DOT AIR – experimental music and art festival
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DOT AIR Sound
DOT AIR 2016 featured a diverse array of adventurous music presented in two non-traditional sites / modes at the parking structure at 1 Park Place in Pawtucket, RI. The second floor of the structure is a long concrete corridor with low ceilings dissected by girders that both trapped pockets of sound and allowed it to reflect across the space through expansive stretches of time. The top floor of the garage, while open to the noises of the surrounding environment, also featured a quadraphonic sound system, the borders of which demarcated an interactive listening space, which gave listeners the ability to navigate through the performances as active participants.
The afternoon began with an intimate site-specific a capella performance by vocalist Laurie Amat, who move the second story of the parking structure both figuratively and literally—drawing listeners in with barely audible incantations whispered across the walls and shattering silences with explosive outbursts and operatic vocalizations that filled the space, echoes decaying slowly between the concrete slabs overhead.
Audience members slowly found their ways upstairs amidst the sweltering heat of the midday sun, where they were greeted by a performance by Work/Death’s Scøtt Reber, whose ensuing compositions blended soundscapes reminiscent of industry from the local area that often melted into the periphery, lingering at the edge of perception and calling into question whether their origins were intrinsic or extrinsic in nature, with haunting melodies and swells of noise slowly conquering the spectrum.
Next on the program was Boston-based improviser Forbes Graham, whose angular trumpet improvisations were mutated by a variety of forms of live electronic manipulation, and juxtaposed with jarring interruptions recalling alarm clocks and indecipherable public radio broadcasts, intensifying and obfuscating the sounds of daily life.
The audience was led back down to the second floor, where Sarah Hennies’ durational performance endlessly repeated an even sequence of percussive strikes across a variety of instruments, beginning with a vibraphone, whose overtones interacted with the space, beating against one another and swirling overhead in shimmering, psychedelic patterns, and moving methodically through snare drum, wood block, and triangle, each calling to attention different properties of the space, and contrasting with the shuffling sounds of the Elm City Dance Collective members’ feet and breath echoing throughout the structure.
Moving back upstairs, the sun’s descent into the sky and the subsequent relief from the heat was equally reflected in the Providence Research Ensemble’s presentation of new works by founding member and composer James Falzone. These compositions took the shape of repeated harmonic figures performed on vibraphone and electric piano set against flute melodies, acting as a bridge between the severe minimalism of Hennies’ performance and the activities to follow.
Descending into darkness, vocalist Andrea Young unleashed a barrage of glossolalia and searing noise, ripping vocal fragments into shards, intersecting and colliding in unpredictable patterns, while sound-reactive stage lights were propelled into chaotic convulsions overhead, and projections slowly began to emerge throughout the surrounding environment.
Mark and Laura Cetilia’s electroacoustic ensemble Mem1 followed, beginning with sustained cello notes, rising and swelling, accumulating complexity, counterbalanced by needle-sharp frequencies at the upper limits of audibility, slowly wrapped into a blanket of sizzling noise from an off-tuned shortwave radio broadcast amplified beyond recognition, and overcome by constantly-rising glissandi, before being suddenly plunged into silence.
Moving down to the second floor, audience members were treated to a proper ear cleaning care of Donna Parker (Mary Staubitz)’s patented combination of highly-controlled hand-held microphone feedback, minimal effects processing, and powerful Traynor keyboard amp, powered off of her car battery, echoing both throughout the garage and for blocks beyond.
Bill Nace and Jake Meginsky’s duo, F/I/P, presented the penultimate performance atop the parking structure: a sweeping set full of extended tones both instrumental and electronic in origin. With Nace’s electric guitar resting across his lap and array of effects pedals at his feet pitted against Meginsky’s starkly minimalist use of an MPC-1000 sequencer / sampler typically associated with the production of dance music, the duo created an immersive expanse of undulating sound.
The final performance at 1 Park Place was one given by legendary Ethiopian jazz musician Hailu Mergia (accordian, electric piano, organ, melodica, and voice), and an accompanying band consisting of the essentials: bass and drums. Mergia was a member of the Walias Band (with Mulatu Astatke and others), dating back to the early 1970s. In 1981, the Walias Band were asked to join a tour of the United States with Mahmoud Ahmed; four band members, including Mergia, took the opportunity to escape the dictatorial regime in place in Ethiopia at the time. Mergia came to spend his days as a taxi driver in Washington DC, but recorded a number of tapes that merged the electronic sounds of 1980s drum machines and synthesizers such as the Yamaha DX7 with Ethiopian polyrhythms and accordion playing, which have been recently been re-released through the Awesome Tapes from Africa label, to great critical acclaim. For many years, Mergia did not play publicly, but as he put it: “I was practicing every day: I have a keyboard in my car, I have a keyboard in my basement, I have an upright piano in my living room… everywhere I go, there is music.” His performance at DOT AIR was a living, breathing testimony to his devotion to music, and a stunning conclusion to the festivities at 1 Park Place.
Not to be swayed by the city’s noise ordinance, DOT AIR picked up and moved to Machines with Magnets for an “after party,” a mere block away from 1 Park Place. The new series of performances kicked off with Christopher Forgues’ Universal Cell Unlock project, which offered up a mixture of found sounds, tape collage, and abstract rhythmic forms, pushing hard against the boundaries of what might be considered dance music. Valerie Martino’s performance was next, a solid set of tough, minimal techno with slinky bass that got the crowd moving and kept it there. Closing out the night was Blevin Blectum (Bevin Kelly)’s set, with live video by Alexander Dupuis. Their performance ranged from languid vocal improvisations to frenetic breakbeats and fractured rhythms, accompanied by psychedelic patterns rushing past and morphing into new shapes, fusing together into a hypnotic audiovisual feast for the eyes and ears, a night cap that left festival goers reeling in just the right way.
DOT AIR Dance
Experimental dance was inaugurated as an element of DOT AIR in 2016. Elm City Dance Collective showcases dance artists from New Haven, Providence, and Pawtucket. ECDC’s performance was led by artistic director Kellie Ann Lynch and featured Lindsay Bauer, Luis Antonio, Alicia White, and Nikki Carrara.
At DOT AIR 2016 the dancers performed over a continuous 2-hour span, exploring spaces within the venue and interacting with the audience, artwork, and other performers in various ways. The work included choreographed sequences as well as improvisations that utilized movement vocabulary ranging from simple pedestrian activities such as walking, running, and being still, to complex weight sharing and nuanced contemporary movement language. Juxtaposed with the experimental music and setting, creating a series of dances “in the moment” that integrated the spaces and blurred lines between performers and audience.
With excitement, the incorporation of movement research into DOT AIR expanded the realm of experimentation in this year’s festival.
DOT AIR Visuals
The visual art at DOT AIR this year took a different approach than previous years. Serving as immersive experiences as well as visual accents to the music, the large-scale installations were scattered throughout the venue space. Eddie Villanuevas Stage sat on the second level of the parking lot, serving as a gathering point for the performances on that floor, he included. A 15 foot tall inflatable environment manufactured by artist collaborative PNEUHAUS sat in the back end of the top level, offering shade for patrons and later in the evening, a screen for projected minimal videos by Tom Ricci. The Thing I Keep Telling Myself That I Will Not Do but that I Cannot Seem to Completely Keep Myself from Doing, a large wooden billboard by Alex Hamrick perched atop the entrance, declaring “I WILL NOT LIVE IN FEAR” to all attendees. Projected works by Devra Freelander and Academy Records activated large walls at dusk, bringing visitors to unused spaces and adding a new element to the feeling of the festival. The visual art was interspersed throughout the food trucks, vendors and audio equipment.
DOT AIR photo slideshow
DOT AIR was an exhilarating day + night of sound, art, dance, and experimentation. Experienced by hundreds – shifting perceptions & exploring spacial utilization.
A compilation of photos taken at DOT AIR 2016 by James Lastowski.
Music by DOT AIR performers, Mem1.
DOT AIR was…
We’re still wrapping things up, processing, and editing. Will have updates and additional posts shortly with video and sound!
Thank you for the support! Thank you NewMusicUSA!
***DOT AIR 2016 FULL LINEUP***
For more info on DOT AIR 2016 artists
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Artist announcement – WORK/DEATH
A long time staple of the providence noise scene, WORK/DEATH (scøtt reber) doesn’t have any easy explanations for anyone. The perception of air vibrating in a room, the investment of meaning into formal constructions and abstract procedures. Organized sound, orchestrated noise, disintegrated music regenerated again.
Fabric…lots of fabric
Sewing giant pieces of fabric together getting ready for DOT AIR 2016! Thanks Artee Fabrics & Home – Pawtucket for the donation! See what we’re working next Saturday on top of Pawtucket’s downtown parking structure!!
DOT AIR vendors
Excited to have Mama Kim’s Korean BBQ, Paco’s Tacos Mobile Mex, Bake my Day, Empire Guitars, Zipcar, White Buffalo, Mike Knives, Westminster Ink (Tom West), and Glenna Van Nostrand as vendors at DOT AIR 2016! We’ll also be serving plenty of Narragansett Beer! Bring some extra dollars and support these local artists and businesses!!
DOT AIR 2016 will be using a QUAD SOUND SYSTEM!!!
We’re excited to announce this and excited to hear the results on August 20th!
Artist announcement – Academy Records
Academy Records is a platform for live performance, recorded events and printed ephemera. This model allows working themes to expand and build in multiplicities due to varying forms and delivery strategies. Producing works that take on lives both immediate and enduring, Academy Records projects are collaborative and inclusive, and many include different kinds of creators, including aural, visual and performing artists, designers, writers and filmmakers. In the past, works have consisted of independently-produced 7-inch records, live broadcast radio plays, 16mm films, performances and installations, and each has contained within them a printed element. Each Academy Records’ project is concept specific, and usually of a DIY nature to encompass the various networks, collaborators and participants offered up by smaller economies. Therefore, Academy Records’ productions purposefully utilize simple means, readily available resources, and experimental ideas.
Headliner announcement – Hailu Mergia
We are thrilled to announce that Hailu Mergia will be headlining DOT AIR 2016!!!!
The keyboardist was a major star in 1970s Ethiopia, presiding over the country’s leading instrumental ensemble, Walias Band, which worked restlessly on the Addis Ababa hotel circuit and playing with luminaries like Duke Ellington and Manu Dibango. In 1981, a good part of Walias, including Hailu, used the first-ever US tour of an Ethiopian music group to escape the dictatorial Mengistu regime. Mergia stayed in the US and made acclaimed albums merging the sounds of his youth with modern technology – making for striking, unusual results.
Artist announcement – Devra Freelander
Devra Freelander makes sculpture at the intersection of geology and technology. She received her MFA in Sculpture from Rhode Island School of Design, and has traveled to Antarctica and Iceland in pursuit of polar sublimity. She has exhibited nationally and internationally, at the New York Design Center, the RISD Museum, the White Gallery in Lakewood CT, and the Fjuk Arts Centre in Iceland. She is a recipient of the 2016 St. Botolph Club Foundation Emerging Artist Award, and will participate in the 2017 Arctic Circle Residency.
Artist announcement – Donna Parker
Donna Parker is an improvisational electronic artist. She creates a rich, layered, aggressive sound with minimal equipment. Active in the Boston area since 2001, Donna has toured extensively through the US and Europe. She has played solo, in duos with Jessica Rylan and Vic Rawlings, and collaborated with Boston art rockers Neptune. She has released albums with Twisted Village, YDLMIER, Open Mouth, and Phase.
Artist announcement – Sarah Hennies
Sarah Hennies (b. 1979, Louisville, KY) is a percussionist and composer currently residing in Ithaca, NY. Her work is primarily concerned with an immersive, psychoacoustic presentation of sound brought about by an often grueling, endurance-based performance practice that Nathan Thomas of Fluid Radio described as “a highly sophisticated and refined performance technique…that starts and ends with listening and encourages a different way of listening from its audience.”
Artist announcement – Elm City Dance Collective
Since 2008, Elm City Dance Collective has been at the forefront of contemporary dance in Connecticut and an active participant in the New Haven art scene. ECDC is committed to contributing to the presence of dance as an accessible public art through performances of original choreography; adult class offerings and youth workshops; collaborations with local arts organizations; commissioned performances; and professional development and education. ECDC’s performing company has been presented throughout the Northeast by organizations such as the International Festival of Arts and Ideas (New Haven); Creative Alliance (Baltimore); Frazier Festival (Providence); Charter Oak (Hartford); Rhode Island College and Roger Williams University; Art Space New Haven; Island Moving Company and the Great Friends Dance Festival; and the Arts Council of Greater New Haven to name a few.
Artist announcement – Laurie Amat
Laurie Amat is an acclaimed vocalist, improvisational performer, experimental composer and teacher. Her approach to singing is informed by broad experience including pop, rock, traditional and inventive opera, spoken word, video, dance, theatre and performance art.
Artist announcement – Alex Hamrick
Alex Hamrick is a conceptual text-based artist currently living in Providence, RI. An alumni of SMFA and Tufts University, Alex re-purposes found and self-generated language to address emotional trauma and cultural criticism through object-materiality, systems, degradation, and humor.
“I am trying to have a moment with you. I am trying to take all of the things that I think and feel and to wrap them up in a tidy package that reads well and makes sense and is easy to digest, but it is impossible, and I will always fail. But still, I want to make you laugh. I want to make you feel very bad. I want to ask questions about things that I am suspicious of in a way that will encourage you to not believe that I believe that I am always right, but that will instead encourage you to ask questions about me and your own self and all of the things around you all the time, because no one knows the right way to be alive, and every problem you’ll ever have is built upon that truth.”
Artist announcement – Eddie Villanueva
Eddie Villanueva’s work operates within an expanded field of inquiry into socially and culturally sanctioned versions of a hetero-normative masculinity. He explores the formation of his own gender identity by mining his personal history as a collection of events, experiences, thoughts, and lessons that have had a profound formative effect on the development of his sense of self; this embodied and emotionally complex sense of self often stands in sharp contrast with external cultural conventions and expectations of manhood found in the social realm.
Eddie Villanueva received his B.F.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and an M.F.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His work has been featured at the SCOPE Art Fair, Miami, and in Global Positioning System at the School of Visual Arts, New York, the North American Graduate Art Survey at the Katherine E. Nash Gallery, Minneapolis, and the Wisconsin Triennial at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. He received a Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Grant in 2012, and a Mary L. Nohl Emerging Artist Fellowship in 2013. He has taught at UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee and UW-Richland. Villanueva is currently teaching at Brown University.
Artist announcement – Andrea Young
Andrea Young is a Canadian musician specializing in experimental voice and live-electronics. She performs an acoustic, amplified, processed and resynthesized voice, as well as a re-purposed sound-controlling voice enabled through feature extraction and data-driven live electronics. While her work relies on digital innovation, her musical output relies on the integration of her digital interface with analogue and re-purposed electronic media.
Artist announcement – Mem1
Mem1 seamlessly blends the sounds of cello and electronics to create a limitless palette of sonic possibilities. In their improvisation-based performances, Mark and Laura Cetilia’s use of custom hardware and software, in conjunction with a uniquely subtle approach to extended cello technique and realtime modular synthesis patching, results in the creation of a single voice rather than a duet between two individuals. Their music moves beyond melody, lyricism and traditional structural confines, revealing an organic evolution of sound that has been called “a perfect blend of harmony and cacophony” (Forced Exposure).
Artist announcement – Bookworms
Nick Dawson, aka Bookworms, is a Brooklyn producer whose ubiquity as a DJ around Brooklyn belies his rather infamously scarce recorded output. After much anticipation “Xenophobe”, Bookworms debut album, was released in March this year.
“If a better house/techno album than [Bookworms debut ] “Xenophobe” is released in 2016, I won’t just eat my hat, I’ll go along to my local milliners and consume their entire stock too. Superb, utterly engrossing dance fare … now do you think I need salt and pepper on my trilby?” – Niccolo Brown
DOT AIR is a music-focused experimental festival celebrating sonic and performance experimentation that grows out of the psychographic remains of the American Industrial Revolution. The mission of DOT AIR is to explore sound, art, and performance in ways that push boundaries and utilize creative spaces that are constructed or left behind by modern and post-modern technology and culture.
DOT AIR is proud to be a collaborative effort between Blackstone Valley Tourism Council, an international award-winning sustainable tourism non-profit; Machines With Magnets, an acclaimed recording studio, event space, and art gallery; and the City of Pawtucket. Furthermore, DOT AIR’s planning committee also includes Nikki Carrara, a contemporary dance artist and instructor; Corey Oberlander and Lindsey Stapleton, directors of local contemporary art gallery GRIN; and renowned sound artists Mark Cetilia (Mem1, Dislocation Ensemble) and Scott Reber (WORK/DEATH).
Special permits have already been received to host the third annual DOT AIR Festival on Saturday, August 20th outdoors atop an underused three-level parking structure in Pawtucket, Rhode Island’s relatively vacant downtown. Unlike many other festivals, DOT AIR aims to be held in a new location each year to provide an innovative event for our guests, and a new medium for artists to engage with and extract from the aesthetic. This surprisingly majestic spot overlooking portions of the City and the Blackstone River will become an extraordinary venue to showcases DOT AIR’s diverse lineup of experimental music acts, art, and dance.
Over the last two years DOT AIR has proudly been the opening of a riveting sound installation, presented experimental films and photography, and featured 29 musical acts that fans from around the Northeast have sought out for an unprecedented experience. The videos below have been included to show the caliber of work and creativity tied to DOT AIR.
In 2016 we look to expand upon DOT AIR’s past successes through the inclusion of a wider spectrum of stimuli – most notably a quadraphonic sound system, integrated contemporary dance throughout the event, and mid- to large-scale art installations inspired by the fragility of form. Artists from around the country are invited to perform/contribute, as well as drawing talent from our local and regional areas.
DOT AIR provides a platform to create and highlight experimental music and art – a genre that means so much to us and our audience, but is not often a focus in this capacity within New England. The expected attendance is approximately 800 – 1,000 people, which is a number in response to the growth of DOT AIR’s programming and awareness.
We are proud to present DOT AIR through the help of our partnerships, grants, and the support of local sponsors.
Dislocation Ensemble consists of a rotating cast of improvisers focused on dynamic reconfiguration of local sound environments in real time. All source material is gathered from the immediate surroundings within the span of a performance. Members of the ensemble may manipulate these signals intentionally using sound modification techniques or passively via the process of transduction. Introducing the resulting acoustic energies to their site of production provides listeners access to alternate vistas both microscopic and macroscopic in nature.
Altering traditional concert convention by situating the audience in the center of the room encircled by the musicians, Animal Hospital Ensemble performances provide a unique sonic experience for each listener.
Debuting a new piece at DOT AIR, composer Kevin Micka led an orchestra of 40 guitarists and drummers for an engrossing composition beneath the Pawtucket River Bridge. The intention – to utilize the bridge as a modern industrial orchestra shell.
WORK/DEATH might be a new name to most, but for anyone listening to noise that is lucky enough to be based in and around Rhode Island then Scott Reber’s grizzled drones are likely a well-known staple. Reber is something of the noise musician’s noise musician, and his deeply knowledgable and surprisingly technical take on the sound has left those able to source one of his rare tapes or manage to catch a show slack jawed.
WORK/DEATH is an integral part of DOT AIR and will be performing once again this year.
Start and End Dates
08/20/2016 — 08/21/2016
Pawtucket, Rhode Island