77 Hz 77 Hz
Electronic Arts Ensemble

Note: The following was taken from promotional material on 77 Hz, an electronic arts ensemble that was active from 1991 to 1997.

77 Hz (pronounced "seventy-seven Hertz") is an ensemble that composes, improvises and performs live intermedia art. Featuring the live creation and manipulation of video images, combined with electronic music and theatrical performance, 77 Hz represents a new cinematic genre which addresses themes unique to today's information culture.

JOY & other impulses 77 Hz's work explores a broad range of social and aesthetic issues, including vanity and rediscovery, control and authority, persistence of faith, and the mystical connotations of television itself. The ensemble takes advantage of recent developments in prosumer video technology, using microcomputer-based hardware and software for real-time mixing, animation and image processing. The ensemble also uses a wide range of musical instruments, from MIDI samplers and electric guitars to amplified toys and algorithmic tune generators. 77 Hz chooses and often custom designs its equipment and software to provide the precision and flexibility needed for performance in front of a live audience.

77 Hz's approach to real-time movie-making is an effort to integrate the traditions of experimental cinema and the performing arts. The result is an open-ended, participatory artform that serves as an alternative both to conventional mechanical works (videotapes and installations) and to the commercially-driven and overhyped realm of "interactive media".

77 Hz's repertory comprises over a dozen intermedia works ranging from two to 45 minutes. JOY & other impulses is a fast-paced rhapsody, a satire on human and animal behavior with an emphasis on the pent-up sexual energy implicit in many recreational and formal activities. It begins with a series of hand gestures captured live in performance, then animated and processed by two Amigas. Accompanying this is a recitative of vulgarized sounds: burping and gargling noises with occasional snippets of dance band music. The imagery switches to an indoor rodeo, then to shots of livestock, domestic animals and pets in various indoor and outdoor enclosures. The animals frolic in their cages, and later become sexually aroused, eventually copulating to the beat of a military drill team sound-off. The movement of the humans and animals is controlled by a solo electric guitar, using a sound-triggerable video synthesizer. The humorous herky-jerky effect underscores the irony of open libido among confined animals versus submerged sexuality among free humans.

Eclectic CompanyEclectic Company (pictured at left) unfolds as a series of events united by a skewed naivete that becomes increasingly macabre as the work progresses. A sense of child play and the familiar made uncommon runs throughout the work. The mood runs the extremes of silly parody and aggressive perceptual bombardment, following a gradual progression from banality to surreality. Critical is a 30 minute meditation on death and dawn. Alternating between staged vignettes and stream-of-consciousness video passages, Critical explores the dialectic of innocence and experience. Using footage of children at play, urban and natural landscapes, Shoshone protests, and humanity in conflict with nature and itself, Critical contrasts Western society with the indigenous communities it has subordinated, examining the tensions in personal and social memory, and the profound detachment from cultural and aesthetic underpinnings faced by modern mobile Westerners.

77 Hz was founded in 1991 by Benton Bainbridge, Philip R. Bonner, Jonathan Giles, Eric Schefter and Michael Schell. More recent contributors have included Lynn Book, Nick Didkovsky, Kevin Norton, Jill Szuchmacher, Mike Taylor, Nancy Meli Walker and David Weinstein. The exact personnel and configuration of the ensemble is not fixed, but varies from project to project, ranging from a compact club-oriented "band" to a more theatrically-oriented troupe with actors and singers.

77 Hz has collaborated with several music, theater and cinema artists, including Abigail Child, Ikue Mori, Zeena Parkins, Jerry Hunt, Bonnie Barnett, Pamela Z, Ed Osborn, David Poyourow and Elise Kermani. 77 Hz's work has been presented by The Kitchen, Roulette, DCTV, Experimental Intermedia Foundation, the Knitting Factory, the New York Hall of Science, Alternative Museum, Generator, iEAR Studios at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Deep Dish TV, Image Union, Video Tusculum, Dallas Video Festival, Sinking Creek Film Festival, Athens International Film and Video Festival, Three Rivers Arts Festival, Center for Exploratory and Perceptual Art (Buffalo), Artists' Television Access (San Francisco), LACE and EZTV (Los Angeles), Waschhaus (Potsdam, Germany) and other US and international venues. Assistance is provided by Meet the Composer, American Composers Forum's Performance Incentive Fund and the Electronic Arts Grants Program of the Experimental Television Center, funded by the New York State Council on the Arts.

mailto:schell77@aol.com For more information, contact Michael Schell (webmaster@schellsburg.com).

"77 Hz might just be the world's first video band."

The Village Voice:
"One-of-a-kind and state of the art."

"In these performances I am already in the 21st Century."

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Original Material and HTML Coding Copyright  1997 by 77 Hz and Michael Schell. All Rights Reserved.