Next week, from April 11-13, Tenlegs community member CultureHub will present “Seoul Counterpoint,” a collaboration with DJ Spooky and the Soul Institute of the Arts. Showing at legendary performing arts venue La MaMa in the East Village , “Seoul Counterpoint” is described as “an audio/visual anthropology, a breathing composition that juxtaposes the diverse landscapes, histories and sonic cultures of Seoul and New York. DJ Spooky’s unique style of “turntableism”, traditional Korean elements, and computer generated visuals by CultureHub collide in a project developed during a two month residency at the Seoul Institute of the Arts.”
For information see: http://www.culturehub.org/upcoming-events/
Tenlegs community members are invited to use discount code SEOUL, for $20 advance sale tickets (reg. $25) Tickets can be purchased here: https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/933130
CultureHub Artistic Director Billy Clark and master remix artist Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky each sat down to answer six questions from La MaMa. Below is our own remix of their thoughts on this collaboration.
What is Culturehub?
Billy Clark: CultureHub is the Art & Technology Center at La MaMa. We were founded in 2009 in partnership between La MaMa and the Seoul Institute of the Arts, who had been collaborating for 30 plus years. The intent was to further collaboration between the two organizations, including through the – then – relatively new internet-based teleconferencing technology. We started by building mirror studios in New York and Seoul with hardware codecs that could communicate with each other.
Then, with the incredible support of SeoulArts and La MaMa, we used this project as a launching pad to start more work at the intersection of performance and technology, and since 2009 we’ve gone on to present over 300 events with over 100 artists from 25 countries. We’ve had dance, music, performance programs that take place across distance, experimental works in digital art and interactivity, and classes and workshops for students – both at the university level and also for teens with our CoLab program – who want to experiment in these new disciplines.
How did SEOUL COUNTERPOINT come about?
Billy Clark: Paul came and saw a version of our dance collaboration, Digital Duets that involved dancers in New York and Seoul in 2012. He liked that performance, and approached us, in part, because of our connection to Korea. He’s performed there a bunch, and says Seoul and New York are his two favorite cities. “Seoul Counterpoint” is what came out of conversations that started two years ago.
DJ Spooky: I’m really interested in the way countries recover from colonialism. In so many ways, there are some seriously interesting resonances with Korean culture and the way I think of “diaspora” – the Seoul Counterpoint project came about because of a lot of dialogs and good conversations on topics on everything ranging from urban planning (Korea has amazing design for urban contexts), architecture, and cloning, plastic surgery, and film. Korea has some serious paradoxes in all those contexts.
How/When did you become interested in Korean culture/music?
DJ Spooky: I’ve been Dj’ing in Asia for the last 15 years, and I’ve worked with artists like Ryuichi Sakamoto, Talvin Singh, Karsh Kale, Vijay Iyer, Ai Weiwei, Yoko Ono, Dj Krush, Ken Ishii, Mariko Mori etc Some of my favorite Korean composers and artists are folks like Choi Sun Bae, an amazing Jazz composer, Drunken Tiger, Love X Stereo, and more experimental composers and artists like Isang Yun and of course, Nam Jun Paik have influenced my music and my art. So I guess, long story short, I’ve always had a deep interest in Asia.
Who has inspired you?
DJ Spooky: My inspiration comes from so many sources. During my residency at the Seoul Institute of the Arts, I worked with an interesting Korean composer named Woody Pak from MIT. John Hong and Jinhee Park who have a great book on the history of Korean architecture, and Daniel Tudor who has a great book called “Korea: The Impossible Country”. For Korea, I look at ancient texts like Samguk Yusa, a collection of documents based on historical stories, myths and folktales from the 13th Century, on over to stuff like the Chun Bu Kyung, a compendium of symbols that are used as divination tools for shamans and for yoga! The rest comes from studies of data about open source material readily available about Korea because it has a tremendous amount of collected data about its populace. I tried to reflect that, plus the wild obsession Korea has about hip hop and other African American art forms like breakdancing into the mix.
Billy Clark: I’ve been a part of La MaMa’s resident repertory company since the mid 90’s, and I think my creative view have been most influenced by (La MaMa Founder) Ellen Stewart and my time at La MaMa. Ellen was a broad thinker and doer – someone who was very active in bringing disparate cultures and traditions together from around the world. I think the thing that was most powerful about her was her inclusiveness – and this is something that speaks to my own beliefs and values – I am someone who really enjoys being in a community, a collaborative environment.
On a daily basis I’m inspired by all the people I work with at CultureHub and La MaMa – the dedication and the constant striving to take things one step further. In particular, our technical director, Jesse Ricke has been developing applications to manipulate and process the real time captures of three dimensional images and data. It’s like I’m working with an inventor in the room – someone who can take a very abstract idea and who can find a way to realize it and bring it to fruition.
Working on this project, I’ve been inspired by Paul’s music – and, as Paul was – inspired by Nam Jun Paik. It’s hard not to want to pay homage, to reference his work, especially as it relates to Korea.
What is your current favorite piece of technology?
Billy Clark: Right now, for us, the Kinect is a darling. In a way it’s a little passe, because it’s been used in the media community for years, but it’s still the best consumer based hardware for this type of 3D visualization work. The Kinect is also interesting because there is such a vibrant, open source community who surrounded it because it was available, consumer based, reasonably priced, and they developed applications that can be used in tandem with it. Also, much of our work revolves around teleconferencing software and hardware, and the technologies are developing at a rapid pace. We’re excited about being able to reach more and more people as costs comes down and availability expands.
What does working at La MaMa mean to you?
DJ Spooky: I deeply respect its history as a place for independent theater and art. I try as much as possible to support independent spaces in the arts. Hopefully this is the beginning of a long relationship!