SparkFestival Reflections

Most simply put, I would associate my experience at the SparkFestival as I would to my whole experience to sound art in general--new, unknowing, explorative, and challenging to my preconceptions. I had a group of friends in Brainerd who often experimented with sound art and circuit bending, but it always struck me, above all, as very unpleasant to the ear. So my experience broke down those preconceptions as well.

I attended a few performances during SparkFestival. I saw three performances on Thurs. after class, which included Bryce Beverlin II / Interface, Jazari, and Coppice (Noé Cuéllar & Joseph Kramer). The first perfomance (which was either perfomer who was not Jazari) was more circuit-bending type sound art. I remember feeling very relaxed and intrigued by the pieces from which the sounds were coming--this may be due to its waves of soft airy whooshes coming from some sort of amplified wind box. This was complimented nicely by the subtle twinklings of feedback by his counterpart. There were also some pipes and whistles or additional windy wisps, that were used by the two men. All together it had a very ethereal effect on me due to all these light headed sounds of swoops and swells.

The second performance was a two part movement with a single performer for each movement. I remember being forced to think of an east Asian setting during the first movement due to his use of many low pitched symbols and bells. My ear recollects (accurately or not) those noises as being associated with that area and culture. The second movement initially struck me as very repulsive. The man was touching his face, sticking his hands into and or around his mouth, showing his teeth, and projecting very strange and gargley/spitty sounds from his mouth--this all while shaking and moving very ecstatically. I remember thinking only vaguely of some strange ritual where the participant is overcome with a possessive entity causing them to act very "unnatural and inhuman". He then began to wiggle, seemingly, random objects around upon a mat. This was interrupted by extremely uncomfortable sounds of dull, sheet metal scraping violently upon cement. I couldn't help but think this was only quite annoying and strange. My better mind wanted to associate some deeper meaning to it all, but my eyes and ears have been preconditioned to label it all as, "some guy shaking some things around on the floor".

I stopped by the Love Power building late that night, as well, just to see what was going down. I knew there was things happening till 2am. I believe his name was Alex who was making some beats and sounds on stage that night accompanied by the staple psychedelic ambiance projected onto a white sheet. I don't really remember feeling moved, really, or taken back by his performance as it was all quite familiar. Also every one in the room was standing or sitting upon the sidelines and not "getting down" as the space and music and setting, seemingly, was designed for.

Then on Friday night I attended the Vultures' performance and popped in next door at the Love Power afterward to check out the show down there. Vultures were actually quite provoking and interesting. There was a "prepared" guitar (i.e. sticks and what not jammed in the strings) that played ambient and smooth drawn out notes and feedback. A women was playing an electrical stand up--maybe like a cello. Also there was a bicycle tipped-up and fashioned to make percussive sounds in the spokes. there was another man who had 3 boxes that he moved electrical things upon (feedback?) and another in the corner who seemed to be upon a mixer/drum pad/looper thingy. I don't know these hardwares AT ALL, as you can obviously tell. what is important is that I also brought some friends who have had no other exposure to anything such as 'sound art' so they were very taken back. I remember being very affected by their out-of-place emotions and was either outwardly over-interested or like-wise shocked (among simple ear-perking interest). The sounds however, did effect me profoundly. I remember the rattling upon the spokes had a very eerie feel as did the ambiance and explosive spurttings of other feedbacks and what not. The room was very dungey, cluttered, and small.