Sunday, November 18, 2012

Ghost in the Machine

Timothy Stulman the president of Central Florida Composers Forum invited me  to be part of a concert on November 10. I suggested I could do a digital sketch live of the performers and project it during the performance at the White House November 10th. I figured that a sketch being created with the hand unseen would tie in well with the Ghost in the Machine title. I arrived early to set up. Timothy greeted Terry and myself at the door. He had a square three foot white canvas on the stage with an easel. The problem was there were computers and sound mixers in the way of the projector. I wanted the projection to be bigger, so I took the tablet and projector to the second floor. The projected image filled the ceiling. The color would be a bit off, but the audience could see themselves and the performers appear on the ceiling from this God's eye view. At one point I panicked because I couldn't find the brushes window. In the digital world, things always seem to crash or disappear into the ether. I tend to work slower digitally since I'm constantly trying to find windows and tools. Too much time is spent searching instead of sketching. At least in the real world, I can leave a brush in my lap and I'll know where to find it. I felt I ran out of time before I was done, then again, that is why it is a sketch. Of course it will always be fun to brag that I've drawn at the White House.

All compositions in the concert contained an electronic element, ranging from interactive computer patches, to surround sound, to recorded ambient noises. One composition was affected by people's tweets which scrolled across the top of the flat screen TV. I couldn't help but be reminded of Brian Feldman's performances of TXT. People laughed at the tweets as they scrolled. One read, "This is my first tweet, ever!" The concert featured several premieres, including Charles Griffin’s Enfold Us Beneath Open Wings, John Alvarez’s Fermions and Gauge Bosons, and a new work by Thomas Owen. Other featured composers are Thad Anderson, Keith Lay, and Timothy Stulman. The concert also featured the talents of vocalist Michelle Amato and Julie Bateman, saxophonist Timothy Rosenberg, and percussionist Nick Strange. The concert was part of the Accidental Music Festival, and was free and open to the public. As is the White House tradition, audience members were encouraged to bring a beverage or snack to enjoy before or after the concert. After the concert, several people asked me what software I had used, as if it was the machine that had created the image.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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