Multimedia Performance by Damian Catera

Multimedia Performance For BMC International Conference 2011
Damian Catera

EOH v.5 is a multimedia performance featuring randomly transformed fragments of appropriated baroque instrumental music accompanied by a projected visual component showing animations of randomized distortions of the various piece’s scores. This piece draws on Cage’s influences, impact and collaborative oeuvre.

The randomization algorithms, which I wrote to process the sounds and visuals, are influenced by Cage’s use of I Ching based chance operations. The performance system, which consists of pre-recorded music that is fed into a laptop and processed in real-time, is inspired by several Cage influences and interactions including 1968’s HPSCHD collaboration with Lejaren Hiller as well as real-time performance systems from various projects that he did with David Tudor such as Variations V.

Cage’s impact on music composition and performance are well celebrated but I also feel that his work had a profound effect on multidisciplinary dialogues and frameworks that paved the way for multimedia performance. Cage’s longstanding relationship with Marcel Duchamp was certainly an important point of confluence pointing towards multidisciplinary practices and marking a moment where visual arts had a direct impact on the evolution of music. Cage, in turn would impact the evolution of the visual arts and multimedia through his late 1950s composition class at the New School in New York, where Fluxus artists Allen Kaprow, George Brecht and Dick Higgins were among his students. Higgins’ idea that “intermedia” represented the space between disciplinary categories resonates in this project and is an important framework for much of my recent research.

This piece is part of an ongoing integration of theory and practice where appropriated historic pieces of Western art music of the baroque, classical and romantic eras are used as a springboard to an intertextual critique of the interaction of cultural production and form. In addition to Cage’s ideas, this series is inspired by the Marxian/ Hegelian notion of the end of history as the transformative edification of a class free utopia, reflecting a structural analysis, not only of the music but the systems of power that were responsible for its original creation. The work reflects critical explorations of prevailing models of philosophical thought and how they became materialized in political systems and cultural constructs such as music. I’m continually interested in the interaction of political and religious power and how they were expressed in musical form, with an eye on how we can use these explorations to critique current systems of cultural production.

My 2006 piece deComposition 1+ Eroica was a 5.1 surround sound installation and digital prints, which utilized Beethoven’s first and third symphonies as source material. The piece functioned as an exploration of the interaction of enlightenment philosophy, musical form and the rise of Napoleon. This piece was featured In the Sonic Self interdisciplinary art exhibit at the Chelsea Art Museum in New York, during mid 2008. A multi media performance version of the piece, EOH v.2, was presented at the exhibit’s opening.

The latest incarnation which was presented in my 2009 solo exhibition at The Hogar Collection in New York, utilized Bach’s early 18th century organ music as a point of departure for the production of a new 5.1 surround sound installation , accompanying 30X 40 archival prints and a multimedia performance.