Leigh Fondakowski discusses “SPILL” (Oct. 30)

Center for the Arts Director Pamela Tatge discusses the development of the work “SPILL” by Leigh Fondakowski. Ms. Fondakowski will give a free talk about the future of “SPILL” on Thursday, October 30, 2014 at 7pm in CFA Hall.

Leigh Fondakowski
Leigh Fondakowski

As the third Outside the Box Theater Series event of the year, playwright Leigh Fondakowski will give a talk on Thursday, October 30, 2014 at 7pm in CFA Hall.

In 2011, Leigh Fondakowski co-taught The Deepwater Horizon Tragedy: A Scientific and Artistic Inquiry with Barry Chernoff in the College of the Environment. The goal of the course was to teach students the science of the Gulf Coast region and the ecological impact of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, as well as artistic tools and methods that enabled them to understand the science at a deeper level.

As part of the course, Ms. Fondakowski and Mr. Chernoff accompanied the students on a ten-day trip to the Gulf Coast region visiting laboratories and research institutions, touring wetlands, and meeting the people who live in the affected communities. Upon their return, the students created performances that combined science and art to tell the story of the effects of the spill.

This course inspired Ms. Fondakowski to write a new theatrical piece, commissioned by the Center for the Arts and funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Wesleyan’s Creative Campus Initiative, which she entitled SPILL.

Ms. Fondakowski went back to Louisiana and collected over 200 hours of stories in the following months from people who lived in the parishes hardest hit by the disaster. In collaboration with visual artist Reeva Wortel (American Portrait Project),  Ms. Fondakowski created SPILL, which had its first staged reading at Wesleyan in February 2012.

Ms. Fondakowski returned to Wesleyan in the spring of 2013 to teach playwriting in the Theater Department.

Since then, Ms. Fondakowski has continued to work on the piece, including a presentation at the Culture Project‘s Women Center Stage Festival in New York in July 2013, followed by the premiere in March 2014  at the Reilly Theatre at Louisiana State University, performed by Baton Rouge’s Swine Palace.

In her talk this Thursday, Ms. Fondakowski will share the journey that her play has taken since she first showed it at Wesleyan, and will discuss its path for the future.

We hope you can join us.

Talk by Leigh Fondakowski on her work SPILL
Thursday, October 30, 2014 at 7pm
CFA Hall

An Outside the Box Theater Series event presented by the Theater Department and the Center for the Arts.

Sharifa Lookman ’17 talks to Leila Buck ’99 about “Hkeelee (Talk to Me)” [Oct. 29]

Center for the Arts Engagment Intern Sharifa Lookman ’17 talks to Leila Buck ’99 about “Hkeelee (Talk to Me),” a solo performance which will have its Wesleyan debut on Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 7pm in CFA Hall as part of “Muslim Women’s Voices at Wesleyan.”

Leila Buck '99 performs "Hkeelee (Talk to Me)" on Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 7pm in CFA Hall.
Leila Buck ’99 performs “Hkeelee (Talk to Me)” on Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 7pm in CFA Hall.

Written and performed by Lebanese American writer, performer, and teaching artist Leila Buck ’99, Hkeelee (Talk to Me) is a dynamic one-woman show that seeks to reconcile the personal and political contentions related to her heritage, familial memories, and the meaning of being American through an explorative and interactive performance.

In the performance, Ms. Buck attempts to move her Lebanese grandmother with Alzheimer’s disease into assisted living. The performance’s narrative is rather straightforward: Ms. Buck unpacks a suitcase of belongings. This action proves dualistic—in addition to setting up a simple narrative, it sets the foundation for a performance dialogue of stories related to Ms. Buck’s heritage, exploring both the beauties and the trials.

“It’s very rooted in the oral storytelling tradition—so actually, very simple—me, a few objects, a music stand, a chair, and a microphone mainly for recording purposes,” Ms. Buck said in an interview when describing the piece. “I may use a bit of music here and there, played from my own iPod on stage. But other than that it’s a back to basics piece about a woman trying to figure out how to hold on to the stories of her family, which to pass on and which to let go. So it’s very raw in places as I piece together fragments of stories/memories/objects, asking the audience to participate and along the way attempting to put together the fragments of a life formed in, and by, transition.”

This performance addresses issues that are specific to Ms. Buck’s personal journey, but that are also universal. “We all feel unsure of ourselves, confused, and lost sometimes,” Ms. Buck said.

Ms. Buck hopes that “those who come will leave with a more personal lens into Lebanon, dementia, and what it means to be(come) American; that they will recognize their own families, struggles, and stories in mine; that they will engage with people and places they may never otherwise have encountered, and in doing so, realize the connections between them.”

Ms. Buck has also been commissioned to create a new theatrical work as part of Muslim Women’s Voices at Wesleyan. This new piece will have two work-in-progress showings on Friday, April 17 and Saturday, April 18, 2015 at 8pm in World Music Hall. Ms. Buck invites members of the Wesleyan and Connecticut community to share in her workshops that seek to challenge our understanding of stories in their power, interactivity, and universality.

Hkeelee (Talk to Me)
Written and performed by Leila Buck ‘99
Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 7pm
CFA Hall

Muslim Women’s Voices at Wesleyan: October Update

CFA Arts Administration Intern Chloe Jones ’15 discusses the events of “Muslim Women’s Voices at Wesleyan.”

Muslim Women’s Voices at Wesleyan is in full swing! We opened last month with the panel discussion Gender, Islam, and the “Muslim Problem,” organized and moderated by Professor of Religion Peter Gottschalk, followed by the Planet Hip Hop Festival. For those of you who were unable to attend the Planet Hip Hop Festival, or for those of you who were there and wish to see if you made it into the video, you can see exciting footage here.

Earlier this month, Muslim Women’s Voices at Wesleyan was featured on WNPR’s Where We Live with Center for the Arts Director Pamela Tatge joining Dr. Feryal Salem, Assistant Professor of Islamic Scriptures and Law, Co-Director of the Islamic Chaplaincy Program, and Director of the Imam and Muslim Community Leadership Certificate Program at the Hartford Seminary, and Sufi fusion singer Riffat Sultana (who will perform at Wesleyan on Friday, November 7, 2014 at 8pm). Click here to listen to the broadcast.

Wesleyan University’s Dance Department and Center for the Arts present "To Not Forget Crimea: Uncertain Quiet of Indigenous Crimean Tatars" Panel Discussion and Fall Faculty Dance Concert by Associate Professor of Dance Katja Kolcio, Friday, October 24, 2014. Premiere of multimedia work in response to political changes in Crimea.
Wesleyan University’s Dance Department and Center for the Arts present “To Not Forget Crimea: Uncertain Quiet of Indigenous Crimean Tatars” Panel Discussion and Fall Faculty Dance Concert by Associate Professor of Dance Katja Kolcio, Friday, October 24, 2014. Premiere of multimedia work in response to political changes in Crimea.

A number of exciting Muslim Women’s Voices at Wesleyan events are on the horizon. On Friday, October 24, 2014 at 8pm in the Memorial Chapel, Associate Professor of Dance Katja Kolcio presents the premiere performance of the multimedia work To Not Forget Crimea: Uncertain Quiet of Indigenous Crimean Tatars, a response to recent political changes in Crimea. Featuring live music and dance in collaboration with New York Crimean Tatar Ensemble Musical Director Nariman Asanov and Yevshan Ukrainian Vocal Ensemble Conductor Alexander Kuzma, the work explores issues of historical memory, cultural narrative, and the quest for human rights, as they relate to the history of Tatars, native inhabitants of Crimea, and their complex relationships with Ukraine and Russia. A free panel discussion, “Indigenous Ukrainian Perspectives of Crimea Post Russian-Invasion, will take place before the performance, on Friday, October 24, 2014 from 6pm to 7:30pm in Fayerweather Beckham Hall.

Next week, on Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 7pm in CFA Hall, Lebanese American writer, actress, and teaching artist Leila Buck ’99 explores family, memory, and politics in her free solo performance Hkeelee (Talk to Me).

This semester, Ms. Buck is teaching a course in the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program Department, Beyond “the Veil”: Representations and Realities of Muslim Women in the U.S., as part of the Creative Campus Initiative. The course employs artistic methods, personal narratives, and in-person connection to research and examine the dominant representations of Muslim women in the U.S. mainstream media and the complex realities of Muslim women’s lives.

Ms. Buck will also give a free workshop performance (Friday, April 17 and Saturday, April 18, 2015 at 8pm), where she will present a work-in-progress showing of a collaborative theatrical work commissioned by the Center for the Arts as part of Muslim Women’s Voices at Wesleyan.

In the meantime, we hope you will join us for all of these upcoming talks and performances.

Chloe Jones ’15 talks to Emma Sherr-Ziarko ’11 about The Builders Association (Oct. 2 & 3)

CFA Arts Administration Intern Chloe Jones ’15 talks to Emma Sherr-Ziarko ’11 (Theater), Stage Manager/Video Operator for The Builders Association, who present the Connecticut premiere of “Sontag: Reborn” on Thursday, October 2 and Friday, October 3, 2014 at 8pm in the CFA Theater. 

How did you become involved with The Builders Association?

Through Wesleyan actually. I met them my senior year when they came and did a workshop. [Actor Moe Angelos and Video Designer Austin Switser presented the talk “Inside The Builders Association: Integrating Media and Performance” in February 2011 in CFA Hall.] Austin Switser came to my Media for Performance class. I never anticipated that I would work with them because at the time I wasn’t particularly interested in multimedia theater or multimedia performance. That has since changed.

[After graduating] I decided that I wanted to move to New York and pursue theater. Acting is actually my passion and what I’m most interested in, but when I got to New York—and this is where Wesleyan comes in again—my friend Rachel Silverman ’09 (Theater and Sociology) who had graduated [from Wesleyan] two years before me and who was working for New York Theatre Workshop emailed me and said that they were bringing this show with The Builders Association called Sontag: Reborn to New York Theatre Workshop and needed a Production Assistant.

Adapter/Performer Moe Angelos as Susan Sontag in "Sontag: Reborn" by The Builders Association. Photo by James Gibbs.
Adapter/Performer Moe Angelos as Susan Sontag in “Sontag: Reborn” by The Builders Association. Photo by James Gibbs.

So I became the Production Assistant, and I got to know Moe Angelos who is the performer and adapter for Sontag: Reborn. I spent a lot of time with her backstage running lines. I also took control of the set, which is not big but is very complex because there are hundreds of books and notebooks and everything has to be in a very precise order.

And then at the end of our run at New York Theatre Workshop, the Managing Director for The Builders Association, Erica Laird, came up to me and said that they had been invited [to bring Sontag: Reborn] to a festival in Seoul, Korea in October 2013, and would I be interested in joining them for that. I said, “Yes!”

It’s been very humbling and incredibly inspiring to see these artists work. They are totally brilliant, and I do believe they are changing the way that people think about theater.

Where did the idea for Sontag: Reborn come from?

Artistic Director Marianne Weems knew Susan Sontag, and Susan had been on the board of The Builders Association. [Then] Moe started reading Susan’s journals—her son [David Rieff] had published them after her death—and thought, you know, this could be a really cool thing and not your average one-woman show.

So Moe brought the idea for Sontag: Reborn to The Builders Association?

Yes. This show was Moe’s brainchild, [but] the way The Builders Association works is incredibly collaborative. I’ll give you an example of that: This show has a script, but they don’t always have set scripts, so then what happens is Austin Switser, the Video Designer, starts playing with stuff, and [Lighting Designer] Laura Mroczkowski starts playing with lights, and [Sound Designer] Dan Dobson is like a magician creating music—it’s unbelievable. They literally jam together to create the world of the work. It’s unique. It’s exciting. And it’s exciting to be a part of.

Does any of that collaborative, and at times spontaneous, process of making the work carry over into the final performance?

Absolutely. For example, this show is actually a dialogue. It’s a one-woman show, but it’s really a dialogue between Moe and a video. As you will see, if you come to the performance, there is a piece of recorded video footage that is Moe as older Susan Sontag in dialogue with live Moe [playing a younger version of Susan Sontag]. I run the video footage of old Sontag. Basically there’s a mini keyboard that controls the video footage, and I essentially speed it up and slow it down according to Moe’s performance, so it’s a live performance.

What is it like to be an actor in The Builders Association?

I’ve spoken with Moe a lot about that and it’s very different because you are constantly interacting with the multimedia aspects, especially in this show where there are no other actors. All she has to respond to is the video, the lights, the sound, and the other aspects of the video design.

Can you describe the sound score for Sontag: Reborn?

It’s music and sound effects composed by Dan Dobson with other pieces that are referenced by Susan Sontag. Dan’s a genius. He is one of the original members of the Blue Man Group. If you sit around during lunch breaks in the theater, that’s when he jams and creates this music. It’s unbelievable.

Is this a typical show for The Builders Association?

I would say that this is actually an unusual subject matter for The Builders Association. It’s basically a portrait. In many of the other Builders Association shows there’s more of a commentary, or at least some political aspect. For example, House / Divided blends the story of The Grapes of Wrath with the housing crisis. There’s a lot of intermingling of classic texts and contemporary socio-economic political issues, which there isn’t in Sontag: Reborn.

It’s a portrait of a life, or a part of a life, and the goal with it was to examine how this amazing intellectual mind became herself. You don’t get a lot of her philosophy in this show, and we don’t use much of her fiction or essays. There’s a little bit of it, but it’s mostly from her journals [and] examining how she became who she was as a person.

What was your reaction the first time you saw Sontag: Reborn?

I thought it was totally beautiful. It is totally beautiful and incredibly compelling. It’s a fascinating show because it examines how Susan Sontag’s mind evolved from age fifteen when she was reading more books than I will likely ever read in my entire life, discovering her sexuality and what it meant to be a woman in the time that she was growing up, and battling with her intense intellect.

How do you expect Wesleyan students will respond to the show?

I really feel like this piece is going to appeal to Wesleyan students because Susan Sontag is fiercely intellectual in a way that I think Wesleyan students—at least from my experience—are encouraged and challenged to be. I think most students here can relate to her struggle against her intellect, as a driving force in her life, and how she didn’t want to let that consume her.

Outside the Box Theater Series
The Builders Association—Sontag: Reborn
Based on the books Reborn and As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh by Susan Sontag, edited by David Rieff
Connecticut Premiere
Thursday, October 2 and Friday, October 3, 2014 at 8pm
CFA Theater
$25 general public; $22 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff/alumni, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students
Presented by the Theater Department and the Center for the Arts. Co-sponsored by Wesleyan’s English Department and Writing Programs. Additional support provided by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s Adaptive Capacity Program.

2014-15 Season Now On Sale! World, U.S., New England, CT Premieres

This year, we invite you to join us as we welcome the world to Wesleyan. Artists working in contemporary or traditional forms from 18 different countries will be performing or exhibiting at the CFA over the next nine months.

fall_2014_brochure_cover8-18-14A centerpiece of this year’s program is Muslim Women’s Voices at Wesleyan, which begins in September. Each of the performers to be featured is Muslim or of Muslim heritage, has a distinct set of personal experiences, and is embedded in a particular place, society, and cultural tradition. It is our way of inviting audiences to celebrate the complexity of Muslim women today, while at the same time exploring the historical and cultural context from which these women have emerged. We are also inviting audiences to participate in the creative process as we give birth to a new play by Leila Buck ’99, based on stories of Muslim and Muslim-American women in our region.

We are also bringing one of the United States’ most innovative theater companies working at the intersection of text and technology, The Builders Association, for two performances in October. Their amazing production Sontag: Reborn is a portrait of the younger years of one of America’s most iconic intellectuals, Susan Sontag. In November, the Theater and Music Departments join forces to mount the Tony Award-winning musical In the Heights, directed by Theater’s Cláudia Tatinge Nascimento with music direction by Nadya Potemkina, director of the Wesleyan University Orchestra. The musical was the thesis production of Lin-Manuel Miranda, a Theater major who graduated in ’02, who went on to win the Tony for “Best Original Score.” The book was written by Quiara Alegría Hudes, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, who will be a visiting faculty member at Wesleyan this year. It is sure to be an extraordinary production. And throughout the fall, the epic-scale, haunting landscape paintings of Professor of Art Tula Telfair will be on view in Zilkha Gallery. We invite you to enter into the imaginary worlds that Telfair creates in twelve large-scale paintings that are simultaneously awe-inspiring and intimate.

We launched our new website over the summer, and we hope you’ll visit and return often to find out about all of the faculty, student, and visiting artist events and exhibitions this year. We hope you will look to us as a place of enlightenment and enjoyment in the coming months.

Pamela Tatge
Center for the Arts

“Summer at the CFA” to include world premiere jazz; Connecticut premiere dance

Summer at the CFA
July 1-20, 2014

summer_2014_cover_200EVENING PERFORMANCES
1. Zili Misik – Wednesday, July 2, 7pm, CFA Courtyard (Rain Location: Crowell Concert Hall), FREE!
2. Camille A. Brown & Dancers – Friday, July 11, 8pm, CFA Theater (Connecticut Premiere)
3. Joe Lovano Trio Fascination with special guest vocalist Judi Silvano – Thursday, July 17, 8pm, Crowell Concert Hall (World Premiere)

4. Banning Eyre: Tales from the Afropop Road – Bringing the World to American Public Radio – Tuesday, July 1, 12:10pm, CFA Hall, FREE!
5. James Grashow: Art and Cardboard – Tuesday, July 8, 12:10pm, CFA Hall, FREE!
6. Aaron Jafferis: How to Change the World with Hip-Hop Theater – Tuesday, July 15, 12:10pm, World Music Hall, FREE!
7. This is It! The Complete Piano Works of Neely Bruce: Part III – Sunday, July 20, 3pm, Crowell Concert Hall, FREE!

Tickets for Camille A. Brown & Dancers and Joe Lovano Trio Fascination with special guest vocalist Judi Silvano are on sale now online!

Center for the Arts Stories: Daniel Gold ’75

Daniel Gold '75
Daniel Gold ’75

Center for the Arts Story: When the new cinema opened at the Center for the Arts I had the privilege of being chosen as one of the student projectionists. I took the job very seriously as I believed there was a real art to presenting a film professionally. I remember going to the cinema late one night to set up the film reels for the next day’s screening. It was dark and quiet. I was the only one in the theater. The movie was Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. In those days a feature length film came on many separate reels and we had two projectors. It took considerable skill for the projectionist to watch the corner of the screen for the small cue marks near the end of one reel, then start rolling and switch over to the next reel on the other projector without the audience ever noticing the change-over. I was checking out the cue marks and practicing the change-over between two reels when I looked out the port in the projection booth just as Martin Balsam, playing the investigator Arbogast, was nearing the top of the stairs inside Norman Bates’ house. From an overhead shot, the bedroom door swings open and Anthony Perkins, dressed as Norman Bates’ mother, charges Martin Balsam and plunges a kitchen knife into his chest several times. The Bernard Herman score screams with strident violin chords and Arbogast floats eerily through space in a nightmare fall down the staircase. Though I had seen the film many times I was frozen with fear. I completely missed the cue marks and never made the change over. When the horror eased a little and I snapped out of it, I quickly shut down the projectors, ran from the booth and out of the cinema never looking back. I would return in the light of day to complete my preparations and project the film in the safety and comfort of a theater full of people.

Favorite Course: The Western

Favorite Professor: John Fraser

Center for the Arts Stories: Harold Sogard ’74

Harold Sogard '74
Harold Sogard ’74

Center for the Arts Story: I was a senior theater major when the Center for the Arts opened in 1973. I’ve never put much stock in things supernatural, but there was always something freaky to me about the fact that the stage of the new theater was located on the exact spot where my grandparents had once had their house and where my mother had been born. I spent hundreds of fantastic, life-changing hours in the CFA. Before it even opened, I earned some much needed cash during the summer of ’73 working as a carpenter there, building things like the speakers in the new cinema and the cabinets in the design studio of the new theater. As a theater major, I took classes there, ran the (then revolutionary) new computer light board for the first play in the new theater, and I played the Referee in Fritz DeBoer’s production of Sam Shepard’s The Tooth of Crime. As President of WESU-FM, I produced a series of broadcasts of inaugural concerts from various venues, including an all-night-long gamelan concert and shadow puppet performance from the World Music Hall. And as a typical student attending CFA concerts, performances, exhibitions, and lectures, I had my eyes and ears and mind opened for a lifetime to a broad range of artistic expressions.

Favorite Course: Directing for the Stage

Favorite Professor: Ralph Pendleton

Thesis Title: “An Exploration of Simultaneity as a Form for the Theatre”

SEAMUS Conference Amps Up Campus Soundscape Over Three Music-Packed Days (Mar. 27-29)

CFA Arts Administration Intern Chloe Jones ’15 talks to University Professor of Music and Director of the Electronic Music and Recording Studios Ronald Kuivila and Assistant Professor of Music Paula Matthusen about the conference of the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States, taking place at Wesleyan University from Thursday, March 27 through Saturday, March 29, 2014.

Experimental music composer Alvin Lucier first performed at Wesleyan in 1968, just one year before the release of his groundbreaking and world-famous sound installation, I Am Sitting in a Room. He was teaching at Brandeis University at the time, but came to Wesleyan after a group of students requested to take a class in electronic music. The class was a roaring success, and Mr. Lucier was hired to launch an electronic music program at Wesleyan.

More than four decades later, the electronic music scene on campus is alive and well, and this year Wesleyan hosts the 29th National Conference for the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States (SEAMUS), co-hosted by University Professor of Music and Director of the Electronic Music and Recording Studios Ronald Kuivila and Assistant Professor of Music Paula Matthusen. Over 130 people are expected to gather from the U.S. and abroad and join the Wesleyan and regional community for this important series of performances, installations, talks, and workshops. [The SEAMUS conference is being held in New England for the first time since 1998.]

The term “electro-acoustic” refers to music that depends on electronic technology for its creation and/or performance. “Electronic technology” encompasses everything from hemispherical speakers to 3D video projection, custom software to the average laptop.

That’s not to say electro-acoustic music is all high-tech. Ordinary objects frequently make their way into the musical compositions, concerts, and sound installations. Case in point: one installation work featured at this year’s SEAMUS conference, Urban Legend [by Jenny Johnson, as part of David Tudor’s Rainforest in Zelnick Pavilion], invites visitors to combine Pop Rocks candy with carbonated soda water, and then captures the sounds of the resulting chemical reaction with a small hydrophone. Rainforest will create a chorus of loudspeakers out of found objects in an immersive sound installation that melds the ordinary with the extraordinary. [Other contributors to Rainforest include Paula Matthusen, Nestor Prieto MA’14, Phil Edelstein, John Driscoll, Nayla Mehdi, Stephan Moore, Jim Moses, Doug Repetto, Jeff Snyder, and Suzanne Thorpe.]

In the upper lobby of Fayerweather Beckham Hall, the audio installation SC Tweet [by Charles Hutchins MA’05] draws information from incoming tweets [tagged with #sc140 and that contain executable code] to program elaborate musical scores.

And taking place in a public parking garage in Middletown [the Middle Oak Parking Garage at 213 Court Street], The Non-aggressive Music Deterrent will replace the light classical music that usually plays in the garage with a whole array of original electro-acoustic compositions [from Friday, March 27 at 5pm to Sunday, March 29, 2014 at 12am; contributors to The Non-aggressive Music Deterrent include Benjamin Zucker ’15, Jason Bolte, Julius Bucsis, Caroline Park, A. Campbell Payne, Sean Peuquet, Margaret Schedel, and Juan Solare.]

It’s this fusion of high-tech and low-tech that makes the field of electro-acoustic music so compelling and innovative. “There’s a fine tradition of doing things like circuit building and hacking, in which you take found objects and reconfigure them,” explains Mr. Kuivila. “It’s an approach to electro-acoustic music that dovetails with our daily experience, in that you take something familiar and redefine it so that it becomes new.”

Electro-acoustic music transforms an empty film canister into a loudspeaker, or a cigar box into the body of a new instrument. It can also transform space, an idea that has greatly influenced Mr. Kuivila and Ms. Matthusen’s vision for this year’s SEAMUS conference.

Pianist Kathleen Supové will perform during SEAMUS Concert #14 on Saturday, March 29, 2014 at 8pm in Crowell Concert Hall.
Pianist Kathleen Supové will perform during SEAMUS Concert #14 on Saturday, March 29, 2014 at 8pm in Crowell Concert Hall.

In addition to the five daily concerts [for a total of fifteen concerts across the three days], the ongoing installations, four workshops, three paper sessions, and two listening rooms, there are a number of special events revolving around issues of space.

“We wanted to come up with ways to engage with the social dimension of spatiality,” says Mr. Kuivila.

One event that poses questions about space is Rock’s Role (After Ryoanji), which draws its inspiration from a series of pieces composed by John Cage. Rock’s Role (After Ryoanji) is comprised of soundworks that embrace sound leakage and overlap – the inescapable infiltration of sound into space. Each soundwork is intended to coexist with the other soundworks in the space [the lower level of World Music Hall; soundworks for Rock’s Role (After Ryoanji) contributed by Mara Helmuth, Jason Malli, Maggi Payne, A. Campbell Payne, and Adam Vidiksis.]

From the Memorial Chapel to the underground tunnels of the Center for the Arts, SEAMUS is taking the campus by storm and by sound. “You will hear a lot of different things,” says Mr. Kuivila. “It’s a smorgasbord of sorts.”

The SEAMUS conference represents an exciting moment for the Wesleyan Music Department and the regional community, bringing to campus many world leaders in the field of electro-acoustic music. For more information, as well as a detailed listing of events, please visit the conference website.

SEAMUS Concert #9
Friday, March 28, 2014 at 8pm
Crowell Concert Hall, 50 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown
Tickets: $8 general public; $6 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, non-Wesleyan students; $5 Wesleyan students

Concert #9 will feature Meditation on Pattern and Noise, a multi-modal exploration of communication and disruption, with music and language by vocalist Jonathan Zorn ’02 MA ’07. This concert will also include guitarist Bryan Jacobs performing his Syncro-Vox and Other Cheap Animation Techniques with Natacha Diels on alto flute (reading the music off a scrolling score on a computer display); pianist Kari Johnson performing time, forward by Chin Ting Chan (with fixed sample playbacks and live processing techniques), as well as Leander’s Swim by Sam Wells (with live electronics, inspired by Cy Twombley‘s painting Hero and Leandro, Part I); pianist Shiau-uen Ding performing Composition for S#!++\/ Piano with Drum Samples, Concrete Sounds, and Processing by Christopher Bailey (a percussive piece full of funky rhythms, joyous chaos, and cacophony); Motions of Maria Makiling for four-channel fixed media by Deovides Reyes III (depicting the bodily movements of the mythical Filipino character); and cellist Jason Calloway performing Vanished into the Clouds by Jacob David Sudol (with live electronics, titled from a chapter in the Japanese novel The Tale of Genji).

SEAMUS Concert #14
Saturday, March 29, 2014 at 8pm
Crowell Concert Hall, 50 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown
Tickets: $8 general public; $6 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, non-Wesleyan students; $5 Wesleyan students

Concert #14 will feature pianist Kathleen Supové (pictured above) performing Sonata for Piano and Tape by Todd Kitchen (based on the melody from the chorale Christ lag in Todesbanden), as well as two movements from Metal Works for piano and electronics by Nina Young (a suite of pieces inspired by scientific, poetic, and historic concepts of metal). Ms. Young is the first prize 2013 ASCAP/SEAMUS Commission Winner.

The concert will also feature the final movement of The Chamber of False Things, from The Barnum Museum (2009–2012) for fixed media by Barry Schrader (an electronic tone poem based on a short story by Steven Millhauser). The winner of the 2014 SEAMUS Award, Mr. Schrader is a founder and the first president of SEAMUS, described by Gramophone as a composer of “approachable electronic music with a distinctive individual voice to reward the adventurous.”

This concert will also include Hephaestus’ Fire: Music for Anvil and Electronics by Paul Leary (named after the Greek god of blacksmithing, metallurgy, and volcanoes, and performed with keyboards, foot pedals, a gaming joystick, an anvil, various hammers, and industrial metals); Z-77 for paper and computer by Jennifer Hill (an interpretation of Richard Wagner’s “gesamtkunstwerk” performed along with Ryan Fellhauer); and N’air sur le lit, a collaboration by pianist Jon Appleton and vocalist Paul J. Botelho with fixed media.

“Evan Roth//Intellectual Property Donor” in Zilkha Gallery through March 2

CFA Arts Administration Intern Chloe Jones ’15 talks to Virgil Taylor ’15, Sewon Kang ’14, and Stratton Coffman ’14 about the exhibition “Evan Roth//Intellectual Property Donor,” on display in the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery through Sunday, March 2, 2014. Admission to the gallery is free.

"Evan Roth//Intellectual Property Donor" exhibition in Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery. Photo by John Groo.
“Evan Roth//Intellectual Property Donor” exhibition in Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery. Photo by John Groo.

On display now in the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery is the exhibition Evan Roth//Intellectual Property Donor. This is the largest one-man show to take place in the United States for the Paris-based American artist.

Blurring the line between artist and hacker, the exhibition asks gallery visitors to consider how everyday life intersects with virtual reality and how viral media can become high art.

Beautiful, curving, white sculptures are suspended from the gallery ceiling, each one algorithmically produced from motion-tracked graffiti data. Across the gallery, an interactive installation invites visitors to create their own TED talks on a stage that looks startlingly identical to the TED stage. Covering one wall is a series of 1,540 smartphone screen-sized ink prints depicting the gestures required to beat all 300 levels of the popular game “Angry Birds.”

With an interest in the overlap between free culture and popular culture, Roth transforms existing systems into public, often political, statements. As part of the exhibition, visitors can obtain a small sticker that reads: “In the event of death please donate all intellectual property to the public domain.” Perfect for the back of your driver’s license, he wryly suggests.

Roth was on campus for a week leading up to the opening reception on the evening of Wednesday, February 5, 2014. I spoke with three Wesleyan students who had the opportunity to work directly with him during that time.

Studio Art major Virgil Taylor ‘15 first met Roth when the artist visited Wesleyan last year. Intrigued by his work, Taylor signed up to help with the Evan Roth//Intellectual Property Donor exhibition and returned to campus early from winter break in order to begin preparing for the show’s opening.

One work in the exhibition, Propulsion Painting, consists of a variety of mixed-media sculptures that use the pressure within spray paint cans to perform tasks such as the one in this video.

Roth needed 70 empty spray paint cans! Taylor emptied what cans he could by repainting all the stools in two classrooms, and spent the rest making a series of paintings. Done on canvases typically used in the installation of exhibitions, the series was titled In Conjunction and displayed in South Gallery next door to the Evan Roth//Intellectual Property Donor exhibition on opening night.

“It ended up being a really productive experience and a really great exercise for me,” says Taylor, who had never worked with spray paint before. Taylor also attended a daylong workshop held by Roth on the topic of hacking culture, in which students made mini projects based on systems they observed in their surroundings. “It was a really fast process: talk about it, identify a system, do something,” Taylor describes.

Here is an artist interested in talking about ideas, observing the world, and then acting. The internet, Roth argues, is not only a means of communication but also a rich artistic medium and a potent vehicle for activism.

Creative Campus Intern Sewon Kang ’14 also attended the workshop. According to her, “Evan works with infrastructure that is already there for him to subvert, so when he talks about activism he talks about how activists don’t necessarily need to go in and build from the ground up.”

Roth’s activism takes place through creativity and innovation, always seeking to make small interventions that will attract worldwide attention.

“There are already systems in place that you can change to work to your advantage,” explains Kang. “Roth sees everything in the world as an opportunity. Where I see a room full of tables and chairs, he sees the tables and chairs as a system for some sort of intervention.”

Zilkha Intern Stratton Coffman ’14 also spoke about the activist impulse running through Roth’s work. “He’s asking, in what ways can we exploit the technological and social systems that are already there to change not only our environments, but also what it means to be an agent in the world.”

Coffman was first introduced to Roth’s work last year when the proposal to bring Evan Roth//Intellectual Property Donor to Wesleyan came before the Zilkha Planning Committee.

“I was intrigued,” Coffman remembers. “What’s alluring about his work is its interconnectedness. It’s part of a larger practice, each individual work, which makes them all more complex.”

Having followed Roth’s journey to Wesleyan and interacted with him and his work on numerous different occasions, Coffman says, “There are still interesting questions to think about, which is partly why I think it’s such a fruitful show. There are these questions in the works that are not resolved.”

Evan Roth//Intellectual Property Donor is more than an art exhibition, it is a catalyst for creative thinking and a commentary on our world, a call to action and an interactive sensory feast.

The exhibition will be open through Sunday, March 2, 2014 at 5pm. Visit the exhibition website for more information, photos, and the video of the artist talk that Roth gave on the night of the opening.