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Surface Tension: Eve Egoyan and David Rokeby

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A collaborative work for Disklavier piano and interactive video

  • live@CIRMMT
When Sep 24, 2010
from 07:30 PM to 09:30 PM
Where MMR, New Music Building, McGill University (527 Sherbrooke St. West)
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This concert is free and open to the public, with reserved seating. Please reserve your ticket here:live@CIRMMT Reservation Form (Surface Tension)


About the work, Surface Tension

Surface Tension is a collaborative work for Disklavier piano and interactive video commissioned by the Open Ears Festival through the Canada Council. It was premiered at Open Ears in Kitchener in 2009.

In Surface Tension, Eve’s performance at the keyboard of a Disklavier (an acoustic piano with a computer interface) is transformed and interpreted by a computer into live visual images projected onto a screen rising from the body of the piano. The visuals respond to a variety of performance parameters including dynamics, pitch, the harmonic relation between pitches, the use of the sustain pedal, and the duration of individual notes.

Much of the visual material is based on simulations of natural processes such as the swarming behaviours of insects, the trajectories of planets or the rippling of water when a pebble hits the surface. Eve's performance triggers and modulates aspects of these simulations; the visual representations respond to the musician, but also have a sort of life of their own, becoming in a sense a partner in the performance. In one movement, each note played on the piano contributes to the construction of a three-dimensional tower. In another, the pianist draws out the trajectories of falling snowflakes, manipulating the live processing of a pre-recorded video. Yet another charts the harmonic relationships between the notes that Eve is playing.

The performance itself is a loosely structured audio-visual improvisation in 5 movements. The improvisation is shaped partly by Eve's response to the system's visual response to her playing. All visual activity on the screen is directly responsive to the performer. The result is an extraordinary integration of sound and image in which neither of these elements dominate the other.

About Eve Egoyan

Eve Egoyan is a concert pianist who specializes in the performance of new works. Many composers have written works for her, including Martin Arnold, Allison Cameron, Alvin Curran, Maria de Alvear, José Evangelista, Michael Finnissy, Rudolf Komorous, Jo Kondo, Stephen Parkinson, Linda C. Smith, Ann Southam, Karen Tanaka, and James Tenney. She has appeared as a solo recitalist in Canada, England, France, Germany, Portugal, Japan, and the United States. Eve has released seven critically acclaimed solo discs, six of works by living composers and one disc of works by Erik Satie. Her most recent disc, "Simple Lines of Enquiry", a one-hour long piano solo by Ann Southam, was selected as one of 2009's ten top discs by Alex Ross, music critic of the New Yorker magazine and author of the critically acclaimed “The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century”.  

As an improvising musician Eve has had the opportunity to perform with Fred Frith, Michael Snow, Malcolm Goldstein, Anne Bourne, Martin Arnold, and Casey Sokol. Other collaborations include dance projects, interdisciplinary performance, film work and sound installations. Eve trained in standard repertoire at the University of Victoria with Eva Solar-Kinderman, the Banff Centre of Fine Arts with György Sebök, the Hochschule der Künste in West Berlin with Georg Sava (German Academic Exchange Scholarship), the Royal Academy of Music in London, England, with Hamish Milne (Commonwealth Scholarship), and in Toronto where she completed her M.Mus. at the University of Toronto with Patricia Parr (Chalmers Award). 

About David Rokeby

David Rokeby has been creating interactive sound and video installations with computers since 1982. His early work Very Nervous System (1982-1991) is acknowledged as a pioneering work of interactive art, translating physical gestures into real-time interactive sound environments. Very Nervous System was awarded Austria's Prix Ars Electronica Award of Distinction for Interactive Art in 1991. Several of his works have addressed issues of digital surveillance, including Watch (1995), Taken (2002), and Sorting Daemon (2003). Taken was exhibited at the Whitney Museum in New York in 2007.

Other works engage in a critical examination of the differences between human and artificial intelligence. The Giver of Names (1991-) and n-cha(n)t (2001) are artificial subjective entities, provoked by objects or spoken words in their immediate environment to formulate sentences and speak them aloud.

David Rokeby's installations have been exhibited extensively internationally. He has published two papers that are required reading in the new media arts faculties of many universities.  In 2002, Rokeby was awarded a Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts, the Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica for Interactive Art (for n-cha(n)t) and represented Canada at the Venice Biennale of Architecture with Seen (2002). In 2007 he completed major art commissions for the Ontario Science Centre and the Daniel Langlois Foundation in Montréal. His 400 foot long, 72 foot high sculpture entitled long wave was one of the hits at the Luminato Festival in Toronto (2009).


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