Friday, April 30, 2010

Rupert: Episode 11 of "Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains"

Posted By on Fri, Apr 30, 2010 at 9:54 AM

It’s night 27 on the island and the Survivors are restless. Russell is pissed at Parvati for not telling him about the two immunity idols she gave away, and Rupert is angry at his fellow Heroes for not heeding his warnings about Russell. The players are plagued by mistrust, confusion and paranoia.

Our hero, Rupert, appears to be safe, but he knows things are often not what they seem in the game of Survivor. Later in the show, he advises some of his tribemates to bring whatever few belongings/souvenirs they want to keep to every Tribal Council, just in case they’re voted off. Rupert explains that on his first Survivor (Pearl Islands 2003), he was voted off quite unexpectedly, and left the island with only the clothes on his back.

(For those not familiar with Rupert’s Survivor history, his abrupt departure from the Pearl Islands made many viewers unhappy. The Internet was ablaze with “We love Rupert” and “Rupert got screwed” messages. Back then, I remember sitting with Rupert and his wife while they opened fan mail, much of which contained cash or checks from people who thought he should have won. It was this unprecedented fan popularity that brought Rupert back for the very next season, the All-Stars show.)

The first challenge randomly splits the tribe into three teams, with Rupert, Russell and Sandra thrown together. After all the torturous, physically grueling challenges so far, this challenge is — bar shuffleboard!? I’m guessing Rupert has played this type of game more than anyone on the island, and it showed, but the winners were Colby, Amanda and Danielle. The prize was a night at the former home of author Robert Louis Stevenson (“Treasure Island”). Once there, viewers were treated to a girl-fight as the two women struggled over a written clue found by Danielle, snatched by Amanda, then returned to Danielle after Colby intervened.

At Tribal Council, Amanda is voted off. But here’s the most interesting thing to me: as she prepares to have her torch extinguished, Amanda says to host Jeff Probst, “Okay Jeff, I know you’ve been waiting forever to do this.” On the jury, Courtney mocks him, whispering to Coach after Probst explains his next step, “You do that.” And on the very first episode, Sugar flipped Jeff the bird after completing a challenge. Based on these incidents, and on the blog entries I’ve read that he himself has written, I’ve come to the following conclusion: Jeff Probst is a giant douche-bag.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Pamela Z closes Intermedia Fest

Posted By on Mon, Apr 26, 2010 at 1:32 PM

Pamela Z was meant to open the Intermedia Festival of Telematic Arts, a showcase of all manner of electronic, acoustic, electro-acoustic and telematic music and art presented by IUPUI, and in particular IUPUI's new media workshop, the Donald Tavel Arts Technology Research Center.

But she got held up by a volcano.

Luckily, the skies cleared long enough for her to make the trans-Atlantic flight, just not in time for her Friday gig. So the headliner for the Fest went last, performing an hour-long representative survey of her work before a small but appreciative crowd made up of the die-hards that weren't worn out by the tenth concert of the weekend.

A San Francisco-based media artist who has been around since the days of transistors, Pamela Z works primarily with voice (her own, manipulated with digital delay and other processors), video (some pre-taped, some live) and gestures (triggering various sounds by waving her hands across MIDI controllers). And she's employed her talents in concert with plenty of big names in the new music world: Bang on a Can All-Stars, Vijay Iyer, Charles Amirkhanian.

And when Pamela Z promised to deliver a sampling from her work, she wasn't kidding: the concert included both traditionally-structured, verse-chorus songs and more digressive, multi-tracked vocal explorations, pre-prepared works of musical theater and the new media artist's equivalent of a throw-off joke song. A full-evening concert would probably end up being altogether entrancing — and I wonder how her upcoming intermedia work "Baggage Allowance," from which she excerpted two pieces, will turn out. But this show had occasional striking moments, enhanced, of course, by her striking appearance, a thick head of dreadlocks topped by hairsticks leaning every which way.

Highlights included "joke" songs — one piece saw Pamela Z breaking out an imaginary typewriter to write an old friend, making typing and carriage return sounds by manipulating a MIDI controller, theremin-style, with her hands, closing her letter with "pamelaz@typewriter.com"; another for which she read a couple pages of songs starting with "You" from a 1986 edition of the Phonolog Report, a database of pop songs would have been found at any record store worth its salt in a pre-Internet age.

Pamela Z, a bit agitated
  • Daniel Axler
  • Pamela Z, a bit agitated

Not to mention those excerpts from "Baggage Allowance," two songs about travel which struck a balance between the ordinary (itineraries, directions) and the metaphysical (her lines "What I put inside of it; what I'll get back out of it" taking on new meaning with each repetition).

And her more obviously improvised works were equally thought-provoking: the live video piece that incorporated a simple "webcam" to create a collage of Pamela Z faces on perpetual loop; an audio piece devoted to birds during which she sped up her whippoorwill call until it sounded like an actual bird call.

Laurie Anderson and Meredith Monk are obvious touchstones for Pamela Z's work, and while there was great diversity in how she employed her instrument, she chiefly works with manipulated human voice, often looping a single vocal line throughout an entire song as the backbeat or bass, using wordless vocals as often as narratives in English (or French), generally sticking around the now-hip world of digital delay — which, as she mentioned, she's been working with since one had to use huge stacks of equipment to accomplish looping effects, instead of the laptop computers which have now become de rigeur, and which now offer more than enough power and options for an artist working with live electronics.

But what made Pamela Z the most compelling performer during the Fest was the emotional diversity of her work. She moved from overwhelming confusion to simplicity, building up layers of vocals and noise, raising her hands in frustration, spattering out wordless, frustrated vocals before — with a swipe of her hand — returning to silence or a heartbeat-like repeated vocal, into a territory of sacred repetition, of more relaxed experimentation with her voice.

And then there's the humor — several of her pieces were quite funny, whether her reading of song titles ("You tell it like it is, George Jones") or her implicit answer to detractors ("I would like to think that art in and of itself is enough of a statement," she said during one song). It was her graceful attention to the core elements of storytelling that was lacking from many of the pieces presented during the Intermedia Festival — and again, which impels me to seek out more of her long-form work, when all her ideas and moods might find amplification within the structure of a full-scale theatrical work.

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  • Daniel Axler

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IUPUI premieres student film

Posted By on Mon, Apr 26, 2010 at 4:00 AM

Don't worry - the IUPUI short film that is about to premiere on campus is not your typical student film. The science fiction short, Temporary Separation was made with all the care and attention of a Hollywood feature project.

The semester-long class project came together under the direction of instructor C. Thomas Lewis. Lewis, a film and photography industry veteran whose credits include production of DVD bonus material for the Harry Potter film series, directed the course like a real film production. "The idea was to give students hands-on experience in the filmmaking process, from development through post-production," said Lewis. "To really do that effectively, I wanted to simulate those scenarios student filmmakers are likely to encounter out in the industry."

These scenarios included a "pitch", the best of which was decided by the class. That idea was then turned into a screenplay, which went through five revisions. Students experienced the process of casting, scouting locations, filming and editing.

Created by 21 students, the final product is a 20-minute sci-fi mystery shot in high definition and finished on Blu-Ray with 5.1 sound and special features, including behind-the-scenes footage. It will screen at 5 p.m. on April 27 in "theater" 152 of IUPUI's Informatics and Communications Technology Complex - a 200-seat auditorium with theater-quality projection and sound. The IUPUI and Indianapolis community are invited. There is no cost to attend or ticket required.

So come on down and support this local film. You never know - these students may become the next Spielbergs and Scorseses.

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

A quick peek into the Stutz Artists Open House

Posted By on Sun, Apr 25, 2010 at 11:03 PM

Attending the 2010 Stutz Artists Open House was a little bit like being in a beehive.

That also contained a carnival.

In the middle of a labyrinth. (No signs of David Bowie, though.)

I attended the open house on Friday, April 23, the first night of the two-day event, and I think I'm still hyped up from the energy contained in the building — that of the artists as well as the people who came to see their work.

The staff and, one assumes, volunteers who helped put on the event were efficient. My friend and I were whisked through a line of eager attendees with a smile and a welcome. I felt like we were at Disneyland when we stepped onto a freight elevator with a small crowd to travel to the fourth floor of the large building. I should've taken the opportunity to run up to the roof and steal the flag that said ARTISTS, a bright-yellow invitation to the show, but I only just thought of it. I'll, uh, be right back.

I nearly walked over to the folks who were offering face painting, but was distracted by musicians throughout the hallways who kept things lively as we moved from studio to studio. I especially liked the work of painters Taylor Anne Smith and Phillip Lynam, whose work you can view at www.abstractmodern.com and www.philliplynam.com, respectively.

For the past view days, I've found myself gravitating towards art that includes a circular theme — Susan Hodgin's spheres, Taylor Anne Smith's wineglass-inspired creations, and the oblong ovals in Phillip Lynam's paintings. The Stutz was smart to have open a first-floor gallery with samples of several artists' work; the show was so grand (in a wonderful but exhausting way) that I plan to attend both days in 2011. It's just a terrible shame that there's so much damn talent in this city.

Learn more about the Stutz's artists at www.stutzartists.com.

Stutz artists, 2009
  • Stutz artists, 2009

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Cairns and charisma: Speaking with Susan Hodgin

Posted By on Sun, Apr 25, 2010 at 10:43 PM

I’m a little bit in love with oil painter Susan Hodgin.

Okay, I’m in love with what she puts on canvas.

Hodgin is an abstract expressionist whose paintings are lush in their choice of rich colors. Spheres play an important role in her landscape-based work. She’s been studying maps and topography and examines the world from an aerial viewpoint, watching a map leave behind its strict lines until her eye rises above the clouds and the world becomes a sphere. Hodgin’s perspective is breathtaking.

Ocular, mixed media on canvas, 24 x 24, 2010
  • "Ocular," mixed media on canvas, 24" x 24", 2010

A student in the low-residency MFA program at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Hodgin works with circular shapes and lines, pours paint, and sees where it goes. The program has allowed her to “unravel the tight ball in [her] work.” Working with oils, which hold color longer and are more mobile than quick-drying acrylics, has given her freedom.

Employed as a full-time artist since 2003, Hodgin is thankful to study in a scenic locale that historically became popular during the abstract expressionist period following World War II. Hodgin will graduate with a small class of mostly women with diverse ages. She’s enjoyed being exposed to her classmates’ life experience: “Everyone isn’t walking the same walk or talking the same talk.”

Inclination, mixed media on canvas, 40 x 40, 2010
  • "Inclination," mixed media on canvas, 40" x 40", 2010

On May 7, the Harrison Center for the Arts (1505 North Delaware Street) — where Hodgin also maintains studio space — will open its doors for an open house from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Soon, a series of stretched canvases that make up Hodgin’s 20-foot painting, “Gale,” will be installed in the Harrison’s underground. Her work will also be on display at the Indianapolis Art Center during the Broad Ripple Art Fair and she will have a few large pieces on display at Café Patachou downtown (225 West Washington Street) in June and July.

For more information, visit www.susanhodgin.com or her Facebook page, enjoy a slideshow of her work, “Cairns,” and email her at shodgin@mac.com for purchase information.

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Speedballs and freewriting: Testing out the user-friendliness of local coffeehouses

Posted By on Sun, Apr 25, 2010 at 6:12 PM

I decided to check out some local coffeehouses to test their writer-friendly capabilities. Though I am now laptop-dependent, I spent years writing in a notebook (quelle horreur!) at the Abbey on Mass Ave. Though the Abbey is long gone and sorely missed, other great caffeine caves exist citywide.

A sign on the cash register at MoJoe
  • A sign on the cash register at Mo'Joe

Despite its three-year existence, I only recently discovered Mo’Joe Coffeehouse (222 W. Michigan Street). The space boasts brick-red-, pumpkin-, and dijon-colored walls and a great nighttime view of downtown. Mo’Joe offers free wireless (it takes seconds to set up an account) and their menu includes sandwiches, beer, and wine (triple score!). Original paintings and students in varied stages of studying can be found throughout. Wordsmiffs, an event featuring poetry and live music, begins at 7:00 p.m. on the first Sunday of each month. Call 317-250-6597 to confirm details. Visit www.mojoecoffeehouse.com or call (317) 822-MOJO.

Henry’s on East (627 N. East Street) offers four-person tables, wrought-iron furniture on their patio, free wireless (you need only ask the friendly wait staff for the password), and gorgeous saffron walls. Their oft-changing independent art has included photographs, paintings, and dioramas. Try the California Turkey sandwich with a side of Asian slaw (delicious but onion-y; bring gum). Sadly, Henry’s doesn’t offer poetry events, but it’s still a nice place to sit and write. Tell them I sent you; it might just net you a blank stare but tell them anyway. Visit www.henrysoneast.com and be sure to call (317) 951-0335 for their spring hours.

Continue reading »

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More from Intermedia: Concerts 6 through 9

Posted By on Sun, Apr 25, 2010 at 3:19 PM

This year's Intermedia Festival will wrap up in just about an hour with Pamela Z's 4:30 p.m. concert here at the Central Library, postponed from a scheduled Friday night slot because those tricky Icelandic hidden people (gnomes and the like) chose to work their magic on a pesky little volcano.

But she's in the building — charioted here up by Fest staff after her cross-Atlantic set down in Indy last night. So before I head downstairs for that, I'll plunk out a whirlwind report on the last four concerts on this sweat-eroded library keyboard (I think all those one-plus million hours of computing time by library users last year was spent on this one console, and by the sweatiest people in town).

Concert 9:

Laptop ensembles! Or maybe not with the exclamation point, depending on your tolerance and imagination — tolerance for less familiar and not-so-dynamic performance groups, imagination for what an all-electronic ensemble might be once its players reach a certain level of recognizable virtuosity and once a canon is established.

Two groups performed: IUPUI's Computer Ensemble for Research (CEnsR) and Virginia Tech's Linux Laptop Orchestra (L2Ork). John Gibson's "Wind Farm" saw the IUPUI group on MacBooks, each creating the sound of a spinning carnival wheel (or Wheel of Fortune) by sliding a finger across the touchpad, with Gibson (a IU-Bloomington) professor somehow conducting/mixing it all from a laptop in front of the group. Not a difficult listen, but the least interesting performance in terms of choreography. Then the members CEnsR each took up what looked like an I-Pod touch for "Like Weeds from an Ant," pushing buttons and swinging their instruments under the demonstrative, involved direction of director Jordan Munson, who indicated the duration and attack for each note played by the five-person ensemble. The sounds weren't entirely compelling, but it's impressive to see the group enough in control of their instruments/remotes to rest together, strike a note together and generally stay on the same page.

As for Tech, I wasn't particularly impressed by the multimedia piece "Iteration13" which involved one visual artist scrawling on wax paper with an amplified pencil, a dancer with amplified tap shoes and a videographer who captured the motion of both, which was then converted into tones. The piece may have been compromised by technical issues, though.

Tech's Linux ensemble — which broke free from the Fest's dependence on Mac-manufactured equipment — somewhat resembled a handbell choir, triggering some notes with a downward swing of their joysticks, although plenty other types of movements also seemed to trigger noises, including button-pressing and gentle inclinations of those joysticks to the left or right. "Half-life," a spoken narrative about Chernoyl with accompanying soundtrack by the ensemble, achieved a kind of clumsy portentousness with its reflections on death and Revelations, so it was "Citadel" that impressed more, with soprano vocals in a language I didn't recognize by Chelsea Crane and a spare, somewhat ethereal and light score by the ensemble.

Concert 8:

Last night's performance by R. Luke DuBois and Bora Yoon offered, like the best of these inter-media shows, too much to digest at once.

Bora Yoon, performing on grand piano, prayer bowls, turntable, computers, violin and chime sticks, put together a carefully-looped performance that brought to mind, among others, Andrew Bird and Bjork, as she layered her mostly wordless vocals over a spare, somewhat cold, but contemplative and even sacred soundscape.

R. Luke Dubois, performing on video camera and laptop, mediated that performance, treating the raw footage of Yoon with various filters and techniques. He opened by capturing Yoon in sepia tone, stopping on a shaky frame before that image ghosted into another, evoking Bill Morrison's "Decasia." At another point, he focused his camera on the turntable, putting together abstract animations that recalled the primitive, dancing shapes of Oskar Fischinger.

Concert 7:

Matthew Burtner's "Auksalaq (Six Quintets and Iceprints)," was an appropriate piece to perform on Earth Day. Its thematic concern is, to quote the program notes, to explore "global climate change from a northern geographic and cultural perspective." And, for once, the composer gave a brief talk ahead of his piece to contextualize his work; for the unitiated, I think it would be difficult to walk into any one of these concerts and orient oneself quick enough to enjoy the proceedings. So we learned from Burtner that we would see two parts of his five part piece, which would eventually take on vocals and a full orchestra.

These two parts were performed on percussion and piano — the percussion on the stage of the Clowes Auditorium, where the audience sat, and the pianist sitting at IUPUI, where her remote performance was broadcast via live video feed. While there were good reasons to exile the pianist from the concert hall — this is a telematic festival, after all, and Burtner noted his piece was concerned with how we, down in North America, don't have an understanding of the impact of climate change on the far North — it must be said that these live video hookups often seem to present the most technical problems for event organizers. In this case, the video lagged a second or two behind the audio, which wasn't at a high enough fidelity to hear the pianist's articulation, and occasionally offered a few artifacts.

But enough griping. The piece itself was a high-spirited, dynamic work for percussion which saw five musicians moving between instrument groupings carefully arranged on a packed stage. The performers performed on, in succession:

1) water, slapping palms percussively against the water's surface, pouring hot water over a block of ice to faciliating cracking, shaking jars filled to simulate footsteps on snow

2) tree branches, wood blocks, marimba, vibes, kettle drum

3) rocks (by knocking a selection of rocks together), sand (running hands through a bowl filled with sand, swiping the surface), sandpaper on drywall

4) drum, piano, cymbal, bass drum, in what seemed the most post-rock of the quintets

5) vocalizations, through a whole variety of articulations including shushing, popping, etc.

6) bongos, bass drum

Concert 6:

The only concert I saw at IUPUI was packed, and appropriately so, because the nier-norf ensemble gave one of the most intriguing, carefully-crafted concerts I saw during the Festival. Like "Auksalaq," nier-norf's "Straitjacket" featured five percussionists (with one performer taking a conducting role) performing across several groupings of instruments, with the director conducting the performance or, trickster-like, placing restraints on the performers or generally getting in their way. The conductor of "Auksalaq" threw tinsel at the performers and their instruments at one point, took their rocks away at another. Nier-norf's conductor more directly shaped his performer's actions, leading by example through each of the four "restraint systems," as they were called in the program notes.

Restraint system one: each performer matched the conductor beat by beat on stripped-down drum sets. Two: each performed on miscellaneous percussion, trying to match the conductor's rather obscure system of signals, which resembled that of a third-base coach giving signs to the batter. Three: all four played the same vibraphone, simultaneously striking a ten-plus note chord which the conductor then selectively muted, note by note, by pressing on a given bar. Four: all five sat in front of sketch pads, and, taking up noxiously odorific black markers, matched the conductor shape for shape, line by line.

Mark Applebaum, the composer of "Straitjacket," gestured towards the French literary group Oulipo for inspiration, noting that the formal techiques he employed in his piece conceptually resembled those invented by that group.

But like your finest more-than-you-can-eat-buffet, there was more after nier-norf's performance: an ambient soundscape constructed from metallic sounds recorded, for the most part, on bicycle (Keith Kothman's "Bent Metal); a piece for solo bass drummer that explored a variety of textures by working across the rim of the drum, dropping a chain across the drum head and generally employing different non-traditional methods (Peter Swendsen's "Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is," the title taken from Wallace Steven's "The Snow Man"); and a piece for dancer and motion capture technology that saw a female dancer triggering sounds and animation via several infrared lights attached to her body, and glowing red in the darkness, creating a particularly spooky effect (Hunter McCurry's "Excursion into Mixed Reality").

That's it. Any mistakes might be attributed to my haste to finish up before Pamela Z takes the stage. Plenty more info and program notes at http://music.iupui.edu/intermedia/. I'll be back later with a wrapup.

Review: IMA's Evening with Crispin Glover

Posted By on Sun, Apr 25, 2010 at 4:00 AM

Crispin_Glover-1-Beowulf.jpg

The crowded theater sweetly smelled of perfume, leather and excitement. It was a diverse crowd, packed with pretty girls, sharp-dressed men and punk rockers. Theremin music (you know, the kind from '50s B-horror movies) crept into the background and the Naptown Roller Girls rolled up and down the aisles. The Toby Theater was humming with anticipation Saturday night for actor/filmmaker Crispin Glover to take the stage.

The lights went down and Glover suddenly appeared, as if by magic, under a red spotlight. He greeted the audience with a boisterous 'hello' and proceeded to read from his eight illustrated novels. With titles such as Rat Catching for the Use of Public Schools, the books evoked retro instruction manuals from the '50s as well as a strong sense of nostalgia for that time period. The audience giddily reacted to his strangeness. Remember, we're talking about the man who showed up on the David Letterman show in platform shoes and a wig claiming to be a karate master named Rubin.

Things got weirder when Glover showed his film, It is Fine! Everything is Fine. In a nutshell, the film follows a man with severe cerebral palsy as he has graphic sex with women and strangles them to death. You couldn't help but giggle nervously as this strange film unfolded on the screen. Fortunately, that was Glover's intension. He wants the audience to be uncomfortable and wonder if what they are watching is right. For him, the appeal of film is its ability to provoke people and raise questions. And laughter, he says, is "psychological elimination" of the strange and unusual.

Glover's thoughts on the movie were more interesting than the film itself. Also refreshing was his upfront honesty about his acting career. He openly admitted that he acted in big-budget Hollywood films (Charlie's Angels, Alice in Wonderland) in order to finance independent film projects he found more interesting. He did not trash these films, but express gratitude for how they've helped his career. He explained that he then depends on places like the IMA to fund and promote his independent directorial projects.

Interest in independent film is alive and kicking here thanks, in large part, to the IMA. Also alive and kicking are interesting nights with fascinating people like Crispin Glover. I've said it once, but I'll say it again - the IMA's Toby Theater is a magical place, be sure to check it out.

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Dispatch from the Intermedia Festival

Posted By on Sat, Apr 24, 2010 at 3:24 PM

OK, so I'm late to the party: the Intermedia Festival opened last night while I was hobnobbing with journalists more professional than myself, and I slept in through this morning's concerts.

So we start from Concert 5 — though I'll hasten to mention that Rita Kohn will soon file her review of Dance Kaleidoscope's performance last night, which I'm told was impressively athletic and somehow incorporated calligraphy. And, of course, there's plenty more to see: consult the schedule for the remainder of events, including tomorrow afternoon's closing concert featuring Pamela Z.

Fuse Ensemble, in collaboration with Workingman Collective, performed a six-movement piece, "Usina Mekanica," which was surprisingly mirthless despite the prominent incorporation of wind-up toys, clips from "The Wizard of Oz" and animation for flying pigs. The highlight was the closing movement, "Music for Improvised Violin and Kinetic Table," which entered "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" territory when that kinetic table kind of came to life, each table leg independently wobbling and the tabletop listing to one side and then the other in a mechanical feat that I can't quite explain at this point — particularly because I can't find either documentation or video for illustration.

And before getting to that showstopper, the ensemble (cello, piano, violin, flute, clarinet, vibes and percussion) performed a concerto for wind-up toys (filmed by multiple cameras, choreographed by a jumpsuited leader) which evoked Errol Morris's "Fast, Cheap and Out of Control" both in fast-paced editing and vaguely ominous minimalist score, as well as a duet for toy pianos that was a bit charming and a tedious flash-animated video that depicted a pig flying across the pages of a Victorian dictionary while prelates equipped with umbrella and megaphone rained down the page like, well, in the video for "It's Raining Men."

Not everything Fuse put on was successful, to my mind, but I was vaguely entranced by that table, which was conducted/controlled by that jumpsuited leader with just the right mix of surprise and consternation — as if the table was truly out of control.

I was less entranced by the two pieces by Double-Edge Dance, perhaps because I find choppy and glitchy vocalizations a la Laurie Anderson to be a bit hokey and overdone, and also because I found I couldn't get beyond the overwrought program notes for their second piece, "Strung," which noted that "there is no traditional undelying musical phraseology that the dance is chained to" but rather that the piece was predicated on "meaning states." But "Laden," their first feature, featured rather interesting use of flouncy, transparent rags, not to mention the body bag from which the solo performer emerged, cocoon-style, after arriving on stage. The sum impression the performer gave was that of a bloody street urchin, perhaps going through a truly difficult childbirth as she removed the bundle of red cloth from her lap. Emotionally impressive at least, though I was underwhelmed by the score.

And between those appearances by Double-Edge Dance, Christopher Burns brought out his laptop for a piece on the cutting edge of new music in its incorporation of motion capture, animation and sound/music. With motion capture, electronic music returns to its roots while moving into the future — the artist controls pitch and volume with his hands, like a thereminist, while also having the additional capacity to trigger visuals and integrate with a computer supplying its own inputs, or becoming autonomous, HAL-style, and creating its own content within a certain set of perameters.

What does all that mean performance-wise? Burns stood before his laptop — and the Mac's built-in camera, I think — and moved his hands slightly to trigger various animations, little boxes reminiscent of Tetris blocks, pseudo-fireworks probably seen on a screen saver or two, solid blocks of various hue that filled up the sceen at a rate of about 30 blocks width and 20 blocks height. A light in front of him projected his shadow on the video screen behind him, so that we could see that, when his hand moved a bit, the animations matched his movement on the screen.

Neither the music nor the animations were particularly astounding, but I find it exciting to watch this interaction between man and machine — and if any of what I'm writing about sounds unfamiliar, I'd be behoove you to make a trip downtown this weekend to check out the rest of the proceedings, which will include both experiments in new music and dance like those put on by the Fuse Ensemble and Double-Edge Dance, as well as technical explorations like those by Burns.

A quick note on the installations in the Central Library, which were altogether less interesting than the concert itself, partly because its tough to stand too long in the atrium while watching a video, and also because of what looks like laziness on the part of one exhibitor. The Floating Lab Collective wandered around New York City in oversized, Yes Men-style outlandish suits, encouraging people to yell at the economy through the giant megaphones propped on their shoulders. The Collective's installation at the Central Library encourages people to give the economy a call to yell and stuff — so that their rants might be included in some kind of sound collage they'll work up eventually.

And I don't have details on the other exhibits at this moment, but a piece that integrates a video snapshot of each visitor, close-circuit camera style, into a piece of Spanish Catholic art seemed ultra-kitschy, while one collective only encouraged visitors to download an iPhone app via hand-written signs taped to an empty table. Pity those without an iPhone — and also kind of a lame way to encourage people to try out their program. Other video art seemed compelling but not particularly appropriate for a space in which one can't sit down to watch, and the one video that showed a living room in the middle of a busy NYC street seemed a little tired, given that Mayor Bloomberg has already plopped a patio in the middle of Times Square.

I'm off to see if I can get into IUPUI's virtual reality "cave," which I'm told is running some worthwhile exhibits, as well as check out the next show.

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Rupert: Episode 10 of "Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains"

Posted By on Fri, Apr 23, 2010 at 9:39 AM

This was the most intense episode of the season — and, the best Rupert episode. Day 25 begins with the merge of the two tribes, now called the Yin Yang Tribe (for good and evil, get it?) The former Heroes foolishly buy into Russell’s lies about he and Parvati simultaneously playing their immunity idols at the last tribal council. Rupert believes him, too — until his pal from Pearl Islands, Sandra, tips him off to Russell’s infamy.

At this point, it seems like Rupert is the only one of the Heroes who knows Russell is trying to punk everyone on the island. This is Rupert’s shining hour. Which is why the next part will be all Rupert quotes from this episode. It helps if you read them using a growly Rupert voice in your mind.

“Russell is playing us… this is where the game gets crazy.”
“I cannot wait to start voting some of these Villains out of our camp.”
(Of Russell) “He’s on the Villains’ side for a reason.”
“It’s smellin’ fishy. I don’t trust Russell.”
(After giving his all on the grueling pole challenge) “Oh my God!”
“I think Parvati has an immunity idol… (I’ll) see if I can oust Russell for the weasel that he is.”

At this point, the show gets crazier than ever. Russell, in his first strategic blunder, gives his immunity idol to Parvati — who now has two. Then, at tribal council, Parvati — who had been playing this game very well — gives away BOTH of her immunity idols, one to Jerri and one to Sandra. Jeff Probst can’t believe it, Rupert can’t believe it, and no one in TV-land can believe it either. This has to be the wackiest tribal council in Survivor history. Rupert, now sure that Russell is a scoundrel, turns to one of the Heroes and whispers, “I knew we shouldn’t have trusted that (bleeped by CBS).”

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Arts bucks in Carmel

Posted By on Thu, Apr 22, 2010 at 2:12 PM

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Taking a cotton to A Conversation (With Poetry)

Posted By on Wed, Apr 21, 2010 at 12:58 AM

The Jewish Community Center (JCC) is a welcome venue for artists and writers. I honestly thought it was just a gym. I used to swim at the JCC with my parents, never noting the art-lined hallways or pausing to consider that the locale might be a place to foster, you know, community. See also: Dim, remarkably.

Rusty Moe and Bonnie Maurer
  • Moe and Maurer

During a break from last night’s reading featuring Rusty Moe and Bonnie Maurer, I spoke with Lisa Freeman, the center’s Arts and Education Program Coordinator. The reading was a precursor to this fall’s Ann Katz Festival of Books, whose well-known authors have included NBC correspondent Martin Fletcher and Wall Street Journal columnist Jeffrey Zaslow.

The evening began with light cello and clarinet music from Liz Brooks and Dianna Davis, two members of the improvisational group Thin Air. Maurer then stepped in front of the podium and read “As It Is Said,” an elegy to an uncle that will soon appear in Lilith Magazine, an independent, Jewish, and feminist publication. Many of her selections came from the newly-published Reconfigured, including the lovely and evocative “Invitation,” in which Maurer is “drunk on the orange rose begonia / filling up with moonlight.”

Rusty Moe read, in part, from his memoir, Bright Wide Stone. He spoke to memories of his grandmother and “watching the sun set at her hem” and laughed while telling the crowd about watching the Lawrence Welk show, during which he learned to jitterbug. In “A Poem for My Father Whom I Never Knew,” Moe acknowledges that his father “died of a beaten-up heart” but read with such warmth that the listener couldn’t help but smile.

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