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Erika Simmons
Sounds Human (Lopez & Fidalgo Rooms)

AV geeks will undoubtedly gather here to see Shimon "The Improvising Robotic Musician" play music from behind

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Bumbershoot Visual Arts Preview, Part II

Simmons_blog.jpg
Erika Simmons
Sounds Human (Lopez & Fidalgo Rooms)

AV geeks will undoubtedly gather here to see Shimon "The Improvising Robotic Musician" play music from behind a keyboard. Designed by Gil Weinberg, Guy Hoffman, and Ryan Nikolaidis of Georgia Tech, and Roberto Aimi of Alium Labs, Shimon is more of a mechanical arm than a humanoid surrogate. He (it?) is perched on a low stage in the middle of the exhibition space. To his left is another keyboard and space for live, human sidemen; according to the Bumbershoot blog, Shimon can "hear" and respond to musical cues, like a regular jazz musician. We'll see.

By contrast, Erika Simmons adapts an older, nearly obsolete technology in her portraits (as above), which are made of unspooled old cassette tapes! The suggest that old portraiture trick where the artist never lifts his pencil from the page, creating a face out of one, long, continuous line.

Simmons' work is silent, but there's more noise in back...

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Draped into its own smaller, separate gallery is the installation Metaphors for Dead Pianos II by Hugo Solis. One piano--or its internal metal, strung framework, sometimes called "the harp"--has been hung from the ceiling. No keyboard, no wood body, just the guts. Which are then wired to little motion sensors. When you approach the thing, the sensors vibrate on the piano wires, producing eerie dissonant chords. Opposite is a somewhat more intact piano, its legs amputated, placed upright on the keyboard side. Even more piano wires have been similarly wired, so you can walk back and forth between the two instruments in counterpoint. Or, get a friend and play a duet. It's very cool, almost like a theremin.

We've written a lot about Paul Rucker in the past; he's one of those great local artist-musicians who works comfortably in a variety of forms. Here he addresses the four elements (earth, wind, water, and fire) with four collages and companion videos. The art he tiles together from musical tab notation (clefs, notes, etc.) and text, which seems drawn from black history. Repeated continuously in the background of his Sounds Like...(Fire) appears to be some kind of boxer's soliloquy--from a movie, play (The Great White Hope?), or historical interview, I have no idea. "In this ring, don't let the bullshit fool you," reads one passage. There's an undertone of anger beneath the harmony.

Also on view, work by local madman-genius-composer-inventor Trimpin, Victoria Haven, Ariane Michel, and Signal to Noise.

 
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