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John Keston, Instant Cinema: Teleportation Platform X

Union Depot

Instant Cinema: Teleportation Platform X

Deeply interested in how humans hear and create sounds in their own minds, musician and media artist John Keston believes that we all may be musicians and composers. According to his hypothesis, most of us just lack the training to harness and express those inner melodies. Although this may seem ludicrous to many of us who self-identify as “tone-deaf,” Keston quickly counters that hearing sound in one’s own mind is quite commonplace—consider experiences such as recalling voices, hearing a song in your head, or remembering place-related sounds like waves on the seashore or an ambulance siren. With improvisation and a variety of musical instruments (including his favored electronic synthesizers), Keston employs improvisation and interaction as tools to engage and enlighten the curious viewer/listener.

Keston describes the improvisational event piece Instant Cinema: Teleportation Platform X as “musical accompaniment for nearby events as they occur.” Keston and his jazz trio partners John Davis and Graham O’Brien (DKO) interact in real time with images and sounds from Northern Spark sent to their location by the roving audiovisual artist David T Steinman.Jon Steinhorst produced the stage design for the performance.

An example of Keston’s investigations into the nature of how we navigate, interact with, and ultimately participate in the creation of our visual and sonic environment, Instant Cinema distinguishes itself from the now ubiquitous form of video images paired with musical performance in two key ways. The first is best evidenced in the physical relationship of the musicians to the incoming video. In most cases of musical performance with video, images are placed behind the musicians and act primarily as decoration or spectacle for the audience’s amusement. In Instant Cinema: Teleportation Platform X, the musicians face the screen, which acts as portal for the images sent in from the nearby environs. The trio responds to the live impressions, via improvisation, to create the music. The spatial configuration of the musicians marks a distinction from more typical uses of the form, but so too does the inclusion of incidental sound in the data “teleported” into their performance/creation space. Not just deftly caught images but intermittent and at times chaotic sound enters the arena of the performers, contributing another layer of complexity to the interactive building of the score. Divided into thematic segments, or circuits, that determine the players, the instruments, and the specific locales being filmed, the piece is planned to fill the entire nine-hour festival, sundown to sunup. During that time, using unique instruments, the music in their minds, and audiovisual prompts that are completely unknown until viewed and heard, the producers of Instant Cinema: Teleportation Platform X will attempt to teleport the audience to novel visual and sonic realities as each participant processes and composes a particular personal score of the evening.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 —Diane Mullin

Collaborators for this project include:

John Keston – Musician, Director
David T Steinman – Audiovisual Artist, Mobile Conductor
Jon Davis – Bass, Bass Clarinet, Electronics
Graham O’Brien – Percussion, Electronics
Jon Steinhorst – Artistic Director