Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Sara Ayers
As EMPAC’s inaugural distinguished artist-in-residence, Laurie Anderson is committed to engage with RPI and the greater Capital Region community through events that bring focus and insight to her unique and wide-ranging artistic work.
The first public event of Anderson’s residency was a talk held last month, “Designing + Customizing Instruments for Performance and Recording.” It was an informal and fun affair, which managed to deftly blend arts and technology – a perfect fit for EMPAC.
For the first hour, Anderson served up a somewhat rambling, chronological talk about the variety of “instruments” that she has utilized throughout her artistic career, including the Tape Violin Bow, the Neon Violin, the Handphone Table and the Electric Chair. Utilizing photos, videos, audio clips and sometimes live demonstrations, Anderson also explained how she put technology to unusual purposes – for example, attaching a lipstick camera to the end of her violin bow or putting a pillow speaker in her mouth to orally control the sound of a violin.
She then introduced several of her hardware and software collaborators – Shane Koss, Liubo Borissov and (via Skype) Konrad Kaczmarek – for a more technical discussion that centered around the programming and software design for “Scenes from My New Novel,” a new composition which Anderson will premiere next month with the Kronos Quartet. The evening concluded with a Q&A session with the audience in the jam-packed theater.
The next public event of Laurie Anderson’s residency at EMPAC at RPI will be a double-header program of her films on Thursday, May 2. The back-to-back presentations of “The Films of Laurie Anderson” at 5 & 8pm will provide audiences with a unique opportunity to be fully immersed in Laurie Anderson’s film and video work. The 8PM presentation will be capped off with a screening of a silent film which will be accompanied by Anderson and Pauline Oliveros playing together.
Tickets are now on sale, priced at $6 per session; separate tickets are required for each of the May 2 screening sessions.