Sound Design for Marina Abramovic and Kim Stanley Robinson

marina_workshop_inprogress_0007Last week, I participated in a three-day workshop led by Marina Abramovic, at UCSD.

marina_workshop_inprogress_0008It was an incredible, indescribable experience, and, I must say, it has me salivating over the prospect of the Marina Abramovic Institute getting its foothold here in upstate NY.

lt was also my great pleasure to do the sound design for the installation presented at the UCSD University Art Gallery. It’s on view until 1/30/15. In the end, I produced and mixed two different versions (!) of the installation, one of them alongside the great novelist Kim Stanley Robinson, from whose text we worked during the week, and another mix with Marina (The two artists are pictured together, above). It was a rare pleasure just getting to sit at the mix desk for those hours, next to one of my heroes. I hope that both versions will make their way out into the world before too long. (all photo credits: Arthur C. Clarke Center for the Human Imagination, UCSD)marina_workshop_inprogress_0013

Two upcoming Tang Museum events

I’ve been exceptionally lucky in my first semester at Skidmore College to get involved with the Tang, the wonderful teaching museum and contemporary art hub on campus.

The current Tang show, I Was A Double, was co-curated by the oh-so-lauded Bang on a Canner David Lang, who kindly made a guest visit to my Intro to Music class. New music mavens like Ashley Bathgate and So Percussion also came to play inside the museum galleries in coordination with David’s on-campus residency and they totally killed it. Now, I’ve gotten roped into two additional Tang events: a remix workshop (where campus DJs and I will talk and teach some basics around working remixing and the various ways of working with digital audio) and an ensuing remix party.

The goal here is to get a lot of students to take the individual tracks from the sound installation David Lang composed for the museum show, and then transfigure them, creating new music out of David’s tracks (which themselves were settings of artists’ statements). This is all very apropos of David’s work, of course, since his recent work has included various riffs on the idea of recontextualization and remix.

But it’s also totally on point for my MU 100 class–all semester, students have been invited to do their assignments either as written work or using Audacity, the free digital audio workstation. I’m offering the option of participating in the remix events as one way to complete the final project.

Upcoming Recital and Sculpture Install

As I get ready to leave San Diego for upstate New York, I have a few big events to round out this beautiful and productive spring.

On Tuesday 5/20, in what will likely be my last recital program at UCSD, I will be joined by some of my most frequent collaborators in an evening of unconventional scores.
Synaestheoria slide

But first, this weekend 5/15-17, in partnership with Take Back the Alley (fbook), Joe Mariglio and I will be PERMANENTLY installing our signature sound sculpture, the Shanty, behind the Media Art Center San Diego’s Digital Gym, on El Cajon Boulevard. Come by Saturday 5/17 in the afternoon (and, times TBA into the future) to experience this thing at work. It’s a kind of listening chamber and immersive analog instrument, where the walls function as microphones and the ceiling as a speaker.

IMMERSION: Soundtracks for Sea Life

Today, 4/13/14, it’s my pleasure to debut some soundtracks for sea life that were created in a workshop I facilitated at A Reason To Survive, in National City, CA

If you happen to be at the Birch Aquarium (at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography) today, you can enjoy each one of these headphone soundscapes together with the tank that inspired it.

…and if that embedded player is giving you any trouble whatsoever, hang out at instead

2 Upcoming Performances!

I’m playing this Friday (Oct 11) and next Friday (Oct 18), both at UCSD’s CPMC building.

The 10/11 gig is a collaborative project with vocalist Bonnie Lander, where we’re playing some freely improvised acoustic café music fused with psychodramatic vocal noise. Astor Piazzolla + Derek Bailey + Animal Collective? Three other improv projects will perform on the same concert.

Next week, I’m playing composer Kevin Flowers’ music, a large ensemble work in extended just intonation. I love to explore theis frontier of microtonality, and Kevin and I have worked together in this vein with John Fonville and, this term, with Charles Curtis, so it’s a great and natural evolution for me to be interpreting Kevin’s music.

Both gigs are free and at 8pm. 

Symmetrichorale (5/29/2013 performance, 2012 revision)


The documentation from the concert of my music that happened in May is finally starting to trickle in!
This short piece is a revision of a violin duo originally commissioned by Machine Project (LA) for the Hammer Museum of Art (UCLA). Its animating idea and form are owed to my composition studies with Alvin Lucier at Wesleyan between 2004 and 2008. Alvin advocated the transparent “one idea piece,” which I think pretty well characterizes this piece and its dogged exploration of symmetry around the droning open ‘A’ string.

A Mess of Things returns to SD July 5!

A Mess of Things, one of my biggest and proudest artistic creations, is back on stage. It’s been over a year since I took the piece on tour to Phillie, NY and Maine; right now,  I’m polishing it back up for a stint in San Diego’s first ever Fringe Festival. There’s plenty of info about and video of the piece here.

I never know how to describe the work. I’ve tried “documentary musicplay,” “videographically illuminated radio opera,” “fusion of experimental music theater and sound documentary.” I created A Mess of Things as part of my MA thesis project, in 2011, and it’s become an anchor of my repertoire as a composer/performer/media artist/writer/etc. I think of it as my response to several of my favorite sound artists, many of whom work with spoken language, true stories and the latent potential therein: Robert Ashley, Ira Glass, the Books. The piece is driven by audio interviews I made with my grandfather over the course of several years, and by songs and quasi-songs I wrote in response to combing through and editing those interviews. Then, in the context of the Crossing Boundaries project, a collaborative group of intermedia experimentalists based in UCSD’s Department of Theater and Dance, I developed the video component and performance realizations of the piece. Like a set of songs I’d play with a band, the taking the show on the road and performing it repeatedly in different spaces has really given the performance life and breath. Like radio, the conversation between present and absent voices gives the piece an anywhere/nowhere/everywhere quality that has only deepened with time.

SO! If you come check out one thing I’ve made this year, please make it this show. I’m only doing three shows:

Friday 7/5 at 2:00p

Sat 7/6 at 8p

Sun 7/7 at 9:30p

Tix are available here:

and more info is here: