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Field/Ground – a Liz Gerring & Michael J. Schumacher collaboration

1/2 day immersive audio/movement installation of shifting micro-acoustic spaces shared by audience & performers. Tags: physical, non-linear.


Liz Gerring & Michael Schumacher’s 30+ year collaboration began with half day movement & music improvisations performed in Trisha Brown’s loft in the early 1990s. The 3-part relationship of performers, audience and the architectural/social spaces they invent together is the focus of a return to installation practice after a series of highly-praised major proscenium works. Gerring received a Bessie nomination and multiple annual NY Times top ten picks, a Jacob’s Pillow Award and glowing Times reviews: “no other American choreographer alive just now is making movement that so marvelously cleanses the palate the way Liz Gerring’s does”. Schumacher, company music director, is a recipient of the FCA award and has won Wire Magazine’s “best of classical composition”.

Their new work Field/Ground explores the contingencies of the shared audience/performer space – social and architectural, physical and personal. Over a half day, the work unfolds as solos, duets and larger groupings come and go through the varied acoustic micro-environments performed by Schumacher and his multichannel sound system. Independence of action towards a commons, as dancer agency – which spaces to occupy, when, and what behaviours to perform in each – form structure.

Each of 12 speakers functions as its own shifting acoustic. Dancers perform within and through the multiple “rooms” engendered by the soundscape. Audience, placed throughout, is immersed in the work and encouraged to move, experiencing the work from multiple perspectives.

The installation will be performed at the 8th New York Electronics Arts Festival in 2021 on Governor’s Island in New York and workshopped through Fall 2020 / Winter 2021.

Schumacher says “sounds shouldn’t be chained to ideas, but be allowed to resonate within the structural framework of a given work as well as the personal associative world of the listener. Contra-Cage, who felt that relationships in music impeded the listening act, my music is all about relationships. However, they aren’t “fixed” but flexible and mutable, suggestive, rather then determinative.” Further: “sounds – sonorities, motifs, phrases – are transformed through placement in a variety of sonorous spaces, which act somewhat like filters, emphasizing specific perceptual aspects. The continual process of spatial redistribution of the various bits of recognizable, repeatable sonic figures are distributed in a hybridized approach to spatial technique, incorporating elements of traditional panning, VBAP, ambisonics and good old experimentation. Algorithmic processes engender the basic structural aspects of the music including pitch, rhythm and timbre but most importantly serve to distribute sounds into active virtual architectures that, while referring, sometimes, to real places, explode meaning through their constant and unpredictable shifts in aural context.”

Schumacher and Gerring’s collaborations have been predicated on both the independence of score and movement and their close relationship. Contradictory, but experiencing the work it becomes clear how the fabric of sound is absolutely at one with the dance. Dancers don’t move to the music’s rhythms but rather inhabit the score’s shape and dynamics.

This continues the pair’s shared evolving artistry. A return to simpler, fundamental presentation forms whilst expanding the possibility of the athletic body moving in space.

Start and End Dates



New York City, New York

Project Created By

Brooklyn, New York

In Collaboration With



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