The Wire

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Composer and Mills College educator shares her audiovisual piece, System Test (Fire And Ice)

Texan flautist, composer, recording engineer and co-director of the Centre for Contemporary Music at Mills College, Maggi Payne, has been experimenting with film and video since 1970. A selection of excerpts on her Vimeo page showcase her use of oscilloscopes, microscopes, crystals, and more, to create visual accompaniments to her work with sound. This particular film was made in 2001 and is now available to stream in its 12 minute entirety via The Wire.

“This work, which primarily uses my recordings of Jacob's ladders, ice melting, and papers sliding against each other as the sources, is a rather dramatic piece, which I attribute to the dynamic/dramatic character of the Jacob's ladder.” says Payne about System Test (Fire And Ice). “There is such a powerful intensity in the discharges, accompanied by wonderful sizzling, hissing, crackling sounds, and powerful low frequencies; danger is always present. The sources are convolved, stretched, granulated, eq'd and further processed many times over, then whirled into this intense piece. The visual component for this work uses four electroluminescent-wired 'imagers' loosely choreographed in a very dark presentation space.”

Read an Epiphany by Maggi Payne in The Wire issue 403. Subscribers can access the article via the online archive. Payne's LP Crystal is released by Aguirre.