Musiche Visibili (Dreamscapes)
April issue with Isabel Lewis, DeForrest Brown Jr. and C. Spencer Yeh
Track 2 125th Street Harlem to Tarrytown, Hudson Line Mixtape
The Hudson Line Mixtape was created to accompany the train journey on the Hudson Line from Grand Central Station in New York City to Beacon, New York. It forms the bridge between the cityscape and the landscape, two kinds of sites across which my work Occasions and Other Occurrences unfolded in the summer of 2016. On blazing hot Friday nights in June and July the piece began at Dia:Chelsea in the former marble-cutting factory, with large garage doors opened up to the street. The work continued along the riverside of Long Dock Park in Beacon where electronic music and dancers were intertwined with driftwood, the gentle splashing of water along the shore, the sounds of insects and the trembling of tree branches. Track 2 accompanies the portion of the trip with the clearest transition from urban to rural, from the edges of Harlem to the village of Tarrytown and the duration of the track is the travel time between these two stations.
The Hudson Line Mixtape comprises electronic music made to be experienced with one’s peripheral attention. At once ambient and rhythmic, the tracks sample, layer, distort, loop, and morph together fragments from a broad range of musical material—from medieval chamber music to Juicy J chopped and screwed then smoothed over and reorganized like a mutating body writhing and swaying. The self-released mixtape in which each track is a recording of a single performance of the mixing of accumulated sonic material also features the sound of my own voice masked and transformed by digital effects as well as the field recordings that include the crunch of the train conductors’ hole punches as they check tickets. On this track can be heard a sample of Petey Pablo’s defiant and angry voice barely pushing through other layers of sounds only to recede and then drift in again. There is also the harp from Lana Del Rey’s “Video Games” played in reverse and looped. The hope was to live score the train journey as though it were a cinematic experience, to gently draw the visitors’ attention to the beauty of the train ride itself and to heighten the hypnotic effect of the body being jostled rhythmically as the cabins move along the tracks. This is best listened to through headphones while in transit.
Isabel Lewis (b. 1981, Dominican Republic) lives and works in Berlin. She is trained in literary criticism, dance and philosophy and her work takes on many different formats: from lecture-performances and workshops to listening sessions, parties (Bodysnatch), gardens, and what she calls “hosted occasions.” She has created works around open-source technology and dance improvisation, social dances as cultural storage systems, collaborative choreographic formats, future bodily techniques and rapping as embodied speech acts. Her live art works have been presented in contexts of contemporary art, music, dance, and theater, at Kunsthalle Zürich (2020), Sharjah Biennial (2019), Roskilde Festival (2019), Berliner Festspiele-Gropius Bau (2018), Tate Modern (2017), Steirischer Herbst (2017), Dia Art Foundation (2016), Ming Contemporary Art Museum Shanghai (2016), and Tanz Im August (2015) among others.
DeForrest Brown Jr.
A bitter but beautiful struggle
36’ 36″Cinematography and editing by Ting Ding 丁汀
Techno artist and theorist DeForrest Brown, Jr. (aka Speaker Music) presents A bitter but beautiful struggle – a four-part short film with cinematography and editing by his partner Ting Ding 丁汀. Originally premiered at Somerset House in London and released as a limited cassette via PTP (fka Purple Tape Pedigree), A bitter but beautiful struggle draws upon the themes explored in his 2020 album Black Nationalist Sonic Weaponry, created in honor of his hometown of Birmingham, AL and its legacy within the Black Civil Rights Movement.
DeForrest Brown, Jr. (b.1990) is an Ex-American theorist, journalist, and curator. He produces digital audio and extended media as Speaker Music and is a representative of the Make Techno Black Again campaign. In June 2020, he released the album Black Nationalist Sonic Weaponry on Planet Mu, and Primary Information will publish his first book Assembling a Black Counter Culture in 2021.
C. Spencer Yeh
WORLD OF MUSIC
21’11’’, color, sound (sample Reel for the 5th floor)
WORLD OF MUSIC is a work I started in 2014 that imagines a music video television channel from an alternate reality. In process, I basically re-edits and joins music videos with selected “sound–alike” versions of the original videos’ accompanying songs. “Sound–alike” recordings have been a longstanding shadowy part of the popular music industry for decades. Unlike what we know of as “artistically” interpretive “cover” versions, sound-alikes are fabricated as deliberate sonic wax figurines, produced anonymously and endlessly repackaged and sold under a variety of arbitrary guises through major digital music marketplaces. My own investment and enthusiasm in digging into sound-alikes encompasses other longtime interests such as the paratextual aspects of music consumption, an interest and practice with voice, transcendent autodidactic music making, and importantly, personal listening pleasure. Given the purportedly non-creative commercially driven fleeting nature of sound-alikes, when small cracks inevitably develop in the concrete, within those spaces the anomalous and otherworldly can be found. And that, to me, has only personally been found by, for now the only way I can phrase it, giving respect and devoting some actual time within both sourced materials in these juxtapositions.
WORLD OF MUSIC has typically been presented as a series of selected, sequenced, and assembled “broadcasts,” perpetually modular, drawing from a growing pool of music videos (60+ to date). In response to this invitation and prompt and given the timing and all, it felt right to assemble a fixed demonstrative “example reel.” When NYC suddenly locked down back in March 2020, there was a sudden surge of manic and lucid feeling in the studio, and one of the curious channelings of this energy was returning to this old project with a renewed vigor. In reflecting back on that time while writing this text, I realized that I had found a very personal therapeutic comfort and fulfillment in being back within this WORLD OF MUSIC.
C. Spencer Yeh (b.1975) lives and works in Queens, New York. He is recognized for his interdisciplinary activities as an artist, improviser, and composer, as well as for his music project Burning Star Core. Exhibitions and presentations of work and performance include “Shocking Asia” Empty Gallery HK, “Two Workaround Works Around Calder” Whitney Museum NYC, “Modern Mondays” and David Tudor’s “Forest Speech” MoMA NYC, “Sound Horizon” Walker Art Center Minneapolis MN, “Tarek Atoui: Organ Within” Kurimanzutto and Guggenheim NYC, “The World Is Sound” Rubin Museum NYC, “Mei-Jia & Ting-Ting & Chih-fu & Sin-Ji” MOCA CLE OH, “Closer to the Edge” Singapore and “Crossing Over” KL Malaysia,”The Moon Represents My Heart: Music Memory and Belonging” Museum of Chinese in America NYC, and “Inner Ear Vision: Sound As Medium” Bemis Center Omaha NE.
Yeh was a 2019 recipient of the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists award. Yeh is a contributing editor to BOMB magazine and Triple Canopy, and has been a long time programmer and trailer editor for the microcinema Spectacle Theater in Brooklyn NYC. His video works are distributed by Electronic Arts Intermix. The RCA Mark II, a project on vinyl record, was published by Primary Information in 2017.
Musiche Visibili (Dreamscapes)
The inability to remain still is one of the fundamental characteristics of sound. By its very nature, the sound structure experiences a constant movement in which dynamic and elastic forms and accents aggregate. Music goes far beyond itself and its most obvious recognizability, displacing all possible definitions of genre and structure. “Musiche Visibili” – visible music – takes its title from a 1977 work by Walter Marchetti, an Italian artist and composer known for his work related to the intersection of visual art, performance and Avant Gard music. And the aim of this project, conceived for the 5th floor of the Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève, is to create a series of presentations, alternating video and sound with pure musical contributions. This intersection of moments aims to reconfigure two fundamental aspects of the work of the invited artists: performativity as a visual guideline and the possible redefinition of an aesthetic for music. “When I listen to what we commonly call music, I have the feeling that someone is talking to me, talking to me about their feelings, their ideas, their relationships…”. Cage’s vision, represented by this thought of his, takes the form that “Visible Music” was seeking: the articulation of the concept of sensitive and visible music in its pure state; sound that enhances its contradictory action by playing with the unconscious, with its demons, its visions. Good listening, good vision. – Gigiotto Del Vecchio