ちーChi

 

[Program note: chi]
Trembling lights grow and cease. Small shimmering flames create a world – an ephemeral world tied to the past, present, and the future. The orange light, fuzzy yet powerful, coexists with sounds and my voice and communicates with the air at the scene. Sounds are like connected with the ground and keep our feet stable.

A custom-made instrument called myaku placed on a table senses luminance. The intensity variant of each light source, a candle, is translated to the amplitude of each sound sample. The performer controls the sound and visual by lighting and moving candles. Candles portray various cultural meanings, and they may evoke unique memories on everyone including myself. The performance is a way of purification through a ritualistic sharing of the space, time, and experience being in the environment. The warmth, smell, sight, and sound all speak to us.

The title - chi could mean blood, earth, knowledge, lateness, planting, and more in Japanese. Creation of this live interactive performance piece went through a process of solitary contemplation, reflecting my life experiences as a woman from a restrictive culture, who currently lives outside of it but not completely.

 

[Instrument: myaku – A custom-made instrument/controller]
Teensy (microcontroller development board), light sensors, candles

Ten light sensors of the instrument distributed onto a table react to various light intensities emitted from candle flames. Each sensor converts the light intensities to values, and these values correspond to each gain of audio files in a music program.

Candle flames emit strong light comparing to electric lights, and the dancing motion of the flames are both visible and audible in this piece. I make compositional decisions by considering the light intensities and movements of different candles to place them to create a desired yet autonomous sound environment. The length, thickness, and kinds of candles as well as kinds of candle holders used for the instrument all change the property of the sounds and affect the performance. The heat, melting wax, and smoke coming from candles influence how I perform the piece.