"Life In Aliquippa" (1993)





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Published on Jul 23, 2009

This is video cutup primarily features footage of Michael Johnsen, Brian Dean Richmond and Edgar Um Bucholtz performing in Aliquippa, PA in 1993 as part of Michelle Illuminato's Aliquippa Embraces Art. The venue for this trio performance was a large empty, decrepit department store in downtown Aliquippa.

For his performance, Edgar Um Bucholtz spent many days researching the story of the town of Aliquippa (at the Aliquippa Library, at the Carnegie Library in Oakland and in the Labor archives at Hillman Library.) For example, he learned of Queen Aliquippa (for whom the city is named), a leader of the Seneca tribe of American Indians who became an important British Ally leading up to the French and Indian War. He learned of the many African-American families who were moved en masse to Aliquippa in the 1970's to work at the Jones and Laughlin Steel Mill--only to be left mostly without jobs after the collapse of the Steel Industry in the 1980s.

In the performance, he read this text he compiled about the origins and history of the city of Aliquippa. He sat at a table in the middle front of the large space. His voice was sent via microphone and cable to the very back of the room into a 30 second delay and then into an amplification speaker system. The very apparent delay between his live reading voice and his amplified delayed voice was disorienting.

Michael Johnsen also sat at the table. He allowed visitors to look into a microscope and view various micro-organisms living in a sample of water Michael collected from a ditch in Aliquippa. Michael also projected a 16mm black & white film loop he made of crawling bugs.

After Edgar Um Bucholtz finished reading his text, he, Michael and Brian Dean Richmond repeatedly played and improvised on a 9 note tone row. Michael played clarinet. Brian played trombone. Edgar played cornet. Edgar Um Bucholtz derived this tone row from the letters in the name Aliquippa using a alpha-tonal transcription method he devised.

This video cutup also also features bits and pieces of a video by Edgar Um Bucholtz called "Noise In System." The video ends with a bit of Christian evangelical TV re-edited by Edgar Um Bucholtz.


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