgess and got me literate beyond my years, leading to Vonnegut, Brautigan and others at an early age. Mostly, it’s a story about the choice between good and evil, and our free will to choose, motifs which stick with me to this day and inform just about everything I’m interested in, one way or another. Or at least I can explain it that way. Even with my guilty pleasures! ACO was my gateway drug.
5. What skill, talent or attribute do you most wish you had and why?
Absolutely it would be the ability to be a convincing and charismatic public orator. Presently, I feel that I could do a lot better in that department. The thought are there but something gets lost when I convert them into words let alone how those words get expressed. After being surrounded by actors, poets and other performers all these years you’d think I’d have learned something. It’s been slow going but I believe there’s still hope! Countless times I’ve let myself get bullied into situations just because somebody had a better gift of gab when, deep in my gut, I felt it wasn’t right. I had to defer to the power of the word only to regret it down the road. I’ve learned to trust my intuition more and more often these days, even if words still fail. Yet, if I had that skill, I may not have become the person I am. Maybe I’d be someone who’s better at talking about what they’re going to do than just doing it. I hope not.
Musical Instruments: These will be used as objects, as part of the set. Moreover they need to act deeply and direct on our sensibility through the senses, and from the point of view of sound they invite research into utterly unusual sound properties and vibrations which present-day musical instruments do not possess, urging us to use ancient or forgotten instruments or to invent new ones. Apart from music, research is also needed into instruments and appliances based on refining and new alloys which can reach a new scale in the octave and produce an unbearably piercing sound or noise.
One could say that one of the main reasons that Theaterlab is presenting The MMiX Festival of Interactive Music Technology is to make good on Antonin Artaud‘s vision on the future of music and sound in the theater. There is no doubt that Artaud’s manifestoes were ahead of their time and, like most visionaries who are born into that situation, he paid the price, mentally-spirtually-and physically, of not seeing many of his ideas become reality in his lifetime. As a result, his writings and his work have become inspiration for generations of artists that followed, myself included.
One of the projects I undertook was a commission from The Cornell Gamelan Ensemble when I was a visiting composer there during 2002-2003 in a joint venture of the Digital Music Lab (David Borden) and the Dept. of Enthomusicology (Martin Hatch). Through that I was able to create a tone poem for gamelan, keyboards, & strings based uponThe Philosopher’s Stone (La Pierre Philosophale – 1931), a scenario by Artaud in which I tried to fused his passion of the Balinese theater with the vision of new musical sounds via the synthesizers as laid out in the excerpt above.
As curator of The MMiX Festival, and in doing it at Theaterlab, I hope that we can show how close we’ve come to Artaud’s vision, how far we have yet to go, and can look forward to its multi-disciplinary application on the stage in the future work of all artists. For right now, enough theory. Let’s see where were at in 2009 (MMIX) and have a blast doing it!
Antonin Artaud (September 4, 1896, in Marseille – March 4, 1948 in Paris) was a French playwright, poet, actor and theatre director.
Artaud believed that the Theatre should affect the audience as much as possible, therefore he used a mixture of strange and disturbing forms of lighting, sound and performance.
In his book The Theatre and Its Double, which contained the first and second manifesto for a “Theatre of Cruelty,” Artaud expressed his admiration for Eastern forms of theatre, particularly the Balinese. He admired Eastern theatre because of the codified, highly ritualized and precise physicality of Balinese dance performance, and advocated what he called a “Theatre of Cruelty“. At one point, he stated that by cruelty, he meant not exclusively sadism or causing pain, but just as often a violent, physical determination to shatter the false reality. He believed that text had been a tyrant over meaning, and advocated, instead, for a theatre made up of a unique language, halfway between thought and gesture. Artaud described the spiritual in physical terms, and believed that all theatre is physical expression in space.
All events take place in the studios of Theaterlab which is located at 137 West 14th St., between 6th and 7th Ave., New York City. For more information (ticket info, directions, etc.) visit Theaterlab’s web site at http://www.theaterlabnyc.com.
Software and laptop improvements present new possibilities for composer/performers to create complex soundscapes in real-time during live performance. The focus of the festival is to demonstrate that these emerging audio technologies are instrumental in new artistic creations, and to inform the public regarding the current state of this art form. The artists presented in MMiX have set a new bar in that discourse and will provide live performances, media installations and workshops.
Here’s a look at the Pre-MMiX benefit performances from last Monday, August 24th: a montage of Patrick Grant playing a live-looping installment from his Tertian Circles series on analog synth and electric guitar, Kathleen Supove plays Lay Bare the Heart by Charles Coleman and The Body of Your Dreams by Jacob TV (the latter using a backing track created from an infomercial for the AB Sonic® Electronic Massage Belt), and LB (aka Pound), DJ Scientific (Elan Vytal) and String Theory (Matt Szemela) propelling us through a real time mash up of hip-hop, house and 80s synth pop.
MEATWARE: the human element in a technological system.
Here’s but a few links to some artists in NYC that have been embracing new technologies on the stage in the creation of their work. We’ll be adding more as time goes on. I’m sure that many of you reading this blog know of them, if not personally or as collaborators, but they are worth pointing out, especially if they are news to you.
3-LEGGED DOG is a non-profit theater and media group focusing on large-scale experimental artwork. Their work has been seen in New York City at such venues as the Kitchen, La Mama, The Ontological-Hysteric Theater, PS 122, and Signature Theatre Co. Since 1994, they have become a mainstay in the experimental arts community and have been performing downtown ever since.
Five years after the destruction of their headquarters at 30 West Broadway on September 11th, 2001, 3-Legged Dog Media and Theater Group announced the launch of a new home in Spring 2006. 3LD Art & Technology Center is located at 80 Greenwich Street in Lower Manhattan, just 3 blocks south of the WTC site.
3-Legged Dog is the first producing arts group to sign a lease in the Liberty Zone and the first to rebuild downtown. A cultural anchor for the Greenwich Street Arts Corridor, 3LD Art & Technology Center provides complete production and presentation facilities for emerging and established artists and organizations that create large-scale experimental works, many of which incorporate and create new tools and technologies.
"Fire Island" by 3-Legged Dog
3LD ART & TECHNOLOGY CENTER is a community-oriented and artist-run production development studio. They offer artists a unique experience with specialized equipment, flexible space and expert knowledge, as well as the desperately needed time to fully realize their visions. If New York City is to remain at the forefront of experimentation, then its artists must have the means to create cutting-edge work. Since opening in 2006, they have offered the latest materials and innovative tools to more than 900 artists from veterans like Laurie Anderson to the newest prodigies like J. Reid Farrington, recently of the Wooster Group. They have structured programs to ensure the aesthetic and financial success of their residents. They provide a critical resource and development home for these artists, who carry on the traditions of risk-taking and boundary-pushing aesthetics, a tradition that reaches back in New York City’s history to the late 1800s.
TROIKA RANCH is the collaborative vision of artists Mark Coniglio and Dawn Stoppiello. Established in 1994, and based in New York City and Berlin, Germany, Troika Ranch produces live performances, interactive installations, and digital films, all of which combine traditional aspects of these forms with advanced technologies. The artists’ mission in producing this wide range of art experiences is to create artwork that best reflects and engages contemporary society.
The name Troika Ranch refers to Coniglio and Stoppiello’s creative methodology, which involves a hybrid of three artistic disciplines, dance/theater/media (the Troika), in cooperative interaction (the Ranch). This method preceded the organization Troika Ranch, which was formed as a means to support the artists’ engagement in this process. During the 1990’s, Coniglio, Stoppiello and their company Troika Ranch were among the pioneers in the field that came to be known as Dance and Technology.
As the use of technology in the arts has developed and integrated over the last decade, the need for the separate moniker Dance and Technology has dissolved. Troika Ranch’s present concerns correspondingly reflect this broader scope, expanding across genres and pioneering new frontiers. As innovators and visionaries, Coniglio and Stoppiello produce art that values live interaction – between viewer and viewed, performer and image, movement and sound, people and technology. It is time-based but typically includes an element of spontaneity, in that the events and images that unfold lie within a certain range but are not exactly replicable. As authors, they establish images, direct performances, determine time frames, and devise technologies. The works may be presented as performances, installations, or in portable formats. In sum, Troika Ranch engages in creative endeavors using all that contemporary invention has to offer.
The arts world, well, the world in fact, recently suffered the loss of MERCE CUNNINGHAM. He extended the frontiers of choreography for more than half a century, most recently with his use of the computer program called DanceForms (formerly LifeForms).
Merce was on the development team for this dance software. Each work he choreographed since 1991 made use of this program, and each one was quite different from the others. Those of you interested in seeing firsthand how DanceForms works can download a demo of the program from their web site at http://www.charactermotion.com/danceforms/
Former Cunningham performer, choreographer & media artist JONAH BOKAER seems to be the heir apparent to Cunningham and his use of technology in the creation of dance.
Over the past several years, Jonah Bokaer has developed a body of work addressing the creative potential of digital technologies in movement production. He makes choreography by rendering a virtual body in the built domain, employing motion capture, digital animation, 3D modeling, and choreographic software to generate movement material. “Choreography” involves designing a body inscreen, embodying its movements in real time, and performing the choreography live.
While developing this new artistic practice, Bokaer frequently questions (and subverts) the spaces in which works are performed, creating site-specific installations that playfully critique the venue presenting a dance. This generally involves a visual or sonic intervention in the periphery of each individual venue.
As an arts activist, Bokaer is also deeply committed to fostering interdisciplinary dialogue with artists across media. With this in mind, he has established a cooperative studio space called “Chez Bushwick,” in which artists can congregate, develop ideas, and present their work in a catalytic environment. Bringing innovative new work into direct conversation with contemporary thought and culture is the main interest of this artist.
Bokaer’s unparalleled dancing in Merce Cunningham’s company, his co-founding of the Brooklyn performance space Chez Bushwick, and his well-crafted yet cutting edge choreography that moves dance into the new century, have made him a convincing advocate for the dance community.
Chez Bushwick in Brooklyn
CHEZ BUSHWICK, an artist-run organization based in Brooklyn, is dedicated to the advancement of interdisciplinary art and performance, with a strong focus on new choreography. Since its inception in 2002, the organization has been acknowledged as a new model for economic sustainability in the performing arts, offering New York City’s only $5 subsidy for rehearsal space, and thereby fostering the creation, development, and performance of new work. Chez Bushwick is also responsible for a number of monthly performance programs that encourage artistic freedom, collaboration, and creative risk-taking.
This is just the tip of the iceberg and, even then, this is just one city. I’m very interested in where all this development is leading us. Personally, I feel that much of it still has far to go. As advanced as it may seem to us now, I still get that feeling that we’re like those folks who first marveled at the Model T.
Whatever progress is to be made, one thing I am sure of, is that it is going to be based on the “meatware” which has a much longer tradition of moving the people’s hearts and minds. My hope is that a lot of what I like to call “The Gee Whiz Factor” will fade as this ubiquitous technology is increasingly greeted by a de-mystified public, one that will demand more and more meaningful creations that will continue to close the gap between the hardware/software and the “meatware.”
It’s another hot, steamy Monday evening in the city. You’ve been plug-in away all day and your circuits are fried. Well, we know one place where you can cool your compressors and chill out to some great new music…
It’s “The Pre-MMiX” at Theaterlab, a benefit party for The MMiX Festival of Interactive Music Technology, happening on August 24th, 2009 at 6:30pm. The Pre-MMiX Party will offer a sampling of the kind of vibrant works we’ll feature this October 8-11 at MMiX, and will also serve as a fundraiser for the festival.
We talked to her earlier this summer about her work with interactive electronics in this bit of audio:
Elan Vytal, the boundary-breaking DJ who cut his teeth in the clubs and went on to scratch it up in opera houses and museums, has also appeared on this blog with 6 string violinist, Matt Szemela. He sent along this video which features a cut off Elan and Matt’s forthcoming album as the group, LB (Pound).
Patrick Grant, a composer of multiple disciplines, from string quartets and club music, to hip-hop marching bands and not-so-subliminal advertising, creates scores and soundscapes for film, theater and media, is curator of the MMiX Festival in October, and will talk a little bit about the mission, the artists and the technology behind MMiX, and will school ya on some of his “sTRANGE mUSIC” at the Pre-MMiX party.
So next Monday evening, August 24th, come on up and escape the summer distortion at the Pre-MMix Benefit Party. The event starts at 6:30pm at Theaterlab’s studios and a wine reception follows the performances. Theaterlab is located at 137 West 14th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenue, and near the F and L train, as well as Union Square. The suggested minimum donation at the door will be $10.
MMiX. That’s “2009” in Roman numerals and the year in which I am pulling together my current interests in how music and media manifest in real time performance through a collaboration with Theaterlab NYC.
Early this year, Theaterlab co-director, Carlo Altomare (with Orietta Crispino) asked me to think up some kind of a concert series for their upcoming season. Our previous effort was an installment of my One-Two-Three-GO! new music series in 2006 and that went quite well.
Ever since, I’d used “MMiX” as a graphic as part of the annual New Year greeting that I send out to my mailing list every year, and I knew that I wanted to use it again somehow. This opportunity gave me the perfect place for it. Perfect in so many ways.
At that time, I had just come off creating three scores for theater, one in NYC, and two in Brazil (Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro) and giving workshops on the software to the public. My whole emphasis has been to create musical scores that would be interactive with the performers on a number of levels that were not possible when I began working in the theater. Those possibilities are the direct result of a number of software programs that have made new these new levels possible, performable, and highly portable since all the hardware that had been used in the past has now been distilled down into the confines of a laptop computer.
With that having been achieved, any number of controllers (keyboards, wands, motion sensors etc.) could now be interfaced with the computer so that all of the performing arts had access.
I have come to see this extra “m” in MMiX as representing the different branches of the performing arts that are now able to be blended and blurred: music, mise-en-scene (theater, film), movement (dance), monographs (words; spoken or sung), montage (visual arts), etc. etc. etc. I found so many “m” words I’ll only put the essential ones here, but it should be said that, the most important one may be, is “meatware,” the human element in a technological system.
The purpose of this new blog is to consolidate the content of our research through original content and the many findings that we come across the internet of like-minded artists working along similar lines. Guided by partner and co-producer Jocelyn Gonzales, “The MMiXdown” will also document our progress in pulling together all of the above elements into a cohesive series of presentations to the public in October to see where we’re at, to see how far we can go, when software, hardware, and meatware meet in the common goal of artistic expression.