Brian Droitcour
Since 2008
Works in BROOKLYN, New York United States of America

BIO
Rhizome curatorial fellow September 2008 - April 2009, staff writer April 2009 - December 2011, poetry editor January 2012 - 20??

Again and Again


wheel of devil img.jpg
Image: Jon Rafman, The Horror! The Horror! (.info), 2008 (Still)

The loop is the unsteady cornerstone of contemporary technology, both a basic structure of computer code and the physical shape of reels of film and tape that continue to inform conceptual understanding of digital media. The loop is also a metaphor for time—a cycle that returns to the same disasters again and again—that opposes the sunnier notion of time as a river running forward. The Wheel of the Devil, a screening of video- and internet-based art presented by MTAA and critic Ed Halter, promises a dark reflection on those ideas, which they collapse in the formula “while (history) { history = true; }.” The Friday night program will feature loops by JODI, Rick Silva, Brody Condon, Jon Rafman, Deidre LaCarte, Michael Sarff, MTAA, Hayley A. Silverman, Mathwrath, Chris Coy, Michael Bell-Smith, jimpunk, and more. The first loop will be launched at 8, and the last will be cut off at 10.

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Transparency Theory


Video: Schmelzolan on Overhead by Christian Faubel

What do elementary school audiovisual departments have in their arsenals these days? Are fifth-grade teachers teaching with PowerPoint? That seems hard to believe, since mine barely mastered the overhead projector. She could never put the transparency right-side up and left-side left on the first try. The overhead projector’s flipping technique required the user’s brain to undo what the eyes do for it, in order to make one sheet of paper’s worth of information available to collective vision.

The tricky optics alone should be enough to interest artists in the overhead projector, but an exhibition dedicated to the device in Malmo, Sweden, focuses on the precious, nostalgic appeal of this quaint technology. Opening Friday and running through May 30, “The Art of the Overhead” will feature an archive of projectable documents and a spate of live programs: a projection-based performance by Katrin Bethge, an analogue computer game by magic-lantern artists Milk Milk Lemonade, and an interactive planetarium from Sue Corke and Hagen Betzwieser. Since Sunday these artists and others have been taking part in an OHPen Surface Workshop, sharing the projects they’ve prepared for the overhead projector and discussing how they’ve adapted the technologies they use in their usual practices, which range from sound art to minimal robotics. The full program is available at www.overheads.org, a site that makes nice use of another obsolete technology, the marquee.

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Mix It Up


Video: Matthew Ostrowski, Atopia, 2004

Mixology, the annual festival curated by the new music and new media organization Roulette, got off to a strong start last week with opening night performances by Pamela Z and Elliott Sharp, presented in collaboration with Harvestworks. Pamela Z demonstrated her use of gesture to control sound, which she produces with her own operatic voice as well as electronically. Elliott Sharp was a one-man noise band, playing both an amplified saxophone and a keyboard-based instrument while manipulating both on his laptop. The night ended with an improvised duet, in which Pamela Z played her iPhone like an ocarina.

Performances continued through the weekend and will resume tonight. Tomorrow’s program features Matthew Ostrowski, who will pick up themes of gesture and sampling with a new work titled “Patterns of Changing Light.” Mixology runs through May 30, concluding with a performance by downtown stalwart David Rosenbloom, whose piece Sound and Light I continues his thirty-year-long exploration of dense sonic textures with a more recent integration of video as the basis for an evolving score. The full program for the rest of Mixology can be found on Roulette’s calendar.

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School Day


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Image: Mike Rosenthal, The Traveling Sound Museum, 2009

The spring show of ITP, New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, which was open to the public last Sunday and Monday, was a like science fair, with students eager to show the results of their projects, and also like a job fair, with middle-aged men in suits prowling for fresh-faced innovators. There’s an atmosphere of authentic creative exploration surrounding the projects displayed, but more often than not the starting point is a vaguely corporate-sounding buzzword: Sustainability! Wearable technologies! Arduino! Connecting to nature was a particularly hot topic, with variations on it ranging from urban botany—like the iPhone app Twigster that helps users identify species of plant life they encounter in parks—to the New-Age crunch of Root Boots, bark-covered footwear that encourages the wearer to stand still and contemplate nature by providing pleasant, low-frequency vibrations when at rest and making scary uprooting sounds when lifted. Voice from the Past also followed the trend of adapting technology to slow the pace of life down; the program lets callers leave a voice message and designate a time in the near or distant future when the recipient will be notified of it. The inverse of that was the whimsical Traveling Sound Museum, with sounds of events like the 1293 sacking of Jaisalmer by the emperor Ala-ud-din Khilji and the 1835 arrival of European explorers in Galapagos in mason jars displayed on an antique wooden cart. (The creator cagily batted away questions about what the burlap in the jars was hiding, and where they “really” came from.) Other projects let computers and audience share the credit for art-making. The “cobots” ShadowBot and SoundBot moved in response to environmental light or noise, respectively, to create messy, Spirogram-like doodles. With the heavy crowds at the ...

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Positive Vibes


Video: Lucky Dragons at Pehr Space, August 2008

Any set has begin and end, but the Lucky Dragons played that down in a New York appearance last Saturday; they switched on some recorded sounds as the audience was taking seats, and demonstrated their equipment and chatted after the music’s long, slow fadeout. The structure suits the group’s hippie philosophy that doesn’t assign prominence to any musical moments, but treats all sounds (and people) equally. They also tried to erase borders between performer and audience by encouraging listeners to be mobile, approach the instruments, and improvise, although the narrow length of The Stone, crammed with folding chairs, made it tough for anyone past the two front rows to join in. Lucky Dragons stalwarts Luke Fishbeck and Sarah Andersen were joined by drummer Ches Smith and guitarist Grey Gersten, the curator of The Stone’s program this month.

Once everyone was settled in place, Smith and Gersten entered lightly, playing inside the framework of the electronic pulse already hovering in the venue. Gersten struck and dampened his instrument’s strings percussively, rather than playing melodies. Over time the drums and guitar settled into a hazy backdrop for electronic, pentatonic glissandos emanating from Fishbeck and Andersen’s hacked instruments. Later on they handed audience members a short-circuited wire—wrapped in a colorful knit cozy for safety—that played triadic chords when touched, varying volume according to intensity of squeezes and the amount of grounding (Fader recorded a demonstration of it). The accidental harmonies of that cord, like most of the sonorities in the Lucky Dragons’ music, seems to skip across the overtone series, as if the electronic tool is just picking up the natural vibrations hanging in the air. It could be the signature instrument in their wired drum circle ...

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