The sixth edition of Laser Nomad at the Fine Arts School of the University of Porto explores contemporary issues of migration. The focus is about the sense of place from a cognitive perspective. Neuroscientists have already proposed the existence of a grey zone around us named peripersonal space, which is an extended boundary of our body. From a technological perspective, mobile devices and gps helped war migrants, for example, to stay in touch with their families and share migration routes. What is the relation between embodiment and borders?
CHAIRED BY: Luca Forcucci
Rosemary Lee (ITU Copenhagen) Rosemary Lee will speak about themes from her PhD research on the influence of algorithms on notions of the image. Several consequences arise from the formalisation of the image as sets of instructions to be executed, including variability, a turn toward non-opticality, and increased automation by machines. In this way, machine learning not only affects the image on an ontological level, affecting what an image may be considered to be, but also its aesthetics and its symbolic relation to the real. Rosemary Lee is an artist and PhD fellow at the IT-University of Copenhagen, where she is researching how notions of the image are impacted by algorithmic media. Her PhD project analyses and contextualises artistic and technical examples in terms of their earlier precursors and considers what this means for what an image is today. Lee’s research and artistic work have been shown in international contexts including SCREENSHOTS: Desire and Automated Image, machines will watch us die, a new we, and her book, Molten Media, which was published in the context of the transmediale Vilém Flusser Archive Residency for Artistic Research.
Rui Penha (ESMAE)
Existence and Extension / Lenses and Lentils
Rui Penha was trained to see the world through the
lenses of musical composition and media art. He is a father of two, a
professor of a few more, a thinker and a tinkerer. He is currently
employed as an assistant professor at ESMAE and as a senior researcher
at INESC TEC. More info at http://ruipenha.pt
Miguel Carvalhais (FBAUP)
Miguel Carvalhais teaches design and computational media at FBAUP.
When asked for a short bio he normally presents himself as a designer
and a musician, two activities that he finds closely connected and
central to his practice. In this talk Miguel will explore how his work
hinges on space: on using it as canvas, on manipulating or transforming
it, on creating entirely new spaces. http://carvalhais.org
We explore Consciousness, Representation and Embodiment with the contribution of researchers from the University of Palermo. These keywords are observed through the lenses of human cognition. Why and how do I know that I am experiencing something ? Moreover artificial systems are pervasively entering multiple aspects of our life, what if instead of artificial we focus on extended ones ? Does embodiment applies to artificial forms ?
The research field of conscious AI systems concerns the computational models of consciousness. The talk will outline the current state of research of conscious AI systems and it will discuss its relationships with creativity, with particular emphasis to musical creativity. The field of conscious AI systems is tightly related with topics as information integration, embodiment, adaptation, emotions, which are all of interest in order to model musical creativity. On the one hand, facing the problem of consciousness could be a decisive move towards the design of effectively creative systems, on the other hand the study of models of creativity could be helpful in order to better understand human consciousness.
Antonio Chella is a full professor of Robotics at the Department of Engineering of the University of Palermo, where he is the founder and director of the Robotics Laboratory. He coordinated several Social Robotics projects including Cicerobot, a museum robot guide at the Archaeological Museum of Agrigento; Robotics and Autism, in collaboration with the Child Neuropsychiatry of Palermo; Robotics and ALS, in collaboration with the ALS Center of the University General Hospital of Palermo; RoboDanza, in collaboration with the cultural association Tavola Tonda; Robot Orchestra Conductor in collaboration with the Alessandro Scarlatti Conservatory of Palermo. In 2017 he was awarded the “James Albus Medal” by the BICA Scientific Society (Biologically Inspired Cognitive Architectures). He is a member of the Academy of Sciences, Letters and Arts of Palermo. His main research concerns the study of consciousness in robots and machines; he is the co-author of the main reference text in the field. He is the author of more than 200 international publications.
Prof. Davide Rocchesso
Designing Sound with Vocal Primitives
What are the fundamental elements of sound? What is the best framework for analyzing existing sonic realities and for expressing new sound concepts? These are long standing questions in sound physics, perception, and creation. In everyday life, it is our body that helps establishing bridges between distal (source-related) and proximal (sensory-related) representations of sound. In particular, it is our vocal apparatus that offers body-based representations of sound, so that vocal imitations can be used as probes into the world of sound at large.
Davide Rocchesso received the Ph.D. degree from the University of Padova in 1996. He is professor of computer science at the University of Palermo. He was the coordinator of EU FET projects SOb (the Sounding Object) and SkAT-VG (Sketching Audio Technologies using Vocalizations and Gestures). He had been chairing the COST Action on Sonic Interaction Design. His main research interests are sound modelling and synthesis, interaction design, evaluation of interactions.
Can Beauty be Translated? A Journey between Mathematics, Music, and Nature
Contemplating the majesty of a tree, listening to an orchestral piece, and studying a mathematical equation might not be too far activities. Mathematics can constitute a bridge to compare objects and transformations between them, as well as to map them from a domain to another one. In particular, musical structures, with their themes and transformations, can be investigated through the language of mathematics (and categories in particular). The same formalism can be applied to nature, comparing shapes and their variations. I present methods of investigation and examples, including trees, ammonites, and flowers. They can be analyzed and translated into music, keeping some essential features and considering specific cognition criteria. From organized musical structures to the sound itself, the presentation includes some hints of how the quantum mechanics formalism can be applied to the analysis of human voice. Might a melodious soprano voice be not too far from the Schrödinger equation’s solutions?
Maria Mannone (Ph.D.) is a theoretical physicist and a composer. She graduated in Italy, France (IRCAM-Paris VI Sorbonne), and in the US (University of Minnesota). Her research involves mathematics, music, and images. Author of books, she gave talks and invited lectures in America, Europe, and Asia, where she is collaborating with the Tohoku University for the development of a new musical instrument, the CubeHarmonic. Currently, she is a subject expert (‘cultore della materia’) at the Department of Mathematics and Informatics in Palermo.
Prof. Salvatore Tedesco
Aesthetics and Embodiment
Construction of form, emotions and aesthetic appreciation can usefully be rethought in the context of an interaction between philosophical knowledge, theoretical computer science and new technologies for production and control of images and sounds. The short report proposed seeks to clarify the terms of reference and to suggest some interpretations.
Salvatore Tedesco teaches Aesthetics at the University of Palermo, and coordinates the Dams course of studies. His main research projects deals with Morphology, evolutionary aesthetics, history of aesthetics, contemporary theories of literature. He has published 11 monographs on various aspects of modern and contemporary aesthetics, more than 80 papers, and is currently editing (with Federico Vercellone) a “Glossary of Morphology”.
Perceptual Grammar of Sounds
Music cognition complies with the perceptual grammar which consists of the properties of sounds as units and the grouping factors as preferential rules. The units have emerged through the interaction with the environment as crucial features in conveying information. The rules are the heuristics that enable the cognition of the environment in the forms of the auditory modality by solving problems of ordering and structure derivation. The specialization of the perceptual grammar of sounds plays a foundational role for music cognition. It provides composers and listeners with shared capacities to build and extract meaning from musical shapes and their relevant qualities in space and time. Musical examples will be presented to argue that the specialization of the perceptual grammar is consistent with historical and geographical variability of musical systems and styles, which draw from the expressive potentialities it affords with a high degree of freedom.
Carmelo Calì is associate professor at the University of Palermo. His main research interests are theories and models of visual, auditory and tactile perception, cognitive foundations of aesthetics, human-robot interaction and industrial design.
Not only her work spans over more than 50 years and englobes music composition, performance, theatre and sound installations, but she also has worked with the biggest names in the field, like Stravinsky, Berio, Cage, Stockhausen, just to name a few. Here she comes back on the stories of these unique encounters, and also how she firstly brought this kind of music to Brazil.
Jocy de Oliveira has been involved as a composer/author in a variety of media since the early 1960s utilizing acoustic and electronic instruments, music-theatre, installations, texts, graphics, video, and audiences in an approach to an organic development of performance/composition works.
Her operas were released on 6 DVDs
distributed by NAXOS Video Library. Her most recent work is a cinematic
opera Liquid Voices – A história de Mathilda Segalescu is a feature film
in process of finalization and distribution to International Film
Festivals in 2019.
Author of five books published in Brazil, France and the USA, Jocy de Oliveira recently launched Dialogue with Letters,
published by SESI SP, 2014, which was acclaimed by the media and
received the most important literature prize in Brazil – Jabuti
Literature First Prize, 2015. This same year the French edition of this
book was very successfully launched in Paris by Editions Honoré Champion
as part of the Sorbonne musicology collection. In 2016 the book was
selected as finalist for the Premio Rio de Literatura. In 2018 a book Leituras de Jocy coordinated
by Rodrigo Cicchelli and Manoel Correa do Lago was released by Editora
SESI SP compiling analyses and reflections from 27 authors on her work.
FLIP – the most important Brazilian International literature Festival
held in Paraty July, 2018 focused on her works and honored her during
its opening and two other different presentations.
She was honored with the invitation to write a chapter on Stravinsky ‘s new book – Abécédaire Stravinsky, organized by the Stravinsky Foundation and being published by Éditions La Baconnière, Genève 2018/2019.
She received a number of grants and awards, such as Guggenheim Foundation (2005) Rockefeller Foundation (1983 and 2007), Bogliasco Foundation (2004 and 2016), CAPS (New York Council on the Arts), besides Vitae and Rioarte Foundations in Brazil. She was elected a life member of the Academia Brasileira de Musica, holds a Master of Arts degree (1968) from Washington University, St. Louis, USA and received an Honorary Doctorate from the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, 2016.
Pioneira no desenvolvimento de um trabalho multimídia no Brasil envolvendo música, teatro, instalações, texto e vídeo, é a primeira entre os compositores nacionais a compor e dirigir suas óperas buscando reformular o formato convencional operístico.
Suas peças tem sido apresentadas em teatros e
festivais como Berliner Festspiele, Haus der Kulturen der Welt , Hebbel
Theater em Berlim, StaadtsTheater – Darmstadt, Bayerischer Rudfunk –
Munique, Festivals Dresdner Tage der Zeitgenössischen Musik – Desden,
Expo 2000 Hannover, Ludwigshafen Opera Festival, Salzburg Festival –
Aspekte, Hayden Planetarium, Carnegie Hall, Brooklyn Academy – em New
York, New Music America Festivals, Miami Planetarium, Bellas Artes –
Mexico, Teatro Avenida, Buenos Aires, Orquesta Sinfonica del Sodre,
Uruguai, Orquesta Sinfônica Nacional de Cuba, Radio France – Paris,
Gaudeamus e Gulbenkian Foundations, Chengdu University – China. No
Brasil, suas obras têm sido apresentadas anualmente em diversos teatros e
festivais incluindo os Theatros Municipal de São Paulo e do Rio de
Janeiro e em diferentes capitais.
Como compositora e pianista, gravou 25 discos
no Brasil, Inglaterra, EUA, Alemanha, Itália e no México; registrou nos
EUA e no Brasil a obra pianística de Olivier Messiaen (selo NAXOS).
Oito de suas óperas multimídias foram gravadas em DVDs distribuídos pela
NAXOS Video Library e pelo SESC, SP.
An unusual trajectory discussed here, from his early poetry works to bio art experiments where his dna is implemented into flowers, to space research, minitel works (french own internet version) and their restoration, to artworks visible from google earth. A fascinating iconic artist.
Eduardo Kac, (born July 3, 1962, Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil), Brazilian American artist who was best known for his works
featuring genetically altered organisms in ways that frequently had conceptual or symbolic import. He termed these endeavours “bio art” or “transgenic art.”
Kac began staging performance art
pieces in Rio de Janeiro as a teenager. He frequented the city’s
beaches and, especially, Cinelandia, a square that served as a hub of
bohemian activity. There Kac would declaim pornographically inspired
poetry, often wearing only a pink miniskirt. During that period he also
experimented with other forms of poetry, graffiti, and multimedia art.
Kac began investigating the use of holograms as a medium for poetic expression, and in 1983 he published his first “holopoem,” “Holo/Olho”
(“Holo/Eye”), which rendered the words of the title in holographic text
that shifted as the viewer changed position. The next year, he debuted a
digital poem, “Não!” (“No!”), which comprised a block of text that scrolled across an LED
display. Kac created a number of other holopoems and digital poems,
some of them more elaborate. He also made his first forays into art
transmitted via Minitel, a videotext precursor
to the Internet. He received a bachelor of arts degree from the School
of Communications at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de
Janeiro in 1985.
1986 Kac debuted what he dubbed a “telepresence” work, a
radio-controlled robot that served as a transmission system for
conversations between viewers and a remote operator. While at the School
of the Art Institute of Chicago (M.F.A., 1990), Kac began a collaborative telepresence work, Ornitorrinco
(“Platypus”). It involved the remote manipulation of a robot, first by
telephone signal (1989) and eventually through the use of the Internet
(1994). In 1996 Kac created another telepresence work, Rara Avis, which consisted of a robotic bird with a camera inside that was positioned in an aviary with live zebra finches. Visitors to the exhibit could don a headset connected to the camera and experience the view inside the aviary.
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Time Capsule, a combination of performance and conceptual art,
was staged in 1997 in São Paulo. The piece centred on the injection
into Kac’s leg of a microchip normally used to track pets; he registered
himself in the tracking company’s database. That year he became an
assistant professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Increasingly preoccupied with the corporeal and visceral, Kac in 1998 first suggested the possibility of transgenic art with an article on a theoretical genetically engineeredfluorescent dog. Though the creation of a glowing canine was ultimately infeasible, in 1999 Kac debuted Genesis, a work that represented his first foray into actual bio art. He translated a passage from the Christian Bible into Morse Code and then into the four-letter code that represented the base pairs of DNA. He commissioned the creation of synthetic DNA using that sequence, and it was injected into bacteria, images of which were projected onto a gallery wall.
In 2000 Kac premiered what would become his best-known and most-controversial work, GFP Bunny. Again mixing conceptual and performance art, Kac centred the project on a rabbit engineered to express the green fluorescent protein (GFP) from the jellyfishAequoria victoria.
The animal, named Alba by Kac and his family, was seen by the public
only in photographs. Though Kac claimed to have commissioned the rabbit,
the French National Agronomic Institute (INRA), which owned it, had
actually, of its own volition, created multiple rabbits that expressed
the protein. GFP was a common tool in cellular research; cells of a
certain type could be engineered to express the protein and thus would
be more easily visible. And, though Kac promoted images that suggested
that the animal glowed a uniform green, in fact only its living tissue
glowed green under blue light of a certain wavelength (meaning that its
fur would not glow). INRA ultimately refused to give the rabbit to Kac, a
turn of events that the artist used to further promote the project
through several shows centred on “freeing Alba.” GFP Bunny was,
Kac claimed, the provocation of the controversy, rather than the rabbit
itself. Debate did indeed ensue; though many questioned the ethics of using genetically modified organisms in art, some applauded the initiation of a dialogue on the subject.
2001 Kac exhibited a project that consisted of a collection of
transgenic animals contained in an acrylic dome. Two years later he
began another transgenic project, which involved the insertion of a
sequence of his own DNA into the genes that coded for the veins in a petunia
flower. He dubbed the resulting plant—engineered by a botanist at the
University of Minnesota—“Edunia” and made it the centre of a new
installation, Natural History of the Enigma (2009).
Kac’s various projects toured widely, and he frequently lectured and wrote about the theoretical foundations of his work. Among his publications were the essay collection Telepresence and Bio Art: Networking Humans, Rabbits, & Robots (2005) and the poetry compilationHodibis Potax (2007). His artist’s book Escracho (1983) became part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. (Richard Pallardy)
During is long career as photographer, cameraman first and director then, Luca de Luigi introduces here his view on filming musical events, from the arena of Verona, to Bayreuth with the director Werner Herzog and then a long series of live concerts at the Montreux Jazz festival including Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock among many others.
Artisan video director for music and documentary films. He has created also cultural shows for the Swiss Italian TV RTS , photographer, cameramen, and since 23 years director.
Artigiano regista video musicale e documentario. Ha creato Emissioni Culturali alla RTS Fotografo, Cameraman e da 23 anni Regista.
In this interview, Jill Scott and I are sitting in a Ethiopian restaurant in Berlin. We learn about her large body of work spanning from performance, video to sonic arts, media arts and neuroscience. How all this could possibly connect ? A series of travels, experiments and encounters informed this important and very inspiring artist, which are embedded into a unique research in art and science.
Professor Dr. Jill Scott is an artist, teacher and context provider with 40 years experience in the unique transdisciplinary field of art, science and technology interactions. Her research spans neuroscience, electronics, ecology, sociology, sculpture, performative installation and media art. Her artwork is focused on the human body, the social and physical impact of technology on our bodies and the health of our environment. She asks: How does technological and biotechnical “progress” affect way we “see” our body? How can artists raise awareness about the human body and the scientific structure of sensory perception? How can artists shed light on the health affects of our physical environment? To address these questions, she builds interactive media installations that immerse viewers inside designed environments. She explores how visual metaphors and poetic analogies might create an alternative forms of art and science communication to help others learn more about sensory perception and reflect on their own ideological, biological, ecological, gendered and ethical futures.
More than 500 references have been issued on the Subrosa label since the 1980’s. Guy Marc Hinant, poet, writer, publisher, music producer and cinematographer together with Fred Walheer, started the label, with recordings of William S. Burroughs. Here he discusses the journey where noise and spectres enter the discussions (literally).
Guy Marc Hinant dirige le label indépendant Sub Rosa spécialisé en musique électronique et expérimentale dont il est le créateur. Il y édite la série An Anthology of Noise and Electronic Music. Il a écrit plusieurs fragments narratifs et notes sur l’esthétique pour les Éditions de l’Heure, diverses revues internationales telles que Leonardo Music Journal (SF), Luna-Park surtout (édité par Marc Dachy à Paris), la revue Pylône (Bruxelles) et pour la revue Lapin (L’Association, Paris). Par ailleurs, il donne des conférences sur l’émergence du bruit dans la musique occidentale – preuves à l’appui. Compagnon de l’auteur de bandes dessinées Dominique Goblet, il apparaît dans ses albums sous le nom de « GM » . Au début des années 1980, il était membre du groupe Pseudo Code avec Alain Neffe et Xavier Ess. En 2001, il fonde OME – L’Observatoire – avec Dominique Lohlé, ensemble ils réalisent une série de documentaires sur l’art de l’écoute et le bruit.
Guy-Marc Hinant (Charleroi, 1960) is a Belgian poet, writer, publisher, music producer and cinematographer. In the late 1980s Hinant, together with Frédéric Walheer, founded the Belgian record label Sub Rosa, which specializes in avant-garde, electronic and noise music. The name of the record label was deduced from the first sentence of Gilles Deleuze’s book Mille plateaux. He lives and works in Brussels. From 2002 to 2004 Hinant worked on the musicological project Anthology of Noise and Electronic Music. Hinant wrote poetry and prose to the works of his lover, the Belgian visual artist Dominique Goblet.
The discussion turns around the long friendship that Stanley Moss developed with the iconic musician from New Orleans Dr John. Stories emerging from their twenties in Los Angeles while working for a musical label, in New York in the 1980’s for parties in loft space where David Byrne was present too, and New Orleans until today. Graphic design, brand strategy, and Dr John: the story of a friendship
Stanley Moss (b. 1948), is founder of DiGanZi Group, a brand advisory, and The Club of Venice, a private conversation on brands and branding. He is global brand ambassador for Gottschalk + Ash of Zürich. He’s also author of novels including The Hacker, HACK IS BACK, The Crimson Garter and Fate & The Pearls, and The Book of Deals. A brand guru, philosopher, writer, and artist, he divides his time between Europe, India and Southern California. He served as CEO of The Medinge Group, the Stockholm-based think-tank on international branding, 2004-2012. He was a fine artist, sponsored by Absolut and Johnnie Walker Black Label, and exhibited landscapes in the US State Department Art in Embassies program. His “New Wave Cookbook” is in the permanent collection of the MoMA NY. He is a faculty member at Academia di Belle Arti Cignaroli of Verona, Italy; Travel Editor for Lucire, a New Zealand fashion magazine; and served on the Board of the Rocket Mavericks Foundation.
Dr. John belongs to a prestigious lineage of New Orleans keyboard greats that includes such names as Professor Longhair, Huey “Piano” Smith and Fats Domino.
His name has become synonymous with the city in which he was born.
Dr. John’s music is stamped with the rhythms and traditions of the
Crescent City, and he has spent a career that now spans more than half a
century championing its music.
His best-known work includes Gris-Gris (1968), an album steeped in the otherworldly sounds of Louisianan voodoo culture; Gumbo (1972), wherein he offered an authoritative overview of New Orleans’ finest music; and In the Right Place (1973),
which gave him the Top Ten hit “Right Place, Wrong Time.” His concerts
are ritual invocations of New Orleans’ enduring musical spirit. More
broadly, he has helped bring the sound of New Orleans into the national
Born Malcolm John “Mac” Rebennack, he learned piano
and guitar as a child. As a child growing up in the 1940s, he was
steeped in the music of the city. “It was a special time in New
Orleans,” he told USA Today’s Edna Gunderson. “The radio
stations played basically New Orleans music, and I thought that was what
the whole world heard.” His father ran an appliance store that carried
records, and he also repaired P.A. systems for clubs around town; it was
through him that young Mac gained exposure to the world of music in New
As a musician, he was schooled by local legends like Walter “Papoose”
Nelson (Professor Longhair’s guitarist), guitarist Roy Montrell,
keyboardist James Booker and Cosimo Matassa (whose J&M Studio was
the hub of the city’s recording scene). Rebennack became one of the
first white sessionmen on the local scene. A fixture in New Orleans’
clubs and studios, Rebennack found himself making music night and day.
“We used to work twelve hours a day, seven days a week, on Bourbon
Street,” he told interviewer Robert Santelli. “That was real easy to do
because there were so many clubs.”
He participated in sessions for records released on such labels as
Ric and Ron, Minit, Ace, Ebb, Specialty and AFO (“All For One,” started
by a cooperative of New Orleans musicians).
In short, Mac Rebennack was a pure product of New Orleans. “The
old-timers schooled me good,” Dr. John reflected. “They brainwashed me
to respect music, whether we were playing rockabilly or blues or rock
Rebennack began recording as far back as 1957 and released his first
single, “Storm Warning,” under his own name in 1959. As much as he loved
New Orleans, he moved to Los Angeles in 1962, joining an exodus of
local musicians who left town after a new district attorney began
cracking down on clubs and nightlife in an effort to curb vice. Working
in L.A. with producer Harold Battiste, a fellow Crescent City
expatriate, he created the character of Dr. John the Night Tripper, a
voodoo sorcerer and healer. His first album, Gris-Gris,
masterfully evoked the mystical spirit of back-alley voodoo in a musical
setting of otherworldly “N’Awlins” swamp funk. It meshed perfectly with
the age of psychedelia in which it was released. Dr. John cut this
startling release during unused session time for a Sonny and Cher album,
as that duo had become involved in a movie project. Such cuts as “I
Walk on Gilded Splinters” evoked a late-night, back-streets netherworld
of ritual and mystery. The album remains a unique achievement in the
realm of popular music, a touchstone to a world that few even knew
Gris-Gris was followed by three more albums in the same vein: Babylon (1969), Remedies (1970) and The Sun, Moon & Herbs (1971).
The last of these was intended to be a three-record set, each
reflecting a different time of day. Some sessions were conducted in
England, with such musicians as Eric Clapton and Mick
Jagger participating. However, because of technical and budgetary
issues, it was pared down to a single album.
In the first half of the 1970’s, Dr. John released a series of albums
that mixed New Orleans classics with original material, all driven by
his remarkable piano playing and superb bands. This change in direction
from underground mystic to overground eminence began with Gumbo,
Dr. John’s fifth album, released in 1972. The idea that he pay tribute
to New Orleans’ musical legacy came from Jerry Wexler, the renowned
producer and talent scout for Atlantic Records, who co-produced Gumbo with
Harold Battiste. Dr. John was signed to Atco, an Atlantic subsidiary,
and Wexler made the suggestion after hearing him warm up with such
material in the studio. It brought broader exposure to both the artist
and his city’s musical heritage.
This paved the way for a pair of albums, In the Right Place (1973) and Desitively Bonnaroo
(1974), that carried his career to the next level. Both were made in
collaboration with Allen Toussaint and the Meters, longtime stalwarts of
the New Orleans scene. “Right Place, Wrong Time,” from In the Right Place,
became a Top Ten hit that spent nearly half a year on the chart. The
album’s other hit single was “Such a Night,” which Dr. John performed at
the Band’s The Last Waltz farewell concert.
In the late Seventies, he moved to New York and worked with producer
Tommy LiPuma and lyricist Doc Pomus, resulting in the albums City Lights (1978) and Tango Palace (1979). In the early Eighties he made his first solo piano recordings (Dr. John Plays Mac Rebennack, 1981, and The Brightest Smile in Town, 1983). He ended the decade with In a Sentimental Mood (1989), an album of standards that reunited him with LiPuma.
The Nineties witnessed an artistic rebirth and rekindled connection
with his New Orleans roots. In 1992, as remarkable as it may seem, Dr.
John actually recorded his first album in New Orleans. Entitled Goin’ Back to New Orleans,
it was “like a little history of New Orleans music—from way back in the
1850s to the 1950s,” Dr. John explained. In 1998 he returned to the
mystical aura of his Gris-Gris period on Anutha Zone, which included cameos from such younger British admirers as Paul Weller and members of Spiritualized and Supergrass. Creole Moon,
released in 2001, assimilated the various aspects of New Orleans music
into a tasty gumbo. In 2004, Dr. John again saluted the Big Easy’s
musical heritage on N’Awlinz: Dis, Dat or D’Udda, which rounded
up such New Orleans legends as Earl Palmer, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown,
Willie Tee, Snooks Eaglin, Eddie Bo, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and a
member of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
Beyond his vast discography as a recording artist, the list of
sessions on which he has played for others is lengthy and impressive
enough to merit his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a
sideman, too. Dr. John’s bottomless sessionography includes releases by
Maria Muldaur, Johnny Winter, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells, Van Morrison,
the Band, Frank Zappa, Ringo Starr, Canned Heat, the Rolling Stones and
countless others. He has even done well for himself as a jingle writer,
tinkling the ivories on funky-sounding commercials for Levi’s blues
jeans and Popeye’s Chicken.
For more than three decades Dr. John has been a perennial performer
at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. He has also become an
unofficial spokesman and ambassador for the city and its musical
history. Meanwhile he continues to make creative, challenging records in
the New Orleans style.
In 2008 Dr. John and his band, the Lower 911, released City That Care Forgot.
The most topical and hard-hitting album of his career, it addressed the
toll taken on his beloved hometown by decades of neglect and its near
destruction by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. City That Care Forgot
won Dr. John a Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album—the fifth of
his career. Meanwhile, he continues to keep the city’s musical heritage
and history alive.
“The most important thing to remember is this: New Orleans music was
not invented,” Dr. John noted in 1992. “It kind of grew up
naturally…joyously…just for fun. That’s it. Just plain down-to-earth
happy-times music. When I was growing up in the Third Ward, I used to
think, ‘Oh, man, this music makes me feel the best!”
During an afternoon we sat together under the trees and birdsongs at the SAVVY art space in Berlin, where she was presenting works, for a long, beautiful conversation on sonic gestures, different accents and letter writing.
Pamela Z is a composer/performer and media artist who works primarily with voice, live electronic processing, sampled sound, and video. A pioneer of live digital looping techniques, she processes her voice in real time to create dense, complex sonic layers. Her solo works combine experimental extended vocal techniques, operatic bel canto, found objects, text, and sampled concrète sounds. She uses MAX MSP and Isadora software on a MacBook Pro along with custom MIDI controllers that allow her to manipulate sound and image with physical gestures. Her performances range in scale from small concerts in galleries to large-scale multi-media works in theaters and concert halls. In addition to her performance work, she has a growing body of inter-media gallery works including multi-channel sound and video installations.
Pamela Z has toured
extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan – performing
in international festivals including Bang on a Can at Lincoln Center
(New York); La Biennale di Venezia (Italy); the Interlink Festival
(Japan); Other Minds (San Francisco); and Pina Bausch Tanztheater’s 25
Jahre Fest (Wuppertal, Germany). She has composed, recorded and
performed original scores for choreographers and for film/video artists,
and has done vocal work for other composers (including Charles
Amirkhanian, Vijay Iyer, and Henry Brant). Her large-scale, multi-media
performance works, including Memory Trace, Baggage Allowance, Voci, and Gaijin,
have been presented at venues like the Kitchen in New York, Yerba Buena
Center for the Arts, and Theater Artaud (Z Space) in San Francisco, the
Museum of Contemporary Art Theatre in Chicago, as well as at theaters
in Washington D.C. and Budapest Hungary. Her one-act opera Wunderkabinet inspired
by the Museum of Jurassic Technology (co-composed with Matthew Brubeck)
premiered at The LAB Gallery in San Francisco, and was presented at
REDCAT in Los Angeles and Open Ears Festival in Canada. She has shown
media works in exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art (New
York); Erzbischöfliches Diözesanmuseum (Cologne); the Tang Museum
(Saratoga Springs NY); the Dakar Biennale (Sénégal); Krannert Art Museum
(IL), and the Kitchen (NY).
Ms. Z has had chamber music commissions from Kronos Quartet, the Bang On A Can All Stars; Ethel String Quartet, the California E.A.R. Unit; the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble; the Empyrean Ensemble, and St. Luke’s Chamber Orchestra. She curates and produces “the ROOM Series”, a San Francisco avant-chamber series featuring the work of a variety of virtuosic solo artists and chamber groups playing experimental music. She has collaborated with a wide range of artists including Joan La Barbara, Joan Jeanrenaud, Brenda Way (ODC Dance), Miya Masaoka, Jeanne Finley + John Muse, Shinichi Iova Koga (Inkboat), Christina McPhee, and Luciano Chessa. She has participated in several New Music Theatre events (including John Cage festivals), and has performed with The San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. Her interactive web-based work Baggage Allowance can be viewed at baggageallowance.tv where it is permanently installed.