Audio/visual performance artist Blake Carrington at Fourth (of July) First Friday
Every once in a while, there comes a weekend that’s almost too good to be true. The stars align, fortune smiles, you shrug off the work week, and you embrace Friday night with more reasons to celebrate than you actually have time to celebrate them. There are worse problems to have.
Today, the Harrison Center for the Arts invites you to enjoy yourselves, because not only is it July 4th, more importantly, it’s the First Friday of the month. And we’re gearing up for an open house that’s as good as ever. In fact, it’s going to be so good that the city scheduled fireworks for afterward. They say it’s to celebrate the birth of our nation, but we know what they really mean.
As part of our July First Friday, we are pleased to have Blake Carrington of Brooklyn, NY here to perform a personal composition and audiovisual performance. Blake is a professor at Mary Mount College, Pratt Institute, and several other schools in the greater New York City area.
Blake is a musician, visual artist, and software programmer all at once, and his performance art is as multi-faceted as he is. It’s a hybrid product that synthesizes manipulated sound recordings with a projected visual representation of the music—and it’s all done by him live with the use of software that he developed.
Essentially, Blake records sounds around the world, isolates individual tones in those sounds, and shifts the pitch to fit within the desired scale in order to produce a cohesive and harmonic sound. In certain ways, it’s a digitally remastered type of ambience that has organized the typical cacophony and dissonance of the world into an ordered sonic experience.
“Sometimes it can even sound like a gnarly electric organ,” Blake said.
This Friday, Blake will be performing his composition in the gym—a piece he developed in only a few short days this week. Among the myriad of sounds that listeners will get to hear is a collection of manipulated recordings Blake made at his recent residency with the Tofte Lake Center in Minnesota.
In this one composition, listeners can experience Blake’s haunting version of the Great Northern Loon’s call as well as the digitally altered sound of water running through a beaver’s dam. Each natural sound provides a different tool and mood for the composition that makes it wholly unique. “For instance, I put my shotgun mic incredibly close to a sitting dragonfly, and when it took off, its beating wings sounded like a low bass or kick drum,” Blake explained.
As Blake performs his compositions live on one laptop, the abstract audio is replicated by another laptop that generates an equally abstract visual that is projected for the audience to see. Blake’s intent is to create a subjective image space or landscape reminiscent of Rorschach’s ink blot tests that the audience could almost step into. The effect is mesmerizing, and when combined with the soaring audio he creates, it is an experience that can’t be replicated in any other setting.
If you’re interested, (which you should be) you can see a collection of Blake’s work online. Be sure to look at, listen to, and melt with his Cathedral Scan performance project, and buckle up for something equally beautiful tonight.
First Friday runs from 6pm to 9pm with Blake’s performance scheduled for 8pm in the gym. The city’s fireworks show will be starting at 9:45pm, give or take, so I can tell you that your July 4th night has already been set up with the perfect itinerary. You aren’t going to want to miss everything that’s happening at the Harrison Center tonight.