1997 Electronic Arts Festival: Body Electric

The following text is taken from Front Magazine, vol. VIII, no. 5, pp. 6-8, May/June 1997:

Our Bodies, our machines? Extensions of the senses change the way we see ourselves and alter our sense of personal identity. Network communications create new social patterns and revolutionize the “body politic”. The pleasure and the anxiety in this cyborging of ourselves through electronic technology is evidence of the blurred borders between perception and experience. Robots, clones and mutants gestate quickly in the steamy hallways of virtual communities. Welcome to year three of the Electronic Arts Festival, BODY ELECTRIC, a five day arts festival and conference that will examine these themes through exhibitions, performances, lectures, panels and workshops.

– Daniel Jolliffe Shift 04/16/97 – 05/18/97

In concert with the third annual Electronic Arts Festival at the Western Front, the Exhibitions Program presents a new sculpture by Daniel Jolliffe. Jolliffe is a Vancouver based artist who produces works that use electronic systems contained within sculptural frameworks that sense human actions such as movement.

Part technology, part object, Shift  involves more than a point and click notion of interactivity. The work brings into experiential focus relationships between the art object, the viewers body and the act of “viewing.”

Shift involves a small platform and a large bowl located at some distance from each other. Standing on the platform, the visitor is able to transmit his/her movements across the room to the bowl, which responds via a radio system within the sculpture. The viewer’s action is that once involved in the control of the sculpture, and displaced across the room by this same control.

Not merely a slave of the viewer’s desire, Shift demands that the viewer consider their own movement, as well as their illusory, electronically created sense of control.

The artist gratefully acknowledges the support of the Canada Council.

– Jocelyn Robert Residency 05/01/97 – 05/31/97

Canned Goods is about packaged music as a source for new work.

i had the opportunity to work on a commercial cd-rom project a while ago. Most of that work was editing sounds from cd sound libraries. While i was going through the ‘file maker’ software catalog, i would do things like ‘search for door sounds’, then the software would give me the indexes of all door sounds in the library. To go on with this same example, when i asked for door sounds i got close to thousands of samples, which surprised me.

i discovered that the first two thousands were what i expected (wooden door closing, metal door with rusted hinges, etc.) and all the rest were CAR DOORS: chevrolet 1968, ford 1968, toyota 1968, datsun 1968, chevrolet 1969, name them all they were there. then i realized that this was an american sound library (of course), and that a car is a REALLY important thing down there.”

Jocelyn Robert will be the artist in residence at the Western Front for the month of May. He will be working on Canned Goods as well as his project for the Electronic Arts Festival.

– Jun Oenoki Sub. VersionJocelyn Robert Le Piano Flou 05/15/97

Considered to be a dangerous destabilizer of massive power structures, Jun Oenoki, a young artist from Japan, wires up store bought components into potent art bombs. From Radio Home Run, notorious centre of the “mini-fm boom,” he moved on to make dysfunctional noise sculpture and an exposé of the nuclear industry. One of his exhibitions was physically attacked by the extreme right. His wake up call has moved other culture-jammers to action. Representing the new political pop culture, Sub. Version is Jun Oenoki’s North American début and a world première.

Quebec musician Jocelyn Robert will present work from his CD, Le Piano Flou. The multi-nationalists think they know what we should do with computers. Jocelyn Robert has different ideas. He looks for the bugs and breeds them. He has composed a series of software programs that magnify mistakes, inaccuracies and the imprecision of computers and human interactions. The result, in Le Piano Flou, is an extended, languid series of hauntingly beautiful passages performed by the computer on the Disclavier piano. Originally an architect, Robert has worked with a wide variety of media: photography, music, installation, performance, and text. He has four solo recordings; Stat Live Moniteur, Folie/Culture. Le Piano Flou, La Théorie des Nerfs Creux as well as numerous pieces on compilations. He has worked and toured with the group Bruit TTV, recorded with Michael Snow, created soundtracks for the theatre group Arbo Cyber and worked on installations by Diane Landry and others.

– Quatuor Hêlios with special guest Andrew Schloss Concert 05/16/97

From Paris, Quatuor Hêlios will present their North American début and world première of new works for computer interactive percussion. Isabelle Berteletti, Jean-Christophe Feldhandler, Florent Haladjian and Lê Quan Ninh met in school in 1980. Discovering a mutual passion for John Cage’s early works for percussion, they formed ensemble Hêlios Quartet in 1986. After devoting three years to this repertoire, they recorded it on a compact disk (WERGO/Harmonia Mundi). The Quartet is currently working with composers with the aim of developing different languages for modern percussion. They will perform a composition by American Composer, George E. Lewis, called virtual discourse, using four “Lightning” controllers (Buchla “Lightning” movement-to-MIDI controllers) which translate gestures of the four instrumentalists into sound. Two new works for “Lightning” have been commissioned for their North American debut tour. Quartet member Lê Quan Ninh’s composition “INITIALE(S),” which uses sampled ancient Vietnamese language, explores the “instrumental detours” inherent in this new mediation between sound and instrument. University of Victoria percussionist/composer Andrew Schloss, has written Virtual Iyesa for the quartet. Iyesa is a form of Afrocuban music found only in the town of Matanzas, Cuba. The rhythms of Iyesa are the point of departure for a virtual performance on the “Lightnings.” Andrew Schloss will also perform an excerpt from the suite, Seven Wonders of the Ancient World 1995. The piece was created by Schloss and San Francisco based composer David Jaffe, featuring the Radio Drum-controlled Disclavier.

Thanks to Association Française D’Action Artistique, Alliance Française, Consulat Général de France, Canada Council – Contemporary Music, Touring Office & New Music Presenters Programs, BC Commissioning Program, Tom Lee Music and Virgin Mega Store.

– Quatuor Hêlios, Jocelyn Robert and Andrew Schloss New Music, New Media: Panel Discussion 05/17/97

Face the music! New Music aficionados – this is your chance! Interact with some hot “new musicians.” Join Quatuor Hêlios from Paris, Jocelyn Robert from Quebec, and Andrew Schloss from the University of Victoria, for the morning after the concert before. Musicians and non-musicians alike. this is your opportunity to get close to the instruments from the previous night’s concert. Encouraging participation from the floor, these composers will talk about their process, philosophy and techniques and you can see and hear for yourself how it’s done.

DB Boyko, the Western Front’s Music Curator, will moderate this panel.

“The instrument shapes a world’s perspective and becomes, from its communicative powers, the best tool to overthrow certainty and confidence. Recent productions with digital instrumentation has rendered this questioning even more urgent and unavoidable.” – Lê Quan Ninh of Quatuor Hêlios

– Electronic Cabaret 05/18/97

More flesh and more machines. The closing cabaret will feature an interactive mix of live events and hands-on computer displays. Work stations placed around the room will feature a variety of artists’ games, CD-ROMs and web projects. Live events will include interactive video conference, music and invention, Lori Weidenhammer’s Virtual Postcards from the Feminist Utopia, the official launch of Transverse Worlds, digital eARTh’s new volume of wicked web art and Jun Oenoki’s roll your own electronic subversion from Japan. Dr. Susan Kozel’s Multi-Medea: Exiles will be part of a PicTel video conference connecting with Surrey, England. Be ready for last minute surprises.