Author: Erin Gee

William Basinski @ Pop Montreal

September 15th, 2017 – 17h POP Box (3450 St Urbain, Montreal)

In the context of this year’s Pop Montreal Festival Symposium, I have been invited to engage in a public conversation with avant-garde composer William Basinski .

Click here for more information on the Pop Symposium, taking place September 14-17, 2017.

Creator of the widely acclaimed album set Disintegration Loops (2002), Basinski is an intuitive composer of ambient electronic music who works work magnetic tape loops to access dreamlike acoustic spaces.  He once described himself as investing incredible amounts of meditative energy towards improvisation and locating the “timeless, amniotic bubble” of sound one could float within. A bubble is an apt metaphor for these sounds: expansive, swirling voids that physically emanate from thin slips of magnetic tape.

Among other topics, I’m looking forward to this opportunity to speak with Basinski about the physicality of sound, both in the sound producing bodies (the magnetic devices he charms into circles and feedback-song) and the receptive media bodies (us leaky humans).

Take a listen below to Basinski’s soundcloud account in order to experience his processes in tape loop and delay systems, found sounds, feedback, and shortwave radio static.

Algorithms that Matter Residency

I’ve been selected to be a featured artist in residence at the Institut für Elektronische Musik und Akustik (IEM) in Graz, Austria, participating in the Algorithms that Matter Residency.  This residency will take place in April-May 2018, and even though it’s a year away I want to share the incredible news!

From the ALMAT website:

“Algorithms that Matter is an artistic research project by Hanns Holger Rutz and David Pirrò.  It aims at understanding the increasing influence of algorithms, translating them into aesthetic positions in sound, building a new perspective on algorithm agency by subjecting the realm of algorithms to experimentation.

Almat is grounded in the idea that algorithms are agents that co-determine the boundary between an artistic machine or “apparatus” and the object produced through this machine. The central question is: How do algorithmic processes emerge and structure the praxis of experimental computer music? The hypothesis is that these processes, instead of being separated from the composer—as generators and transformers of infinite shapes—exhibit a specific force that retroacts and changes the very praxis of composition and performance.”

 

Exploring these algorithms as unique electronic voices will extend my reach into exciting new territories, I am excited to play at the IEM and make unique new emotional sounds that combine physiological markers of emotion with algorithmic agencies.

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Jury member for Equitable Bank EDAA

I am pleased to have been selected to join the jury of the 2017 competition for the Equitable Bank Emerging Digital Artist Award.  Equitable Bank’s Emerging Digital Artist Award celebrates early-career artists doing exemplary works in digital media, reflecting their interest in creating opportunities for digital innovation.

Award Program Description

The Emerging Digital Artists Award (EDAA) is one of the only corporately funded digital art awards in Canada, designed to foster experimentation in the work of emerging artists and build on funding opportunities currently available to those working in digital media.

The Equitable Bank Collection

Equitable Bank began collecting art in the early 90s and currently holds over 150 artworks in its collection. Our collection focuses on modern and contemporary Canadian art, with a particular interest in modern painting. Our contemporary collection also includes video animation—an area of continued growth, concurrently with the growth of the EDAA.

For more information,

http://edaa.equitablebank.ca/

MediaLive Festival 2017

Happy to announce that I will be presenting a new version of my “BioSynth” at the MediaLive festival (Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art) in May.  This year’s festival features an amazing group of artists, gathering under the theme THE VOID.  For this upcoming performance I will be moving towards a more sophisticated sonic treatment of the physiological signals, and returning to the ideas of “choir” and “vocality” of emotion that I began with my earlier work “Song of Seven: BioChoir” with the Hamilton Children’s Choir.

Canadian Art Magazine

I’m featured in the January 2017 edition of Canadian Art Magazine! I’m particularly honored to be a part of this issue, entitled Futures. Including essays by the amazing Kai Cheng Thom, indigenous futures, an article on Xenofeminism, as well as a feature on “Forward Thinking” Canadian artists, I feel like this publication really reflects my attention as an artist equally engaged with science fiction as well as political realities of the moment.

Click here to read the full feature written by Rea McNamara, which includes 10 profiles of amazing Canadian artists working across media.

canadian_art2017

VR Commission Update

Here’s a sneak peek at some of the art developed last summer in a residency at the Technoculture Art and Games lab at Concordia University with lead 3D artist Alex Lee, AI designer Sofian Audry, art assistant Marlon Kroll, and research assistant Roxanne Baril-Bédard. Among holographic popstars who may or may not have their own consciousness to begin with, the project includes rhetorical analysis of post 9/11 counterterrorist video games, reality television, startup culture, and self-help manuals for improving emotional state.

I am implementing the Biosensor control system this Winter and plan on working on finalizing the game’s art, music and sounds this summer for a launch towards the end of 2017 in an exhibition at Trinity Square Video in Toronto.


In the future, weapons of war possess advanced AI systems, systems that guarantee successful automated combat on behalf of soldiers wielding the technology.  The military still trains its soldiers in case of equipment failure, but at this point, fighters function more as passive operators. The terrorist threat has nothing similar to this technology in their ranks, and the effectiveness of our systems is swift and deadly.  Historically, our soldiers manning the machines have never witnessed violence or devastation at this scale: the largest threat to soldiers today defending our nation’s values is Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

To address this unfortunate state of affairs, the military developed a startup fund open to the public to resolve this issue through technological innovation.  Significant scholarships and research funding was provided for researchers interested in devoting time to creating a means towards mitigating the psychological crisis.  A risky but intriguing proof of concept was eventually presented: the creation of a revolutionary entertainment for the troops as they fought the terrorist threat.

Yowane Haku became the face of this entertainment: a mobile holographic pop star engineered specifically for psychological distraction on the battlefield.  

The world’s most talented engineers, design consultants, and pop writing teams were assembled to enshrine Haku with every aesthetic and technical element to impress not only the troops, but the world with her next-generation technology.  However, the initial test-run of this mobile holographic pop medium in combat trials was….a failure.  

On the battlefield, Haku’s perfect body glowed faintly amongst the dust and screams, bullets and explosions passing ineffectually, dance moves precise, vocalizations on point. But ultimately her pop music performance lacked resonance with the battle.  Instead of the soldiers being emboldened by this new entertainment, which was intended to distract or inspire them from their gruesome tasks, their adverse psychological symptoms…flourished.  Some of the men went mad, laughing maniacally in tune with the holographic presence smiling sweetly at them.  It was only due to the superiority of our AI weaponry and automated drone operation that the morally corrupt foreign threat, with their violent and technologically crude methods, were stopped that day. The minds of our soldiers were lost.

Months later, a young pool of startup professionals would provide another solution.  This vocal minority of engineers…though others called them crazy….had a hunch. For the hologram pop star to “work,” her systems needed access pure emotion, to link a human element with the trauma of the human soldiers.  But it was not clear who, or what, could best provide this emotional link…and what amount of embodied “disruption” this might entail…

This enthusiastically crowdfunded group of millennials completed their groundbreaking research without the strings of ethics funding or institutional control.  Human emotions and consciousness now flow direct to Haku via experimental trials in VR technology.  Haku rises again on the battlefront.

Simultaneously, a new reality television show has been borne of these first human trials. The star of this reality show could be…….you.

Could you be the next American Sweetheart?  Do you have what it takes to provide 110% Best Emotional Performance?  Join us through advanced VR technologies, Live and Direct on the battlefield, to find out if you could be fit to man the ultimate weapon of war: Our Next Holographic Idol.

This project is supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and Trinity Square Video’s AMD VR lab

BioSolo

Using the BioSynth, I improvised a set for my breath/voice and my sonified heart and sweat release at No Hay Banda in an evening that also featured the very interesting work of composer Vinko Globokar (Russia).  The improvisation is very sparing, the goal is to exploit interesting rhythmic moments between heavy breath-song and the heartbeat, all the while exploring limits of respiratory activity and seeing what effect it has on my physiology.

Photography: Wren Noble

BioSolo was first performed at No Hay Banda series in Montreal at La Sala Rossa, organized by Daniel Àñez and Noam Bierstone.

Musicworks #126 Interview

Click here to read my interview with Alex Varty.  “ERIN GEE SINGS THE BODY ELECTRONIC”

Fresh on the heels of my return from the premiere of Echo Grey in Vancouver (my newest composition for vocal quartet, feedback soloist and tape), I find I’ve received my physical copy of Musicworks, which is a triannually released publication featuring experimental sounds from across Canada.

Amidst a really massive transition phase right now, I find that teaching full time has really changed what I can do as an artist.  Pushing myself to learn entirely new skillsets in organization and pedagogical performance (sidenote: yes, everything is a performance) has left me with little time or energy to invest in building new technologies.

Music composition has been something that I can invest time into, as all I need is a few moments, a microphone, my laptop, a notepad with pencil scribbles, my imagination.

This interview with Musicworks magazine was very interesting for me, as recently my opportunities have been coming from music composition.  The whole issue is actually very interesting, with a full feature on music and sound revolution in VR spaces, as well as some features on other very energetic and productive electroacoustic artists.

Musicworks #126 is available now with a special curated cd of sounds included in the physical magazine.  On this CD you can find a track from my Voice of Echo (2011) series.

Echo Grey

Echo Grey is a composition for four voices, feedback musical instruments, and tape part (which features the sounds of a broken image file).  World premiere at Vancouver New Music with Andrea Young, Marina Hasselberg, Sharon Chohi Kim, Micaela Tobin, Michael Day, Braden Diotte, and Erin Gee in November 2016. It has also been performed at Open Space Gallery (Victoria), and Neworks (Calgary).

The mythological character Echo exists only as a shade, a reflection or bounce. Movement between words or utterance, the Echo’s mythological voice exceeds the signal itself and speaks to a deeper engagement with materiality.  In Echo Grey, I composed a series of vocal patterns that emerge directly with breath as raw material, the movement of intake and exhalation made audible through mechanistic patterns that are impossible to perform perfectly. The choir’s collective attempt at mechanistically engaging with an impossible repetition eventually negates the signal: all that is left is the lungs and vocal vibrations of the individual who gasps, cries in defeat, and whoops in ecstasy.  These human voices are simultaneously punctuated by the feedback of microphone and amplified instruments, and a tape track composed through process – a bouncing of data back and forth between visual and aural softwares that eventually results in nothing but glitched statements.  This tape track is analogous to the squealing proximity of the sender to the receiver in the scored feedback parts, which is analogous to the back and forth of the breath of the singers as they perform.  The colour grey in the work’s title is inspired by the back and forth motion of a 2HB pencil stroking endlessly across an empty pad of paper.