Gestures was performed for the first time on Jan 18th at the Knitting Factory. It will also be released as a surround sound DVD and DVD ROM.
The general Idea:
The work will have words and image as well as music. It work will be available for the home participant to reinterpret by using the mouse as a ëgesturedí input to the computer. One will be able to perform the work through a kind of gestured conducting.
There will be two versions of the work; one will be a fixed version, which I will have performed, and the other an open-ended computer application (program) that will let each home participant do his/her own version.
How it works:
I call the new computer application or program, ëGesturesí. There are three modes:
1. You gesture with the mouse by holding the mouse down and moving it. The computer knows literally everything about the gesture you are making. It can tell the average speed of the movement, the average smoothness/ or ëjerkinessí or ëbentnessí of the movement, the length of the gesture, etc. You signal the computer that you are finished with the gesture by releasing the mouse. The computer ëplaysí music related to your gesture.
2. Without depressing the mouse, you can now move the mouse freely over the surface of special image witch encompasses the entire screen. As you do this you alter the sound and the parts of the music, which is playing. You continue this as long as you wish, or, by depressing the mouse and gesturing again, bring in other parts of the music related to the new gestures. If you choose to sit back and listen, the computer automatically takes you to a third mode.
3. When the computer detects that you are no longer active, it uses the music you have gestured as a background to readings of texts (being created for the work), which are related to the music you have ëgesturedí. And, as soon as you move the mouse, the exploration of the music continues and/or a new gesture can be created.
I am in the process of creating four performances pieces out of the home, interactive work. Each is based on one of the four stories by Melody Sumner Carnahan. In the original Gestures, the stories are imbedded in the fabric of the experience and only come to the foreground when the user is not active. In the performance version, each story has a place where it comes to the foreground. However, the original stories are quite long, so, in the performance version they are condensed to allow the music to ëspeakí much of the story in its own way. The first of the four is finished and will be performed tonight. It is entitled, Gestures: It Begins with Colors.
How it works
There are 20 musical choices in the work. These would, in the home version, be accessed by gestures. In the performance version these choices are made by Key closures on the computer keyboard. There are 4 types of music, each with 4 variations. These are laid out on the keyboard with the first five keys of each of the four rows of keys. The key closure of any key chooses a screen environment of 15 sounds. There are 10 sounds around the edges of the screen: four corners, two top, two bottom and one on each side. There are 5 sounds in the main body of the screen: top, bottom, left, right and center. By sliding the mouse across the screen I get a cross fade between any combination of the 15 sounds. For instance, the mouse in the center top of the main part of the screen will give me a mix of the top sound along with the left and right sound; the mouse in the upper left corner of the main screen will give the left and top sound, the mouse in the middle left will give me the left sound only, etc. The movement of the mouse is a kind of gestured conducting of the music while the music to be performed is made by key closures which is more of a composerís kind of choice making.
The screen of the computer is projected onto the screen behind me and at the front of the audience. This way the audience will see the computer screen as I see it. The main cursor [a feather or quill like object] is the actual trajectory of my mouse movement. When I move the cursor to the edges, the main screen folds over and an under screen is seen. This under-screen corresponds to the images [by Steven Subotnick] seen when the home user is inactive. It has its own cursor, which is searching for images. This cursor is seen as a secondary cursor running simultaneously with my mouse movements.
The quality of that Gesture gives me the materials (vocabulary of sounds and images) for that performance. I then perform the work using the mouse to move from sound to sound and, by clicking on particular keys of the computer keyboard, advance the computer through the vocabulary of sounds within the domain of the original Gesture.
Credits for the new DVD-ROM work, 'Gestures'
Special animated graphics, by Steven Subotnick.
Texts by Melody Sumner Carnahan
Texts read by Joan La Barbara.