Before the Music Starts
Susanna Bolle + Benjamin Nelson • Keith Fullerton Whitman • Miki Kaneda • Lawrence Kumpf • Mark Lewis • Robert AA Lowe • Justin Luke • Pauline Oliveros • Jessica Rylan • Frank Smigiel • Robert Snowden
Almost a decade after EMPAC presented Wow and Flutter—featuring music, performances, and artists of the 1960s multidisciplinary San Francisco Tape Music Center—this two-day colloquium gathered varied perspectives on the current trend of cross-disciplinary artistic practice from those who produce and present visual arts performance and music. The colloquium explored the disconnect between visual and performance artists working with sound, and composers/musicians working with electronics. Despite collaboration, there remains a slippage of presentation and theorization between the disciplines. Currently, it seems that the modular synthesizer could be a bridge between the two. Through the process of obsessive planning, the tactility of performance, and the creation of dense soundfields, the analog mod synth is experiencing a resurgence among visual artists and musicians. Questions explored included: How do such old technological concepts have relevance in a digital world? Is knob twisting influencing a new generation of visual artists with its ease of entry, and entrancing composers and musicians with its physical controls? Will that one module that makes everything truly awesome ever be found? Does the experience of a satisfying click create a different sonic outcome than the reassuring LCD flash onscreen? Or is it really all the same to a lay audience? Is anyone even paying attention?
The Jaffe Colloquia is a series of exchanges that brings together small groups of artists, curators, and theorists to informally discuss ideas centered around the conditions of, and perspectives on, time-based arts. These events take the form of closed group discussion; however, sessions will be recorded and subsequently made available online.