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 Michael Bergeron
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Semiconductor & Heart Chamber Orchestra

Semiconductor & Heart Chamber Orchestra
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The Aurora Picture Show presents two nights of exciting media events culminating in a performance by the Two Star Symphony that accompanies Media Archeology. The following text contains descriptions of the shows from press releases by guest curators Bree Edwards and Robert Crouch.

In 2007 I was first introduced the work of  Semiconductor at an electronic music festival in Montreal. I arrived a day late and unfortunately missed their live collaboration with Düsseldorf-based pianist/composer Hauschka. However, they were invited to a panel discussion on live cinema that I had already planned to attend. In many ways I think this first experience of their work, where conversation and questions are encouraged, was the perfect context to explore and begin to understand the complex arrangements of sound, music, video, animation, and scientific research that constitute their work. I introduced myself to Ruth and Joe (their easygoing and humorous nature belying the intellectual and technological rigor of their practice), and we spent some time discussing their process as well as a recent residency they completed in California. When we parted company, they gave me a couple of DVD’s for later viewing. Back at the hotel I promptly popped in one of the discs into my laptop and watched The Sound of Microclimates three times in succession.

To this day it’s still one of my favorite pieces of video art, and I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to introduce a new audience to their work, as Semiconductor kicks off the first day of the Aurora Picture Show’s three-day Media Archeology festival. When people ask me why I love that piece as much as I do, I have always struggled to articulate a clear reason. To be honest I find much of it confusing, but after having presented Semiconductor’s work a few times in the US since then, it’s precisely this confusion that excites me; my inability to untangle the different threads of research and process so exquisitely interwoven and embedded into the work. While their films frequently incorporate scientific data into the artistic process, the point of differentiation between data and art becomes increasingly blurry and subjective, and the relationship between sound, music, and image also shares a similar interdependency. Going beyond mere “data visualization,” many of their pieces are arguably as much in conversation with the history of art and landscape as they are with the chosen scientific method.

Along with The Sound of Microclimates, I’m presenting several other favorites of mine, including Magnetic Movie, Heliocentric, 20 Hz, and 200 Nanowebbers. I encourage you approach their work with curiosity and an open mind.

– Robert Crouch, Guest Curator – Semiconductor Films

Films by Semiconductor & Opening Night Party for Media Archeology
Curated by Robert Crouch
Thursday, September 20, 7:30PM
Location: Aurora Picture Show, 2442 Bartlett Street
Free Admission

Aurora Picture Show presents the 9th annual Media Archeology Festival from Thursday, September 20 to Saturday, September 22, 2012 in Houston. Presented by Aurora Picture Show in collaboration with both the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts at the University of Houston and Nameless Sound, the multi-media festival showcases artists who use, manipulate, recycle and reinvent electronic media to create live multidisciplinary performances.

Media Archeology: Real Time will present artists whose work is a hybridization of moving images and acoustics to explore the relationships and open the definitions of film, music, art and performance. From innovative new technologies to traditional analogue methodologies these artists fuse genres to create a contemporary interdisciplinary experience grown out of sound and light.

On the first night of the festival, Aurora kicks off our annual Media Archeology Festival with a party and presentation of films bySemiconductor. Semiconductor is artist duo Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt based in the UK. Semiconductor literally makes films out of scientific data, sound and music, transforming it into a visual material to imagine new landscapes and worlds. They have developed a long term and rigorous practice that draws on innovations in science and media to form a visually and sonically rich body of work. Over the course of their career they have collaborated with a wide range of musicians and sound artists including Oren Ambarchi, DAT Politics, Hauschka, BJ Nilsen, and Cristian Vogel.

The following films will be included in the program:

20 Hz- 20Hz observes a geo-magnetic storm occurring in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. Working with data collected from the CARISMA radio array and interpreted as audio, we hear tweeting and rumbles caused by incoming solar wind, captured at the frequency of 20 Hertz.

Magnetic Movie- The secret lives of invisible magnetic fields are revealed as chaotic ever-changing geometries . All action takes place around NASA’s Space Sciences Laboratories, UC Berkeley, to recordings of space scientists describing their discoveries .

Brilliant Noise- Brilliant Noise takes us into the data vaults of solar astronomy. After sifting through hundreds of thousands of computer files, made accessible via open access archives, Semiconductor have brought together some of the sun’s finest unseen moments.

Retropolis- Retropolis is a city where the dust never settles and the last few light bulbs are fighting for survival. Transforming London into a modern Sci-Fi landscape, a fast moving journey takes us through destruction and chaos fuelled by an electrically charged soundtrack

Heliocentric- Heliocentric uses time-lapse photography and astronomical tracking to plot the sun’s trajectory across a series of landscapes.

A to Z of Noise- A to Z of Noise was an early process based experiment with pure white noise audio and pure black video.

Do You Think Science…- By asking a group of space physicists the unanswerable, Semiconductor reveal the hidden motivations driving scientists to the outer limits of human knowledge.

Sound of Microclimates- The Sound of Microclimates reveals the sights and sounds of a series of unusual weather patterns in the Paris of today.

All the Time in the World- Presented as a fictional documentary, the Sound Film All the Time in The World sees the millions of years that have shaped and formed the land, played out at the speed of sound.

200 Nanowebbers- For 200 Nanowebbers, Semiconductor have created a molecular web that is generated by Double Adaptor’s live soundtrack. Using custom-made scripting, the melodies and rhythms spawn a nano scale environment that shifts and contorts to the audio resonance.

Heart Chamber Orchestra
Performed by Two Star Symphony
Curated by Bree Edwards
Presented by Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts at the University of Houston
Friday, September 21, 7:30PM
Location: Barnevelder Movement/Arts Complex, 2201 Preston Street: Aurora Members $10, Non-members $15

The theme of this year’s Media Archeology Festival is real-time, a term that most commonly refers to data that is delivered immediately after collection, eliminating all delays in the timeliness of the information. Data is gathered for real time tracking of weather, flights, sports, economics and politics. In Houston, we are all too familiar with real time storm tracking during Hurricane Season. For years artists have been experimenting with the implications of real time technology in the production of artworks. In the spirit of experimentation with art & technology, the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts is pleased to present the North American premier of the Heart Chamber Orchestra in Houston. The city where internationally renowned heart surgeon Dr. Denton Cooley, broke ground with the world’s first artificial heart implantation.

A live audiovisual spectacle in which the music and imagery literally “come from the heart,” Heart Chamber Orchestra is performed by twelve musicians from Houston-based Two Star Symphony wearing electrocardiogram sensors that render the musical score and visual environment in real time. Taking the structure of a symphony as its framework, Heart Chamber Orchestra contains four movements, and is performed on traditional instruments. The interplay of audio and video allows for a synesthetic experience, in which the heartbeats of the musicians and their relation to each other become audible and visible. Heart Chamber Orchestra is the creation of guest artists TERMINALBEACH, a collaborative team comprised of PURE and BERGER.

– Bree Edwards, Guest Curator

One Response to Semiconductor & Heart Chamber Orchestra

  1. Pingback: Free Press Houston » FFW – The Free Press Music Preview for September 20 – 26, 2012

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