(and ongoing happenings or projects)
Echofluxx 19 New Media Festival - Prague, CZ
The contemporary opera PEFECT falls somewhere between the lines of an esoteric maze of language and the happenings of a group of intellectuals. Drawn from Barth, Borges, perhaps even Gertrude Stein the characters stumble through syntax games, meta-narratives, backed by specks of electronic tonality, swooshing synths and alien-insect language. The entire “opera” leaves many questions for the audience to answer and exercises the grey matter in our craniums. Three players for touch pads, two voices reading libretto from devices all while juggling live sound mixing. This expanding the notions of performance and new media.
Belgrade + Interview
Originally the concept for this piece was to assess astrological and celestial figures, specifically using Hydra in its spring positioning. I’d planned to shape and apply these figures for a live improvised performance. A work related to the season in which I was working. A pagan ritual, invoking the strength of tarot cards, and processional body movements. Though as it turned out this wasn’t the message that I desired. With some detailed thought, reflection, and consideration I chose to risk my pre-mediated plan and build a new one.
The piece evolved prior to and after spending time in the Belgrade, it's streets of and an ecological framework. Using applied approach to minimal means for maximal results. Site-Specific, presenting cultural artifacts, texts, field recordings and live compositions-the results dramatically shifted from the anticipated result.
I felt compelled to explode current events through stop-motion, clipped images and the manipulation of field recordings. From an outsiders perspective I felt objective in approach. I don’t speak Serbian. And I cannot read Latin to Cyrillic. The forfeit of this knowledge allowed me to freely apply purely artistic means, avoiding loaded subject matter. I completely relied on the audience for confirmation as to whether or not I failed or had success.
Here are a couple excerpts from an interview with Belgrade Art Studio.
Question: What will your project in Belgrade be about? And what was your inspiration
Answer: The piece I've created-which is up for exhibition at Kvaka 22-is titled "Light Matter While I'm Here." It's an extension of works or continuum of pieces that have now evolved from a residency in 2017, in Portugal. During a month-long stay, I continued my experiments with forms and numerous materials. In Portugal I created a series titled of "Object I - III". These all had sonic and video elements along with sculptural and site-specific objects, natural and local artifacts plus, ritual-performative elements, entirely improvisational. I've been interested in this ever since.
This piece requires me to explore the identity of Serbian culture through newspapers, field recordings, videos and history. Like a detective I'm collecting evidence. And as opposed to dark matter-which makes up most of our universe-in this piece I used the phrase "light matter" in a joking sense because light isn't really matter at all, this is also a double entendre-a play on words. And "While I'm Here" speaks to ephemerality which is strewn through my previous works. Even more important is the ecological and political aspects presenting me with opportunities to use less. So, my materials are extremely limited. In fact, I carried everything in my knapsack and I have used objects which are found or salvaged from the city itself. There's so much material out there and of course sound and video are typically free..
Question: What is most important to you as a sound/video artist? Is it the hope for a certain reaction in the listener/observer? Or is to accurately create a certain environment?
Answer: What is most important is the satisfaction I get from problem solving with materials. There are pieces I've created that seem complex and often I don't have a theory behind the work. Sometimes the theory comes later on after it's remounted or re-presented in a new way. Testing out ideas with forms is entirely part this process, hence the term experimental art. Like science there are failures and in that case you take new measures, refine. It's a subtractive process in this way. Though I do consider the emotional responses the viewers may have but this never steers my work! Think of it this way, I'm trying to position the listener within the space I'm trying to create within the piece, yet it's non-sensical to think that I can actually achieve this feat.
Covering tremendous ground and breadth of tone Manowski releases two albums simultaneously. Each meandering the physical (daytime) territory and the subterranean. It’s with a certain gestural looseness that Manowski brings something unexpected and perhaps something uninvited from these albums. Much like previous work, a faint sense of closing-in-on-dread, embraces a looming anxiety. A nest of tangled meanings or codes make listening more like a puzzle.
The albums contain nearly no lyrics and have little in the way of recognizable instrumentation. Natural sounds, field recordings are deprived of their meaning. The inner-narrative winds itself up tight, straining from the weight. It’s like speaking without words to someone who cannot hear. This sense of illusion is built over 90 minutes (both albums combined) jerking the listener from the cinematic, almost horror-like feels to a mellow drift of insects and bird song. A simple temperature change in the room or in your head, most of these compositions change with each listen.
Perfect Messages | Journal EP (Full Format)
For over a year in 2015, I worked in the rainy confines of Seattle’s Capital Hill towards the release of the second album for Perfect Messages. The album debut was received at the first annual Sources of Light Experimental Music Festival. Through the process of re-visiting this piece-in some strange way- it lends a permissive attitude towards a new release which I’ve hinted at. Below you’ll find the full length album (2015) which is to be followed up by “Secret Room” the first full length set for late March 2019.
Re-examined | Sense IV | Comfort Station Residency Summer 2017
With a critical eye, I’ve gone backwards to review some works of 2017.
Sense IV was produced in Chicago during a one-month residency at the Comfort Station in Logan Square. The featured artists were: audio engineer and lighting specialist Joshua Miller, Director Cassie Brehmer, two screen actors (who wished to remain anonymous due to contractual agreements) and additional sound designs that I merged from a series of field recordings from 2017.
The fourth installment of Abstr/Action + Senses was inspired by Gutai artists, Shiraga Kazuo and Kanayama Akira who experimented with process-based painting techniques and movement/performance. By using the improvisatory and open parameters of time and space, I was able to remove “personal [and] or psychological expression” from this work. Allowing formal elements of shape and color and movement to be as unadulterated as possible. A sense of freedom lifts small bits of artistic convention and released attachment.
During the piece, the performers acted out an urban camping scene, completely unrehearsed and thus gave overtones of the ubiquitous yet all-too-familiar homeless and/or displaced populations that appear on the fringes of contemporary society. The politicized notions of classless or lower class individuals based-on outsider notions of personal, yet public activities, added a constricting weight, I could have never imagined upon premiering this piece.
Aureas Turned Its Back - (2018) + Experiments with Film
Newly featured video, documenting and expanding on themes of wealth and poverty and the value of the human species. In the human-built world, the array of pathways is seemingly limitless.
This video features: heavy editing, pixelation and modulated sound design. A book-signing in Portugal, wind-swept flowers in Denver and the scanning of centuries old, architectures-these moving images combined with no sense of narrative urgency, mutates formal time signatures and allows a more desperate field of contours to emerge.
LINK - Aureas Turned Its Back
Chekhov’s Razor + SOL III
The video premiere, of Chekhov’s Razor (2018) featuring an adaptation of metaphoric take on the mechanics of storytelling. Manowski builds what is an abstracted and pixelated series of slow-moving videos. All of these images stripped down to a visceral cloud, that cuts an other-worldly narrative into the mind.
This piece accompanied the live performance at Sources of Light III, a national experimental music festival. Here Manowski uses, manipulated tape, synthesizers, and VST.
Returning with Sources of Light III
Hibernation functions as a reset. It’s a form of power storage, paramount to almost every species on our planet-including artists. I’ve stepped back for too long by taking on some new programming responsibilities for an entity in RiNo Arts District, DNVR, CO. This project has come to a halt.
Now the time to devote myself to LGHTLSSNSS Productions and the future of interdisciplinary artworks.
The best way to snap directly back into the fray is to launch a familiar project. A project, that has had a lasting impact throughout the past few years in the United States.
Enter, Sources of Light III - DNVR, CO edition. For the third installment, SOL III will feature an old but recognizable face, David Means. Professor emeritus and sound composer/magician, from Minneapolis, MN.“ David will perform the “The Passenger” (2018) based on Michaelangelo Antonioni’s 1975 film and use live sampling of soundtrack segments, that are looped and processed using small touchpads.”
Summer Project Forecast
Sources of Light III: Returning for the third installment, the regional experimental music festival SOL III will be expected to land in November 2018. After a year away from the project, there's much excitement around the re-imagination of contemporary experiments with sound and composition. The expected location for the performances is set for RiNo's Zeppelin Station, not confirmed though expected to launch there. This year's focus will be on local sound artists and the possibility for one national artist to make a guest appearance. Stay tuned in, for updates and announcements!
Perfect Messages LP: Almost three years have passed since a physical release from sample-based ambient experimentalist, and tape collagist Perfect Messages. In 2015 the cassette "Journal" was put forth and the time has now come for an LP. Several years worth of recordings, sound samples, and performances have let the light into this project. Expect a release to coincide with Sources of Light III.
Experiments with Film: The tremendous output from last year's residency with Foundation Obras in Portugal, left a massive impression on Manowski. That experience in many ways needs to be exercised and further explored. Equipped with a new collection of analog tools, the continuation of the Variations Series will pick up where they left off. This time however the formatting has shifted and the workflow will reflect abstract experiments with magnetic tape and dusty film.
The Results of the Exhibition Áureas (Refleçcoes duma Segonha) | Part One
Bringing together this group of talented creators, spanning several countries and disciplines was magical. It truly was an honor, participating in an exhibition that brought a unique vantage point to a cultural space, and one that held such deeply resonate themes of ecology, sustainability and contemporary art practices. The organizers of Foundation Obras were instrumental in this culmination of voices. Above you'll find the results of the exhibition in abbreviated fashion with a series of sounds and videos in the works to round out what perhaps was one of the most underrated art exhibitions of 2018. It's unfortunate that more recognized institutions (Foundation for the Contemporary Arts NYC) wasn't up for the task of supporting this outstanding representation of artists creating work in our time. Needless to say, as we always do: we somehow problem-solve use resilience and deliver. Much love and respect go out to Carolien and Ludger of Foundation Obras, the Municipality of Évora, INATEL, and aritsts Gaëlle Pelachaud, Maria Sarmento, and Matthew James Manowski for the remarkable contributions they put forth.
Exhibition in Évora, Portugal 2018
It brings me a great deal of excitement and energy to announce my participation in the Exhibition: Áureas (Refleçcoes duma Segonha). Hosted through the municipality of Évora, Portugal and organized by Foundation Obras this month-long piece features, French bookmaker/illustrator Gaëlle Pellachaud and Portuguese poet Maria Sarmento, and myself. We seek to highlight the ecological, social and (personal) themes associated with the lives of the stork in the Alentejo region of Portugal.
The storks of southern Portugal were a subject of research during the residency period of Gaëlle last fall. Documenting their patterns and habitat then reflecting these findings in a series of illustrations, Gaëlle weaves a powerful narrative about their lives. Maria, developed a series of poems to be read, during the opening ceremony of the exhibition, which tracks the stories of these profound birds, expounding on deeper emotions only found in her writing.
I've been working through a series of sound-related installation and compositional pieces to complement and add atmosphere to the entire piece. Text that I found on nest structures and relational ecological aspects are being integrated into the acoustic framework.
"A nest is a structure built by certain animals to hold eggs, offspring, and, occasionally, the animal itself. Although nests are most closely associated with birds, members of all classes of vertebrates and some invertebrates construct nests." WIKI
Details of Process (Nine of Cups and The Bee Keepers)
In the ever-evolving, tarot driven series I'm continuing the documentation of these large works on paper. Below you'll find the "Nine of Cups" and some black and white images from the newest edition, "The Bee Keepers." In keeping with a chance set of operations, I've now included another deck to draw from, which is a set of medicine cards. As the pieces unfold the cards plucked from the deck, influence the outcomes, themes, brushwork, materials and time used to create and execute each piece. These equations are the basis for the formation of this entire series. And in fact, if you catalog back through my previous works, I've used chance operations and tarot etc. for a number of performance pieces and other various projects.
On the other side of a door, on the other side of a dimension. How many countless portals do we pass through in our lives? And what we do we think as we make our way through? I began slowly collecting photographs of doors or as this series states, portals. To arrange: the feeling of something unknown, give a moment of pause to the activity of going through doors, as we do each day.
With each of these photos, I attempt to transport a space within the mind. The possibility of what lurks or calmly waits behind each portal. Even though we cannot know the possibilities of the "other side" of the door, it brings into account a psychological layer of what happens inside the lives of our closest or most distant relations. A gate, a door, a portal has two functions to allow and to deny. The shadow of a door is all that's needed to travel to the other side.
Long Form Field
Every day on Earth has a story. Tracking back through some recordings that were taken from Spain, brought to my attention something important, a type of historical account. Recording, especially in the field has continually given me a foundation for my interdisciplinary work. Interdisciplinarity, like taking from the pond, its water, seeing it under the light and then replaying it with a harmonium. It's an integration of several forces that hold one another, forming a bond, realized in union. Our ears are a marvelous sense that takes us from the outer darkness to an inner brilliance. What I have recorded here is simple: a night of events, completely foreign though with some imagination, you can discover a netting of diverse entities writing a new song. This sound work is being utilized in an upcoming exhibition in Evora, Portugal. It's musical information, folded back upon itself
Nine of Cups
Scale. Tarot. Pigment. Starting with 48" X 104" sheets of multi-use paper, pigment and drawing directly out of the Waite-Rider tarot deck, I've launched a large works on paper series.
Each card drawn represents a theme to be illustrated. And the overarching thought: allowing what is to evaporate into what will be. Through this sudden divinatory phrasing or tempo, an unknown space uncovers a new system of meaning. Steering this work is the hand of the universe, which I feel is protecting or cloaking a certain element of my design.
The aim is to complete 8 - 10 of these works in preparation for an exhibition in fall.
Works on Paper with India Ink
Collaboration with Gaëlle Pelachaud
In September 2017 while on residency I was introduced to French bookmaker Gaëlle Pelachaud and we quickly began talking about a collaboration for an exhibition. Artistically, her work is poetic, colorful, and playful yet undeniably heartfelt-these illustrations of creatures, buildings and people in magical 3-D books. These artists books are immaculate and writing about them isn't enough. For this collaboration, I was asked to compose a series of sound-designs for the gallery space in conjunction with her books on display and the readings of text by Portuguese poet Maria Sarmento. This exhibition will take place in April 2018 in Evoramonte, Portugal. The vision is to merge several artistic themes and highlight her beautiful storytelling, creating a unique atmosphere/installation for visitors. Gaëlle recently shared an illustration of her subject, also check out her site, it's amazing.
Temperature of Photo
That Black Shape is Closing/Hovering Tomb
Oporto in Full Color
Oporto, Portugal. Senses of historic ruin amidst the tides of something that's rising. The clever and hidden aspects of people and way, that can only be understood through a mask. Societal demands are met with voices that rely on a form that finds its quiet voice yelling from the corners of the city along the river Douro. A camera lens only reflects what's being articulated from a single angle. Even the hidden meanings are loud enough to bear an architecture which shows angles and angels within. I'm shooting with my Olympus E-30 in daylight knowing full well what I'm capturing has been scratched under the light of stars and moon. I can feel the postures of these figures dancing away from me.
Evoramonte, Portugal. Object_3, a suspended geometric object fit with a PX4 Android AAXA projector Single-channel video and live audio compositions play while the object_3 hangs ominously in the open air. The assembly was built to mimic a physical ant colony. Their sonic activities were recorded using piezo contact microphones, taking the audience inside the nest. Unfolding, hidden aspects (or overlooked microcosms) of our planet that mirror aspects of human society are reflected. Those directly related to post-industrialism. Spurred by the ongoing study of ant life in their various forms, folding outward, exposing movement, texture and ecology. Subversive political themes are being explored out-of-plain sight.
Manowski "Object_3: building a black, prismatic structure connects them to the lightless space they inhabit, under the earth. The tonal aspects of their movement were recorded with contact microphones shaped into a pattern that reveals a new geometry. Letting them spill into and onto other objects is exactly what they are programmed to do. I'm simply offering this through another form. This piece encompasses a natural simplicity but also violence seen in a postindustrial society, where resources are scattered and workers marginalized. This is a forecast a way of seeing existing power structures destroyed-slowly but savagely." Video link here!
Object 1: encompasses several themes. Most importantly it's a tribute to the inhabitants of the Alentejo in two forms, physical and supernatural. Fragments of bone, etched marble, collections of electronic transmissions and video capture of indigenous plants were assembled and installed with the drive to conjure up something. With a series of spiritually guided movements, ceremonial and ritual elements were inserted to present something new. I felt compelled to share this glowing eminence allowing it to soak not only in me but into the air and soil all at once." Video link here!
Project (object) 2
Tracing a line through this narrative will be as tricky as ever-and purposely so. As Manowski has said himself "allowing the audience to freely determine meaning from what I create is their task." Foundation Obras resident Matthew James Manowski looms a thick blanket of sensory draping for this site-specific performance installation (object 2). The 12th century castle in Evoramonte, Portugal will host the as Manowski performs the second piece in the three part series Project originally titled (object II).
Installation for solo performer: 2-channel audio, piezo contact microphone, signal processing, single channel video projection and ritual use of marble fragments and animal bone.
Portugal + Alentejo
Portuguese street art, feisty ant nests and solitary field recordings. Manowski has been collecting numerous referential pieces-in some strange strata/layering he can only know-during his residency at Foundation Obras. The piece(s) being hashed out are steadily growing into several projects at once. As his artistic philosophy goes so does he-relentless and completely interwoven. The desolate sounds of Portuguese insect life manipulated works on paper riveted with bright pigments, superimposed against photo and video collage. Ceaseless curiosity in its natural Mobius-loop state.
The first video to surface after Manowski's production company LIGHTLESSNESS had its month-long residency at the Comfort Station in Logan Square, Chicago. During the residency, Manowski invited several Chicago-based artists to collaborate each evening, many who've never worked together. The results were wild and define the notion of abstract, experimental and ephemeral performance.
Mention of Deneb + Cygnus OB 2-12
After Manowski's piece Spring performance of Deneb + Cygnus OB 2-12 at Metropolitan State University (where he studied Sociology and Intermedia Arts), press regarding the piece was published. Check it out.
For the entire month of September, Matthew James Manowski will be in artist residency in the rural, central part of Portugal known as Alentejo. Outside the municipality of Estremoz. This opportunity will allow him to expand the possibilities of his work with sound, video and performance installation. It's also been rumored that he will be putting together a visual show, part documentation and part expression of his experience in Portugal.
Comfort Station Residency
Confirmed are the contributors for the Abstr/action + Senses i-v! And the list looks full of heavy hitters. Here's the link for the upcoming series. As the series unfolds, please check back for sound and video clips of the wild and unknown activities happening.
Abstr/Action + Senses i-v
Through every Thursday evening in August at the Comfort Station in Logan Square, Chicago LIGHTLESSNESS presents Abstr/action + Senses i-v. This 5 part series focuses on two elements, time and space. The improvisational, explorative, and completely experimental nature of sound/performance explode into undefined spaces of art. This experimental series features sound artists, performers, and video artists. Each evening will showcase a collage of artistic disciplines. The complexity and creativity of this series aims to challenge the audience both in the field of human sense and also perception.
The Breathing Space is a piece being generated by a group of performers and paired with live sound installation work of Matthew James. Chicago performer, Jenna Jo Pawlicki is directing the piece: "a choreographed theatre piece about the liminality between girlhood and womanhood explored through the emotional states that it invokes." This piece is set to be part of the upcoming REM series presented by Mozawa at High Concept Labs.
A Dream Play
High Concept Labs Residency
Through spring and summer 2017, Manowski joins Mozawa's ever-changing ensemble of artists to collaborate on August Strindberg's A Dream Play. Matthew James Manowski's intuitive, lo-fi wrapped and brooding sound designs, and improvisatory movement ties uniquely within this abstract and historically challenging piece. High Concept Laboratories awarded Mozawa with an Artist Sponsorship for the 2017 season. They will attempt to decode and expand on the complexities within this production.
"Mozawa will spend their Spring 2017 Sponsorship dissecting, exploring and reimagining August Strindberg’s, A Dream Play. Written in 1907, A Dream Play is one of the most difficult plays to direct and perform. It is a precursor to both dramatic expressionism and surrealism, and a biting look at humanity. Ten artists from various mediums will collaborate to create an interdisciplinary contemporary vision of Strindberg’s play. Art forms such as video, performance and visual art will be combined to create an otherworldly experience."
Deneb + Cygnus OB 2-12
Matthew James Manowski returns to Metropolitan State University for the final installment of the Strange Attractors Experimental and Intermedia Art Series. Manowski will be presenting his recent vision: Deneb + Cygnus OB 2-12.
Deneb + Cygnus OB2-12
In the piece Deneb + Cygnus OB2-12 Matthew Manowski examines the intersection between the human subconscious, physical senses, and their potential to generate new imaginary “sites” through folkloric tales of the constellation Cygnus. Using a dedicated journal of dreams from March 2017 superimposed with spoken-word texts from Native American tribes and the exploration of improvised electronic devices, Manowski aims to open the actual intuitive process. Ultimately, the potential to expand the state of being into that of altered-awareness may extend the development of intuitive abilities.