My work is centered around the creation and use of custom performance systems that explore the physicality of light and sound. It is grounded in a firm foundation of experimental film, video, and electroacoustic improvisation, and informed by the histories of structural / materialist film, paracinematic performance, and sound art.
It is conceptually aligned with the tradition of experimentalism: beginning with electrical energy as a raw material from which I fashion light and sound, and taking into account the specific conditions of the site in which the work is to be presented, I set into motion evolving and unpredictable processes, and examine the ways in which they unfold. My role in this operation is that of an observer and a regulator, guiding the trajectory of a given performance with an acute attention placed upon changes within the system and cues from the external world.
As a reflexive practice, my work allows me to investigate the experience of seeing myself see, hearing myself hear. Through focusing on the development of close viewing and reduced listening strategies, I have learned to “dance” with these systems, steering them into new and uncharted territories without allowing them to devolve into complete chaos—though this state is nearly always within fingertips’ reach.
Between performances, my work becomes more technical: finding new means of manipulating and controlling the electrical signals used to generate sound and image, based on my performance experiences. This transpires both through the application and exploration of new combinations of analog circuits, and through the development of custom software. The Grove Dictionary of American Music explains this process better than I might, in describing my group Mem1: “Mem1’s evolving, custom-built systems are as important an aspect of the duo’s achievements as their ever-innovative sound. Confounding the complexities inherent in human-machine and human-instrument relationship, Mem1 understands its music as a feedback loop between the past and present.”
While this description details my work in the sonic arts, it is applicable to the ways I generate visual work as well. Video art pioneer Woody Vasulka once described video feedback as “the junk that can generate the beauty.” I see this description as being equally relevant to the creation of larger systems that evolve over years—if not decades—as it is to the discussion of the use of feedback as a material within the performances that take place using such systems.
My current practice is grounded in research into the history and development of analog computers, video synthesizers and image processors created by technologists such as Dan Sandin, Bill Etra, Steve Rutt, and Shuya Abe, the ways these technologies helped shaped the work of video art pioneers such as Steina and Woody Vasulka, Gary Hill, and Nam June Paik, and how this work has shaped our contemporary media landscape. This research is not strictly a logocentric endeavor, but is deeply rooted in experience-based learning and the production of new artistic works. Such works often take the shape of documentation of fleeting moments: audio/visual “Processes” and still image “Sequences” created using generative and evolving systems with no fixed duration.
Sound / Performance
I believe in the power of live performance, and honor the challenge and exhilaration of improvisation. My work utilizes hybrid systems—analog / digital, visual / sonic, and conceptual / phenomenological—to explore the tangible properties of light and sound as perceived in the here and now.
My practice is founded upon the principles of experimentalism, investigating the relationships between light and sound, creation and reception, chaos and control. It is an exploration of the intersections of generative systems, structured improvisation, paracinematic performance and electroacoustic music, drawing upon the histories of Structural / Materialist film as well as Pauline Oliveros’ “deep listening” and Pierre Schaeffer’s “reduced listening” techniques, with a critical eye towards the passive consumption of “spectacular” sounds and images. Ken Jacobs’ Nervous Magic Lantern performances have been particularly influential in helping me consider how moving images may be produced in using physical materials, and explore how these images interact with the totality of the surrounding environment in live settings.
For over a decade, I have striven to create works that leverage custom sound and image technologies towards the generation of active spectatorship. This has been made possible through modulated NTSC television signals, computer-generated / manipulated video, hand-painted film, custom viewing solutions and projection apparatuses using hacked liquid crystal displays, custom cast glass lenses, robotically controlled mirrors, and high-powered stroboscopic lights, in conjunction with new software written in SuperCollider, OpenFrameworks, and Max. Even when these strategies are used to aid in the creation of fixed media, my process is still improvisational, relying upon active engagement with technologies developed through an iterative process and practical, hands-on experimentation.
I am currently creating a series of fixed media pieces utilizing generative video systems in conjunction with a new project called Apathy and Steel. These works are investigations into optical overstimulation, rhythm and noise, and will be made available in the form of audio recordings released as commercial products and audiovisual works that may be screened in film festivals, installed in galleries, and released on physical media; the systems used to create these works will also serve as the backbone for concomitant live performances. Future plans include integrating these generative systems with a custom projection apparatus expanding the possibilities of traditional video projectors by interfacing them with robotically controlled mirrors and water lenses made out of acrylic sheet to allow for unique projection events on an architectural scale.
My ultimate goal is the creation of experiences that are at once moving, inspiring, and intellectually stimulating. These experiences test the physical limits of the senses, give pause for thought, and initiate inquiry. As Marcel Duchamp once said, “the creative act is not performed by the artist alone.” Standing in opposition to the concept of art as the product of a single artist-as-genius, which is to be passively consumed by viewers, my work acknowledges shared experience as the locus of artistic creation, and calls for an active, engaged, and critical spectatorship.