328. Classification-Resistant What-Have-Yous: Program Y: Breakthroughs in Sprocket Science (+ Guitarists Anonymous Withdrawal Aids #5) Promo

- KALX, 90.7FM, Berkeley, us@

- Saturday, February 8, 2003, 6:10 - 6:28PM

- Simultaneous with the "Guitarists Anonymous Withdrawal Aids Soundtrack" from the Guitarists Anonymous "DAY ONE" CD (published by the San Francisco Cinematheque) playing, I pretended that the 2 DJs, Mark & Peter, were 2 patients for Guitarists Anonymous therapy named Donald & Jim. I acted as if I were humoring their fantasy that they were manning a radio show about film & asking me about my upcoming Cinematheque program. I kept calling them Jim & Donald &, by prearrangement, they got progressively irritated by my misnaming them - & continued to correct me. This was probably one of the most (deliberately) confusing radio promos of all time.

- recollections from tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE

 

329. Classification-Resistant What-Have-Yous: Program Y: Breakthroughs in Sprocket Science (+ Guitarists Anonymous Withdrawal Aids #5)

- San Francisco Cinematheque @ San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, us@

- Sunday, February 9, 2003, 7:30 - 11:00PM

- This consisted of a screening of 8 somewhat short movies of mine made post my last visit to SF in the fall of 1998 followed by the 5th Guitarists Anonymous Withdrawal Aids (see entries 314, 315, 316, & 317 for #s 1-4). This latter was practically identical to the 4th one with the exception of Steve Polta operating the filmstrip projector & Marika (sp?) projecting the slides. The movies screened were: "In Perplexing Pursuit of the Prodigy Paleontologist (version 2)", "Foiled Again!", "Shuffle Mode", "Space Ballet (condensed)", "Where We're Trailer #2", "Lab Rats Explain Their Veggie-Oil Powered Van", Kent Bye's "Who is tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE?" demo reel, & "Cuntralia".

- recollections from tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE

 

330. Harps & Angles Quartet #1

- Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Pittsburgh, us@

- Thursday, March 20, 2003, 7:00 - 7:30PM

- "Harps & Angles" is an installation credited to "Who is like God?s" & made for the Pittsburgh Biennial. Michael Pestel (see 204, 205, 208, 211, 247, 248, 250, 251, 252, 278, & 317) told me that he was planning to make an installation using piano harps from upright pianos turned into tabletops. He proposed that I be part of a series of performances using these harps. Thinking about this, I proposed that surveillance cameras be mounted over the harp table tops & that the images from these be superimposed over each other & projected into a pool of water which would reflect the projection. I further proposed that each of the harps be miked & that their sound be amplified thru speakers in the pool so that the water would ripple as response to the sound which would then cause the projection reflection to be altered by the ripples. Thusly, the sound generated by the harps would effect their own projected image & make an integrated result. I eventually proposed that this be called "Harps & Angles" as a reference to the piano harps & the camera angles as well as a joking reference to the common image of "angels & harps".

Michael Pestel proposed that instead of calling myself "tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE", as I ordinarily would, that we make a name that refers to both of our given 1st names being "Michael". Since the meaning of Michael is sometimes said to be "Who is like God?", I proposed furthering the joking religious reference of the title by calling ourselves "Who is like God?s" as a sort of plural Michael that gave me a reason for using the unusual linguistic arrangement of punctuation within a word. Of course, I also preferred this because Michael is the only name I know of that's sometimes said to be a question.

In the resultant installation, the tables are arranged in a straight line slightly over 2 feet apart with the superimposition projection visible on the wall in front of where players would typically stand as well as projected into the water table placed in the corner of the room to the right of this. The water table was made to be approximately the same size as the piano harp tables. Pittsburgh electronic music composer & sound installation maker Jeremy Boyle gave us substantial advice on how to waterproof & place the speakers. Because of brightness in surrounding rooms, the reflection from the water table surface is too washed out. Given that this water table was an experiment, we discovered that it didn't work very well except when feedback was created. Bass feedback generated patterns on the surface of the water that Michael & I refer to as something like "Islamic tiles". I find these intricate geometrical patterns on the water completely fascinating. Michael placed weighted springs on these compass-point-placed speakers, which are mounted on the bottom of the table with their waterproofed surfaces exposed to the water, & a shell in the middle. The springs help conduct the sound to the surface & the placement of the shell can change the shape of the patterns. We discovered that many factors effect the substantialness of the patterns - such as how many people are standing on the floor around the table. Too many people apparently tend to dampen the conduction of the feedback thru the floorboards & to lessen or completely obliterate the patterns.

For this opening to the Biennial participants & their friends, our premier quartet consisted of Who is like God?s augmented by Steve Boyle & James Knopf. Given that this was an opening, there was much talking & milling about by the attendees & I found that the players reacted to this by being louder & 'noisier' than we might have been otherwise in an attempt to have more presence than the socializing crowd. We began by removing black coverings from the piano harp tables so that they & their projections were revealed. We then moved our hands into the middle, higher, & lower regions in an awkward & largely unsuccessful attempt at superimposed synchrocity. This quickly turned into loud & constant playing all at once that involved way too little paying attention to each other for my preferences. Michael climbed on top of his piano table & I simulated giving him a back massage by manipulating the strings on the same area of my piano table so that in the superimposition the 2 were combined. Towards the end, the feedback was brought into play. At the end, wind-up toys of a horseback rider & of penguins were set loose on the strings & the quartet walked away.

Before we ended, however, a formally dressed drunk woman from the audience, apparently perceiving this a "free-for-all" in which anyone could participate by beating somewhat senselessly on the harps, came up to the table that James had been playing on (& which he'd left so he could play on the same table as someone else) & took the largest available gong mallet & proceeded to hit the piano harp seemingly as hard as she could. This opened the floodgates to more audience participation & the audience swarmed over the piano harps as a seque to the original quartet leaving. Given that this installation is intended to be interactive & that our playing it was intended to inaugurate it so that the audience would then follow us, that would've been fine - except that the audience didn't seem to understand that we were doing something other than just attacking the surfaces to relieve of aggressions or some such. I was substantially disappointed both by the quartet's lack of paying attention to each other & to the audience's apparent insensitivity. Nonetheless, the audience seemed to love it & I was repeatedly told that it was "great". An audience member later broke a string & we learned to immediately remove the piano tuning handles after playing before the attendees could torque the strings too hard.

- recollections from tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE

 

331. Harps & Angles Quartet #2

- Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Pittsburgh, us@

- Friday, March 21, 2003, 6:40 - 7:05PM

- This was the 2nd of 5 planned performances in this installation. For a detailed introduction read the preceeding entry (#329). For this, the quartet consisted of the usual "Who is like God?s" duo (myself & Michael Pestel (see 204, 205, 208, 211, 247, 248, 250, 251, 252, 278, 317, & 329)) + Elise Springer & Hyla Willis. Given the problems of the 1st quartet from the night before, we rehearsed this a bit so that there'd be more sensitivity between players. We began by simultaneously pulling off the covering black clothes from the piano harp table tops. Then Elise placed her hands in the middle, the upper register area, & the lower register area - followed by the other 3 players doing the same (one at a time) except that we ended by scraping the lowest string. Then we all 4 tried to do the same procedure simultaneously so that our hands would overlap in the projected image. In the improvisation that followed we cued solo w/ backing vamp sections by tossing a screw onto the piano table of the selected soloist. Players dropped out to facilitate duos & trios by standing back from their tables. 6 approaches to sounding the harps were chosen in advance as ones that we would try to collectively use in occasional unison: striking with mallets, plucking, strumming, sounding while tuning, activating by dropping objects onto the harp(s), & scraping. If someone were to use these techniques & someone else were to notice then the noticing person was to consider following suit to try to instigate everyone's doing so. I started the feedback & Michael, once again, climbed on his harp while the rest of us mimed massaging, tickling, & scratching him. We ended with the wind-up penguin toys walking on the strings while we walked away.

This time the audience refrained from attacking the piano harps until after we were done. HOWEVER, they were even MORE FEROCIOUS in doing so than they had been the previous night! With as many as maybe 10 people playing the harps at once they proceeded to hit the harps as hard as they could while they screamed. One guy used a rolling pin that had been used in the uncert as a large slide to vehemently hit the wood of the piano harp until Michael asked him to stop. The total lack of dynamic variety & subtlety in the audience's attack on the harps was truly astonishing. It was like watching a pack of monsters unleashed. They seemed to enjoy themselves immensely.

- recollections from tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE

 

332. Multiple Projection Light Show (of Sorts) #09

- Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, us@

- Friday, April 4, 2003

- More projecting for music in the museum theater (see entries 303, 304, 307, 311, 313, 319, 320, & 321). As with "Multiple Projection Light Show (of Sorts) #07", I brought my broken WJX-12 video mixer & my own video material specially made for 'light show' projecting. The 2 acts for the night were Pittsburgh electronic music performer & sound installation artist Jeremy Boyle & the Japanese electronic music composer/performer Nobukazu Takemura. I was only to project for Boyle & since I'm somewhat familiar with his work I brought materials that I thought would work well with what I imagined he might play. SO, for Jeremy's 1st part, I started off just projecting continually changing stark black & white vertical lines apparently generated as an unintentional byproduct of technical conditions unknown to me that I'd edited from the ends of certain 3/4" tapes in the museum's collection. These were highly manipulated live with the mixer. For the 2nd part, I added a section of my "Color Bars" video that used crude animation generated by me using a Video Painter toy. For the 3rd part, I used the superimpose function to mix in solid color leaves from a mostly unseen video of storm-blown trees (also used in "#07"). Using a soft focus edged wipe I allowed a tiny bit of highly color distorted tree footage to appear in a 'window' in the vertical lines underneath the color superimposition that they were generating. For the last part, I switched to mixing my 2 videos: "F.R.E.D. S. L.I.S.B.E.R.G.E.R." & "Wallpaper Video". A simple explanation of Jeremy's music might be that it consisted of mostly narrow-timbral-range electronics mixed with non-close-interval guitar arpeggios played in what some might call a somewhat relaxed 'ambient' manner. I felt that our respective formal restrictions worked well together.

- recollections from tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE

 

333. "Volunteers Collective Revisited", 19 Movies under 5:00, "Guitarists Anonymous Withdrawal Aids #6"

- Copy Cat Building (1511 Guilford Ave ...503B), Baltimore, us@

- Saturday, May 10, 2003, 10PM - Midnight

- After being jerked around by Twig Harper of "Tarantula Hill" & subjected to attempted robbery by subculture exploiter Todd Lesser of "Monozine" & "Mission Space" (also the booking agent for the "Ottobar") in an attempt to arrange a similar show to this in Baltimore in January, I was lucky enough to stumble across the friendly & generous folks here - with special thanks to Nielie (whose name I'm unfortunately probably misspelling) & James & Todd (?) & "another-girl-whose-name-I-unfortunately-forget". Since much of what I present in Pittsburgh is too ambitious to tour with & since I rarely get paid anything even remotely close to what would even BEGIN to cover my expenses (not to mention my time), I've been largely unable to present satisfactorily complex shows outside of my current home town. However, since Baltimore is my town of origin, I decided to give it the old anti-college try. Unfortunately, in Baltimore, I'm unable to get the kind of enthusiastic, expert, & well-equipped assistance that I can get in Pittsburgh from the likes of the "Mattress Factory" (see entries 312 & 314) & "Jefferson presents.." (see entry 326) so I was still limited to using what equipment & costumes & the like that I could bring to town thru my friend John Peck's generous car driving assistance. Hey! This intro is longer than many of the earlier entries, innit?

ANYWAY, this evening began w/ something roughly equivalent to my "Release Gig for "Circuits of Steel" CD" (see entry 318) - ie: wearing the Anarkanian multi-tentacled outfit which I'd changed by adding joke-shop severed hands to the ends of the tentacles (see entries 305, 312, 318, & 326) & carrying my Suitcase (see entries 199, 205, 208, & 211) with the tape-player hidden in it covered over by a Blind Bowling League shirt, a dirty sock, & a novelty t-shirt w/ a rubber light switch on it, I walked into the audience while my "Volunteers Collective (superimposition version)" vaudeo was projected. Opening the suitcase for the audience members one at a time caused, as usual, a loop-tape to play wch then triggered Volunteers Collective samples via radio-mic - transmitting from the suitcase to the pitch-to-MIDI converter that enabled the triggering. Lowering the vaudeo sound after its initial Volunteers Collective intro text reading, I continued to open & close the suitcase - making the triggering connection more obvious because the samples were no longer 'buried' in the mix with the vaudeo sound. Then, as with 318, I surreptitiously switched the radio-mic to under my Anarkanian hood & twitched somewhat (some might call it dancing) whenever I triggered the samples vocally. Finally I switched to controlling the signals via my 5 octave keyboard.

This section was followed by the 1st 19 of the "20 Movies under 5:00" that'd been assembled together for my "Movies on the Mount / Short Attention Span" presentation in early 2002 (see entry 315).

I ended with the same Guitarists Anonymous (see entries 314, 315, 316, 317, & 328 for GA #s 1-5) presentation that I'd given in San Francisco in February - minus the "Grossinator" (which I'd forgotten). Having removed my Anarkanian suit, my "Low Classical" CD-covered glitz was revealed beneath. Nielie projected the slides & "another-girl-whose-name-I-unfortunately-forget" projected the filmstrip (in a suitably animated manner) while I projected the vaudeo & mixed its audio in & out whilst simultaneously playing the Guitarists Anonymous samples.

There were 20+ people in attendance. As usual, I left feeling unloved & depressed. 40 years of performing before small audiences who barely talk to me for small amounts of money (or none at all) while mediocre assholes make huge amounts from the adulation of morons has taken its toll on me. Cheerio!

Thanks to Dave Scheper & Alex Van Ness for being so damn helpful!

- recollections from tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE

 

334. Harps & Angles Quartet #3

- Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Pittsburgh, us@

- Friday, June 13, 2003, 9:20 - 9:55PM

- This was the final public performance on this installation (there were several recording sessions & student performances that had 'random' audiences prior to this that aren't listed in this history & 1 final recording session a week later). For a detailed introduction read the earlier relevant entries (329 & 330). For this, the quartet consisted of the usual "Who is like God?s" duo (myself & Michael Pestel (see 204, 205, 208, 211, 247, 248, 250, 251, 252, 278, 317, 329, & 330)) + frequent collaborators Michael Johnsen (see entries 196, 197, 202, 204, 205, 206, 209, 268, {247 & 312}, & 318) & Greg Pierce (see entries 196, 202, 204, 252, 314, {317}, & 318). In order to give Michael J & Greg a chance to familiarize themselves w/ the installation a bit, this quartet had played on it as a 'rehearsal' a few days before. It seemed to be a consensus after this public playing that our rehearsal was 'better'. Alas, due to my technical fuck-up, that wasn't recorded. Still, I thought this night was great (Yeah? Who asked me?).

This was the closing event of the Pittsburgh Biennial & was called "A Night of Sound Art". There was a sound performance by Jeremy Boyle + Rick Gribenas + Paul Warne + Eric Meisberger; an on-going presentation of Carin Mincemoyer's "Snap Dress" w/ Jill Stifle; a performance by Phat Man Dee; & a performance by Josh Brand in the Prekop Family's installation room (painted in black & white zebra stripes); & then our thing-a-ma-whoosie-wob. Man Dee was the MC & she led the vaudience to us. Unfortunately, she didn't know what she was introducing so she called it "Harps & Angels" by "tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE" (or some such) instead of "Harps & Angles" by "Who is like God?s". Oh well. She was still a wonderful MC.

As she led the teeming flock (just kidding) into our installation they saw the 4 piano harps covered with blankets under wch 1 player per harp were laying. Phat MD came & 'woke me up' & I came out from underneath the cover & went & 'woke up' the other players. I had recorded 61 samples from an audience-less recording of Quartet #2 & had rigged the piano harp I was using so that it could trigger those samples. To initially do this I was activating the strings (not very successfully) using an E-Bow (these things are too expensive). Michael Pestel was wearing a camcorder on a helmet on his head. Everybody played marvelously & the audience paid more attention to us than they had on the previous 2 occasions. Each table-top was quite a compendium of percussion. Since the installation had been in place for almost 2 months by now, the water table had gotten 'pond scum' & swarms of small insects had lived & died on it. The generation of patterns on the water's surface wasn't working as well as it had originally too. I got so engrossed in playing that I forgot to do live video mixer manipulation as I'd intended to. We ended when I climbed back onto my harp & covered myself & the other players eventually followed suit. This playing wasn't followed by as violent an audience assault on the instruments as had previously happened.

- recollections from tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE

 

335. Multiple Projection Light Show (of Sorts) #10

- Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, us@

- Friday, July 4, 2003

- More projecting for music in the museum theater (see entries 303, 304, 307, 311, 313, 319, 320, 321, & 331). This was the "Electroclash" night (or some such) & I projected for 2 non-Pittsburgh bands ("Freeze Pop"? & a 3 girl band from Brooklyn whose name I forget who sang along w/ pre-recorded music & used "Flash Dance" era disco choreography + a little posing w/ guitars & a little crotch-holding) & a presumably Pittsburgh-based DJ. The DJ requested Warhol films so I used the maximum available wide angle lens & projected "Screen Tests" throughout most of his sets. For the 2 bands I did live mixing of videos of mine using a Videonics MX-1 that I borrowed. This projecting was mainly remarkable as the premier of my "Lightbox" (June 15, '03) - a 2 hour tape made by manipulating a shot of a lightbox that'd been given to me as a teenager by the guy who made it: a box w/ a textured translucent side w/ strings of blinking colored lights inside that flash faster as it warms. I also used my "Shot out upstairs back window in rainstorm & aftermath" (June 17, '02), "F.R.E.D. S. L.I.S.B.E.R.G.E.R. - techno-sensualist 'master'" (December '92), "Feedback" ('87), "Wallpaper Video" (April 9, '90), "Color Bars" (October, '93), & "Vertical Lines" (July '02). The mixer enabled a large quantity of wipes. Sometimes the video was projected into the Warhol "Screen Tests". Whether anyone paid attention or appreciated any of this I don't know.

- recollections from tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE

 

336. RiverCubeology #5

- Chatham College Lawn, Pittsburgh, us@

- Friday, October 10, 2003, 12(noon) - 1PM

- Bob Johnson created a "Rivercubes Project" which involves collecting trash polluting Pittsburgh rivers & riverbanks & turning them into sculptures by having them compacted into cubes by the Keystone Iron and Metal company. 12 had been made as of this date. 3 or more of them were on the Chatham campus lawn & 5 noontime performances around these Chatham cubes happened every weekday of this week - culminating in this friday performance. These were organized by Bob + Michael Pestel (see entries 204, 205, 208, 211, 247, 248, 250, 251, 252, 278, 317, 329, 330, & 333) + Eden McNutt (who's agreed to be called a "sound poet" for the moment). Michael placed his "Vile Air" (violin with slide whistle attached) in the cube & had his concert flute, Eden was vocalizing, I was experimenting with feedback, & Tracy Mortimore was playing an amplified stand-up bass thru effects. All this was centered around Bob's RiverCube labelled: "Combined Sewage Outfall: A32". A group of students for a Creative Writing class sat on nearby steps writing - apparently in response to us.

My feedback experiment consisted of my taking an 8-ohm mini-speaker (1&1/8" in diameter) & soldering it to wire with a 1/4" phone plug on the end so that it could be plugged into the headphones jack of my 2 speed mono cassette recorder. This tape deck had a guitar strap attached to it so I could carry the recorder with hands free. I also took a 12VDC (Volt Direct Current) mini buzzer & a 12VDC piezo siren & wired those in a Y-down to a mini-mono plug so that it could provide input to the tape recorder's microphone jack. The soldering that this involved was done very last minute on the Chatham lawn. Initially my unrealistic hope had been that I might be able to attach the piezo buzzer/siren combination to a part of the RiverCube & the speaker to a nearby part & have feedback be transmitted thru the cube itself. However, as soon as I saw the cube I was sure that it would be an unsatisfactory medium for this so I satisfied myself with puttering around generating feedback more directly thru the air in the cube's vicinity, recording for a few minutes. I then took the recorder to a mic connected to our sound system & rewound the tape & played it back thru the built-in speaker a bit. Later I generated feedback at the mic while Michael played flute in front of it. This was also recorded & rewound & I walked around the students playing this back. Since some of the original feedback generation would've been inaudible to them, this was my way of making it so that they would have a delayed hearing of what they'd seen me create (without knowing what I was doing). A 2nd set involved Tracy & Eden & myself interacting more physically with the cube while Michael videoed this while pulsingly playing what may've been a bird-call in his mouth. A good time was had by all & some of the pollution of the river was transformed into that goofy stuff that grown people get up to.

- recollections from tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE

 

337. (M)Usic - 1885 to the Present

- Rick Gribenas' Sound Art Class, Miller Gallery, CMU, Pittsburgh, us@

- Wednesday, November 12, 2003, 6 - 8PM

- See entries 205, 211, 248, & 310 for descriptions of previous incarnations of this lecture. I probably began (I'm writing this over 2 months later so I don't remember everything) by putting the SUITCASE (in addition to the above entries see also 199, 326, & 332) on the laps of the class & using its looped sounds to radio-control/Pitch-to-MIDI samples. The lecture was then played on a CD while I stood at a podium & pretended to speak into a microphone while really just mouthing the words. This continued until the part of the lecture where I walked away from the mic to hand out a list of women composers. For the rest of the lecture I either spoke or sang along with the recording or played various sound effects using such things as siren whistle, slapstick, corrugated tube, trombone, cow bells, dinner bells, & the feedback set-up used in 335, etc.. Shortly after the lecture began, a video was projected that was an edit of the 3 times I'd presented the lecture @ Chatham. This was timed so that during the CD version mention & excerpt playing of my "Drying Clothes Made Entirely Out Of Zippers" recording the relevant visuals would appear simultaneously. I moved thru the class making sounds - doing things like playing an Audobon bird-call slightly behind their ears. I also climbed a ladder for access to the ceiling-mounted video projector so that I could make shadows in the projection. The lecture ended with the class being invited to interact with an on-line version of Karlheinz Essl's "Lexikon-Sonate".

After this, I presented a vaudeo made especially for the occasion entitled "NASCAR vs Rudolph Diesel via Turntablism". This was meant to be a criticism of the over-association of Sound Art with HipHop DJs - with special attention paid to the sickening capitalism often found in that milieu. This was followed by a playing of Volunteers Collective samples (the 196 seconds of samples were all taken from the computer edit of my published Volunteers Collective "Yr of Sundays" tape (see entries 242, 243, 245, 247, 250, & 251 for related descriptions)) while a 15 minute excerpt from the Volunteers Collective (superimposition version) was projected (in addition to the above-mentioned see entries 312 & 318). A Q&A ended it all.

- recollections from tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE

 

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