Beall Center for Art + Technology, University of California, Irvine
R. Luke DuBois:
Music into Data::Data into Music
September 29, 2018— February 2, 2019
Set in a darkened exhibition space, lit primarily by videos, Music into Data::Data into Music explores the auditory, visual and verbal structures and underpinnings of contemporary culture. Four of the six pieces by R. Luke DuBois in this multidisciplinary show reveal that videos can be manipulated to sound otherworldly and/or cacophonous, thereby addressing the deluge of sensory ephemera in our lives.
In two pieces on view, DuBois, an artist-musician who works with IT platforms in music, processed sound and video, depicts “time-lapse phonography” or music (contained within videos) that is slowed down. Illustrating this concept is “Vertical Music (for twelve musicians filmed at high speed)” (2012), a compelling video, featuring musicians playing a chamber piece composed by DuBois. Each player was recorded separately; then the videos were slowed down, resulting in nuanced concentration by the performers, along with music that borders on the surreal. The similar “Video,” featuring seven of the artist’s classically trained musician collaborators, is slowed down to one-tenth of recorded speed, portraying the players’ subtle gestures and expressions. Two cacophonous, and pointedly political, videos feature acceptance speeches of presidential candidates. The second video, “Acceptance 2016” (2016), contains speeches by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, which the artist manipulates to make the candidates appear to mimic, and then correspond with each other.
Eclipsing the time-lapse phonography, “A Year in MP3s” (2009-2010) documents 365 musical compositions accompanied by speakers with earbuds. Remarkably, DuBois created a piece of music every day for a year—a nearly heroic feat in our inundated world. “Prosody: WSB” (2014), even more conceptual, includes a typewriter used by writer William S. Burroughs. It also contains parts of his text, and an audio track of Burroughs reading his novel, “Junkie,” in his nasal but deeply resonant voice. This 60-year-old recording becomes a counterpoint for the exhibition’s often-discordant sounds.