Battery Alexander is a site-specific performance and sound installation that was realized November 12, 2017 at Battery Alexander, Marin Headlands, California -- an outdoor site in the remains of a former military mortar pit. The piece was active for about two hours for the audience, and random park visitors, to come and go as they desired. For the full duration, we continually performed a text score on voice and percussion with specific intentions for improvising based on the history and present of the space. Our performance was rooted in listening and contextualized by the site.
In the weeks preceding our performance, we recorded natural and human sounds from the area of Battery Alexander -- an archive of local observations. We deployed numerous small speakers throughout the site, and played back these field recordings with an aleatoric Max patch. We also mixed in live signals from shotgun mics assisting us in scanning the soundscape. A natural sound environment augmented with traces of past sounds and magnified live sounds.
Our environment affects what sounds we manifest and how they are perceived. This is true of our work in general, and this piece was intended to emphasize this relationship.
Performance score for improvisers:
The military forts at the Marin Headlands were concerned with coastal defense, and thus with observing the furthest perceivable distance for potential threats.
Employ these four listening/performance strategies at will (shift your attention between these four objects):
Scan the farthest perceivable distance for new sounds, and direct your own playing to this distance.
Listen to, and interact with, your proximate environment: the acoustics and environmental sounds.
Focus your attention on your playing partner.
Focus your attention entirely on yourself and your own playing.