Jacob Burns Film Center To Participate In County-Wide Sound Art Exhibition

Arts and Entertainment

June 5, 2014

From: Jacob Burns Film Center

Exhibition is the Collaborative Effort of Sound Artist, JBFC Faculty Member, and Pleasantville High School Students

Pleasantville, NY - This summer, the Jacob Burns Film Center (JBFC) will participate in a multi-location open-air sound art exhibition, entitled In the Garden of Sonic Delights, an initiative of Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts. The JBFC's interactive sound exhibition, Usonia, is the result of a collaboration between sound artist John Morton, JBFC faculty member Adam Rokhsar, and four Pleasantville High School students, Dylan Franks, Kate O'Brien, Jack Butler, and Jacob Nemec. It will be on display in Pleasantville's Nonna Square, a small urban green in downtown Pleasantville adjoining the train station, from June 7 through the fall. The JBFC will host a public opening ceremony for the exhibition on Monday, June 9 at 4:00 pm in Nonna Square.

Usonia focuses on the sonic placement and manipulation of field recordings, film clip audio, and interviews made in Pleasantville to create a "visionless cinema" - sonic events describing a narrative that is heard but not seen, and contrasting with the live visual activity passing in front of listeners in the park. The exhibition is activated by two hand-cranked music boxes mounted on a metal pedestal and surrounded by four speakers. Each music box, run by visitors to the installation, controls different aspects of the sonic mix.

The collaborative process between Morton, Rokhsar, and the students evolved over many months of discussions, workshops, and experiments at the Jacob Burns Film Center's Media Arts Lab, which included a careful balance of directed activities and an expanding awareness of sonic details and interplay. The students selected the title Usonia based on the term first coined by writer James Duff Law in 1865, referring to his notion of a more inclusive United States and the growing country's broad cultural backgrounds. In 1945, Frank Lloyd Wright participated in the creation of Usonian Homes, a neighborhood adjacent to Pleasantville, based on Wright's ideas of community and landscape integration.

"Working on Usonia with the students and Adam Rokhsar brought an element of surprise and unpredictability to the project, and this necessitated my giving up compositional authority," Morton said. "Usually I thrive on a balance between randomness and control, but in this collaboration it was necessary for the "system" to emerge from a spirit of cooperation, play, and mutual creativity."

John Morton is a composer, instrument builder, and sound installation artist who has collaborated with The Kitchen in New York City, The Playwright's Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and organizations around the country. He was awarded a McKnight Visiting Composer Fellowship where he explored the compositional and sculptural possibilities of abandoned farm equipment. In 2009 his six-channel sound project, Central Park Sound Tunnel, was installed near the Central Park Zoo. His work was also installed at Wave Hill in Riverdale. He recently completed both "Sonic Hotel Lost and Found Sounds of the Adirondacks," an 18-channel sound installation situated in a former log hotel on the Adirondack Museum campus, and a motion-activated installation for The Art of Video Games exhibition at the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers.

JBFC faculty member Adam Rokhsar is an artist and software developer. Working with sound, video, and code to create new tools of self-expression, Adam has taught hundreds of classes across the country, most recently at New York University and Bennington College.

Dylan Franks, Kate O'Brien, Jack Butler, and Jacob Nemec are seniors at Pleasantville High School.

In the Garden of Sonic Delights (Sonic Delights) is a major open-air sound art exhibition presented by Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts. Opening June 7, and continuing through the fall season, the exhibition, led by Curator and Artistic Director Stephan Moore, will include fifteen site-specific sound artworks. Caramoor commissioned sixteen established and emerging sound artists to choose distinctive locations at Caramoor and five partner organizations throughout 3:00 pm. Admission is $10.00 (children 12 and under are free), including all-day access to the Caramoor grounds for the exhibit, picnics, and walks.

Caramoor is a performing arts center located on a unique 90-acre setting of Italianate architecture and gardens in Westchester County, NY. It enriches the lives of its audiences through innovative and diverse musical performances of the highest quality. Its mission also includes mentoring young professional musicians and providing educational programs for young children centered around music. Audiences are invited to come early to explore the beautiful grounds, tour the historic Rosen House, enjoy a pre-concert picnic, and discover beautiful music in the relaxed settings of the Venetian Theater, Spanish Courtyard, Music Room of the Rosen House, and the magnificent gardens. To learn more, visit www.caramoor.org.