Channeling Cage, Cunningham, and Paik in Quartz Composer

So this work—Trialog and Interludes— began as a formal idea for a visualist presentation by meme™ (media experi mental ensemble): audiovisual compositions by individual meme-bers of the group would function as interludes between three “takes” of a larger, 17 minute work for visualists, dancers, and electronic music, the Trialog.

The Trialog is expressed in two ways—first, as a set of  three-voice chantings of micronarratives (this is done in Flash, and the score is below) played as bookends to the entire performance (in an ideal performance; didn’t happen this time), and secondly as perhaps an imaginary 3-way dialog between the works of John Cage, Merce Cunningham, and Nam June Paik, representing their progressive approaches to music, dance, and electronic visual media, and giving the work its aesthetic frame of reference, but re-imagined through contemporary means. Are we good with that?

This was meme™’s first performance exclusively using Apple Quartz Composer to manage all the visuals and interactions. The fantastic Rutt-Etra Video Synth plug-in by Vade was a key visual element: it enfolded the dancers in a 3D mesh that responded in real-time to their movement.

Each dancer was asked to develop a vocabulary of 12 events, and she was given an instruction track she listened to over a clip-on iPod mini.

 

Special thanks to dancers Stacee Lanz and Kori Epps, and to my graduate class, Creating Interactive Culture: Cynthia Gutierrez, Michelle Hipps, Chandra Maldonado, Miguel Oubina, Steven Wang, and Xuan Zhang.

And a word on the sound component: This was also the first time meme™ performed without a pre-produced sound track (I know, high time). Compositionally, each of the visual sketches had a set of samples associated with it, and those samples were mixed live via Kevin Holland’s wonderful Sapling software (free, for those of you running Mac OS). The dance video above used a bunch of samples I created from the waterphone; other sections remixed Tallis (Spem in Allium—see earlier post—with editorial voices provided live by Bebot, the Singing Robot), as well as SkyRon’s Bister Badgent, my instrumental track Echo Mic (appearing on the American Sock™ soundtrack), and music I wrote for an interactive presentation of humanitarian work in Cambodia (based on indigenous melodies and instruments). Samples to be available soon!

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