audio art Tag

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.

 

NO HAY BANDA Montréal

Erin Gee – solo vocal performance November 28th 2016 – Sala Rossa, Montreal with Vinko Globocar

As part of NO HAY BANDA programming series with the support of Suoni Per Il Popolo.

More information:

NO HAY BANDA is a series of live musical events that aims to provide new outlets for artistic innovation and expression. Presented with the support of Suoni Per Il Popolo, programmes are designed to broaden and challenge the musical experience of the audience, showcasing the work of the young avant-garde that takes its roots in pop/rock, DIY culture and post-war experimentation.

NO HAY BANDA est une série de concerts qui incite à remettre en question les conceptions conventionnelles de la musique et de la performance, dans le but de créer de nouvelles voies pour l’expression artistique. Présentés avec l’appui de Suoni Per Il Popolo, nos programmes mettent en vedette des propositions de la jeune avant-garde, qui prend ses racines dans le pop/rock, la culture DIY et la musique expérimentale d’après-guerre.

La programmation de NO HAY BANDA cherche à promouvoir l’esthétique d’une nouvelle avant-garde internationale afin de produire des spectacles de ce genre pour la première fois à Montréal. Cette proposition est tirée des réseaux avec lesquels les membres ont été impliqués lors d’activités récentes en Europe et en Amérique.

NO HAY BANDA est un collectif d’artistes formé par trois interprètes de musique nouvelle basés à Montréal : Geneviève Liboiron, Noam Bierstone et Daniel Áñez. À travers notre expérience en création musicale et artistique, nous cherchons à créer un espace de concerts ouvert à un public diversifié où les expériences sonores priment.

NO HAY BANDA promeut la musique née d’une génération qui ne voit plus de barrières entre les différents genres musicaux, le théâtre, l’art performatif et la culture contemporaine. Chaque concert présentera un acte principal de 45-60 minutes avec un contenu international important, précédé par un acte d’ouverture de 20-30 minutes mettant en vedette des jeunes artistes sonores canadiens.

NO HAY BANDA veut devenir une institution dans la programmation musicale montréalaise et canadienne et l’option la plus avant-gardiste en ville. Le collectif est à la musique ce que la galerie d’art indépendante est aux arts visuels; la différence entre le musée et la galerie est toujours claire : le musée expose les œuvres historiques tandis que la galerie propose la créativité et l’innovation. Ainsi, nous oserons être la galerie en musique de l’innovation internationale et de l’avant-garde radicale à Montréal.

Song of Seven: Biochoir

In this song, young performers contemplate an emotional time in their lives, and recount this memory as an improvised vocal solo.The choir is instructed to enter into a meditative state during these emotional solos, deeply listening to the tale and empathizing with the soloist, using imagination to recreate the scene.  Choir members are attached to a musical instrument I call the BioSynth a small synthesizer that sonifies heartbeats and sweat release for each individual member to pre-programmed tones. Sweat release, often acknowledged as a robust measure of emotional engagement, is signaled by overtones that appear and reappear over a drone; meanwhile the heartbeats of each chorister are sounded according to blood flow, providing a light percussion.

The musical score combines traditional music notation with vocal games and rhythms determined not necessarily by the conductor or score but by beatings of the heart and bursts of sweat. Discreet flashing lights on the synthesizer boxes in front of the choristers allowed the singers to discern the rhythms and patterns of their heart and sweat glands, which therefore permits compositions to incorporate the rhythms of the body into the final score as markers that trigger sonic events.

This choral composition was workshopped over a one-week residency at the LIVELab (McMaster University) with selected members of the Hamilton Children’s Choir, and facilitated by Hamilton Artists Inc. with support from the Canada Council for the Arts.

For more information

Hamilton Children's Choir
Daniel Àñez (Spanish biography)
Hamilton Artists' Inc
LIVElab
Canada Council for the Arts

Piano accompanist: Daniel Àñez
Hardware design: Martin Peach
Software design:Nicholas Asch, Patrice Coulombe, Erin Gee

Monthly Music Hackathon NYC

 Check out this article for “I Care If You Listen” with interviews with the presenters! (including me)
https://www.icareifyoulisten.com/2016/04/gender-music/

Gender in Music Hackathon

Explore the role of gender in music.

Saturday, April 30th, 2016
Noon to 10:00 PM

45 W 18th St, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10011

Free
All are welcome
RSVP

Schedule

11:30 AM – Doors open
12:00 PM – Talks and performances:
– Feminist activist & MIA drummer Kiran Gandhi
NYU Women in Computing on adjective analysis & gender portrayals in lyrics
Banghra Basement’s DJ Rheka
– New media artist D’hana Perry
– Biotechnological sound artist Erin Gee
1:00 PM – Hacking Starts, optional brainstorming & collaborator-finding session
8:00 PM – Performances and demonstrations of hacks

Artist talk and Catalogue Launch for Vocales Digitales

I will be giving an artist talk on Saturday April 23rd at Hamilton Artists’ Inc. to support my solo exhibition Vocales Digitales.  The event will also feature a catalogue launch, featuring a bilingual publication that includes essays by philosopher Eric Lewis and curator Maiko Tanaka.

The next day on Sunday April 24th I will be giving an artists’ workshop that introduces the Teensy microcontroller through basic electronics and biosensors.

 

BodyRadio

(2011)

Four-part score for electronic voices in organic bodies debuted as part of New Adventure in Sound Art’s Deep Wireless Festival of Transmission Art, Toronto, Canada

Body Radio is a composition for four performers that reverses the interiority/exteriority of a radio, which is a human voice in an electronic body. Small wireless microphones are placed directly in the mouths of the performers, who are each facing a guitar amplifier. The performers control the sensitivity of both the amplifier’s receiving function and the microphone’s sending function in accordance with the score. The final sounds are a combination of inner mouth noises, breathing, and varying pitches feedback controlled by the opening and closing of mouths.

Erin Gee - Voice of Echo

Essay by G. Douglas Barrett: Echoes of Narcissus, Erin Gee’s “Voice of Echo”

By G. Douglas Barrett, 2011

My mind is bent to tell of bodies changed into new forms.

—Metamorphosis, Ovid

Presented as the centrepiece of Erin Gee’s exhibition at Contrary Projects is the artist’s work for single channel video, Voice of Echo: Song of Love for Technological Eyes (2011). A viewer is confronted with a portrait view of the artist staring directly into the camera while solemnly donning a white latex head garment, a cap which covers her head and appears to extend to cover some of her lower neck. Sternly, though in a thoroughly relaxed manner, Gee begins to pull small objects from her mouth—miniature circular mirrors varying somewhat in size—and attaches each of them to her face. Eventually the artist’s face becomes nearly entirely covered with the small reflective surfaces, each resting at a different angle and reflecting presumably light from inside the artist’s studio. Occasionally bits of her own body are visible in the mirrors—a glimpse of the underside of a finger, for instance, as she finishes affixing one of the circular surfaces. At other times it’s unclear exactly what is reflected in the tiny mirrors: Do we see more revealed of the artist’s studio, a view of the video camera, or, if only for a split-second, perhaps a momentary fragment of my own image as viewer?

While nominally invoking Echo, the musical nymph found in Greek mythology who looses all ability to speak except for the imitation of the speech of others, Gee’s video clearly refers to both main characters in Ovid’s tale of Echo and Narcissus. Voice of Echo: Song of Love for Technological Eyes: Gee’s title contains at least a couple of non-sequiturs: the voice of a mute character; a song which is silent intended only for the eyes. The small mirrors we see in the video perform a role that is both reflective and yet foreclosing. Foreclosing in the way in which the performer’s face is gradually masked, converted from an object of the viewer’s gaze to an object which reflects it’s own state of technological mediation.

Further still, the mirrors point to video art’s alleged “narcissist” history, its mode of hermetic “self-absorption,” which “enclose[s] the body between two machines, camera and monitor.”(1) In discussing seminal video works of the 1970s such as Vito Acconci’s 1971 work Centers—in which the artist stands with his forefinger outstretched pointing to the center of the video frame—art historian Rosalind Krauss comes one breath away from positing narcissism as “the condition of the entire genre” of video art.(2) Of course Krauss was writing this in 1970 when the widespread use of video technologies gave to physicality the novel dimension of teleportive mobility. When bodies gained the ability to move freely through space and time, art seemed to have shifted its focus from the referential category of the icon to the phenomenal—the “here-and-now,” present quality of the body. Dan Graham’s Performer/Audience/Mirror (1975) and John Cage’s famous silent piece 4’33” (1952) are two examples of this aesthetic presence. The latter presents the “bare essentials” of a (musical) performance scenario, while the former involves the reflexive component of Graham’s phenomenological descriptions of his own gesticulations and the observations of spectators as he stares at their reflections. Perhaps a more direct counterpart to Graham’s work is Joan Jonas’s Mirror Piece of 1970 in which the artist used body-sized mirrors to convert individual audience members into momentary spectacle, thereby turning the performer/audience relation on its head. These works stand as historical “presence works” par excellence.

The issue now, however, is that not only have the categories of icon and phenomenal presence been shown as doubly embedded—the icon contains its own presence, while the phenomenal functions iconically—but what it means to simply be present in contemporary life has been radically overturned through technology. In our digitally-mediated daily lives we are consistently both “here” and somewhere else. (I’m writing this essay while I check my Facebook, write an email, and think about doing laundry.) Presence is divided and multiple.

Over the course of Gee’s eighteen-minute performance the artist gradually “becomes” the icon of Narcissus and returns full circle to bare presence, all contained within the technological frame of video. Voice of Echo synthesizes the characters of Echo and Narcissus into a single body and enjoins the iconic with the physical. Gee’s video presences the body as technologized while marking it as signifying and gendered. Noting that Freud himself had located a majority of his examples of narcissism in women, writing in her classic essay titled after Narcissus’s feminine counterpart, philosopher Gayatri Spivak had intended to “give woman” (back) to Echo.(3) By virtue of a kind of synaesthetic remapping, Gee enacts a series of givings: icon to presence, sound to sight, Echo to Narcissus, image to music.

While in Gee’s work sound and vision are counterposed and crossed, music and image are presented as interconnected. In Voice of Echo, music works as an intermedial site, a nexus of interconnected media within which sound is present only as absent referent. (As we have learned from Cage, music does not need sound as such.) Sharing the medium of video, music and image are framed together as a single entity. As a mute song, Gee’s wordless performance refers to not only Echo’s inability to speak, but perhaps also to the historical expulsion of language from music, the modernist conception of music as absolute and autonomous. Not only does Gee’s video re-inscribe language into music, it argues for “the condition of the entire genre” of music (Echo) to include Narcissus (video) as well. Or perhaps Voice of Echo points to the always already entwinedness of the two media.

In addition to presenting Voice of Echo as a single-channel video installation, Gee presents (rough) sonifications—digital equivalents of synaesthesia—of the video track of Voice of Echo. Gallery visitors are provided with iPods containing several digital sound files, each track a unique drone texture, a set of “buzzy” soundscapes which generally change subtly, though occasionally jar the listener’s attention with a burst of noise. Also included on the iPods is “album art” created by further manipulating and translating the audio tracks into images that appear on each small iPod screen.

Gee’s use of the iPods is interesting. She explains a wish to “emphasize the [visitors’] technological bodies,” bodies forming a core of the socio-cultural exchange occurring within the context of an art exhibition. While the iPods by no means completely disrupt the normal ebb and flow of schmoozing, the digital playback devices remind us of the less than subtle solipsistic character of the contemporary musical experience: to each her own musical world. Think of a crowded subway. Each passenger sonically insulated from the crowd, isolated within her own “media universe.” The lowercase pronoun—Does the “i” in iPod stand for (mass) Individualism?—echoes Narcissus’s own turn away from the collective musical experience and, as though caught in a feedback loop, his endless fixation upon his own reflected image.

(1) Wagner, Anne M. “Performance, Video, and the Rhetoric of Presence.” (p. 68). October, Vol. 91. (Winter (2000), pp. 59-80.

(2) Krauss, Rosalind. “Video: The Aesthetics of Narcissism.” (p. 50). October, Vol. 1. (Spring, 1976), pp. 50-64.

(3)Spivak, Gayatri C. “Echo.” (p. 17). New Literary History, Vol. 24, No. 1, Culture and Everyday Life. (Winter, 1993), pp. 17-43.

G DOUGLAS BARRETT is an artist, composer, and writer. Drawing equally from the contemporary gallery arts and the performing arts traditions, he has exhibited, performed, and published critical writings throughout North America and Europe. He has presented work at the Incubator Arts Project (New York), Diapason Gallery (New York), REDCAT (Los Angeles), the Wulf (Los Angeles), Theater Perdu (Amsterdam), Universität der Künste Berlin, Phoebe Zeitgeist Teatro (Milan), Galerie Mark Müller (Zürich), Université de Paris-Est Marne-La-Vallée, the Sonic Arts Research Centre (Belfast, UK), and Neutral Ground (Regina). In 2009 Barrett received a DAAD grant to Berlin. He has obtained advanced degrees from California Institute of the Arts (MFA, 2006) and a Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo. His writings include essays published in the interdisciplinary literary journal Mosaic (University of Manitoba) and Contemporary Music Review, along with “A Text Score Manifesto,” in Word Events: Perspectives on Verbal Notation (John Lely and James Saunders, Eds., New York: Continuum, 2011).