Human Meets Machine At The Street Experimental Music Festival
If you hear the words experimental music, you might not think of robots, cyborg belly dancers, old-style televisions morphed into synthesizers, or a human beatbox. But this is exactly the eclectic mix that The Street: Festival of Electronic Music, Art, and Performance purports to offer on a Wynwood sidewalk during Art Basel.
Now in its third year, The Street features a continuous playlist of twelve works for computer video and sound. The festival’s organizer, Juraj Kojs, says one of the highlights will be the piece “Rotunda” by Judith Shatin and Robert Arnold. Using time-lapse images and audio recorded from a single location at the University of Virginia, the video compresses one year on the Thomas Jefferson-designed campus into 15 minutes. Other videos cover disparate themes: life on earth after a Mars colonization, the sounds of glass objects, and fountains.
On Friday, the Street promises robotic instruments, those cyborg belly dancers, and a television synthesizer. The robots are supplied by another Virginia group called Expressive Machines Musical Instruments.
Electronic music often involves sounds generated by a synthesizer and played through speakers. But with ancestral roots in pre-digital machines such as player pianos, these robotic instruments use the computer to generate acoustic sounds, banging on drums or plucking strings.
Also transforming expectations is the customized TV of Kyle Evans. In the piece that will be featured, de/Rastra, Evans has taken a recent casualty of technological progress—the analog CRT television—and turned it into a sound and video synthesizer. As Kujs explains, Evans “wears the TV and plays it like an accordion.” Performing belly dance is Aurie Hsu, a composer who wears a custom collection of sensors that allows her to direct electronic music with her dancing.
On Saturday, Adam Matta shows off his his genre-bending human beatbox virtuosity, which is employed on the latest album by the popular string band Carolina Chocolate Drops. Matta seems an inspired choice for this series with its emphasis on the human-machine connection. After all, a beatboxer demonstrates that a singer can be a drummer—or a drum machine—just like a TV can be an accordion. That evening also hosts Miami’s own FIU Laptop and Electronic Arts Ensemble (FLEA) and improviser Taylan Cihan performing on his homemade analog synthesizer.
Kojs says that as long it’s not raining, all the performances will be on the sidewalk in front of the Harold Golen Gallery. Early birds—showing up between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.—could get a custom ringtone from one of the artists. Much like the murals that cover the converted warehouses of Wynwood, Kojs’ goal is to take the art out of the concert halls and ivory towers and bring it straight to the people. Or the cyborgs.
The FETA Foundation presents The Street: Festival of Electronic Music, Art, and Performance runs Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 8pm, outside the Harold Golen Gallery at 2294 NW Second Ave.