Enter the SPACE d’OM
This past week I have assisted in the building of a 17-ft geodesic dome, held a ladder that was taller than I’d like to think about while David precariously drilled projector mounts into a stubborn wooden ceiling, and helped my friend Rena scour the thrift stores for cushions, rugs and blankets to add to all the ones we have managed to pool together from our combined homes. This weekend, the fruit of these and other labors will be presented as SPACE d’OM [pronounced SPACE DOME], an interactive performative installation at ONN/OF Festival, a multimedia art event curated by Seattle luminaries Susan Robb, Sierra Stinson and Jim Demetre.
When I was invited to participate in ONN/OF—whose stellar lineup also features Amanda Manitach, Claude Zervas, and Zack Bent, among many others—I immediately knew that I wanted to propose a new piece for my installation/performance duo Hair and Space Museum. As Hair and Space Museum, my partner and collaborator David Golightly and I have embarked on a series of audiovisual meditations on the generative nature of sound. For our first such piece, Drone Chamber at NEPO House in June 2010, we transformed a child’s bedroom into a pocket cathedral of primordial vibrations. This piece was followed up by A Double Rainbow in Curved Air at Seattle University’s Hedreen Gallery in September 2010, which consisted of a 12-hour improvisation, a dual homage to composer Terry Riley’s legendary All-Night Flights and the unforgettable “Double Rainbow” YouTube meme of 2010.
Since then, we have been keeping our eyes open for the right opportunity to create a piece where we generate live audio and visuals for an audience in an environment that is separated from the source of these signals by a thin wall or membrane, providing an immersive, womb-like experience of piped-in light and sound that plays with the philosophical idea of the perennial disconnect between subjective sensory information and its “source.”
When we toured the ONN/OF site—formerly the Demetre Ski Sweater factory— in mid-December with our bandmate Timm Mason and our friends from the Portable Shrines collective Aubrey Nehring and Rena Bussinger and saw how huge it was, we knew that we needed to do something ambitious in the space. Rena, who is a professional production designer for film and television, enthusiastically signed on to help us create a built environment to house our performance. We had a couple of meetings to discuss ideas and she quickly went to work, procuring a geodesic dome manufactured by by Unicorn Domeworks in the early 80s and tracking down a parachute to cover it.
Working as Caravan Age, Rena’s newish identity for curating and selling vintage clothing, textiles and housewares—and now, co-producing art installations—Rena is tricking out the dome and the loft adjacent to it, making a 70s-inspired utopian crash pad that will both facilitate and complement the light-filled drone zone that is SPACE d’OM.
Meanwhile, David and I have been honing our audiovisual incantation skills and playing with new video synthesizer modules from Jones Video in preparation for our performance. The new video synth recalls the equipment we had access to during a residency at Experimental Television Center in 2010.
Hair and Space Museum’s performance for SPACE d’OM was also prefigured by some recordings our band Midday Veil did this past summer at the Integratron, an acoustically perfect wooden dome situated on a geomagnetic vortex in the desert in southern California. We shot some video of the visuals for Midday Veil’s live set projected onto the Integratron; in retrospect the images appear very related to SPACE d’OM.
ONN/OF Festival runs this Saturday, Jan. 28, from 4 to midnight and Sunday, Jan. 29 from 12 to 7, at The Sweater Factory at 1415 NW 52nd in Ballard. A full schedule and list of participating artists may be found at ONNOF.us. It’s gonna be rad, come check it out!