8 PM – 10:30 PM: Part I: Roulette, 509 Atlantic Avenue
11 PM – 4:30 AM: Parts II & III: Exapno, 33 Flatbush Avenue, 5th floor
5 AM – 7:30 AM: Parts IV: Procession from Borough Hall over the Brooklyn Bridge
All parts of the performance are free and open to the public.
This overnight realization on Cage’s centennial is a meditation on the voice’s power to transform language into music. Varispeed’s new arrangement will lead audiences on a 12-hour journey of sound, from an ensemble of electronically manipulated and mutated song in the concert hall of Roulette to the noise of naked voices on the Brooklyn Bridge at dawn.
Written in the early 70s, Empty Words stands as an epic culmination of Cage’s exploration of the “demilitarization” of syntax and the voice’s power to evacuate meaning and create music. Using Thoreau’s journals as his source text, Cage employed chance procedures to remove all syntax from the original, creating four separate movements through which the level of textual abstraction grows.
Part One (utilizing phrases, words, syllables, and letters) begins in the concert space of Roulette, employing multiple performers and theatrics to employ the musical extremes of language. The performance then moves to the new music community space Exapno, where Varispeed transform Part Two’s words, syllables, and letters into new spatial arrangements. Peppered with food (and perhaps a nap), Part Three scatters syllables and letters around the building in a performance that is both a participatory scavenger hunt and a solo lecture. In conclusion, listeners will become performers on a communal sound walk through Downtown Brooklyn across the Brooklyn Bridge at sunrise, vocalizing the letters of Part Four in equal partnership with the surrounding urban “silence.”
Varispeed’s premiere performance of Robert Ashley’s Perfect Lives Manhattan was listed on Time Out New York’s Best of 2011 list and received praise in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times. Varispeed has worked to discover new inroads into contemporary vocal music and opera in creating site-specific, sometimes-participatory, oftentimes-durational, forevermore-experimental events. As individuals, they are all multi-faceted performers, composers, songwriters, and thinkers who collaborate in ensembles such as thingNY, Panoply Performance Laboratory, and Cough Button. (text from the Facebook event)
Don’t miss this ephemeral epic. Varispeed is (from left to right in image above) Gelsey Bell, Paul Pinto, Aliza Simons, Dave Ruder, Brian McCorkle, and the ghost of John Cage…
Lately it seems all I’ve been doing is building contact mics for use in performance projects (Spilled Measures Dancing at my Feet, Run Little Girl, NATURE FETISH), along the way I have found that the usual method of using a 1/4″ cable with a small piezo (the much lauded RadioShack part #273-073 or equivalent) is not the ideal solution.
Thanks to the guidance I received from Ian M. Colletti of Vaudeville Park and the electronics collective NewBit (Aliza Simons and Gelsey Bell), I was able to supply 1/4″ contact mics for Zierle & Carter‘s performance of “Spilled Measures Dancing at my Feet” at Vaudeville Park. They had some of their own (thank goodness, there were so many sheets of metal) which had been made with XLR cable.
While testing the difference between the XLR and 1/4″ cables I found the XLRs were much more responsive (hot) and had a lot less noise in their signal.
This was something interesting to note, but has become a necessity since I’ve had the chance to work with Dreary Somebody, building contact mics for their upcoming performance of “Run Little Girl” at Merce Cunningham Studio (the last performance in the space before it is turned over to another company).
We attempted to install the contact mics upon our first arrival at the studio, only to find an extraordinary (to a musician/sound guy) lack of 1/4″ cable, and I didn’t have enough at home to run the mics (attached to paintings by Jillian Rose) to the sound system (we would have needed over 100 feet of cable).
Upon my return home I thought back to the wonderful XLR contact mics and our current predicament, realizing the best way to get good sound out of the paintings and the only feasible way to run them would be to build them with XLRs.
Because of the size of the paintings and the fact that location of the mics within them was important compositionally (the dancers had to be able to speak into them and “play” the paintings with the sound design by Esther Neff), each painting needed at least two microphones.
What follows is a brief overview of how to make two-headed contact mics:
1. Get your tools
As you can see I kept it simple:
- soldering iron
- needle-nosed pliers
- rosin-core solder
- electrical tape
2. Get your parts
- piezo elements (only one pictured here)
- XLR cable
- XLR connector
- wire (i used speaker wire I had laying around)
3. Solder the connector to the cable
Make sure to do this correctly, or your mics won’t work (check out this handy tutorial).
4. Solder the cable to the wire
Wind the wires that will be the ground for the mics together and attach to the ground of the XLR cable (the cable’s shielding), then attach the positive wires to the other two XLR leads (the “hot” and “cold” – shown here as the blue and white wires).
5. Solder the wires to the piezo elements
Make sure the ground wires are connected to the black wires of each piezo (they should be soldered to the outer ring of the piezo), and the others to the red.
6. Attach the mics to something and make some art!
I used electrical tape to isolate the exposed wire since if anything went wrong I wanted to be able to fix it fast. If you use heat shrink tubing your mics will look a lot more professional and be a bit more durable, but you’ll have to cut it off to get at any troublesome connection.
There you have it, an easy way to get a decent sound out of any surface. From the photos you’ll notice I didn’t shield the piezos from the elements (usually done with Plasti dip or a similar product). I wanted them to be as sensitive as possible to pick up the gentle scrape of nails or the rubbing of fingers.
Thanks to phase space’s tutorial on this, which lays this method out in more exact electrical terms, along with the trusty furious contact microphone assembly how-to. For the ultimate in contact mics, check out Zach Poff’s re-post of Alex Rice’s in-cable preamp design, brilliant!
Thanks to Quinn Dukes (stay tuned for documentation of her PERFORMANCY FORUM feat last week as well as those by Gelsey Bell, Nyugen Smith, and Aliza Simons) we are hosting UK-based performance artists Alexandra Zierle and Paul Carter this Monday night, January 30th, at 7pm!
Come out to Vaudeville Park, 26 Bushwick Avenue (at Devoe), for performance (Zierle & Carter are joined by Brian McCorkle and familiar volunteers…) “Spilled Measures Dancing at my Feet“!
Spilled Measures Dancing at my Feet
Alexandra Zierle and Paul Carter’s collaborative work is interdisciplinary, multi-sensory and site and context responsive spanning from live art/performance art, happenings and interventions, to sound, video and installation. Through their practice, Zierle & Carter critically examine different modes of communication and what it means to be human both as individuals and as a collective entity.
‘Zierle & Carter’s performance ‘Spilled Measures Dancing at My Feet’ was premiered in Poland at Mozg Festival 2011. It involves a series of actions that are inspired by the artists’ on-going enquiry into what love is and what it is not, exploring what actions people take in order to move from a place of ‘non love’ to a place of love.
At Vaudeville Park, the artists will perform a new adaptation. The piece will unfold in an improvised way, responding to the ‘presence’ of the space and audience contributions. Acting as an anchor point throughout the work, the sound of 10,000 pearls spilling to the ground echoes throughout the space.
Zierle & Carter’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including Grace Exhibition Space (US), Exist-ence (Australia), and MOMA (US) and Plymouth Arts Centre (UK) as part of Marina Abramovics Institute for the Preservation of Performance Art and The Pigs of Today are the Hams of Tomorrow. They are currently in receipt of an Arts Council England grant for their Through the Heart: Works on Love, Life, and Laughter project.
Zierle & Carter will be collaborating with Composer/musician/sound artist Brian McCorkle: http://www.panoplylab.org/brianmccorkle/
The blog has been temporarily abandoned in favor of seeing, organizing, and of course creating, performance of various sorts. Here’s a few things that it’s being abandoned for:
Monday evening, January 16: if you loved Daniel Kitson, Matthew Stephen Smith shares his solo work-in-progress, A Gathering of Very Articulate Individuals in which he expertly and alarmingly embodies the friends of a man falling from the roof of a newly-built condominium. Vaudeville Park, 7pm (beer, suggested donation $5-$15)
Later in the Evening on January 16: catch Small Beast curated by The Super Coda’s Valerie Kuehne at The Delancey. A full list of performers and their links online HERE! Don’t miss LES FILLES FÖLLEN while they’re in the city! follow the link for more of their performances this month, + in the same show, the one and only Big Plastic Finger, (which includes PPL composer Brian McCorkle).
Monday, January 23:
PERFORMANCY FORUM XIX: Box, Box, Box. Artists and composer-performers present works that work inside the box, outside the box, define the box, and utilize an actual box. Don’t miss incredible performances by Gelsey Bell, Quinn Dukes, Aliza Simons, and Nyugen Smith! 8pm, Vaudeville Park, 26 Bushwick Avenue, $5-$15 sliding scale donation encouraged.
Look forward to discussions about all the festivals and APAP (this is a noun
that also refers to the salty sludge to be cleaned out of the corners of linoleum-floored hallways afterwards).
I have been reminding many of you to send performance documentation to Emergency INDEX, here’s another reminder: SUBMIT A DESCRIPTION OF YOUR PERFORMANCE TO EMERGENCY INDEX!!! http://www.emergencyindex.com/performance.html (by January 3)
Wednesday, November 30, 2011, from 6:30pm -9:30pm at
This evening’s performance-infused forum will address performance criticism, documentation, and the relationship between writing and performance. A panel discussion with performance publishers, critics, and curators will be followed by performances by artists and playwrights based on critical writing about their own work; and open discussion between the panelists, artists, and audience members.
Antje Oegel (53rd State Press)
Esther Neff (Panoply Performance Laboratory)
Claudia La Rocco (Brooklyn Rail; New York Times)
Sylvan Oswald (Play A Journal of Plays)
Lana Wilson (Performa)
Moderated by Matvei Yankelevich (UDP)
ABOUT Ugly Duckling Presse/ Emergency Ugly Duckling Presse, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit run by a volunteer editorial collective, is the home of the “Emergency” series: the former Emergency Gazette; Emergency Playscripts; and Emergency INDEX — a forthcoming annual publication, in which artists reflect on the work they created in the past year. More info at www.emergencyindex.com
at Exapno, 33 Flatbush Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11217
Sunday, December 4, from 3:00pm to 6:00pm
On Nov. 6, Performa 11 presented Perfect Lives Manhattan, a day-long, site-specific celebration of Robert Ashley’s seminal opera for television, arranged and performed by the burgeoning art collective, Varispeed. Please join Varispeed at the monthly Performers Forum where members Aliza Simons, Dave Ruder, Paul Pinto, Brian McCorkle and Gelsey Bell will be presenting a performative “live documentary” and public forum on the process, practice and production of Perfect Lives Manhattan. Site-specificity, arrangement, ownership and questions of what contemporary opera is will be discussed through live excerpts, new musical compositions, video and dialogue with attendees.
“Less an act of rescuing a work from oblivion than one of repurposing its materials to unleash latent potential…. That Varispeed’s members could express themselves so readily through Mr. Ashley’s work while remaining faithful to it was impressive.”
-Steve Smith, The New York Times
Varispeed is a newly formed collective of composer-performers from music and theatre groups Panoply Performance Laboratory, thingNY, and Why Lie? that creates site-specific, sometimes-participatory, oftentimes-durational, forevermore-experimental events.
Performers Forum is anything you want it to be. Curated by Corey Bracken. Suggested donation – Beers for $$$ – Awesome Vibes Gratis. Visit Performers Forum on the web for more details!
(Performers Forum is not to be confused with PERFORMANCY FORUM, though the latter welcomes any association with the former…)
THANK YOU TO ALL WHO PARTICIPATED IN AND ATTENDED THIS CONFERENCE!!!! IT HAS NOW CONCLUDED BUT WE WILL DO IT AGAIN SOON!
In the meantime, join the PERFORMANCY FORUM Facebook group HERE.
The non-autonomy will continue this weekend!!!
Thank you/chokrane/merci/gracias/xièxie/danke/asante/arigato/etc to all who participated during the first weekend of Conference of Works: Operations and Participations, whether by standing around drinking beer or by sharing performance work as part of the “occupation” of Grace Exhibition Space! Documentation is to come! Here’s some Dimanche Rouge (which was streamed into GES Saturday) in the meantime…
Below is an updated schedule for this weekend…hope to see EVERYONE THERE, participating in the roundtables (yes, yes, please come) and experiencing the performances/talks/workshops etc.
Conference of Works: Operations and Participations
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 11: VAUDEVILLE PARK
7:00pm: Welcome! drinks, introductions.
8:00: G Douglas Barrett Ground Music, which will invite audience members to “take to the ground”—as a spatial and metaphorical site for political, philosophical, and sonic reflection.
8:30: Anya Liftig we do not know what Anya will do EXACTLY, but whatever she does, whenever she does it, it is always astounding.
9:00: Alex Young has a notion, and nothing that he does really falls into ‘music composition, performance art, or internet’ work, though it does tend to address ‘artistic authorship while experimenting with modes of participation and intervention’.
10:00: Jules Rochielle is an artist and the founder of the Social Practices Arts Network (SPAN). Her visit to NYC from LA catalyzed–in part–this conference and the meeting of many like-minded people.
10:30: Gretta Louw:Controlling Connectivity Gretta has been living in a Berlin gallery space in complete isolation except for the internet since November 2nd. We will visit her online via skype and see how she’s handling it…
Five individual artists working in music composition, performance art, and interactive/internet forms describe, perform, and present projects that maintain artistic authorship and vision while experimenting with modes of participation, demonstration, and intervention. Come ready to partake in the bar, bring an instrument, bring a dry erase marker, bring a powerpoint presentation, bring an anecdote or joke, bring mittens, and a donation for Vaudeville Park. (address below)
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 12: GRACE EXHIBITION SPACE
Opens at 3:30
ONGOING: SPAN site/listening station
listen to an archive of interviews with artists with social arts practices!
ONGOING: Urban Layers INTERACTIVE INSTALLATION
Interactively charting who, what, and where, on the wall of the space itself!
4:00pm: Open Discussion: documenting, proposing, and theorizing social practiced, engaged processes, and performance art. COME AND TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU DO and HOW YOU TALK ABOUT IT and WHY YOU TALK ABOUT IT LIKE THAT.
5:00: Gelsey Bell performs First Aid Kit, a participatory and indeterminate composition using that little red or blue box with the cross on it, and what’s inside it.
6:00: Christina de Roos and Thomas Bell (Spread Art) Bushwick duo, individual artists, gallerists, curators, and more show their current work-in-progress and discuss their practice.
7:30: Aliza Simons leads a workshop/performance/happening with some little boxes, also known as radios, which allow sounds to be broadcast in at least a one-block radius.
8:00: Nate Hill presents Race Warriors: “Answer ten easy questions to uncover your racial prejudices, and play your own personalized race war video game,” a project of Racist Incorporated. play online game here.
8:30: Angela Washko will explain how her practice evolved from a very traditional studio painting practice to a massively interdisciplinary practice with a distinct focus in community organizing, and her participation in collectives and combines.
9:00: Anna Jane McIntyre all last weekend we had story cards for people to fill out (and boy are there a lot of them! Some quite crude), now Anna will perform them over skype from her studio in Montreal, Canada.
10:00pm: Hector Canonge Three words: perform/play/game. Hector is a master of participatory performance art, cultural organization, and more.
11:00: Dave Ruder’sWhy Lie? in this incarnation, 100 scores, from the graphic to the classically notated, each has its own internal logic and can stand up to a variety of different interpretations by trained musicians or by…you (whether or not you are, in fact, a trained musician)
Artist-curators, theorist-artists, and inter-disciplinary performers who wear “many hats” and come from many different performance backgrounds come together to share their work. Live participatory performances, talks, open bar, hands-on radio broadcasting from the space, and more!
SUNDAY NOVEMBER 13: VAUDEVILLE PARK
4:00pm: Open Discussion: Politics of Aesthetics meet Practice! You are invited, you are invited, you are invited!
5:00: Carrie Dashow will discuss her practice and how it’s been performing/operating as Yesiree, the notary, at Zucotti park and throughout Occupy Wall Street.
5:30: Valerie Kuehne, Dream Zoo, an improvisational music ensemble will perform! Valerie may also be queried about her curation, community-building, and more.
6:00: Alison Fleminger from the Performance Project @ University Settlement on her residency program for artists working in and with communities, on arts in education, on devising theatre and dance, and on after-school programs and her Play Tank ensemble.
6:30: Douglas Paulson discusses Parfyme, Action Club and his many other projects in relation to ideas of participation, performance, collaboration, the role of the “audience”, etc.
7:00:Urban Layers is an experimental collaborative platform for urban writing, mapping and media. Its goal is to foster creative combinations of old and new media techniques for describing and understanding cities including tours, essays, photography, maps and video. See this work in action during the conference, hear the artists discuss past, present, and future Urban Layering!
How do artists work in a public sphere? How do artists become political agents, and how can creative work, cultural organization, and social sculpture operate socio-politically? What does ‘responsibility of form’ mean to us now? What are the political concerns of “avant-garde” theories and forms? Diverse artistic practices, from notarization of public statements during Occupy Wall Street through co-creative urban mapping, through conceptualized musical improvisation are juxtaposed, discussed, experienced, and documented.
26 Bushwick Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(Graham stop on the L train – Walk two blocks East on Graham Avenue and turn right onto Bushwick Ave.)
Grace Exhibition Space
Brooklyn, NY 11206
(Flushing Avenue Stop on J-Z Trains – Walk 3 blocks East on Broadway)
For more information, e-mail Esther Neff at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you do not have a day job, go do business on a holiday and check out Gelsey Bell, Brian McCorkle, Paul Pinto, Dave Ruder & Aliza Simons‘ plans for you tomorrow, Tuesday June 7th, 2011 starting at 11AM.
They (and you too, if you like) will be performing/paying homage to PERFECT LIVES at the Bank, the Church, the Bar, the Backyard, and so on, as needed for Robert Ashley’s seven 30-minute made-for-television opera “tapes.”
Times and locations here: Perfect Lives Brooklyn.
This post is written by one Midwesterner who is very very excited about it.
(title quote from Art, performance, media: 31 interviews By Nicholas Zurbrugg)