Setting the Tone is a multi-sensory interactive installation by Xuan & Jo Ho, that reinterprets a habitual and spatial experience that we are all familiar with: the activity of dining. By using a combination of media, such as sound, vision and food, we aim to highlight the immersive nature within the act of eating. On the opening day of the exhibit, visitors were invited to book a seat at our table to play with, listen to, and eat jellies of different flavors and colors. In “Setting the Tone,” each color of jelly corresponds to a certain sound depending on the way it is placed on the plate, and in which course it is being played.
Setting the Tone
a short intro about the project
Animation, collage, glitch, typography, digital processing, drawing & photography
#32daysofStockhausen is a personal project made specifically for Instagram. This short film series breaks down Telemusik, an electronic piece by Stockhausen into 32 distinct parts and aims to visualize the sonic richness of each section individually.
“Dance & Noise” is a music video collaboration between composer-percussionist Tomek Arnold and video artist Xuan. The video utilizes digital collage and animation techniques inspired by the dance music aesthetic of the music.
Lumen is an audio-visual electronic piece by composer Gemma Peacocke and video artist Xuan. The music was originally commissioned by choreographer Fairul Zahid for "Pur(e)gatory" and premiered by the 2nd Avenue Dance Company, New York in 2015, and the visuals were created in the Fall of 2018 and premiered at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.
Program notes by the composer:
A lumen is both a measure of visible light and the inside space of a tubular structure. It comes from the Latin lumen, meaning “an opening”. I wrote Lumen for the choreographer Fairul Zahid, who described to me the strange absence from his dreams of his mother, who had died several years earlier. Her complete absence from his dream-life worried him and made him wonder about where, exactly, her soul exists. In Islamic belief, souls may pass to paradise or to hell, or they may rest in a liminal space, Barzakh, during the time between death and the final Day of Judgment. Fairul found comfort in the idea of his mother resting in Barzakh, which he thought of as a tranquil formlessness of colour and light.
Abstract visuals: multi-projection, digital processing
There is a strangeness to the duality of the word "dwalm". It is an old Scottish word with two meanings: a stupor or daydream (as in the phrase "in a dwalm"), and to faint or fall ill. It comes from the Old English word "dwolma", which means "confusion". What is strange is that a daydream is such a light and lovely drifting of the mind, whereas fainting or falling ill is a sudden wrenching. Perhaps though, they are different surfacings of the same darkness. This piece is half lullaby, half keen; both songs to set someone to rest, whether by drifting off or being bid a final, fearsome farewell.
~Nois Saxophone Quartet performing Dwalm by Gemma Peacocke
‘Collapsed’ is an audio-visual piece for sop. sax, perc, & electr. (10’) composed by Pierre Jodlowski. Visuals were added earlier this year for Ensemble Garage’s inventive audio-visual program presented at the Eastman School of Music.
On|Off is an immersive, audience-dependent public sound work using a set of portable homemade synthesizers. These simple tone generators – each consisting of only an on/off switch, a volume knob, a frequency knob, and a speaker fixed within a small wooden box – are capable of enormous sonic diversity when combined. When in the hands of audience/participants, the instruments’ straightforward design makes them easily performable by anyone (regardless of age or level of musical experience), allowing for rich possibilities in blurring the line between performer, composer, and listener.
First developed by composer Danny Clay, percussionist Peter Ferry, and video artist Xuan in 2015, the work has evolved beyond its initial form as a series of interactive audio-visual games. It’s taken shape as outdoor sound installations, instruments for elementary music classrooms, collaborative stimulus in concert settings, as well as various interactive transfigurations throughout art galleries in the US. This project has received grants by the Eastman School of Music and the city of Chicago, and participated in residencies at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, High Concept Labs at Mana, and Avaloch Farm Institute. The trio continues to expand possibilities for engagement with the core belief that anyone, regardless of age, ability, or knowledge, can experience the joy of music making.
The included On|Off video is a record of our first experiments at Mana Contemporary in Chicago as apart of a residency called High Concept Labs.
High Concept Labs Residency at Mana Contemporary
40-Synth Sound Installation at the Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester NY
Elementary school music class in Avaloch, New Hampshire
Abstract visuals: Digital, color processing, animation
Composed by Kaija Saariaho
Commissioned by Dustin Seo
Sept Papillons is a collaboration between cellist Dustin Seo and Xuan. Originally a solo acoustic work by composer Kaija Saariaho, the visuals are abstract animations inspired by the sonic textures drawn out of the cello. The goal of the collaboration was to shift focus from the performer to the experience of the music as a whole, so that the concert would be completely immersive and the sonic world will fill every physical space it’s performed in.
Saariaho Sept Papillons: I
Abstract visuals: digital processing
Commissioned by Joe Phillips, composer
“Phillips, a composer who confidently fuses elements drawn from contemporary classical music, jazz, funk, and R & B, leads Numinous, his bespoke ensemble, in the premiere of “The Grey Land.” Described as a non-narrative “mono-opera” and titled for a phrase in Richard Wright’s novel “Native Son,” the work employs texts spoken and sung, new and historic film, and choreography in a tale of social injustice and racial discrimination. The soprano Rebecca L. Hargrove sings the sole role, portraying a black mother struggling to raise her son in modern America.”
‘Composed over a six-year period by Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche in collaboration with his fellow Chicagoans from the Third Coast Percussion quartet, much of the music in “Wild Sound,” is derived from integrating the sounds of making and unmaking the instruments being used. It puts a clever twist on the phrase “work in progress.”’
Wild Sounds- Commission for Third Coast Percussion and Glenn Kotche
L) Third Coast Percussion/Glenn Kotche's Wild Sound (Trailer 2014)