Austin Museum of Digital Art Performance Series 2

Local Arts Reviews

Austin Museum of Digital Art Performance Series 2

Ballet Austin, June 11

Ever hear of the Austin Museum of Digital Art? Well, you should. This band of curators has been functioning since 1997 and since last year has incorporated a Performance Series into its repertoire of public shows. For the latest installment, three unique digital music and video artists set up shop at Ballet Austin using tables, mix boards, a projector, and, most crucial, their digital machines: laptops.

Beginning with low rumblings and echoing landscapes of thunderous hums, composer Rick Reed blended experimental music with visual imagery. Playing underneath a projection of red and blue currents of painted film, Reed brought to life the Stan Brakhage-esque dense simplicity of chaotic color and sound. Next were Josh Ronsen and Jacob Green, who scored live oboe and clarinet reverbs, lingering and spontaneously melodic, to mesmerizing footage of a Butoh dancer trapped within an abandoned, dilapidated warehouse full of broken metal, computers, a web of wires, and hospital beds. The dancer's macabre straining and frailty gave emphasis to sounds of sporadic bells and eardrum-tickling clicks. The final act was minimalist composer Richard Chartier, who has traveled extensively with his trance-inducing silences and murmurs. With only the glow of his laptop and the city lights dotting the room through square windows, the audience sat in mostly darkness and stillness as Chartier navigated the currents, falling in and out of faint rhythms while continuously looping phantom scratchings.

With all these compositions, the ordinary casings around the mind's inner core sank into a calm and melting psychosis. The petty world was a blurring memory; however, the music was not something you could dance to, unless the beat was created by listening to the heart. No matter what type of software these composers used, it was clear that digital art is a burgeoning medium, beyond blockbuster film effects or massive sound laboratories. The volume of creative possibilities within digital media is unpredictable, but the potential for brain and body experiences seems profound. AMODA needs supporters in its mission to expose the works of emerging digital artists, and it's high time we pay attention.

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Austin Museum of Digital Art, Ballet Austin, Rick Reed, John Ronsen, Jacob Green, Richard Chartier

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