Another busy weekend, especially with the number of things going on. We only have time for a partial review…
First, there a quick stop at downtown pub to see some friends/colleagues. Then a rush to BART to get across the bay to Berkeley and my old stomping ground, the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT).
I was a few minutes late, but still had plenty of time to hear Joker Neils and Gino Robair performing a improvised duet. Robair has an amazing talent for getting electronic-like sounds out of acoustic percussion instruments, and did so again on this evening. Neils was primarily using custom synthesizers, both professional instruments as well as circuit-bent toys. We have discussed circuit bending previously here at CatSynth. He brought several well-crafted examples, including Suziki Omnichords with contact-resistance interfaces; and he also brought a tremendous enthusiasm to his performance and to his discussion of circuit bending in between sets.
Also presenting was Rob Hordijk, who designs custom synthesizers (or “works of art” as he described them). Among the technologies he employed in the “Blippobox” that he presented were chaotic oscillator pairs, where two oscillators feed back into one another to create non-linear modulation, and a filter that he called the “twin peaks” filter (presumably because it has two resonant peaks).
Amy X Newburg lent her vocal and electronic-music talents during the presentation and in the second half of the show – readers may remember her from a a recent music festival that we reviewed.
I had some interesting conversions with both Amy X Newburg and Joker Neils following the performances, which is always a nice coda to a concert.
It was another exceptionally warm weekend in San Francisco (I wouldn’t mind it becoming less exceptional), so more opportunities for walking events. First off I finally made the trip to the San Francisco SPCA to inquire about volunteer opportunities and see their much touted adoption center. The cat area featured large rooms, “kitty condos” as well as comfy areas to hide – it actually seemed on par with the “cat resorts” where I looked into boarding Luna. The SPCA is actually a short work away from CatSynth HQ (well, it’s at least short from my perspective).
Another short walk in the opposite direction from CatSynth HQ led to the Yerba Buena Gallery Walk. Open studios and gallery events are pretty regular occurrences, even within walking distance. Plus, there’s often free food and drink. I didn’t see too many things that truly interested me, except for some abstract paintings at 111 Minna that I had already seen during the first Thursday earlier this month. But that doesn’t mean the afternoon wasn’t without its attractions. Some of the galleries, such as Varnish, were in very interesting spaces, such as converted industrial buildings from the early 20th century. A view of Varnish is in the photo to the left. Additionally, some of the sights on a gallery tour aren’t the works of art, but the people viewing them – and this is even more true on a warm sunny day. Finally, I did have a delightful conversation with Jesse Allen at Chandler Fine Art – his very psychedelic/natural works aren’t what I am usually drawn to, but some of them did include abstract representations of cats and other animals and one “wild cat” in particular caught my attention.
More art on Sunday, this time photography. This Sunday was “Pinhole Photography Day” (who knew?) and the RayKo Photo center featured an exhibit, demonstrations, and most notably a ride on the Bus Obscura a school bus converted into a large camera obscura.
The bus obscura toured our South-of-Market neighborhood, providing a unique view via the pinhole-camera images. Small dots of blurry light would suddenly come into focus as a sidewalk or car or storefront.
Because the image were so localized, it wasn’t always clear exactly where the bus was, though every so often a familiar landmark would emerge. The ride was accompanied by live acoustic and electronic music, adding to the experience and making it different from the regular “tours” of our neighborhood.