Experimental Intermedia 1997

Experimental Intermedia’s Eighth Annual Festival with no fancy name
224 Centre Street
New York, NY 10013

One of my favorite festivals, the Experimental Intermedia fests are in my top five. The admission of only $4.99 gives one a great opportunity to sample unfamiliar acts (be surprised!) and experience the familiar in an intimate setting. Here are some highlights to the festival.

The Horopolodge of Dreams
Jaroslav Koran and Michael Delia
December 4, 1997

The Horopolodge of Dreams is a homemade instrument consisting of about 100 (*/- 50) pipes and iron rods arranged on styrofoam boxes acting as resonators. The instrument included some metal racks (record racks or cooking utensils?) that were bowed for sustained screeching effects.
As a prelude to the performance, the audience sat in a darkened room while incense billowed forth. We listened to a location recording… city life murmured in the background…about the time a few people started coughing from the excess of incense, the performers approached the stage.

The instrument was spread across the performance space. The pipes and rods were struck for clock chiming – gamelan – steve reich effects. Overtones gave way to beautiful ghost choirs. Ah…the beauty of bells.

During the course of the piece, the performers (Jaroslav Koran and Michael Delia) rang their way around the room, presenting new sections of the piece as they played different parts of the Horopolodge of Dreams.

Victoria Jordanova
December 11, 1997

Most folks probably think of the harp as a classical instrument. The beautiful woman in an evening gown sits at the instrument at the edge of the orchestra and occasionally gets a spot light during a symphony. Victoria Jordanova has probably been there but tonight she performed on harp using extended techniques and electronics. Among the techniques used to create this innovative music:

  • slide harp using a small metal rod
  • muting the string while thumping the string
  • shimmering, shining, twinkling harmonics
  • using an echo to create a swirling soundscape
  • rasing and lowering the electronic volume while playing the harp acoustically

Four Full: Where the Eye Meets the Ear
Sound and Image Installations
Phill Niblock, Ben Manley, Jens Brand and Dan Evans Farkas

Steven Gang Gallery
529 W. 20th Street, 4E, New York, NY

Running concurrently with the festival all through the month of December were sound and image installations way way way over in West Chelsea at the Steven Gang Gallery.

Phill Niblock

Two videos: one of city traffic as viewed from above at night, electronically processed, the other a small section also processed and projected on a larger screen. Low microtonal synthesizer drones linked to the videos provided rich audio complement to the slice of life on screen. Pretty damm cool if you ask me…

Jens Brand

Slides of minimalist art are projected on a wall, changing every few minutes. Every piece is slightly different, a close field of dots. I didn’t have a enough time to experience this one, but it worked for me!
From the program notes:

“…a new purely visual piece based on grey scale raster screens, dividing darkness and light into 2 x 81 steps using slide projectors.”

Dan Evans Farkas

Sections of a map are pieced together on the wall to form a map of Montclair, NJ. A web of unmounted speakers hang on the map, analog synthesizer insects twittering. As one moves around on the mat below the map, other beeps and buzzes are triggered. An outdoor grill stands by. Humorous touch!

Ben Manley

Set to action by a motion sensor, a bright light flickers on a pile of flickering TV sets. Static is heard through two radio speakers while untuned TV channels flutter in a seasonal green and red.
In another section of the gallery…

Two large bass drums sideways, on top of each other – lit from within. Resting on top of the top drum, a bass transducer and jingle bells. When the transducer hums – the bells jingle and the drums rumble in sympathy. A flickering red light tops the sonic sculpture. I got a kick out of this one, it’s nice to see an artist who has a sense of humor and a happy holidays message.

Phill Niblock
Annual Winter Solstice concert
December 21, 1997

Every year on the longest night of the year, the winter solstice, Phill Niblock holds a marathon concert at Experimental Intermedia. Six hours of his droning microtonal music. Typically, a Niblock drone is made by groups of similar instruments. For example, flutes, horns or digeridoos all playing microtonally (intervals smaller than a half step) close notes resulting in sum and difference tones that dance across the room.
In a darkened room, the audience listens to the music while watching multiple video screens of third world laborers, brick making, grain being milled, wood becoming lumber, fish fished and cleaned.

There were also sections of live performance. There were also sections of live performance. An electric bow guitar quartet performed to a Niblock drone. A ‘cellist also came out a few times and performed a few times.

A holiday tradition – if you’re free on the longest night of the year, make it a point to stop in at Experimental Intermedia. Eighth Annual Festival with no fancy name, Part Two is in March 1998.


Originally published on line at Juxtaposion Ezine.


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