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looking down on a white stage from the theater grid

Alexa Echoes

Amanda Turner Pohan
September 28–October 2, 2020
EMPAC — Troy, NY USA

Amanda Turner Pohan is in residence at EMPAC with performer Katy Pinke to film Alexa Echoes

Alexa Echoes is a film in the mode of a chamber opera by visual artist Amanda Turner Pohan in collaboration with composer Charlie Looker and choreographer Dages Juvelier Keates. The first iteration in a series of three, Alexa Echoes recasts the relationship between cultural movements and commercial technologies through the history of women’s devocalization and disembodiment. It begins with mythical Greek figures, such as Echo, and leads up to Amazon’s smart speaker and digital voice-based assistant for Alexa, also named Echo. Produced after travel restrictions and social distancing measures were implemented at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the film combines footage shot in the newly empty spaces of EMPAC with recordings from the collaborators’ homes and remote studios.

In this film, EMPAC is concurrently the site of production, setting, and subject that surrounds three manifestations of the voice: candid, staged, and disembodied. As in much of Pohan’s interdisciplinary oeuvre, the film looks at the body’s complicated relationship to technology as it relates to autonomy, animation, and the melismatic sound of breath. Using choreographed movement, spoken word, and song set to an orchestral score, Alexa Echoes abstracts the gendered decisions that go into framing new media technologies, gesturing to the corporate entities which choreographed them.

This residency is organized by Muheb Esmat, Marisa Espe, Bergen Hendrickson, Ciena Leshley, Ana Lopes, Liz Lorenz, Brooke Nicolas, Elizaveta Shneyderman, and Rachel Vera Steinberg from Bard College’s Center for Curatorial Studies class of 2020, working with EMPAC curator Vic Brooks.

Main Image: Production still from Amanda Turner Pohan's Alexa Echoes. EMPAC Theater, October 2020. Photo: Sarah Griffith/EMPAC. 

Presented By

EMPAC Fall 2020

Season

Production Credits

Amanda Turner Pohan’s Alexa Echoes is curated by Muheb Esmat, Marisa Espe, Bergen Hendrickson, Ciena Leshley, Ana Lopes, Liz Lorenz, Brooke Nicolas, Elizaveta Shneyderman, and Rachel Vera Steinberg, from Bard College’s Center for Curatorial Studies class of 2020.

Supported by the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College.

 

Funding

EMPAC Fall 2020 presentations, residencies, and commissions are made possible by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts; New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts; and Vlaamse Gemeenschap, department of Culture, Youth, and Media. Additional project support by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; New Music USA; CCS Bard; Creative Capital; the Graham Foundation; and the National Culture and Arts Foundation, Taiwan.