Several months back, Emma Sterling and I were invited by Sophie Hyde of Closer Productions in Adelaide to join a project out of Flinders Medical Centre’s Arts in Health program. The project entitled Heartsong was inspired by the experiences and thoughts of patients and their carers on the Cardiac Care Unit. Fittingly, the resulting multimedia performance was to premiere in an adjoining space, and did so last week.
The project’s video design task was almost an open brief when we were first introduced, though other elements of the performance had been roughly hewn. A text had been assembled by the project’s producer, Cheryl Pickering, constructed from patient and staff testimonials. Accomplished musicians Richard Chew (keyboards) and Ian Dixon (flugelhorn) were involved, and successfully plotted an improvised musical course which supported the text with colour and emotion. A large scale sculpture of a human heart (approximately six feet tall) was constructed by Diwani Oak, and then lit by Emma Sterling and myself, using a combination of projected and LED rope lighting. Diwani also produced several screen-printed and hand-crafted hangings which also adorned the space, and provided a canvas for the thematically connected poetry of Ian Gibbins to feature on.
Emma Sterling’s and my greater commitment though was the production and presentation of video and animated content to harmonize with Heartsong’s other elements. We called upon many of the approaches we used to produce our first documentary film ‘A Shift in Perception‘ back in 2006 and set about crafting stop-motion animations, moving textural sequences, lifting public domain found footage from The Internet Archive, and preparing them all for live delivery.
When audience members enter the Heartsong space, they are first drawn to Diwani’s light sculpture, which sits as the work’s hearth. An animated rendition of it also rotates on video screens, while another projection presents a faithful recording of a medical heart monitor read-out. When the improvised music begins, pre-recorded voices recall the words of patients and nurses alike, and lead the audience through the patient’s journey- from symptoms and hospital admittance through care and recovery. In performance, my task is to react to the text and emotions presented by Richard and Ian with improvised video, which I layer, blend and loop for the duration of the performance using Arkaos GrandVJ and a Korg NanoKontrol MIDI controller. The piece is designed to have a meditative, gentle and nurturing quality about it, and audience responses thus far have suggested we’re striking that chord.
The first performances of the work are behind us now, with only one remaining performance of our debut season remaining. On Friday, December 11th at the Royal Institution of Australia from 6-9pm, the installation will be open, with the performance occurring around 7pm. The performance runs for approximately 25 minutes, and will be followed by a panel discussion with the involved artists plus another artist also currently exhibiting at the RiAus, George Poonkin Khut.
After just emerging from the smoke cloud following our last event Lateral Movement, it’s time for us to change gears and get back into the breakbeat audio-visual zone… enter: Supermarket! We launched this project of ours (best compared to the work of Ninjatune artists Hexstatic) back in early 2008 with Fringe shows (after our 1st North American tour) and this year we’ve adjusted the format and moved the venue underground- to the basement of Big Star CD’s & Records on Rundle St, Adelaide. They’ve been a long time supporter of and beacon light for independent music in this town, and they’re situated close to the Garden of Unearthly Delights (the beating heart of the Fringe festival) so theirs was an obvious choice.
‘So what’s new with Basement Beats’ I hear you ask? Well, this time the show isn’t just about us.. it’s a celebration of fine local beatsmiths and cutting edge audio-visual presentation. Opening night tomorrow will see us team up with Amoeba Muzak, as they take us for a spin down their very special brand of minimal tech and shuffle-o-matic house music. Recently experienced as a solo act, Justin will be joined by former collaborator James on the knobs, dials and keys… and we can expect some booty shaking.
While Amoeba Muzak drop their beats, Em and I (as Supermarket) will be VJing up a storm, with prepared samples and live camera feeds from the room melting into the mix. We’ll have more screens on site than ever before (a dozen if all works out) and the space will be lit entirely by CRT glow. A projector screen at the back of the room will be the main focus, but you can expect stacks of TVs and a few glitchy screens tuned in to alien transmissions! We’re also doing our familiar a/v set as the opener for Amoeba Muzak‘s live show. Nights run from 7.30 to 9.30 pm, with fruit smoothies bicycle-blended on the spot for your refreshment.
So that’s the shape of Thursday, March 5th. Good news for latecomers is that we have two more shows, on Thursday the 12th and 19th of March. The 12th sees Amoeba Muzak stand down to allow DJ Tr!p to shine. He’ll be raising the roof with his superb chiptune breakbeats, before the 19th sees Amoeba Musak return once more with a dubbed-out set of originals.
While these names may be new to some, both Amoeba Muzak and DJ Tr!p have been rolling out beats here for over 10 years each, so it’s areal honour and pleasure to be sharing a stage with these distinguished gents over our three night season. Tickets are available on the door, but to avoid disappointment (the venue has a capacity of 40) we recommend scooting over to Fringetix and buying them there.
Things are about to kick into gear for our audio-visual breakbeat electronic music project Supermarket for 2009, starting tomorrow. Around September last year, the City of Charles Sturt council contacted us after reading an article about us on the great local music culture website musicsa.com.au . Plans were made for us to perform at the Summer in the Square season of events, taking place in the prominent beachfront location (known best for its great restaurants and watering holes).
Since we are known in Adelaide for straddling the divides between art, cinema and music we were booked for Art in the Square (which happens Feb. 15) and are responsible for setting much of the ambience on the day through our musical offerings and video mixing. You can also read about the other artists who are performing and exhibiting work on the day by reading the flyer. The video setup will be the first time we’ve used more than two screens live, as we string together a projector, and (if all goes well) five televisions at the outdoor location.
Our three ours of audio-visual bliss will be divided three ways. The first and last breackets (2-3 pm and 4-5pm) will be DJ/VJ sets, with myself on the selections, and Em working her video mixing rig. The tunes wil have a feel-good Summer tilt to them, and will cover the breakbeat spectrum from dub and funk through to dancehall, breaks, house and liquid drum n bass. I’ll give the show an international spin too, with some beats from unlikely places.
In between DJ/VJ sets we’ll deliver our Supermarket performance. The show will be very similar to the one we showcased last August during the South Australian Living Artists festival, after returning from our 2nd North American tour. For a little teaser/memory jogger, I’ve embedded our piece Optech 1 (featuring the track Casionassis) below. The show will mix a live video feed with prepared video and audio samples, and a master a/v track. The install should be pretty neat, and we’ve enlisted Harriet, a creative young artist to shoot some video on the day so we can share it with our far away friends.
Now if you’re reading this and wondering why we didn’t publicize the show earlier, there’s rhyme and reason to it. The main focus of our Supermarket energy is this year’s Fringe run of shows: Basement Beats. In many ways we’re breaking the drought of shows over the past few months with Art on the Square, and also road-testing it on a truly general, beach-going public. Drop in to Henley Square if you’re up for some lazy beachside vibes tomorrow, or drop back here to the blog next week for the rinse-out!