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Special Commissions

James Andean & François Xavier Saint-Pierre’s E-100

In E-100, Andean and Saint-Pierre re-contextualize cinematic sounds from the Essential 100—fragments of dialogue, instrumental samples and environmental sounds—according to their musical properties, creating an encyclopedic sonic collage. While the sounds are divorced from their narrative context, memories of their original contexts linger, and evocative juxtapositions ensue. The metrical perfection and monotone voice of HAL 9000 is coloured by a sample of Bernard Hermann’s hypnotic score for Vertigo, for example, or two films that share a fixation on an image from the past meet, as the closing fanfare of Charles Foster Kane’s life joins the spoken thoughts of La Jetée’s unnamed time traveler. An aleatoric algorithm links the collaged phrases of cinema sounds creating an unending chain of musical scenes, and offering audiences a new, non-visual experience of cinema’s most significant moments.

-Laurel MacMillan

In La Dolce Vita, Anita Ekberg’s character implores us to listen. E-100 is a vehicle for dedicated listening produced using a specifically designed algorithm. Visitors to Cinema 5, the NBC Universal Education Theatre, will hear a constellation of sounds that momentarily come into focus only to transform, dissolve or be abruptly cut in an ever-changing trajectory. While the aleatoric and collage-like form is indebted to Satie, Cage, Pierre Schaffer and their successors, the work is not a Zen-influenced street-level event attempting to operate at the interstices of art and life. It exists within the dually consecrated space of a cinema inside a building that acts as a shrine to the art of cinema. Where Cage wanted his works to be free of taste and “the burden of psychological intentions” or more specifically, memory, the pleasure of E-100 stems from the collisions of unforeseen sounds as much as from the listeners’ memories of the clips within their original contexts. The heterogeneous sounds of film history, selected according to their thematic, dramatic and metrical content, have been re-organized with a reverence for the sound object—we have carefully crafted phrases of sound that become like closely guarded artifacts while also letting go and allowing them to interact in new and unforeseen ways. Emphasis alternates between a narrative and a musical experience, and the two aspects interact to construct further layers of meaning.

-James Andean & François Xavier Saint-Pierre

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