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Cities Are Natural (Composition Three)

In collaboration with Christine Tran (Witches of Bushwick and Discwoman) and Mike Sheffield (She was Freaks), Melissa F. Clarke and Clocktower present an evening of performances and visuals inspired by the city as our natural habitat.

Ending her three month residency with Clocktower at Pioneer Works, Clarke creates an immersive and responsive installation, incorporating data collected in collaboration with Matthew LaBrecque Betlej and special laser designs reflecting the local, urban environment. In the main hall of the Pioneer Works building, Clarke and artist Sue Ngo construct paper and wire structures, alongside small clusters of glass illuminated by sound reactive LEDs. Monica Mirabile of Fluct dance company choreographs B.A.S.I.C., a new gaming system that uses the body, brain function, and nervous system as a source of power. The dance performers interact with Clarke's structures and the ethereal music, engaging the architecture of the building, as well as the audience. These visuals are accompanied by sound acts from UMFANG, Volvox, WETWARE, Drippy Inputs, and Clarke. Throughout the event, Sarah Rothberg presents a multichannel 3D interactive environment on a large stretch of wall, that builds off of Clarke’s own video work. Carbon Pictures ends the night bringing the audience and performance into the 3D landscape using networked smartphones and dancers, blurring the line between the audience, performers, and the surroundings.

Cities Are Natural (Composition Three) takes into consideration music and art making in the city during the Anthropocene, the first geologic age in which humans have markedly impacted the environment, and addresses how we perceive the urban city as our wilderness, our natural habitat. Techno, industrial, noise, and experimental dance music work in tandem with the visuals to invoke how human’s play, contemplate, and create in their natural habitat.

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Since April of 2013, Mike Sheffield of Alan Watts and Heavens Gate has been working on a curatorial project entitled She was Freaks. The name was taken from a biography of photographer Diane Arbus wherein the author William Todd Schultz refers to Arbus’s obsession with photographing eccentrics and how she would lose herself in her subjects, giving over to them completely rather than just winning their trust for her own personal gain, “She was freaks.”

Discwoman is a platform showcasing and representing the wealth of female-identified DJ talent in the electronic music community.

WETWARE is the collaborative project of Matthew Morandi (Jahiliyya Fields) and Roxy Farman. Morandi said of the project: fried punk weirdness....a(nti)-techno. Warped vocals and synth-trails a la the Screamers and the more agnostic characters in 'Sword of Doom'. Post NY confrontational personality disorder.

Volvox embodies the spirit and sound of underground dance culture. Her sensitive and energetic sets capture the crowd with everything from raw acid and EBM-flavored techno, to dreamy sensual deep house. Volvox holds a residency in Brooklyn: JACK DEPT. NYC, 1st Fridays at the notorious hotspot Bossa Nova Civic Club with John Barera of Supply Records. She has played gigs with The Long Count, Lost Soul, and S!CK parties, and opened for dance luminaries The Hacker and Tony Humphries.

Drippy Inputs delivers experimental and twisted dance beats and squishy, far-out jams from North Carolina.

UMFANG is a resident DJ at Bossa Nova Civic Club and runs a monthly Technofeminism series. She has played alongside Kim Ann Foxman, opened for Aurora Halal’s festival Sustain Release in its inaugural year, and has performed with DIY duo Long Count Cycle and closed out DISCWOMAN in Puerto Rico. UMFANG is one of the leading women in the rapidly growing New York City techno scene and has releases coming out on 1080p and videogamemusic.

Carbon Pictures is comprised of Winslow Turner Porter III, Sue Ngo, Jules LaPlace, Sarah Rothberg, and Yotam Mann.

Monica Mirabile (of Fluct and Otion Front Studios) is a Brooklyn-based performance artist, whose work addresses themes of technology, sensuality and control. Created and coordinated by Mirabile, BASIC (Beginners All Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) is a new gaming system that uses the body, brain function and nervous system as a source of power. Performers include Chelsea Pfohl, Susannah Simpson, James Thomas Marsh, Eva Jaunzemis, Kathleen Dycaico, Sara, Blazej, Ariele Hertzoff, Gina Chiapetta, SHireen Ahmed, Emily Varnam, Amanda Salane, Alexandra Drewchin, Bethany Dinsick, Travis Sisk, Martha Moszcynski, Jason Jick, Samantha Cornwell, and Sarah Zapata.

Matthew LaBrecque Betlej (found sound collaborator) is a sound designer and production sound mixer, who records and documents with up to 8 channels of audio. He is invested in gathering natural sounds from environments, to be manipulated, combined, and formed into its own natural organic soundscape. Betlej has collected sound from the far corners of the world, from the arctic Greenland to the center of pyramids in Egypt. He has worked for Vice, HBO, Animal Planet, Al Jazeera, Pitchfork Media, Unsound, Mutek, and Communikey.

Cities Are Natural (Composition One)

Clocktower artist-in-residence Melissa F. Clarke performs with Leila Bordreuil and Byron Westbrook. Positioned in front of a transforming video installation made of glass, paper and metal, Clarke, Bordreuil and Westbrook create sounds that integrate the building’s infrastructure and ideas of the city as natural. The sound begins at 5PM with Melissa playing glass, paper, and metal, along with field recordings and data taken from Red Hook and Pioneer Works. Soon there after, Leila Bordreuil plays cello and overlaps the existing sounds with her own collage of texture variations, phantom overtones and sometimes pitched utterances, through a unique approach to amplification. Bordreuil’s work becomes prominent in the piece as Clarke's sound drifts out. Then Byron Westbrook performs synthesized sounds influenced by the gestures of urban location recordings, responding to the performance space with dynamic layers of perceived space and time. The entirety of three performances become a single audio-visual composition recorded by Clocktower radio and captured within Clarke’s installation as visuals.

Cities Are Natural (Composition Two)

As part of Pioneer Works' Second Sundays open house event, Clocktower artist-in-residence Melissa F. Clarke presents field recordings from the Red Hook area and two experimental, techno-house performances, curated by She was Freaks (Mike Sheffield), featuring Plebeian (Andrew Nerviano) and CienFuegos (Alex Suárez). Staged inside Clarke's Cities Are Natural residency studio space at Pioneer Works, Plebeian and CienFuegos's sound performances interact with Clarke's video installation made of glass, paper, and metal. Each set is introduced by a short vignette of field recordings and visualized data taken from the local environment. Plebeian Brooklyn-based Andrew Nerviano combines electronics, pedals, and fuzz, to create complex house music. His electronic music project revolves around live hardware performance of sample-based sequencers, analog synthesizer, and external effects processors. Stylistically, the project aims to combine cut-up technique, dense rhythmic layering, and noisy psychedelia into a singular brand of techno. CienFuegos

Melissa F. Clarke

Melissa F. Clarke is an educator, curator, and an interdisciplinary artists working at the intersections of research, data, science, and design. She extrapolates research and observation into multimedia, participatory installations, generative video and sound sculptures, performances, and printed images. Her installation projects reconnect scientific data to an organic source using sound and images collected in the field. She creates immersive neolandscapes giving physical form to the information pulled from giant landmasses and the terrain beneath the seas surrounding us. Clarke was formerly an artist-in-residence at the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics at Stony Brook University. She has performed and exhibited her work at Eastern Bloc, Montreal, Interactive Art Fair, FL, 319 Scholes, NY, Eyebeam, NY, Issue Project Room, NY, Reverse Art Space, NY, the Queens Museum, NY, the Electronic Music Foundation, Suny Stony Brook, NY, and the International Biennial of Contemporary Art ULA-2010, Venezuela. She successfully launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund her arctic travels and research. Her work has been featured by the Creators Project and with publications such as the Village Voice, Kickstarter, Art 21, Blouin Art Info, Impose Magazine, and Columbia University’s State of the Planet.

Melissa F. Clarke, Cities Are Natural (Composition One)

Clocktower artist-in-residence Melissa F. Clarke performs with Leila Bordreuil and Byron Westbrook during Pioneer Work's May 2015 Second Sundays event. Staged in Clarke's video installation made of glass, paper and metal, Clarke plays field recordings taken from the Red Hook area, Bordreuil performs an experimental piece on the cello, and Westbrook synthesizes sounds collected from urban location recordings. The trio create sounds that integrate the building’s infrastructure and ideas of the city as natural. The performance recordings are followed by an interview with the artists. Leila Bordreuil is a cellist, composer, and sound artist. Through a unique and original vocabulary of extended techniques, preparations, and imaginative amplification methods, her instrument is used as an abstract resonant body to challenge conventional cello practice. Byron Westbrook is an artist and musician based in Brooklyn NY. He works with listening, perception and awareness, often pursuing routes of social engagement. His electronic sound interventions play with dynamics of perception of space, sometimes as multi-channel sound performances or as installation work using video or lighting.