@ The Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock
presented by The Society for the Activation of Social Space through Art and Sound (SASSAS)
I had a chance to attend a three-hour workshop called Make It, Perform It, Install It: Listen facilitated by sound artist Steve Roden. I wanted to attend this workshop because I figured it would bring inspiration and new perspectives to my own thesis work. Steve Roden started off by presenting some of his work. One of his focuses is on the translation of letters, numbers, shapes and color into new forms through the use of self-imposed codes and constraints. I really enjoyed viewing his work not only because his interests relate to sound and language, but also because he’s a man of juxtapositions who finds inspiration and new meaning by removing some of the obvious and distorting the senses.
During the workshop, we had the chance to create a bit of a collaborative orchestra of sound, film and color. There were about fifteen people at the workshop and we each were asked to color a portion of 8mm film that was strung between all of us. As music and sounds played in the background, we were asked to draw on the film according to the way we felt. When this part of the exercise was completed, we ran the film through a projection reel to see what types of patterns would emerge.
Prior to arriving at the workshop, we were asked to bring instruments or sound making devices. I brought some percussion instruments, but others brought guitars, violins, digital devices, bells, their own voices… . The film was played again, and this time, we were asked to play our instruments according to relative connections the patterns we were viewing. Steve asked us not to play tunes to the literal movements and color patterns – he wanted us to observe the smaller details of the visuals and he also wanted us to listen to the other participants and allow everyone to have their own creative sound space. One might think that we would have played something horrible and messy, but the outcome seemed quite the opposite. Instead, there seemed to be moments of, hmm…harmonious dissonance. In many ways, it seemed very much like a design research exercise and because it was very free in nature, I felt it was easier to be a creative participant.
There were a few takeaways I learned from this workshop. First, experimental projects have to be thought-out, but they don’t have to be complicated. Through our exercises that evening, I learned quite a lot about the integration of media, interaction and space. Experimentation doesn’t have to be hard – you just have to do it and learn from it. Second, live participation can be very rewarding, especially when the interaction you do is not just between you and a device or machine, but between other people as well. There is something much more personal about making with others. One other observation I made was about alternative ways of displaying light and color. The workshop allowed me to realize that I must keep my options about in terms of how I portray light and color and what mediums I use to project light. I.e. Not everything I make has to be be about LED’s. Rather, where else can I gather light? Projectors, shadows, natural light? Also, what subtleties can make my work more meaningful, more detailed, more – for lack of a better word right now – poetic?