Interrupted Transmissions   2023
The Barn Gallery 
Virginia Center for Creative Arts
Mt. San Angelo, VA

Interrupted Transmissions was a transformation of the 1800 sq. ft. Barn Gallery at VCCA Mt San Angelo through a site-specific installation using found piano music rolls. The work was based on an interweaving of body, sound, and language and was structured as an interactive experience, loosely built around improvisation.

The work was based on an interweaving of body, sound, and language and was structured as an interactive experience, loosely built around improvisation. The structure was dictated by the form of the hanging rolls and the physical intervention of the space. The length of the musical scrolls and what was visible to the “audience/performers” determined the response and corresponding action. As the rolls were from the early 1900’s, variations in the color and legibility of text and tactility of the paper, created visual texture which informed how the work was composed and architecturally woven through the space.

Dancers, musicians, composers and poets responded to the installation through sound, projection of light through the notational patterns, and physical activation or movement in the space between scrolls. These responses or “Happenings” took place throughout the duration of the residency. The space was transformed into a palette for interdisciplinary collaboration. Musicians and dancers would often overlap in their interactions with the space while poets would use the site meditatively, moving through the language of the scrolls to generate poetic responses, resulting in ekphrastic poems.

Three composers conceptually informed the work, Vijay Iyers, John Cage and Iannis Xiannakis. Vijay Iyer’s text, ‘Improvisation, Action Understanding, and Music Cognition With and Without Bodies’ inspired my interest around improvisation with and without bodies in both a literal and symbolic sense. By utilising an intentionally anachronistic mode of music literature as a sculptural material I am interested in creating a situation that demands improvisation of the body– a physical response without the auditory cues of music. This ritualistic staging asks formal questions of music by leaning on the sheets of notation as a structural material. Upon entering the installation, one must sit within the body and mind as instrumentation.

Building on my interest in Iyers improvisational methodology,  I also am thinking about John Cage's “4:33” and the idea that there are no limits to an auditory experience, that preserving silence through composition can generate unexpected expression of body and emotion.One can compose a physical and architectural space through the referent of musical notation.

Interrupted Transmissions directly pulls from experimental composer Iannis Xiannakis’s work “Terretektorh '' from the 1960’s which dissolved the audience-performer boundaries by staging instrumentalists throughout the audience. Using the scrolls to redesign the amphitheatre will generate a similar affect, complicating and dematerializing the boundaries and the ways in which the amphitheatre traditionally functions.