Tempo: Conversational Performance Series

This past Thursday was the first in a series of performances happening in the Aronson Gallery as part of the DisFluency Exhibition curated by George Bixby, Jeanna Hamilton and myself.

The performance series, entitled Tempo: Conversational, is in collaboration with The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. Inspired by Christian Marclay’s Zoom Zoom as well as John Coltrane’s Psalm, I composed three text-based compositions that comprise Tempo: Conversational. The performers interpret the text as musical notes, enacting the conversation through the sound of their instruments. Each piece makes use of a different system of organization and technique such as William Burroughs’s cut-up methods and traditional board games that provide choices and differing levels of reward and feedback.

Performed by Ian Christensen, Ryan Beckley, and Zach Campbell, who are all students at the The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, the three pieces explore the affordance of words as a form of expression and use the sound of language as the basis for musical composition. For more information on the music as well as copies of the compositions, you can see a full description here.

The next two performances in the series will be on 12/8 and 12/15 at 6pm in the Aronson Gallery. Below is video and images from the 12/1 performance:

DisFluency Exhibition

For the past six months, I have been working with fellow MFA DT alums George Bixby and Jeanna Hamilton on the exhibition, DisFluency. Featuring works by Ricardo Dominguez, Brendan Fernandes, Nina Katchadourian, Erica Duffy-Voss, and Krzysztof Wodiczko, the aim of the exhibition is to examine universal aspects of inhibited communication by investigating synergies between works created in the areas of art and design. Additionally, we’re attempting to foster transdisciplinary participation across therapeutic, technological and pedagogical fields to investigate issues that affect fluent communication.

Within the clinical realm, ‘dysfluency’ is a diagnostic term for a speech disorder. By its very nature, the addition of the prefix ‘dys’ to fluency, negates the word and connotes dysfunction. Emerging from a common interest in how the act of stuttering affects the lives of stutterers, DisFluency examines how each of us is affected by compromised communication, and questions whether divergence from the fluent norm is always a ‘dys’.

The show will be on view at Aronson Gallery until December 19. There are a number of related events, so stop by when you have a chance.

Here are a few photos from the opening courtesy of Michelle Calabro.

ACM Creativity & Cognition 2011

This past weekend, I made the trip down to Atlanta for the ACM Creativity and Cognition conference at the High Museum in Atlanta, GA, and it was a great experience. My project, RhythmSynthesis, was an accepted artwork, and I was also selected to speak on the Creativity and Technology: Control/Improvisation panel.

Along with a couple hundred computer scientists, engineers, psychologists, designers, and artists from around the world as well as a number of my fellow Parsons MFA DT graduates, including Haeyoung Kim, Julynn Benedetti, Ramsey Nasser, and Matt Ruby, the topic of creativity and technology was fully explored, from improvisation in sound to the analysis of dynamic narrative and creativity systems.

Moderated by Bryan Pardo, I shared the Creativity and Technology panel with Haeyoung, Sang Won Lee, and Brian Magerko. After we each gave presentations on our work, one of the interesting questions we received was about different approaches to improvisation. Both Brian and I referenced John Coltrane as an example of someone who used the spectrum of improvisation (not one, single approach but many methods from free to rehearsed/controlled improv).

I was also part of the Art Performances in the High Museum Auditorium, which was the first opportunity for me to use my instrument in a large audience context. Not since The Mugs have I felt that great performing. The crowd reaction was joyous, and it felt so amazing to perform again. After finishing my performance, I invited audience members to come up on stage to collaborate on their own piece. I had expected it to be difficult to coax the audience up on stage, but a number of people from throughout the audience rushed the stage. I unfortunately don’t have a full recording of the performance, but I do have clips here:

Both Atau Tanaka and Sara Diamond gave inspiring keynote talks. Tanaka discussed the role of creative interfaces in sound and composition, while Diamond reviewed data visualization and the changing role of the artist/designer. Three projects that Tanaka discussed that show his amazing creative range were his Net_Dérive, Global String, and Chip Tune Marching Band. Seeing that work encourages me to continue my own investigations.

The Georgia Tech students and faculty as well as many other outside parties (such as Fox Harrell) put on an amazing conference, and I look forward to submitting work and attending the next one. Photos and videos are also posted at rjraffa flickr and Ramsey’s flickr.

World Maker Faire 2011

Last weekend I showed my project, RhythmSynthesis, at World Maker Faire 2011 at the New York Hall of Science.

I can say I was pleasantly surprised at how many people came out this year. For two days straight, Ivy and I must have spoken to over 500 people about the project, with another few hundred looking on. From students at engineering and design programs to children and parents of all ages, the crowd represented a massive cross-section of makers, technology enthusiasts, and people looking for something new.

I am happy to say that the project received an “Editor’s Choice” awards from the President and CEO of the New York Hall of Science. Here are a few photos that Ivy took over the weekend. You can see a full set on my Flickr page.

A special thanks to Dale Dougherty and the whole Maker Faire crew for hosting such an amazing event. I’m looking forward to next year.

Open Hardware Summit and Maker Faire

I got word from the 2011 Open Hardware Summit that I’ll be showing my Thesis project, RhythmSynthesis, during the Demo portion of the proceedings. The event will take place September 15 at the New York Hall of Science in Queens. It was a great event last year, and I’m excited about contributing to the event this year.

RhythmSynthesis will also be included in this year’s Maker Faire, which is August 17 and 18 also at the New York Hall of Science. For those who haven’t been to the event, here is a little info from the Maker Faire website:

Maker Faire brings together families and individuals to celebrate the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) mindset and showcase all kinds of incredible projects. At Maker Faire, you’ll find arts and crafts, science and engineering, food and music, fire and water but what makes this event special is that all these interesting projects and smart, creative people belong together. They are actively and openly creating a maker culture.

I had an amazing time volunteering with New Youth City, meeting all the makers, and seeing all the projects last year. Definitely looking forward to this one.