Activating the Medium Festival at The Lab
Each year, the San Francisco-based sound art organization 23five Incorporated curates Activating The Medium, a festival based on a specific theme that underscores the connectivity between artists and their methods and materials.
In previous years, Activating The Medium explored sound ecology, audio mimesis, and the relationship between sound and architecture. For the 13th annual festival at The Lab, 23five chose ice as the theme—the physical, geographic, metaphoric, and mythological attributes of ice manifested through sound.
Performers include Cheryl E. Leonard (San Francisco), Pedestrian Deposit (Los Angeles), Joshua Churchill (San Francisco), Adam Sonderberg (Berkeley), Rale (Los Angeles), and Jesse Burson (Alameda), and Zurich-based G*Park, who rarely appears live. This is G*Park's first ever California performance.
A selection of G*Park's video works will be shown for one week at swissnex San Francisco.
* Please note that the gallery closed on April 21, 2010
A member of the Swiss Aktionist collective Schimpfluch-Gruppe, G*Park (aka Marc Zeier) has quietly produced an oblique catalogue of recordings and performances dating back to the early '80s. His strategies of sound production involve abstruse studies in musique concrete, clinical electronics, prepared piano, and manipulated field recordings. For his California debut performance, G*Park renders his composition through the sound of frozen lakes and ice caves, various hydrophone recordings, and the audio from what he qualifies as "microscopic creatures" (most likely the plankton he is known for fishing, a single representative of the plankton-fisher trade in the whole of Switzerland).
Cheryl E. Leonard is a composer, performer, and instrument-builder whose work investigates sounds, structures and objects from the natural world. In 2009, Leonard traveled to Palmer Station, Antarctica, and gathered recordings and natural materials to create music with. For Activating The Medium, she presents one of her Antarctic compositions exploring elements of the region's environments and ecosystems, performed live by a small ensemble playing amplified ice, stones, shells and penguin bones.
The music of Jon Borges and Shannon Kennedy of Pedestrian Deposit could best be described as highly composed, focused, dynamic experimental music that draws on their widely varying musical talents. From Borges's interest in electronics, tape loops, field recording, and synths, to Shannon's use of classical instruments, contact mics, and manipulated metal objects, the duo combines elements of musique concrete with ambient, drone, classical, and harsh noise.
Joshua Churchill is a San Francisco based cross-disciplinary artist whose site-specific sound and light work takes the form of both installation and performance, very often blurring the line between the two. Utilizing resonant frequency drones, field recordings, induced feedback, and reactive lighting, Churchill’s dynamic works compel one to become critically aware of their surroundings by exploring the aesthetic, emotive, and structural qualities of the environments in which they are situated.
Adam Sonderberg is a composer working predominantly with concrete-based composition, operating for many years out of Chicago with projects including Haptic and The Dropp Ensemble. For Activating The Medium, Sonderberg proposes a composition for real and imagined ice. He states, "Having recently moved to the Bay Area from Chicago, my only contact with ice has been in the domestic sphere, more specifically in our freezer. This contrasts sharply with the profusion of snow and ice on the ground during a typical Chicago winter. I find this contrast quite jarring and will seek to assemble an aural environment that will hopefully mitigate my disquiet."
Jesse Burson is a sound artist and illustrator intent on coaxing large environments out of minute details while blurring the lines between natural and man-made elements. He has collaborated with a number of Bay Area musicians over the years including Big City Orchestra, fellow festival performer Cheryl Leonard, Thomas Carnacki, and the inn. aff. (orchext.) big band. Jesse’s first solo performance visits the memory of the yuki-onna, the snow woman of Japanese folklore.
In 2006, William Hutson began recording and performing as Rale, whose analog modular synth noise compositions have one foot planted in avant-garde and one in the scum-infested tape underground. He has released music on Monorail Tresspassing, Arbor Records, Peasant Magik, and Ekhein and has an LP forthcoming on San Francisco's Isounderscore label. At Activating the Medium, Rale performs an edit of a new work in progress titled Lovely Limb of the House, one movement of which takes inspiration from the sound of ice cubes in a cocktail glass.
Founded in 1993, 23five Incorporated is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the development and increased awareness of sound works in the public arena, and to the support and education of artists working with and discussing the medium of sound. For the past 15 years, 23five Incorporated has remained at the forefront in bringing the most adventurous elements of sound art to the San Francisco Bay Area. 23five has served as an important benefactor to artists such as CM von Hausswolff, Christina Kubisch, Francisco Lopez, Olivia Block, Matt Jeckert, Zbigniew Karkowski, Atau Tanaka, and many more.
Founded in 1984 by a group of interdisciplinary artists, The Lab has earned a reputation as one of the foremost presenters of experimental art in the country. Critics, audiences, artists, and other organizations look to The Lab to find some of the most important work by today's emerging artists. The Lab presents approximately 40 live events and 10 to 15 solo and group exhibitions per year. The Lab serves a vital role in the art community because it provides comprehensive support for emerging and under-recognized professional artists.