artist-composer, performer & writer

Art Theory, films, Performances, writing

Opera with Objects

While assembling documentation of Alvin Lucier’s work for my sound art class at TCD, I found this ICE performance on Vimeo of Alvin Lucier’s Opera with Objects. There are a number of performances of Opera online. But it seems to me that this one engages something of the work that others miss.

For a start, it’s performed outdoors. The sight of floating ice, to the right of the frame, fossilizes the algid ‘snap’ of the chopsticks. The visuality of the performance renders the sound osseous and frail. This is canny because it necessitates some form of resonant amplification for the beating. The mise en scène validates the purpose of those objects. Cold, bone-like sound needs plenty of volume.

But what interests me even more about this video is the particulate nature of the group’s performance: 1; 1+1; 1 + (1+1) etc. Lucier’s piece is a meditation on physical contiguity in the production of sound: the possibility of one vibrating object exploiting the resonant properties of another. The quality of that amplification is a function of the object’s nature. Opera with Objects is also an ensemble piece. At 03:10, there are eleven players. One enters, two rise, then three, four, five. Some players move around. Two kneel, to connect with certain objects. Another player enters. So what we see is a series of configurations of individuals. With each new grouping, a new configuration (i.e. connection: network, even) is formed. And so we get these parallel situations: chopsticks + object;  (player + chopstick) * M + same * N. The connection inheres through the performance situation as it does through the contiguity of objects.

I’d like the camera to come off grip and get right in with the performers – to step across the line. It seems to me the wide shot (and occasional close-up) are rather passive, treating the action as if it were a concert on stage, in a hall. I wonder what it would be like to get the reverse shot – to get right in amongst the performers, break up the ensemble and bring out those configurations.

Even so, this is amongst the best of the Opera performances/documentation I’ve come across so far.

films, Performances

Rainbow Book Screening | Birdboxes

On June 11, 2007, I’ll be making an installation and giving a live performance for OCM (Oxford Contemporary Music) at The Jam Factory, Oxford.

The installation will be AN AUDIENCE WITH THE TREES (2005). Using six, musical birdboxes, this work transforms Vivaldi’s Four Seasons into birdsong, via my violin concerto of 2003, Vivaldi’s Menagerie.

I’ll also be performing my 1999 pianowork, THE RAINBOW BOOK, for which I’ve recently made a series of short videoworks. Each video is designed to be controlled by the live performance of each piece of music. Overall, the work addresses the physiological effect of colour on the human eye, according to Goethe’s Theory of Colours.

For event information on the OCM website, click here.

films, Performances

The Bravery of Women : Canada, April 2007

Information about Monica Germino’s forthcoming performances of THE BRAVERY OF WOMEN in Canada next month can be found here.

The work is a transdisciplinary paean to musical performance that compares the act of practising the violin to the Egyptian legend of Isis & Osiris. As Isis reunited the dismembered parts of Osiris’s body, so the violinist seeks to reassemble fragmented phrases from a sonata by JS Bach. THE BRAVERY OF WOMEN comprises sung and spoken text, video, choreographed movement, electronics and live violin. It is the latest in my series of works that explores that nature of musical experience using both musical and non-musical media.

THE BRAVERY OF WOMEN features as part of Monica’s new solo programme, PLUGGED & UNPLUGGED, for violin, electric violin & voice with soundtrack, effects, samples, film, movement and installations. The programme includes pieces written especially for Monica, such as Louis Andriessen ‘s XENIA, Heiner Goebbels’s BAGATELLEN FUR VIOLINE as well as a version of Michael Gordon’s INDUSTRY for adapted violin and Philip Glass’s STRUNG OUT.