Garden is a three chapter series of live music-driven intermedia performance/installations developed over 5 years that use linear-immersive media (live music, installation, transparent screens and projected video) to explore expressive, atmospheric, metaphoric, psychological and cross-cultural realms of place, night time and the intersection of the human and natural environment.
Garden's imagery, both in video and performative/experiential aspects explore culturally loaded psychological landscapes. These metaphoric compositional landscapes combine the abstract and the representational, the real and imagined, civilization and "wilderness", the transitory beauty of the natural world and the progression of its loss. Musically, the Garden project works between textural/melodic soundscapes, virtuosic instrumentalism, extended instrumental techniques and inter-ensemble cueing in a mixture of strategic improvisation and through-composition.
Distinct from other models of the immersive in which the audience "loses" itself, the environments of Garden engage a kind of self-conscious rapture, creating worlds and demystifying those worlds at the same time. As a consequence of the immersive set up, Garden's repositions the viewer into the performance environment.
Chapter One "Night" with the Del Sol String Quartet (San Francisco) Premiere: CCA Santa Fe Dec 2009; touring with Del Sol Quartet 2010-13
Created throughout 2008 and 2009 and premiered December 2009, this first chapter of the Garden project is a collaboration between Chris Jonas and the Del Sol String Quartet (San Francisco). The "Night" installation and linked 50-minute intermedia composition takes place in front of a live audience surrounding the live string quartet within the layers of video screens, mixing live music with projected video of nighttime landscapes and human figures.
This chapter of Garden utilizes the full range of musical capacities of the Del Sol String Quartet, one of today's most adventurous and accomplished musical ensembles. The project also employs a team of artists that include choreographer, Echo Gustafson, stage director, Acushla Bastible, and a team of Littleglobe interns and assistants.
Chapter Two "House" with the Tilt Brass (NYC) Premiere: University Settlement, NYC: September 30/October 1, 2011; Santa Fe Premiere: Center for Contemporary Arts, June/July 2012 (part of the Currents Video Exhibition)
Like "Night", "House" is a collaboration between Jonas (music and video), the NYC brass ensemble and the Littleglobe creative team in Santa Fe working on the project's projected video, a set of transparent screens (enveloping the performers), performative movement and music. The resulting hour long intermedia composition takes place in front of a live audience within the multiple layers of video screens, mixing live music with projected video of imaginary human structures and landscapes exploring expressive, atmospheric, metaphoric, psychological and cross-cultural realms of place, dwelling, urban identity and the human environment.
Distinct from the quietude and moody atmosphere of "Night", "House" exploits the wide textural and punchy/resonant realms of the Tilt Brass ensemble, a group of musicians equally comfortable working with complex musical compositions as well as broad improvisational textures.
The phases of development of "House" include an artist residency June 2010 at the Santa Fe Art Institute, a preview performance at New York City's STONE (August 2010), and the New York Premiere of "House" at University Settlement, NYC Sept 30 and Oct 1, 2011.
All three of GARDEN's chapters share the same basic technical set up, with a cube of black scrim panels 10 feet tall by 18 feet wide each, four projectors and the performing ensemble in the middle. The audience is seated on two sides of the scrim cube. Audience members are invited to walk around during the performance to experience the installation from a variety of perspectives
The intent of the video material, the music and the cumulative impact on the audience is the fundamentally subjective human experience of the world around us and how we "fill in the blanks" when facing too little information. The experience of being in the dark, for example, is one in which we assume the presence of things we cannot see - imagining patterns, entities, and landscapes, extrapolating on whatever small bits of information we can gather from the darkness around us. Each chapter of the trilogy explores different aspects of this topic.
All of the chapters of GARDEN have been built to break down, set up and and tour easily, created for performances in both traditional and non-traditional venues (installation spaces, black box theaters, public halls, warehouses, etc).
Collaborators Chris Jonas - composer, director, intermedia / video artist (Santa Fe) Del Sol String Quartet - collaborating music ensemble (San Francisco) Tilt Brass - collaborating music ensemble (NYC) Echo Gustafson - consulting choreographer (Santa Fe) Acushla Bastible - consulting stage director (Santa Fe) and Dylan McLaughlin - cinematography ("House")
Additional assistance by Ilana Kirschbaum - project intern and set design ("Night") Petr Jerabek - IT assistant and still photography ("Night") Robert Drummond - video assistant Matthew Kabakoff - audio recording ("Night") Jason Jaacks - project documentary ("Night")
Del Sol String Quartet
Kate Stenberg - Violin Rick Shinozaki - Violin Charlton Lee - Viola Hannah Addario-Berry - Cello
TILT Brass w/ Chris Jonas, August 2010
Chris Jonas - soprano sax; Russ Johnson - trumpet; Curtis Hasselbring, Chris McIntyre - trombone; Joe Exley - tuba
Premiere TILT Brass "House" ensemble (quartet) Sept/Oct 2011
Chris Jonas - soprano sax; Herb Robertson - trumpet; Joe Fielder - trombone; Chris McIntyre - trombone
Made possible by: Meet the Composer, USA / United States Artists Award / Fred and Eve Simon Mary A Rumsey Foundation Center for Contemporary Arts of Santa FeLensic Performing Arts Center Del Sol Performing Arts Organization Santa Fe Art Institute Special Thanks: Talia Kosh, Darlene Anderson, Chris Sturgis, Richard and Johann Jonas, John Bartlit, Marion Wasserman, Dee and George Gamble, Deborah Fort, Diane Karp, Jenna Scanlan, Eric Rounds, Mary Ann Shaening, Kate Kita, Michael Montoya, and the many other individuals who have made this project possible.