Carbon Song Cycle is a multimedia chamber work by composer/performer Pamela Z and artist Christina McPhee. The work, scored for voice & electronics, bassoon, viola, cello, percussion, and multi-channel video, includes texts, melodic motifs and images derived from scientific data concerning the carbon cycle, and stories related to climate change.
This is the San Francisco premiere (2014), following shows at Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive and Roulette (Brooklyn) in 2013.
Christina McPhee, video and drawing performance
Pamela Z, voice & electronics
Dana Jessen, bassoon
Charith Premawardhana, viola
Theresa Wong, cello
Suki O’Kane, percussion
Drew Detweiler, video technician
Produced by Circuit Network, San Francisco
Carbon is the dynamic signature of life. Plants, algae and other life forms convert carbon through photosynthesis to oxygen, as humans and animals consume oxygen, releasing carbon through respiration and decay. The cycle involves sequestration and release of carbon and related greenhouse gasses through reservoirs, or ‘sinks’– the ocean, the atmosphere, and the land mass. Human consumption of fossil fuels continues to release too much carbon compound gasses, overwhelming the sinks. Saturations both local and systemic are disrupting the carbon cycle’s system of flows.
The song cycle is a Romantic form, describing a journey, often personal and spiritual, in a landscape. As in the tradition of live concerts for screenings in the silent film era, the visual and sound scores are performed together as two layers without being written ‘to’ each other. Aleatory effects, and chance operations trace the disruptive and generative forces unleashed by climate change.