Trilogs (2013-15) is a DVD project funded by a creative activities grant from the SUNY College at Oneonta. Liner notes for the DVD are listed below.
Percussionist Julie Licata, electronic musician and composer Brett Masteller, and visual artist Rhea Nowak came together curious about the process of creation, working with sound and visuals simultaneously, how people communicate across different artistic media, and what art and life have in common.
We began this project by recording visual and sonic improvisations, as well as conversations about what happened during these interactions. In each improvisation we set parameters within which we would work, sometimes intentionally making each other and ourselves uncomfortable. After we had approximately 15 hours of materials, we sifted through and contemplated what we had discovered and how we could present our process.
Through all stages of this project, each of us was continually required to be in the moment, to take risks, and to make decisions based on what others were doing. We also had to remain comfortable with the idea that any one of us, at any moment, could change the direction of the final outcome with a simple gesture (sonic, visual, or verbal). In reflecting on what this – participation in the creative process – had to do with anything, or why this experience was important (really, why art is important), we realized that successful communication in art, as with successful collaboration in life, is all about trust, mindfulness, risk-taking, playfulness and openness.
One can look at this DVD as a work of art or simply as a record of our process. In any artistic process, material is thrown away never to be seen or heard again… this was no exception. However, regardless of how much was discarded to finish this project, every moment, every visual and sonic gesture, and every conversation was necessary to arrive at this point. Nothing was deemed unimportant along the way, but rather was considered an experience that led us to our next moment. Enjoy it for what it is, or what you want it to be, and let it inspire you to improvise and trust the creative process.
Below are descriptions and links to a few of the tracks on the DVD.
First Trio – While working on this sequence, the first with all three artists collaborating simultaneously, each performer reflected on how our different creative processes were conversing. At times, we felt some disconnect between the way sounds and marks were communicating. We wondered what connections were literal, what were more thematic relationships, and how was the music related to the visual image as a whole?
Sonic Gestures Become Visible – In response to our previous improvisation, we attached contact microphones to the paper for this sequence. Sounds of the brush strokes and rhythms played on the paper were part of the sonic landscape; they also triggered responses from the computer. The percussive tapping impressed the materials into the paper and left visible marks in the drawing.
The Long Drawing began as an attempt to break through our existing perceptions of time. For visual artists, time seems to accumulate in physical layers, whereas performing artists tend to sense time in a more linear fashion. To recognize these differences, we used a long piece of paper working left to right, then layering up, to create a more visual representation of time passing. Similarly, the sequence presented during the end credits was an attempt to translate a musical conversation to paper by having all three artists draw at the same time.
In Discomfort we each gave ourselves specific limitations that we were not particularly fond of, or comfortable with (Rhea worked in black and white, Julie played piano and trumpet, and Brett took no external feeds and worked only with prerecorded sounds). We ended this improvisation feeling completely dissatisfied and irritated with what we had created. However, the arrangement of this sequence feels the most gratifying because the sounds and marks are completely linked… the music is dense, like seeing the entire drawing at once.