Archive for February 5th, 2010

Scavenging the Cultural Apocalypse

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Well, as long as we’re on the subject of creative exchange between the US and the Philippines, let’s take a second to embrace this event, which doesn’t involve any Michael Jackson DVD promotion. At least, I don’t think.

It’s happening this Saturday in Manila at Carlos Celdran’s beloved Living Room/Syquia Apts (ground zero for Galleon Trade 2007‘s shenanigans), involving some folks I absolutely adore and miss to pieces:

Music of the Lost Cities: Scavenging the Cultural Apocalypse

(A Networked Sound and Visual Jam)

FEB 6 — 20:00, Living Room, Syquia Apartments

“Lost Cities” is a psycho-geographical, mixed-media narrative that explores pre and post apocalyptic urban landscapes and architectural backdrops through imaginary characters named “the sub-colonials” who move, dance, and tread through these past, futurist, and surreal environments. Collaborators in the project, that involves interactive computer-generated sound and video, are Chris Brown (Sound) and Johanna Poethig (Visuals) from Oakland, California; and Tad Ermitaño (Visuals), Caliph8 (Sound) and Malek Lopez (Sound) from Manila.
They will present their work-in-progress and discuss its artistic intentions and technical implementation with the audience.

Presenting the Oakland-Manila Art Exchange:

Chris Brown, composer, pianist, and electronic musician, creates music for acoustic instruments with interactive electronics, for computer networks, and for improvising ensembles. Recent recordings of his music include “Boundary Layer”, a 3-CD box set of new and old computer network music by The Hub, on Tzadik, “Cutter Heads “, duets with Fred Frith on Intakt, “Talking Drum”, binaural recordings of interactive installations interleaved with environmental soundscapes on Sonore; and “Lava”, for brass percussion and electronics on Tzadik. He is also known for his recorded performances of music by Henry Cowell, Luc Ferrari, Jose Maceda, David Rosenboom, Larry Ochs, Wadada Leo Smith, and John Zorn. He has also performed and recorded extensively with The Hub, Anthony Braxton, Pauline Oliveros, Fred Frith, Rova Saxophon Quartet, Ikue Mori, Alvin Curran, William Winant, Glenn Spearman Double Trio, among others. In 2005 he created TeleSon, a composition for two ReacTable instruments performed in a joint concert between Ars Electronic in Linz, Austria and the International Computer Music Conference in Barcelona, Spain. He teaches electronic music and composition at Mills College in Oakland, where he is Co-Director of the Center for Contemporary Music (CCM).

Tad Ermitaño, media artist, writer and filmmaker. As far as the media art goes, he is interested in algorithmic/procedural editing and composition, new uses for the moving image and have been lately drifting into elementary robotics. His work “Quartet” was exhibited in the recently concluded International Symposium for Electronic Arts (ISEA) in Singapore.

Johanna Poethig, a visual, public and performance artist who has exhibited internationally and has been actively creating public art works, murals, paintings, sculpture and multimedia installations for over 20 years. She has worked in collaboration with other artists, architects, urban planners, design teams, arts commissions, specific communities and cultural groups. Poethig’s public art works intervene in the urban landscape, in neighborhoods, on freeways, in parks, hospitals, schools, homeless shelters, cultural centers, advertising venues and public buildings. She has received numerous commissions and awards for this work. Her paintings, sculpture and installations reflect her interest in satire, symbol, human nature, society and our consumerist culture. She has produced and participated in performance events that mix feminism, global politics, costume, props, cabaret, experimental music and video.

Malek Lopez, Berklee-trained virtuoso who is the principal composer for the band Drip, and half of the abrasive electronica duo Rubber Inc, who are responsible for establishing electronica in Manila. He is also a well-noted film composer.

Caliph8, beat smith, graffiti bomber and soothsayer. A lynch-pin of various groups and ensembles, he’s probably the most sought after sound manipulator in the Philippines. His output extends to more than just sniffing aerosol paint and flexing wrists with fat markers–he also creates visuals and projects them while manipulating audio and creates sound collage.

Feb. 6 — 8 PM

at the Living Room in Syquia Apts., MH del Pilar, Malate
Hosted by Living Room (Carlos Celdran) and SABAW Media Art Kitchen


The foulest stench is in the air, the funk of forty thousand years

Friday, February 5th, 2010

You know, when you extract song lyrics, they sometimes end up seeming almost…Shakespearean.
And speaking of tragedies, this travesty of choreography is just too much to bear.

Everyone’s a dance critic, I know, but I’m sorry: how many kinds of wrong can this be?

It’s well-known how obsessed I am with the Cebu Prisoners (aka the Dancing Inmates), and as far as I’m concerned, Byron Garcia is the Zhang Yimou of my imaginary Philippines Olympics Opening Ceremonies. But THIS wretchedness, wrought by an interloper, is just not making the cut with me.

Apparently, Michael Jackson was a fan of the dancing prisoners (as well he should have been). In the aftermath of his passing, and the posthumous release of the concert film “This Is It” in theaters and then DVD, Cebu prison program head Garcia was convinced to yield his reins to Michael Jackson’s primary choreographer Travis Payne, which in theory would be the logical conclusion and culmination of the Cebu Prisoners-Michael Jackson nexus. Perhaps symbolically it still is: incaracerated individuals with little to no personal agency dancing out pop imperialist promotional material….I really don’t know where this leaves notions of a prison-industrial complex. Maybe just prison complex.  Or complex prison choreography. Something.

There’s really just too much for me to write about the following, so here are my general first impressions:

  1. Leni Riefenstahl’s “Triumph of the Will” in Halloween colors
  2. ultra-creepy military formations
  3. tight regimentation really ruins all the fun
  4. moves that might have been jazzy on a 98 lb weakling alone center stage do not have quite the same effect when employed by a handful of beefy american showboaters surrounded by hundreds of prisoners marching lock-step
  5. once again, filipinos become the backdrops for someone else’s fantasia
  6. lighting and video quality is better: I will concede only this
  7. the bizarro parading-about of a Martin Luther King placard in some sort of cross-promotion for civil liberties in prison could seem symbolically appropriate under certain circumstances, but here = wack and exploitative in the worst way
  8. sorry: orange pants only look good with orange shirts in this situation
  9. Unbelievably lame t-shirts promoting the the DVD release worse than prison uniforms
  10. white MJ rorschach blob on shirts looks like A, dead silverfish, B, texas longhorns logo, C, horsehead skull, D, all of the above
  11. disco moves could be put to far better use
  12. no zombies, nuns or trannies = lame
  13. “pubic triangle” formation of probably little relevance to either Jackson or the inmates
  14. a peace symbol formed by prisoners all shaking their fists in the air just seems plain wrong.
  15. What I really wanna know is: When’s the Wonder Girls DVD release going to happen?

“Some things in life they just don’t wanna see
But if Martin Luther was livin’
He wouldn’t let this beeeee….”