Very thrilled that Dave and I will be performing IJC no 1 at the University of Washington in two weeks as part of the Keywords for Video Game Studies Colloquium. Looks like a great conference!
Here are a few links to one of the recordings we made of the performance at the premiere. This is all very preliminary; mostly I wanted to get these up so that our performers wouldn’t have to wait an inordinate amount of time before gaining access to their work. In the near future we’ll have more recordings to share, along with documents and schematics that will hopefully make the whole thing somewhat more intelligible for people who were unable to attend. I expect we’ll also develop better and more thorough metadata standards than what you see here. I must confess, on that front what we have could be described as “ideals” and not so much as “a plan”.
In any event, the audio is available for listening / tagging / downloading via Soundcloud. I also tossed it onto YouTube for ease of sharing / embedding / etc. Oh look, there it is:
Imaginary John Cage no. 1 (for 12 Video Games) premiered today. I cannot speak for the audience, but I am so very happy with the performance. We are deeply indebted to our players for their energy and ingenuity, to University of Oregon Libraries for their kind sponsorship, and to the friends and colleagues who gave us their time to help with setup, recording, and breakdown.
We will share recordings very soon. For now, we rest.
It all started to feel so real when the posters arrived.
Just over one week to the performance, and we’re starting to find all sorts of fun details that need tying up. It’s remarkable how much I have personally enjoyed seeing to those details. The pleasure I have taken from the work reveals a simple, somewhat startling truth: that I care deeply about this project.
This puts me, potentially, in a difficult position because the fact is that I have very little idea what will happen at the performance.
All manner of performances operate under the influence of boatloads of variables. Many are simply beyond control, and so are elided from consideration depending on the specifics of the production. Most others tend to be part of “The Plan”, or specifically “The Plan” involves controlling them to the greatest degree possible.
IJC no. 1 (for 12 Video Games) is designed to take some of those variables out of our control. Twelve video games / instruments are played, live, by twelve players / performers. Audio from each game is routed into a single audio mixer, and from there to the performance space’s speakers. The score is written for the mixer, and details the volume level of each channel at a given time. (The complexity of the score and the mixer has led us to assign two people to this task, roles that John and I will fill (though certainly someone mentally quicker and more physically dexterous than us might play the mixer solo).)
The only instructions to the performers are when to begin and when to end. What they do in their individual games, and so what audio is being sent to the mixer, is entirely up to them. The score only dictates which channel’s audio is passed to the speakers, and at what level, at a given time. Further, we allowed the performers to exercise broad discretion in their choice of game / instrument. Similarly, the score does not dictate channel assignment, so theoretically the same performers with the same instruments could produce two vastly different performances by simply altering the audio routing.
Keep in mind that in this conceptualization, there is no visual component. We will hear what the performers are doing according to the provisions of the score; but we will not see. Sight will be reserved for the performers alone, which is another way to say that it is withheld from everyone else.
So, yes, a lot of unknowns to go along with the unknowables. A lot of uncertainty, which a part of me finds deeply disturbing. Something akin to a fear reaction. It’s scary, I think, doing this and inviting people and going to no small amount of trouble with the planning, the composing, the hardware setup, etc. & etc., when the fact is that I can’t tell you what it will sound like because I do not know. And that’s a good thing, because it means I’m going somewhere I haven’t been before.
And at least I’m not addicted to brain crack.