Michelle Lou & Bryan Jacobs

The Graham Foundation

Madlener House
4 West Burton Place
Chicago, Illinois 60610
FREE / RSVP HERE
FREE / RSVP HERE

In Music for laptops, speakers and mechanical instruments, Michelle Lou and Bryan Jacobs create a hybrid synthetic sonic space, made up of both digital synthesized and physical acoustic sound-making devices. The performance offers a potentially dizzying, at times playful experience for listeners in the round.

Lou and Jacobs follow a large-scale structure from which they explore, respond, and react—improvising on each of their own custom-designed performance systems—Michelle on a laptop and eight-channel speakers, and Bryan on computer-controlled DIY musical devices.

“Sound is at the limit of materiality,” they write, as they consider your listening experience.

“It touches things, it’s modulated by surfaces, by bodies, by objects and architecture. It’s only heard if it enters your body and triggers a mechanical response. It’s terrestrial in that it requires so much stuff to travel that it can’t travel through the vacuum of space, and yet it’s immaterial in most other ways.

“With this in mind, one could say that sound may provide a pathway towards accessing unseeable and untouchable interiors. The tension between the seen and the heard, particularly when the two do not align is highlighted through the use of loudspeakers. The tension found in listening also expands to the perception of one’s location: the limits of the actual physical space reaches beyond itself as the imagination stretches, while also collapsing into a singular experience as the body is still sitting in a chair.”

Composer, performer, and sound artist, Bryan Jacobs’ (b.1979, Columbus, Ohio) work focuses on interactions between live performers, mechanical instruments and computers. His pieces are often theatrical in nature, pitting blabber-mouthed fanciful showoffs against timid reluctants. The sounds are playfully organized and many times mimic patterns found in human dialogue. Hand-built electromechanical instruments controlled by microcontrollers bridge acoustic and electroacoustic sound worlds. These instruments live dual lives as time-based concert works and non-time-based gallery works.

His music has been performed by ensembles such as the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, Wet Ink, International Contemporary Ensemble, Talea Ensemble, Ensemble Pamplemousse, and defunensemble. His music has been featured at many music festivals in Europe and the U.S. He is a 2017 Guggenheim Fellow. He has performed his own compositions for guitar and electronics at The Stone, New York; Miller Theater, New York; and The Wulf, Los Angeles. Jacobs is also a member of the performer/composer collective Ensemble Pamplemousse and is on faculty at the Peabody Institute of the John Hopkins University.

Michelle Lou (b.1975, San Diego, Calif.) composes mainly in the realm of electro-acoustic music, both in hardware and in computer based forms. She has also created large-scale sound installations that are often performative and collaborative. She performs and improvises on acoustic and electric bass, electric guitar, and on laptop and various electronics. Her work has been presented at Wien Modern; Donaueschinger Musiktage; Darmstadt Ferienkurse; Bludenzer Tage zeitgemäßer Musik; The Festival of New American Music, Sacramento; the MATA Festival, New York; The 66th American Music Festival at the National Gallery in Washington D.C.; The Rainy Days Festival, Luxembourg; Ultima Festival, Oslo; Chance and Circumstance, Brooklyn; Klub Katarakt, Hamburg; Klangwerkstatt and MaerzMusik, Berlin; among others.

She received degrees in double bass performance and music composition from UC San Diego with additional studies at The Conservatorio G. Nicolini in Piacenza, Italy (double bass) and The UDK in Graz, Austria (composition), the latter on a Fulbright Fellowship. Graduate studies culminated in a doctorate in composition from Stanford University. Lou was a Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard University and an Elliott Carter Rome Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Rome. She has been granted commissions from institutions like the Fromm Music Foundation, the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation, and the Norwegian Arts Council. She has taught as visiting faculty at Dartmouth College, the Akademie für Neue Musik in Boswil, Switzerland, and the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is currently on faculty at UC San Diego.

Presented in partnership with the Graham Foundation

Artist Talk: The two artists present prepared lectures on aspects of their work. Bryan Jacobs traces recent pieces presented in live performance and in gallery settings that illustrate his practice of developing human and computer hybrid instruments. Jacobs’ instruments connect the natural world with modern uses of electricity. Michelle Lou talks through some of her electro-acoustic compositions that create systems of interaction between performers and the electronics that hybridize and transform them. Her work often uses acoustic feedback as an expressive material. Lampo Annex, Monadnock Building, 53 W. Jackson Blvd. #1656. Friday, June 7, 6 p.m. FREE/RSVP HERE