Two Violins and a Theater: a Triptych of Resonances (2006)
Site-specific performance/installation including custom electronics & cymatic water projections
Performed at Mills College, Lisser Hall Theater as part of Signal Flow Festival 2006
In partial fulfillment of MFA, the thesis which may be downloaded here
The set is dark of a black box theater, except for two violins on white pedestals placed symmetrically about the center of the stage with spotlights on them, and a screen illuminated by reflections of water surfaces.
One of these violins is “self-oscillating” or has no visible performer. A violinist, dressed in white and lying down on the pedestal, performs the other violin. The layout of the set creates an opposition between “self-oscillating violin” object and the human violinist-performer.
Between the two violins three round trays are mounted on top of black boxes. The tray nearest each violin symbolizes and is directly related to that violin. The center tray represents the surrounding space.
Each tray is filled with a thin layer of black water, and has an audio driver (or small speaker) attached to the bottom. The sounds we hear in the two large speakers placed behind the violins are fed to these speakers.
The vibrations created by the driver create visible and invisible waves in the water. Lights from behind the stage magnify these waves. The angle of these lights and placement of the trays generate projections of the water reflections, which are directed onto a screen. This 6’x11′ semi-transparent screen separates the built-in seating area from the performance area.
In front of each of the violins is one proximity detector, connected to the sound-generating Max/MSP patch. As a body approaches one or the other violin, it triggers the resonant frequencies of that particular instrument to sound in the speakers. Similar sounds emanate from the strings of the “self-oscillating violin” when someone moves in front of it. These sounds also create visual patterns on the water surface of the tray nearest the violin, amplified onto the screen.
Sometimes one of the violins is played (either mechanically or electrically), and this also triggers the resonant frequencies of that particular violin to sound in the speakers. When there are no triggers for an interval of time (no bodies moving near the violins or violins sounding), the resonance of the room is heard in an evolving continuum of tones and visualized as water waves from the middle tray.
Two Violins and a Theater is a never-repeating installation or an environment without predetermined temporality. Its form arises from the “breathing system” interactions between objects and the agency of perceiver-performers.