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Spark

I really enjoy looking at the installation pieces by the sparks artists, but I didn't attend the musical type performances. I am more interested in pieces that cause people to interact with the piece or other people. I did find a few of the performances interesting as long as they are more technology based and manipulated objects rather than just playing around on some midi gear or being a vj or dj. Hopefully sparks festival will be able to continue to grow/expand over the next few years. Maybe is would bring more of the non art students around if they got one headline type artist or maybe have a gallery or event where current experimental media art students could have a chance to show their works.

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.

Spark Thoughts

I attended the concert on Saturday where nine to ten different performances occurred over two hours. Unfortunately I can't give specific names of who played what because the schedule was altered; people were performing at different times, there was also an addition, and I forgot a pen. Regardless, my favorite performance was of a girl playing an electric baritone saxophone.

The room went dark and for ten seconds there was nothing but silence. Waiting, we finally hear someone walking on stage and out of the peripheral of my eyes I can see faint ghost like figure approach the center of the stage. Strangely it looks flat. While struggling to make out what we were seeing, a faint but deep metallic moan swelled and two lights peak across the floor from both sides of the stage creating a thin line of light stretching across the stage. In the center the performer is illuminated. She was dressed in white with a saxophone 4 feet long at her side. Every time she plays a note, lights on the ground swell with the sounds. It's as if the instrument is producing some new form of matter that embodies two different spectrums of vibrations. The sounds are exemplified by silence where five to ten second pauses occurred between each new swell of otherworldly noise the saxophone produces.

Part of the performance that left the event even more interesting was not being able to tell if was looking at an actual person on stage. It took me several minutes to realize I was looking at either a projection or someone behind a screen. I do not really have any ideas how it was done. What I do know is, where she was standing is where the stage ended and a curtain was hanging. This is probably why she appeared so ghost like when the room was dark. It was very strange how real and three dimensional she looked when illuminated. The performance by Pramila Vasudevan also used the technology.

There were a few other notable performances with instruments but I enjoyed this one the most for both the unusual visual and auditory experience. The sounds were memorizing and surreal equally with what I was able to see. I found her piece relatable to what I'm trying to accomplish with this latest project; me trying to create an unusual experience with a common instrument. Her performance also left me a bit envious as I would love to have an instrument that created an visual counterpart for each sound it produced.

Spark Response - Sam

I feel it's incredibly important to support the people organizing and participating in events like the Spark festival. Coordinating, and setting up something like Spark is difficult, time consuming, and draining, which is why I feel so bad about not attending any of the events and helping to make all the work of organizing an awesome event like Spark worthwhile and rewarding. I don't have good excuse other than just being worn-out at the end of the week.
In lieu of an analysis of a Spark event I'll offer instead a philosophy shared with me by one of Friday night's performers, PLCK.
PLCK is Jesse Pollack, a close friend I used to live with, and with whom I frequently work on musical projects.
About a month ago we were preparing for a performance and he was talking about his growing affinity for performance-based techno music. What he said that stuck with me, and I paraphrase, was that this form is appealing to him because he is able to work between performances on constructing and perfecting a singular experience for a specific time and place, and when it's done, it's done, and he and everyone else have one shared experience and can then move on to something new. I don't generally listen to techno, but I found this to be an interesting, and somewhat inspiring idea. I also know that one of PLCK's influences is Jan Jelinek, a particularly interesting German sound-maker, who you can read about and listen to samples of here: http://www.scape-records.de/

Spark Festival


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Spark is here now.

We will be visiting the installations during class on Thursday.

Look at the schedule of events to find one that interests you.

Attend that event and create a blog post that enables us to benefit from your perspective as you describe:

  • What was the event you experienced? - describe it such that we can imagine being there with you
  • How did you responded to and engaged with that sonic experience?
  • How do you relate this experience to concepts that you are exploring in Sound Art?

I encourage you to experience the performances of as many of the featured artists as you can fit into your schedule.