Conceived by John Eagle, Janie Geiser, Hsuan-Kuang Hsieh, Chu-Hsuan Chang, and Cassia Streb
Developed in collaboration with Audrey Densmore, Brian Hashimoto, Miranda Kahn, Tane Kawasaki.Moira MacDonald, and Stevie Nemazee.
These are two short excerpt from the Sound House work-in-progress, presented at Automata October 2, 2016.
This was our first public open rehearsal. All physical elements here are just mock-ups and stand-ins, with the exception of the rolling walls, which are in progress. The audience stood or walked around the periphery of the performing area, a 4ft wide corridor. The rectangular space of activity was defined by tape around the edges.
We found out immediately that Automata's space (17' x 32') is too small for the work. We imagine the performance taking place in a space that is at least twice that size or larger, so that there is more space for movement and reconfiguration.
Excerpt 1 This section shows a range of tasks, beginning with the live "scanning" of instructional manuals downloaded from the Strategic Air Command site. A brick wall is constucted, then taken apart. Puppet/technicians write code for the walls, and a performer (Streb) listens to signals derived from the code; the signals tell her what shapes to make with the walls. The sound is generated by the work. Microphones in the puppets pick up the sound in the room and that information is fed to the walls, which interact with each other to change the sound.
Excerpt 2: This excerpt includes puppet/technicians at work, monitoring their screens, and drawing; live coding, walls and puppets in feedback loop, animated video sections.
Sound House could take place in a large public atrium, on the stage of a theatrical space (with audience on the stage, not in seats), a lobby, community center, inside basketball court or gymnasium; or outdoors on a plaza or empty concrete area at night. It would be interesting to perform it in an open field (with some kind of low wooden platform for the performance space), suggesting the kinds of sites where the Minutemen missiles are buried.
Since the walls are such a key element of Sound House, we worked with designer Vincent Richards on the wall design and fabrication this past summer. (In our first workshop in March at CapUCLA, we used cardboard mock-ups to determine their scale and properties). For this work-in-progress, we removed one side panel from each wall, so that we could determine the best location for the speakers and micro-computers, and troubleshoot the system. Several walls will have at least one plexiglas side, so that these elements are visible.
All set elements---operator tables, puppet/minutemen control stations, bricks, live feed stations, monitors, etc---will be ultimately be designed and on wheels, so that all physical elements can move and shift, allowing the space to change in visible ways. We wanted to try out various configurations and ideas for these "stations" in the workshop.
The 2 puppets (there will be 4) are also in-progress---they will ultimately be either painted or costumed to wear jumpsuits similar to those worn by as the performers. We are also still experimenting with the placement of the speakers in their bodies.
Video is both projected and sent to screens and monitors. The content is both pre-made (both Geiser and Hsuan-Kuang Hsieh are creating this content) and live-feed. The live-feed is used in multiple ways---one camera picks up performed activity at the light table station (manipulating diagrams, game pieces, code-writing, etc); the other camera captures details of tasks, from wall patterns to puppet tasks to brick work. We want to add at least one more camera that captures the activity from above; that would be projected continuously on one surface or monitor. At Automata, we did have a live-feed from the balcony that was sent to a small TV in the storefront window, so that passers-by could see what was taking place inside. We would like to do something like this at every venue---perhaps in the lobby or outside of the space.
At Automata, there is a balcony at one end, so audience could also watch from that vantage point.