MapFund

About the Grant

$35,000 to support Still Life with Commentator (MAP 2005), a darkly comic transmedia performance/opera examining the role of the audience and the media in modern warfare, conceived and created by musician/composer Vijay Iyer, poet/librettist Mike Ladd, and director/conceptual artist Ibrahim Quraishi.

About the Project

Still Life with Commentator is a transmedia performance/opera combining a libretto by poet Michael Ladd, an electroacoustic score by composer Vijay Iyer, and a visual/theatrical environment by director/conceptual artist Ibrahim Quraishi. Still Life examines the role of audience in modern warfare, in a series of lyrical pieces performed by three voices and four musicians. Using kinetic live video and animated text, Still Life treats digital media as our modern pastoral landscape.

In an era of endless war, the nature of warfare has altered; so has the notion of the refugee. Like previous wars, there is a physical theater where bullets are fired and real refugees suffer real tragedies. But another theater of operations monopolizes our attention: a virtual war constructed by the news media. This virtual theater has created a class of information refugees, or infogees, for whom the expediency of personal media (blogs) enables an atmosphere of anxious speculation and rumor-driven realities. Ultimately the infogee is a stand-in for all of us who weather these menacing data storms daily.

In Still Life, like poets of yore whose muse was nature, infogees issue prosodic descriptions of Dan Rather's face, CNN's title sequence, or news images seared in our memory. Digitally processed instruments and voices create a hybrid posthuman soundscape, and multiple video streams weave a telematic spell, all counterbalanced by the lyricism of the music and text. In conducting a critical inquiry into our mediated relationships to modern atrocity, Still Life with Commentator also enacts a quest for creative resolution.
<EM>Diorama</EM> by Mike Ladd
Diorama by Mike Ladd

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