MIT Media Lab [E14], 6th Floor, Room 633, 75 Amherst Street, Cambridge, MA
[Media Lab Map] Moments of Inertia by R. Luke DuBois, with Todd Reynolds (violin and electronics), is an evening-length performance based on a teleological study of gesture in musical performance and how it relates to gesture in intimate social interaction. The work is written for solo violin with real-time computer accompaniment and multi-channel video, and is intended to exist both as a through-composed composition and as an online experience featuring documentation of the work presented in a multi-narrative way.
Moments consists at its basis twelve violin études ranging from 3-5 minutes in length each of which uses violin performance gesture as a control input for manipulating a short piece of high-speed film (1000 frames-per-second) of a person performing a social gesture. Taking its title cue from principles in physics that determine an object’s resistance to change, the violinist’s gestures time-remap and scrub the video clip to explore the intricacies of the performed action. Each of the sections of the piece deals with a different gesture, treating the studies as components in deriving taxonomy of intimate social gesture. These gestures (such as smiling, winking, brushing the hair away from the eyes, averting gaze, etc.) are standard non-verbal cues in social interaction that we read into social interactions to infer intimacy. When tied to (or more literally, animated by) an instrumental source, we can investigate emotive affect within the construct of cinema and within our everyday experiences.
The sections at the piece feature a range of violin writing, with each section exploring a different bowing or performance technique (legato, martelé, etc.) tied to a computer accompaniment that records the performance in real-time and time-stretches it in a manner analogous to the time-base of the film (roughly 33-times slower than normal). As a result, the violinist is in duet with her/himself in a much slower speed, using the micro-nuances of her/his previous gestures as a texture upon which to add a new line. These musical explorations of time, gesture, and memory in a concert / cinematic setting are metaphorically linked to our psychological evaluation of our most intimate memories and relationships. Moments of Inertia explores the notion of gesture through the metaphor of effort: by working at such a micro-timescale, it becomes apparent through the sonic and visual experience how hard it is to smile.
R. Luke DuBois is a composer, artist, and performer who explores the temporal, verbal, and visual structures of cultural and personal ephemera. He holds a doctorate in music composition from Columbia University, and has lectured and taught worldwide on interactive sound and video performance. He has collaborated on interactive performance, installation, and music production work with many artists and organizations including Toni Dove, Matthew Ritchie, Todd Reynolds, Michael Joaquin Grey, Elliott Sharp, Michael Gordon, Bang on a Can, Engine27, Harvestworks, and LEMUR, and was the director of the Princeton Laptop Orchestra for its 2007 season. Exhibitions of his work include: the Insitut Valencià d’Art Modern, Spain; 2008 Democratic National Convention, Denver; Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis; San Jose Museum of Art; National Constitution Center, Philadelphia; Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art, Daelim Contemporary Art Museum, Seoul; 2007 Sundance Film Festival; and the Sydney Film Festival. An active visual and musical collaborator, DuBois is the co-author of Jitter, a software suite for the real-time manipulation of matrix data.
Todd Reynolds, composer, conductor, arranger and violinist, is a longtime member of Bang On A Can, Steve Reich and Musicians and an early member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project. His commitment to genre-bending and technology-driven innovation in music has produced innumerable collaborations with artists that regularly cross musical and disciplinary boundaries, regularly placing him in venues from clubs to concert halls around the world.
A forerunner in the expansion of the violin beyond its classical and ‘wood-bound’ tradition, Reynolds electrifies in concert, weaves together composed and improvised segments, and makes use of computer technology and digital loops to sculpt his sounds in real time, seamlessly integrating minimalist, pop, Jazz, Indian, African, Celtic and indigenous folk musics into his own sonic blend. As a cross-genre improviser and collaborator, he has appeared and/or recorded with such artists as Anthony Braxton, Uri Caine, John Cale, Steve Coleman, Joe Jackson, Dave Liebman, Yo-Yo Ma, Graham Nash, Greg Osby, Steve Reich, Marcus Roberts and Todd Rundgren, and has commissioned and premiered countless numbers of new works by America’s most compelling composers, including John King, Phil Kline, Michael Gordon, Neil Rolnick, Julia Wolfe, David Lang, Evan Ziporyn and Randall Wolff. His interdisciplinary work includes ongoing collaborations with SoundPainter Walter Thompson as well as media artists Bill Morrison and Luke DuBois and sound artist Jody Elff.
Reynolds is a founder of the band known as Ethel, a critically acclaimed amplified string quartet (represented by ICM Artists), with whom he wrote and toured internationally. He has also produced Still Life With Microphone, an ongoing theater piece which incorporates his own written and improvised music, compositions written for him, and elements of video and theatrical arts. Nuove Uova [new eggs], new works for violin and electricity, another Todd Reynolds production is a ‘new-music cabaret’ of sorts, having as its home Joe’s Pub in Manhattan. He is the recipient of ASCAP awards, an American Composers Forum Grant for Still Life with Mic and a 2003 Meet-the-Composer Commissioning Music/USA award.
Reynolds’ current string quartet featuring all-stars from New York’s new music scene is currently on tour with Meredith Monk’s Songs of Ascension and engaged in collaborations with composers and performers such as Kenny Werner, Neil Rolnick and Theo Bleckmann. Current commissions include music for dance, theater and orchestra, as well as a double CD to released on September 28th by the Innova label.
Moments of Inertia is a commission of New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc. for its Turbulence.org website. It was commissioned through Meet the Composer’s Commissioning Music/USA program, which is made possible by the generous support of the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, the Ford Foundation, the Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council on the Arts, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Helen F. Whitaker Fund.