L A I W A N
LORI FREEDMAN on clarinets
for the year 4698 or 5760
is a multi media gallery installation that uses film with audio,
live performance, music improvisation, computer media and the
internet. It is a celebration of the improvisational musical
body, spontaneous time and space, and the presence/absence of
cultural histories within a critique of the limitations of machines.
is a continuation of my exploration into our present, seeming
cultural, epistemological shift in which we are moving from
analogue to digital information systems and from industrial
to information-based economies. The work consists of
a gallery installation with four 16mm film projectors, audio and
a circular screen
live performance of improvisation played by Lori Freedman (on
clarinets) accompanied by
the four projectors
two computers with a digital translation of the QUARTET written
in music notation, printed by dot matrix printer onto paper and displayed in the gallery
a web version on the Internet
5. a CD-Rom publication
and live performance
with the idea of the millennial year (4698 and 5760 are the
Chinese and Jewish calendar years respectively for the year
2000), QUARTET is a gallery installation using four, 16mm film
projectors that play four film loops simultaneously. On these
four loops, one sees musician Lori Freedman performing. On each
loop, she plays a different musical improvisation, in a different
location, at a different time of day, dressed in a different
set of clothes, and from four points of view (right side, front,
back, and left side). I imagined that this film installation
would simulate an “improvising machine,” to reconstruct a “4-dimensional
improvising body” with four machines that project the images
towards a central, circular screen.
film loop is between 30 and 150 feet in length and plays between
38 seconds and 4 minutes of music improvisation. Because each
loop is of different lengths, the QUARTET that the four projectors
are playing will never be the same. The composition was neither
premeditated nor controlled. It is open to chance, but at some
time will come to a point of repetition.
musician was asked to freely improvise. As a result, sub-themes
of the work may surface: contemplation/spontaneity; contingency/history;
what has passed/what is to come; temporality/duration; bodily
presence (live music)/mediated absence (on film); emotional
intelligence/artificial intelligence; and body/machine.
Freedman is one of Canada’s most widely acclaimed clarinet virtuosos.
I proposed this project to Freedman because her abilities at
improvisation are perfect for these explorations. Her music
embodies many of the issues I explore in this work, in particular:
the temporality and fleeting nature of improvisation; issues
of body memory and cultural/musical histories; the demand in
improvisation for bodily presence; issues of bodily absence
and/or disembodied presence in relation to mediating technologies.
There are daily performances by Freedman accompanying the four
projectors (to form a quintet) at the Morris and Helen Belkin
Gallery from 12:30 to 1:30 pm. During the course of the installation,
the film loops, the audio quality, the projector mechanisms
and the computers will be subject to deterioration, break down
and/or information overload. These are intentional for the composition.
QUARTET improvisations are fed digitally into a computer for
translation into musical notation, and then printed by a dot
matrix printer onto paper. A number of microphones will pick
up the sounds of the film projectors, improvisations, and ambient
sounds in the gallery. Another microphone will pick up the sounds
of the rotating door at the entrance to the Belkin Gallery.
Freedman’s daily performances and all of these sounds will be
translated into musical notation. Although the sound feeds are
in real-time, the computers may slow down or stop at some point
because they will have too much information to process.
reams of notation displayed in the gallery reference a composed,
musical score. The computer and printing process challenges
the abilities of artificial intelligence to comprehend and accurately
interpret real-time improvisation and music. With this, I am
exploring commonly held assumptions and expectations for computer
technology to interpret into textual form, a meaningful translation
of that which is subtle and felt subjectively (such as music).
During the course of the installation, musicians and students
are invited to bring an instrument to attempt to play the QUARTET
from the computer’s printed score.
virtual version of QUARTET is available on the internet at
This is a complementary site to the gallery installation.
I am working with what I see as characteristics of these virtual
formats, particularly the ability for the user to “play” or
“compose” her/his own “interactive” version of the QUARTET.
I hope to explore how the virtual reinterprets and reshapes
the QUARTET temporally, spatially, musically and bodily.
CD-Rom publication with accompanying essays and interactive
versions of the QUARTET is to be released after the exhibition.
for the year 4698 or 5760
will travel to the Sound Symposium 2000 Festival in Newfoundland,
July 5-15, 2000.