Digital Alchemy Talks: Jon Leidecker + Sally Decker

Oct 11, 2019 6:00 PM
Design by Cosmic (115 Cooper St., Santa Cruz)
Buy Tickets | Free

Artist and scholar Jon Leidecker traces the history of modern artificial intelligence back to the chaotic electronic feedback circuits of early electronic music pioneers. Leidecker traces commonalities in the works of Louis and Bebe Barron (who scored the 1956 film Forbidden Planet), David Tudor, Pauline Oliveros, the members of the Sonic Arts Union (Robert Ashley, Alvin Lucier, David Behrman, and Gordon Mumma), and their European contemporaries Eliane Radigue, Pietro Grossi, Jaap Vink, and Roland Kayn. Composer and performer Sally Decker discusses the use of electronic feedback systems, non-control, and emotion in her recent work.

This event is part of a series of Digital Alchemy Talks at Design By Cosmic, probing the intellectual and ideological histories of art and technology.

Jon Leidecker: "United Feedback Plus: A Retroactive Manifesto for the Early Decades of American Electronic Music"

In the 1950's, dueling manifestos attempting to define the true potential of electronic music emerged from France's GRM and Germany's WDR Studios. Within ten years, the manifestos insisting on pure 'Concrète' or 'Elektronische' approaches had given way to a flood of composers availing themselves of every available technique. But if Louis and Bebe Barron's liner notes for Forbidden Planet, describing their interest in cybernetics, feedback, and self-playing circuits had emerged in 1950 instead of 1976, it would have held up historically as a prescriptive statement of purpose for the next twenty years of compositions investigating feedback as the defining idiomatic voice of the new medium, and the central organizing principle for a live performance method. This lecture traces commonalities in the works of the Barrons, David Tudor, Pauline Oliveros, and the members of the Sonic Arts Union: Robert Ashley, Alvin Lucier, David Behrman and Gordon Mumma, before flying across the Atlantic to include the work of Eliane Radigue, Pietro Grossi, Jaap Vink and Roland Kayn.

Jon Leidecker (aka Wobbly) has been producing music under the name Wobbly since 1990, improvising with recordings to produce music which inherently resists the act of being captured. Recent performances deploy a battery of mobile devices driven by their built-in microphones, reacting instantly with error-prone variations on the notes and sounds they believe themselves to be hearing: a tightly-knit orchestra with inhuman reflexes, resulting in structures which the human performer influences more than controls. Currently touring & recording with both Negativland and the Thurston Moore Ensemble, other live and studio collaborators include Zeena Parkins, Dieter Moebius & Tim Story, People Like Us, Matmos, Laetitia Sonami, Fred Frith, Tania Chen, Sue C., The Freddy McGuire Show and Sagan. In 2009, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona commissioned his eight part podcast on the evolution of sampling & collage music, 'Variations', which Leidecker has presented as a lecture at Mills, Stanford, Oxford and Peabody Conservatory. In 2015 he inherited Negativland's long-running Over The Edge radio live mix program, broadcasting from Berkeley's KPFA FM.

Sally Decker: "Embodying Non-Control: Feedback Systems and the Emotional Self in Performance"

Sally Decker discusses the dynamic link between the creative process and self-growth. Always a critical linkage in Decker’s process, her recent work with electronic feedback systems has facilitated a renewed navigation of self in performance. At the core of her relationship with the feedback system is non-control: a familiar space, deeply related to emotion remembered in the body. Decker will describe her approach to performing with her system and the ways in which she applies this framework as exercise and experimentation within the emotional self.

Sally Decker is a composer, performer, writer and improviser based in Oakland, CA. She explores the emotional potential of sounds as portals of connection. Her approach to form and process is psychological and sensory, rooted in the goal of strengthening a reflective focus toward our internal intuitive worlds. Recent interests include feedback systems, the voice, and utilization of language in performance. She recently received her MFA in 2019 in Electronic Music & Recording Media from Mills College, where she studied with Laetitia Sonami, James Fei, Zeena Parkins, Maggi Payne, John Bischoff, and Fred Frith. In 2017 she released an album on NNA Tapes entitled Living Pearl under the moniker Multa Nox.

Digital Alchemy Talks at Design by Cosmic supported by Jean-Marc & Rebecca Jot.

Thank you to Design by Cosmic for hosting the Digital Alchemy Talks.