In Review: The Bunker A/V Summer Sessions, Part I

Visuals by: Stephanie Sherriff

Music has a psychosomatic effect on most people. It has the capacity to pull an immeasurable amount of human emotions whether or not the music entails a syncopated beat or classically inspired composition. You can’t rip up a song the way you would a letter, a drawing, or a painting. This is the beauty, the artistry, and ubiquitous nature of music and how we process it, cognitively and emotionally.

When a piece of music sounds easy to create, it’s probably because it was extremely difficult to produce. As an arts and technology observer, one of my most recent hobbies has included exploring the psychology and perception of sound and music. After attending The Bunker A/V Summer Sessions, Part I, I look at the relationship between sound and visuals a lot differently. The sound artists during the Part I event included Cullen Miller, Michael Hopkins (aka Leisure Muffin), Bryan Kasenic (aka Spinoza and Founder of The Bunker), and Voices from the Lake (DJ and producer duo, Donato Dozzy & Neel). The visualists for the evening were Jono Brandel, Syed Reza Ali, and Stephanie Sheriff.
As the seemingly indestructible gold speakers in the dimly lit subterranean floor of the Monarch delivered syncopated beats, I witnessed the dance floor slowly becoming a mass of swaying bodies and bobbing heads. It was easy to see people transfixed not only by the music but the visuals tied to them. Brandel, Ali, and Sheriff produced visual experiences ranging from lo-fi pixelated images from nature to solid geometric shapes to organic forms undulating and pulsing to the music. The highly anticipated appearance of Voices from the Lake certainly did not disappoint. Naturally, in listening to their music prior to the first Bunker session, I found the most striking observations of their unique sound expressed by Pitchfork writer, Andrew Ryce. He stated in his review of their recent work, “Voices From the Lake is a triumph of care and exactitude, the kind of well-executed work of art that feels effortless despite its obvious complexity. Rarely can an album be this intimidatingly detailed, warmly inviting, and totally indifferent. In its seeming quest to map out rhythm to an unimaginable infinity, Voices From the Lake manages to be everything at once: It’s some of the most inventive techno in ages, it’s some of the prettiest ambient you’ll hear on any German techno label, and it’s a unique kind of entrancing that would feel hokey if it weren’t so undeniably attractive”.

The overall experience had me wondering if the future of music entails this inseparable union of audio and visuals to captivate the audience. With the popularity of interactive and immersive environments, how is the perception and psychology of sound affected by visual elements to an experience? What happens to the memory and our associations to sound in conjunction to visuals? I’m looking forward to the second installment of The Bunker A/V Summer Sessions this evening with appearances by international and local music and sound artists alike – Atom™ and Tobias, Mike Servito, Carlos Souffront, Jason Kendig, and Conor – and I’m extremely excited to see visualists, Vade, Outpt, Stephanie Sherriff, and EvdM proving the symbiotic relationship between audio and visuals.

Tickets are available for tonight’s show online and at the door.

Vade will also be leading a course on Quartz Composer this weekend through GAFFTA’s Creative Technology Studies program, diving into some of the latest tools and techniques of the visual programming trade.

autechre – dropp – vade from vade on Vimeo.

Dorothy Santos

Dorothy Santos is a freelance art writer, blogger, and photojournalist based in San Francisco. She is the arts contributor and curator for Asterisk SF Magazine + Gallery and blogger for GAFFTA and zero1. She holds Bachelor degrees in both Philosophy and Psychology from the University of San Francisc... more