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 Yannick Franck
 Esther B
 Esther B on NY Times - Aug 13, 2010!   ]

NY Times
Fri. August 13th

The Tech Jam: Anything Can Happen, and Usually Does


ON most Sunday nights Issue Project Room — a dark, narrow performance space less than a block from the ever-festering Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn — is occupied by a cabal of tinkerers. Crates of equipment in tow, they snake cables across the floor, joining laptops, projectors, video-game consoles, synthesizers and other devices into a throbbing, multimedia web.

By 9:30 p.m. on a recent Sunday the air was thick with sound: a dark-haired young man was curled over what looked like a vintage typewriter, unleashing sweet bell-like tones with each key strike. Across a folding table, someone delicately plucked a two-string guitar. An alarm clock was plugged into a power strip; an acoustic guitarist sat cross-legged on the floor circled by audio-effects pedals. The far wall was covered with glitchy, rushing images of a subway train. Pallid faces glowed green behind laptop screens.

This is Share, a weekly audiovisual event that invites musicians and video artists to collaborate in an exploratory, judgment-free jam. There is no stage and little structure; participants arrive, plug in, and play.

“It’s very much like a drum circle or a jazz session, except we’re explicitly accommodating high-tech artists,” said Geoff Matters, a founder of Share. “It’s a great place to meet peers, talk shop, get help with a piece of software, get feedback on a rhythm you’re developing, ask questions and see what people are up to in the media-arts scene.”

Thessia Machado, a Brazilian-born video and sound artist, cradled a de-tuned ukulele, which was being strummed by a round, rotating canvas “bow” clamped to the tabletop, a setup she calls “Vibralele.” Ms. Machado adjusted a knob on a homemade analog synthesizer named Symf. “Do you want to try it?” she asked, smiling.

Trying is the thing at Share, which, since it began in 2001, has cycled through a variety of homes and has spawned sister events in other cities, from San Diego to St. Petersburg, Russia. It is always presented without any direction, and on occasion a casual audience of onlookers will gather. “We don’t curate, full stop,” Mr. Matters said. “Whoever shows up is free to participate. We plug people in, and generally they’re playing together. Sometimes they choose to take turns, but we let the participants work it out themselves.”

Keiko Uenishi, a sound artist and Share volunteer who helps newcomers get properly connected, is proud of the event’s judge-not ethos. “We are encouraging people to make mistakes,” she said. “Mistakes are welcome.”

Most of the artists rely on nonverbal communication, and the jam can pulse, taking on a call-and-response feel, or meander, settling into a heady, probing drone. Steen Comer, a video artist from San Francisco, used customizable software to make his projection mutate in response to the music. It palpitated steadily, a flutter of purple on a white wall.

Mr. Matters said the sessions — which in recent weeks have ranged from three cellos and a drum machine to a sea of laptops — can vary wildly. “Lately, there have been people coming who have been very interested in walls of noise and the texture of noise,” he said. But Share is the people’s jam, and constraints — like genre or melody — are largely irrelevant. “It really is an open container. Whoever shows up to participate fills it with whatever they want.”

Correction by Share:
Geoff Matters is _not_ a sole founder of Share. He is one of three co-founders. The other two are: Daniel Smith (aka newclueless) and Rich Panciera (aka barry manalog &/or lloop)
posted by blaa