~plicity is a 24-minute audiovisual work created by localStyle (Jay Alan Yim and Marlena Novak). The specific instrumental ensemble is variable as long as it minimally includes four live musicians plus one veejay. The musicians must play a combination of instruments that cover the ranges given in the printed score; similarly, the veejay concurrently follows a composed score with indications for which video materials must be used for specific passages, the types of transformations to be employed, and how long these passages last. The work was written for the Tel Aviv-based ensemble Musica Nova and first performed by them in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem; it subsequently received its US premiere in December 2010 by the dal niente ensemble in Chicago.
As collaborators, we came face to face with fracture on an enormous scale during a 2008 research trip to Iceland. There, two tectonic plates—the North American (moving to the west) and the Eurasian (moving to the east)—form the Icelandic Rift. Separating at the rate of approximately two millimeters every year, Iceland is being formed in the shadow of an enormous basalt cliff at Thingvellir. Tellingly, this is the site where Iceland’s national parliament was founded in 930, and held its annual sessions there until 1798.
Our encounter with this geological phenomenon provided the springboard for a performance piece combining contemporary music composition and live video, created for Tel Aviv-based ensemble Musica Nova at the request of their artistic director Amnon Wolman. Having had long acquaintance with Wolman’s progressive politics and desire for Israel to find a humanitarian solution to the Palestinian situation, we understood that the intractable tension of the Middle East was a key element, and thematized it. That theme is of unrelenting forces pulling continents and people apart, counterbalanced by a reciprocal yearning to draw together, build bridges across divides, and strengthen community.
The title is an indication of the complexity of these relationships and of the strategies for addressing them: implicit, explicit, complicit, duplicity, multiplicity, implication, duplication, replication, etcetera. These concepts are built into the parallel scores, each one a template for contingency, with performance indications for the musicians and for the veejay. The ensemble’s orchestration is variable. Players are challenged by recurrent windows of opportunity to address confrontations, shift allegiances, form new partnerships, and to collectively map out a course through changing terrain. These scores are also intended as a behavioral model, where the social relations between players are foregrounded as they listen to each other, and where their musical interactions are based on the cultivation of partnership and collaboration. The veejay plays a similar role with five sets of curated video clips, as a structured improvisor operating in parallel or counterpoint to the musicians, superimposing their choice of algorithmic filters and transformations on Icelandic footage.
In the spirit of the project, we welcome having a dialogue with any organization interested in mounting a production. All inquiries for rental of performance materials (scores & parts, video clips) may be directed to: jay at localstyle dot tv