Published on Apr 11, 2013
Blair Percussion VORTEX presents the Southeastern U.S. premiere of George Antheil's restored Ballet mécanique, Sunday, April 7, organized by VORTEX director Michael Holland.
This was the "Robotics and New Media Art Exhibition" that happened right before the concert.
Makers (in order of appearance)
Robbie Hunsinger - Arduino Drummer
Steve Ghertner - Rope Climbing Robot
Patrick Becker - Omnibot
Team RPG for the First Tech Challenge - Donut Collecting Robot.
Antonio Sanford - "Bob"
Benton Bainbridge / Greg Pond - Interactive Installation
Liz Clayton Scofield - Interactive audio compositions
From the program notes:
Robots on the plaza!
The Middle Tennessee Robotic Arts Society with a variety of small and large robots, plus Vanderbilt University Engineering professor Julie Johnson and the Davidson Academy Middle School Lego Robotics Club.
In the lobby:
Artists Greg Pond and Benton-C Bainbridge invite the audience into Fernand Léger's Ballet mécanique film with an interactive movie installation. New media technologies are used to explore Ballet mécanique's themes, where the everyday is made magical and humans become mechanized.
Guests in Ingram Lobby control scenes from the movie: a motion-tracking lever moves a burden-bearing worker woman up and down a staircase; Chaplin's signature cane dances Léger's puppet back and forth above the lobby doors. Guests are encouraged to bring pocket-sized props to spin on the Kaleidoscopic Turntable.
Sound artist Liz Scofield has created interactive audio compositions informed by the aesthetics and concepts of Ballet mécanique. Come early and experience Ballet mécanique as never before!
1:30-5 p.m., Ballet mécanique mini-symposium, Choral Hall. Joy Calico, symposium organizer and moderator
6:45 p.m., Robotics, Music, New Media Art, Ingram Lobby
8 p.m., VORTEX concert, Ingram Hal
Witness the southeastern U.S. premiere of George Antheil's restored original 1924 orchestration for Ballet mécanique—complete with xylophones, bass drums electric bells, airplane propellers, 13 live musicians, eight synchronized player pianos, and the rarely screened abstract film by French artist Fernand Léger and Dudley Murphy. This masterpiece of 1920s Paris will be introduced by David Kibler, Cultural Attaché to the Consulate General of France in Atlanta.
VORTEX is joined by Tufts University's Paul Lehrman, whose work to restore Ballet mécanique through robotics and MIDI processing has been praised by critics:
"It was something to behold...a glorious din" — The Boston Globe
"A fully satisfying hoot of a piece" — Boston Musical Intelligencer
"Termites running the asylum!" — Chicago Sun Times
Never realized in Antheil's lifetime. Never performed before 1999. Experience Ballet mécanique as "the bad boy of music" could only imagine, and as audiences from New York to London have cheered!
An event so remarkable it can only be achieved by humans in league with robots!