On the last Sunday of each month, LAVA welcomes interested individuals to gather in downtown Los Angeles, for a structured Salon featuring formal presentations and opportunities to meet and connect with one another. If you’re interested in joining LAVA as a creative contributor or an attendee, we recommend Salon attendance as an introduction to this growing community.
Because of the scope and scale of the program, this month’s Sunday Salon did not follow our usual varied two-act structure, but focused almost entirely on Electronic Music. The program includes the history of the genre, some theoretical discussion, a performance and a hands-on demonstration.
Our focus is on Electronic Music, and the sub-genre known as Circuit Bending. Circuit Bending is the creative rewiring of pre-existing circuits to make new media. Often these circuits are found in inexpensive children’s toys and “obsolete” devices. Important aspects of Circuit Bending are the D.I.Y (Do It Yourself) autodidactic nature of immediate exploration into new electronic sounds and the ability to engage in instrument building without the need for an electrical engineering degree. The artists presenting today, Andy Ben, Jeff Boynton and Mona Jean Cedar, explore the implications of Circuit Bending through a variety of contexts, including performance, documentary video and education.
For Mona Jean Cedar (poet, dancer and sign language interpreter) and Jeff Boynton (electronic musician), “Circuitry and Poetry” arose out of a desire to create collaborative artwork. Jeff’s initial impulse was to create interactive electronic instruments that would respond to Mona’s hand and body movements. This did not happen immediately due to the steep learning curve of electronics, but it led to the discovery of the “black art” of Circuit Bending. This was the jumping off point, and eventually Jeff was able to develop interfaces that would allow Circuit Bent instruments to respond to light, sound and movement. Mona had already been creating work in which poetry and movement was composed specifically for how well they will work with sign language. Presenter Andy Ben is a musician and technologist and film maker who is interested in the digital convergence and post consumer culture.
The LAVA Sunday Salon also featured a short presentation by the scholar and writer Fanny Daubigny about the American translator Louise Varèse and her work with 19th century French poetry. (Louise Varèse was the wife of Edgar Varèse, whose compositions are considered a cornerstone of electronic music.)