Two Scenes: Society & Nature, is a multimedia project I collaborated with Daniel Espie to produce. It is the culmination of meditation on the environment versus human footprint through videography edited to pieces of music composed by Samuel Barber and Toru Takemitsu. The live performance consists of solo piano accompanied by projected motion pictures. Daniel and I have showcased this work a number of times in the United Kingdom, Italy, the United States. It has been somewhat of our first serious foray into the multimedia art form and has proven to be a success.
The first piece of music is the third movement of Barber's piano sonata. In Daniel's words it is rather "desolate" and so I wanted to capture this feeling through images of our sprawling human footprint.
It proved to be a daunting task traveling around and capturing the spectacular beauty of environmental destruction.
Many of the images were captured in and around Los Angeles, while the stacks above I discovered in Page, Arizona.
By the time I was making final edits on this portion of the presentation I found myself incredibly saddened by the current state of our industrial affairs. It seems to me as though nowhere can be far enough from the human condition. Working on this project has given me a new outlook on the planet and our impact upon it.
The second piece of music is Raintree Sketch no. II by Takemitsu. It is a far more soft-spoken piece and (to me and Espie) evokes imagery of nature. So I took a direct approach with it and explored the natural process of rejuvenation.
Many of the images here were captured near my home in Glendale, California.
Waiting for rain in Los Angeles was the only real stress I experienced while producing this portion of the project. I developed a tendency to drop everything I was doing and venture out with my camera once the first drops began to fall. There was no telling when it would rain and for how long, so it was paramount that I take advantage of the rare moments that presented themselves.
This project was somewhat of an experiment to see how well we could produce and showcase such a work. Both Daniel and I have learned much in both aspects of the audio-visual experience. We have decided to continue pursuing this art form and attempt longer, more diverse programming. I am currently looking into ways to cue and edit footage live and spontaneously during the performances. We are very interested in taking this work with us across the United States as well into other countries in an effort to spread awareness on a number of issues, including the state of contemporary art.
"Building from a long-distance collaboration from the spring of 2015, we are engaged in multimedia performance utilizing live piano with film. The original project, which premiered in June 2015 at the Royal Academy of Music Piano Festival in London, was entitled 'Two Scenes' and took two contrasting works for solo piano: Toru Takemitsu's Rain Tree Sketch no. 2 and the third movement of Samuel Barber's Sonata for Piano. This successful collaboration became the launching point for a large-scale collaboration focusing exclusively on the music of Toru Takemitsu, a Japanese composer from the late twentieth century."
- Daniel Espie, 2015