TECHNOLOGICAL FEETS at Mills College, Oakland, California
Ed Tannenbaum, Maggi Payne, Pons Maar, Ed Holmes, and Mills dancers featuring Janet Welsh
Saturday, April 3, 1999 8:00 p.m. $10/$5
Technological Feets – A Brief Revisionist History
Tonight’s Technological Feets is the culmination of 40 years of development. I started modifying video signals when I was six years old, turning knobs on the family TV set. In my teens in the 60’s, we got our first color TV. This gave me the ability to work with the magic of electronically generated color through crude analog tampering. I experimented with textured plastic screens in front of the video screen to further manipulate the image.
After working with paint, photography, animation, and sculpture with limited electronics, I transferred to the Rhode Island School of Design, where I began working in experimental video in 1973. Working with the department’s engineer repairing video equipment, I learned how video is generated electronically. Departmental head Bob Jungels’ wife, Dorothy (now Director of the Everett Dance Theatre in Providence), had a vision of combining video with dance. Brice Howard had started the National Center for Experiments in Television (NCET) at KQED Studios in San Francisco. RISD Video was in a consortium with NCET and the strange Left Coast ideas of the “video mix” and “video space” migrated to Providence through an exchange of videotapes and artists. In collaboration with the Brown University dance department, art students were exposed to dance, and dancers were overexposed to video. Frustrated with the technical limits at the time, I began designing my own video special effects video equipment and, upon graduation in 1976, joined Electron Movers, a non-profit media center.
In 1979, I became Technical Director at the Mills College Center for Contemporary Music. In 1980 I was granted an Artist in Residency at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. With their support and tutelage, I was able to realize some of my ideas for interactive video installations for public display, i.e. strange video environments.
My first collaboration with Pons Maar was in 1980, at the opening party of my first Artwork at the Exploratorium. I plundered the guts of the work and interfaced them with a colorizer made by Dr. S. O. Teric and we improvised to the sounds of The Scientists. In spite of that start being a total disaster due to a reversal of data lines, I went on to do many “more formal” gigs with Pons and dancers/movement artists Marci Javril, Marti Kate, Laurie McDonald, Debbi Allen, Ed Holmes, Lynette Kessler, and others.
Maggi Payne, now Co-Director of the Center for Contemporary Music, created musical works for me that complemented and challenged the imagery that included Queue the Lizards, Heavy Water, Shut up and Dance, Back to Forth, Shimmer, Viscous Meanderings, FX, Flexible Face, Maytricks, Gamelan, Contest, Dance, Hikari, and Three Movements with Two Movements.
Through the 80’s and 90’s we performed at 80 Langton Street, San Jose Center for the Performing Arts, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Siggraph in Minneapolis, T.V. Show Fame, Tscuba Expo ’85 in Japan, Parigraph in Paris, Chicago Art Institute, Performing Arts Center in Nice, France, Niccograph in Japan, New Music America in Philadelphia, MultiMediale II in Karlsruhe, Germany, and many other venues.
My first video special effects designs involved thousands of electron tubes and relays and only controlled a single “blob”. (The term “pixel” had not yet been invented.) At Mills, I was introduced to transistors and, eventually, integrated circuits and microcomputers. Since then, with engineer Jeff Schier, I have been able to advance my designs to the level that you see tonight. Last January I achieved every engineer’s dream; my design was reduced to a single silicon chip with circuitry reduced to 500 microns square. In keeping with the concept of creating the single chip solution, I only had one made. It was so small that (damn it) I lost it. Therefore, tonight I am using a “legacy” device from 1995, with contemporary programming in Forth (an oxymoron for you in the know).
Technological Feets is achieved by creating structure and video environment in which the movement is performed to music. Video cameras (as many as three) capture the movements. The signal is processed “live” through the “Special Sauce Spatial Splicer”™ (S4MK1B3) (my latest invention) and other devices such as the Fairlight CVI and PC based Motion JPEG capture system. The projected results appear on the screen above the stage. The dancers can see their processed movements on stage monitors, and respond according to the image that they are creating. This is an essential element in the historical video art form Brice Howard called “the mix”. I control the image processing in response to the dancers’ movements, and together we create a vocabulary of images and movement on the screen that attempts to interpret or complement the music. On this rare occasion, Maggi Payne completes the mix with her musical comments, live.
Ed Tannenbaum, March, 1999
Tonight’s Works (subject to change)
title, original performance date, dancer
Awareness – 1985, Monique Molino (Music: Gamelan)
Back to Forth – 1986 Pons Maar, Monique Molino
Shimmer – 1985, Stacey Williams, Ed Tannenbaum
Oua Oua– 1981, Pons Maar, Ed Holmes (Music by Kanoe Maileokalani)
Viscous Meanderings 1985 Janet Welsh (Music: Flights of Fancy)
Queue the Lizards 1987 Janet Welsh, Isabelle Sjahsam (Music: Ahh Ahh, Ver2.1)
Do-Undo– 1995 Pons Maar, Ed Holmes (Music: Silicon Soul : Ed Tannenbaum)
R…L…– 1999 Janet Welsh, Sarah Folland, et. al. (Premiere) (Music: R L : David Behrman)
All music by Maggi Payne unless otherwise noted
Choreography/Dance coordination – Janet Welsh
Mills Dancers – Janet Welsh, Monique Molino, Isabelle Sjahsam, Stacey Williams, Sarah Folland
Additional Movements – Pons Maar, Ed Holmes
Technical Manager/Camera/Sanest- Armand DeLuise
Technical assistance: Max Volume, Matt Godfrey, Miyuki Fukumoto, Peter Tannenbaum
Do-Undo Programmer – Tim Treen
Nitty-gritty Hardware Engineering – Jeff Schier
This performance is supported by the Shacklee Fund and the National Endowments for the Arts
Ed Tannenbaum’s work is additionally supported by grants from “Famous Conceptual Artist’s Schools” and “CogniSystems Corp”, makers of “pretty good speech recognition (PGSR)” software.
Special thanks to The Crockett Artists Alliance.
PONS MAAR originally trained as a ceramicist and visual artist in Florida. Solo performance pieces, experimental theatre, and stints in various Bay Area art/punk bands landed him in film. He has rarely portrayed humans and is usually unrecognizable, bouncing around the evolutionary map in RETURN TO OZ, GOLDEN CHILD, MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE, THE BLOB, and GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE, etc. He spent forever being ROY on DINOSAURS the TV show. Pons has performed with Ed Tannenbaum for about a zillion years in every country willing to donate air fare and electricity. He is currently living in Los Angeles, getting ready to start work on the film MONKEYBONES, and is seriously pushing his 4th screenplay into the light (you know, like Elvis).
ED HOLMES came to California by way of a seven year hitch in the navy. Attending college on the G.I. bill he fell, quite by chance, into theater. While working towards degrees in theater (Cal State Hayward 76) and dance (Mills 78) Ed performed with the Berkeley Mime troupe in the “silent” style, and developed a one man clown show for children which he performed for the Young Audiences of the Bay Area organization for six years. In 78 he co-founded Fratelli Bologna, a Commedia del Arte company which appeared in the film “The Right Stuff”. Ed has since had a number of bit parts in movies and television as well as commercials. Ed’s other performing experiences include the S.F. opera as a mime actor, the Oakland Symphony as a performer/choreographer, Antenna Theater as a mask actor/choreo, sign language theater for the deaf, and currently a member and actor/ director with the S.F. Mime Troupe (the not ‘silent’ style). Ed has also taught mime/clown and movement for all age groups since 74 and has recently returned from Manilla (phillipines) where he was the slapstick coach and choreographer for PETA (phillipine educational theater association). April first of this year marked the 21st annual Saint Stupid’s Day Parade, produced and led by Ed as Bishop Joey of The First Church of the Last Laugh.
ED TANNENBAUM was born in New York City on February 14, 1953. He lives in Crockett, a small town near San Francisco, California.
Tannenbaum attended Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, PA and received his BFA in film/video from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1976. He was a member of Electron Movers in Providence, Rhode Island, where he served as Chief Engineer. He subsequently became the Technical Director for the Center for Contemporary Music at Mills College in Oakland, CA. He has since been consultant to Atari Design Research, 3D TV Corp., IBM, GTE Sylvania, Macy’s Department Store, and Walt Disney Enterprises for various video and computer assisted art projects.
He has had Artist-in-Residence positions at Art Park in Lewiston, NY; MacColl Studio for Electronic Music at Brown University; Chicago Art Institute; and the Exploratorium in San Francisco. He has also received an Individual Artist in Video, Interdisciplinary Arts, and a Composer’s Collaborative Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
His interactive video Artworks are or have been on exhibit at the San Francisco Exploratorium, Ontario Science Centre in Toronto, Sesame Place in Philadelphia, Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA, Fleet Science Center in San Diego, the IBM Gallery in NYC, the Center Of Science and Industry in Columbus, Ohio, the Kuntslerhaus in Vienna, Austria, “CHAOS and ORDER” in Gratz, Austria, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, GA, The Deutches Filmuseum in Frankfurt, Disneyland in Anaheim, the Boston Children’s Museum, Kohl Children’s Museum in Chicago, the Magic House in St. Louis, the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, PA, the Montgomery Museum of Fine Art in Alabama, Jackson Museum of Art in Mississippi, Saibu Gas Museum in Fukuoka, Japan, and the Asahi Shimbun Museum of Fun exhibit throughout Japan. Examples of his interactive works are currently on tour in China, Europe, Japan, and the United States.
Tannenbaum has performed his interactive video/dance works “Technological Feets” in venues throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan. Some performances include The ZKM MultiMedialle in Karlsruhe, Germany, New Music America ’87, Kanagowa Science Park in Kawasaki, Japan, the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts, Parigraph in Paris, France, Museum of Modern Art San Francisco, Festival ’87 MANCA in Nice, France, and the Tsukuba Expo ’85 on the Sony “Jumbotron”.
While Tannenbaum’s formal education is in art, he has taught himself many aspects of electronic design and computer programming in order to actualize some of his artistic ideas.