these first three experiments occurred during a visit to the eastern united states in the fall of that year. each had it’s particularities: the first was in the galleria of the baker center for the arts at muhlenberg college, in allentown, where i was given permissions to ‘play’ the harry bertoia kinetic sculptures which are on display there. the second was in my hometown, boston, where a very sparse performance space proved to be quite a challenge for finding sound sources. and the third, at bruce tovsky’s space in the brooklyn navy yards, expanded outwards, as the exceptional environment and visual collaboration with bruce led us to make our initial recordings, not just in the performance space, but all around the navy yard. for the performance bruce’s film was screened, accompanied by found sounds from the yard mixed with the live playing of found materials in the space.
in 2012 i began a new series of performances which i call echo surveys. the premise is straightforward: each is entirely unique and site-specific; all sounds heard are either produced live from materials found in the space, or have been prerecorded there during a pre-performance reconnaissance visit. this is an attempt to retain a specific and direct connection with each space and each audience, and to retain a sense of risk associated with each performance.
while usually i am not partial to publicly releasing recordings of my live performances (as they generally don’t make sense without the immediate connection to space and audience), i like having the ability to compare these three very different outcomes of this experiment, and to draw attention to bruce’s great filmwork. you can hear the three performances streaming above (sound only), or watch bruce’s film with my sound below.
“BROOKLYN NAVY YARD came about incredibly quickly. When I heard that Patrick, who is based in Estonia, was coming through Brooklyn on a brief U.S. tour I knew that we had to do something together at my space in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Patrick’s work is very much an exploration of site-specific sound and sound as definition of space, and the Navy Yard was the perfect urban subject; a sprawling 150-year-old Navy Yard undergoing a transformation into a modern industrial village on the Brooklyn waterfront. I myself am both a life-long phonographer and visual artist, and have done many pieces that explore the visual and sonic resonance of urban spaces. I had long wanted to do a piece in and about the Yard and this seemed to be the perfect opportunity. Due to our tight schedules we decided to spend one day gathering material in the Yard and then present it in a live sound with video performance in the studio. I led us through the Yard and Patrick chose specific places to sonically document, using both standard microphones and large contact mics. I set up my camera positions, sometimes including him recording or listening, sometimes not. We had the freedom to roam as we pleased – as a tenant I have full access within the Yard. After several hours of accumulation, we each spent the night and next day organizing and editing what we had gathered. The next evening we reconvened at the Yard and gave the performance: Patrick mixed sounds drawn from the previous day with explorations of the studio itself for sound potential – he had positioned several contact mics on various structural elements in the space, and used them to haunting effect. The groans and wails echoed the sounds created by the huge cranes used in the Yard’s dry-dock facilities. I screened the edit I had made of the prior days outing on a large 6’ x 8’ video screen I keep in the space. We had a capacity audience – 30 or so people – and as is our usual method had a post-performance discussion, which this time was particularly rich and informative. I record the sound at these events with both direct feeds from each performer and with a custom-made binaural dummy head, and then do a balance between them in the final mix – often in a 4.1 mix. I later combined the video piece with the mixed audio to create this standalone piece, an encapsulation of our effort to capture and examine a slice of this historic, fascinating space.” – bruce tovsky, 2014