The original video source for Canto is “Journey Through a Day” presented by Dale Johnson. The film stars Ralph and begins with the quote, “In the life of every man there is a time of boyhood – a time when he is intensely aware of his environment and his reactions to it are uniquely his own.” There is no other dialog.
The music, however, is driven by a vocal sample: that of poet Ezra Pound reading from “Cantos.” Pound’s lyrical cadence is processed by both the computer and performer while the video’s tone is similarly estranged and recreated.
This work investigates notions of the ideal. Ezra Pound’s literary and political ideals juxtaposed with a 1967 ephemeral film idealizing male youth, seen through the lens of a real-time audio-visual instrument. The materials are treated minimally, focusing the attention of the viewer on the oft-cracked and very personal logic of perfection.
That first-person perception is also challenged when performance control is in question.
While performing Canto it is the job of the improvising performer to “become intensely aware of his (or her) environment” and uniquely react to it via the solo keyboard instrument triggering a real-time convolved and physically modeled sample of Ezra Pound’s voice. The performer controls all aspects of the voice’s timbre. In addition, some of the performer’s performance data triggers accompaniment of sights and sounds although, depending on whether or not they are switched on by the performer, the accompaniment of six automatons are also working through their own logic controlling sound and vision.
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