On Feb. 27 a full house in the Doudna Fine Arts Center Theater was entertained to an innovative approach to visual arts, music, and technology — all theatrically intertwined.
“Big Robot” is a human threesome with futuristic ideas of art. This talented trio was brought to our area in part by the Jack and Margaret Redden Fund for the Improvement of Undergraduate Instruction. A big portion of the audience held up their hands as undergraduates. These same students will also be benefitting from a workshop given by the educator-threesome on Tuesday.
Scott Deal of “Big Robot” is from Indianapolis, where he is a professor of music and director of the Donald Louis Tavel Arts and Technology Research Center at Indiana University Purdue University. He has performed throughout North America, Asia and Europe.
He has won several awards, including the IDEA Award for the co-creation of “Auksalaq,” a telematics opera, and also made the New Yorker Magazine’s 2011 Top Ten Classical Picks with “John Luther Adams’ Four Thousand Holes,” for piano, percussion and electronics.
He was fanatically fantastic on each of his many percussion instruments in the performance.
Another member of the triad is Michael Drew, who is a composer of contemporary acoustic and electronic music and is assistant professor at Indiana University. His unconventional music interacting with technology has been performed throughout the USA, Europe and South America.
The memory of his surreal creations of art by blending music and technology will be treasured.
The third artist is Jordan Munson, who is a musician, composer and multimedia artist. His art is on the cutting edge of music relating to technology. He founded the Computer Laptop Music Ensemble and has experimented with online performance-based projects for the Internet and interactive electronics.
There was never a dull moment in the concert with Munson’s skill, which, to me, was over the edge.
The above description of the three performers is just a trifling of their education, expertise and experience. The threesome with their technology, instruments, knowledge and experience were one great “Big Robot.”
It was definitely an unusual evening, with “Infrastructure” by Michael Drew (video by Jordan Munson); “Ester Parade” by Scott Deal (video by Jordan Munson); “Shot and Abandoned” by Jordan Munson; “Jackwalk” by Scott Deal (video by Jordan Munson); “Noir” by Michael Drews (video by Jordan Munson); and “From the Ripples of a Towering Ocean” by Jordan Munson.
This performance was odd in that it seemed the observer-hearer became a part of it. One sensed the mood and the story of what the music was artistically conveying methodically as well as haphazardly — sometimes both at once.
There were fascinating scenes, like the vagueness of a human image; the swaying of tree tops with light coming through them; the robotic face of something; and a sadness or happiness of a line, a square or a color.
There also was a mood created by the visual and sound of swaying water. I heard the voice of the music blending with the cadence of a beat, the chime of bells and a string melody.
Definitely, my imagination was carried away to a place that might not exist — or it might have. I was drawn in and smitten by this innovative, weird and wonderful blend of music, visual art and technology.
Carolyn Stephens of Charleston is an arts enthusiast and reviewer-at-large for the JG-TC. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.