Following Thursday's performance of Terra Nova, the Bowdoin community has the opportunity to hear the inside scoop from artist and Bowdoin alum DJ Spooky at Common Hour.
While known today as DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid, Spooky's return to Bowdoin reminds us of the years when he was known as Paul Miller '92 who ran the WBOR show, "Dr. Seuss's Eclectic Jungle Radio Show." Since graduating from Bowdoin and adopting his pseudonym, Miller has developed a distinctive performance style, published several books, and recorded numerous albums.
Last night, Miller took Pickard Theater through the icy world of the Antarctic with his multimedia performance, "Terra Nova: Sinfonia Antarctica." The piece is a synthesis of music and visual media that creates a soundscape for images of the Antarctic, hoping to build climate change awareness through a different medium.
In today's Common Hour lecture, Miller's talk will be focused more narrowly on his new book, "Sound Unbound," a follow up to his 2004 "Rhythm Science." Miller will delve into overarching aspects of contemporary art, exploring its relationship with music, digital media and visual arts. The talk will be given in the Kanbar Auditorium of Studzinski Recital Hall.
Spooky's most recent projects include "Sinfonia Antarctica," "Sound Abound," and his latest album, "The Secret Song." A Thirsty Ear Records production, the record debuted in October of 2009, adding yet another album to Spooky's 7-disc discography. Spooky interweaves experimental jazz influences with old-school hip-hop. Utilizing materials taken from artists ranging from African hip-hop artist Zimbabwe Legit, to Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, Spooky encompasses music from many cultural and global genres.
Spooky's noteworthy projects also include albums "Optometry" and "Drums of Death," his Solo Performance piece, "Rebirth of a Nation," and his 2004 book, "Rhythm Science." Spooky's multi-media works and solo performances have taken him around the world to venues including the Tate Modern in London, the Guggenheim Museum, and countless music festivals. In addition to his visitation to Bowdoin, Spooky's Spring tour schedule will take him to Europe and the Southern U.S., where he will perform his "Terra Nova: Sinfonia Antarctica," lecture at cultural centers and universities, promote "Sound Abound," and give other performances. Spooky's stop in Brunswick will be followed by a performance at the Vancouver Winter Olympics on February 15.
In the past, the environmental studies Department has hosted several scientists, humanists and social scientists to expose the Bowdoin campus to different ideas about conservation. In bringing DJ Spooky, the department hopes to show students how environmental concerns can also be expressed through the arts and humanities.
"This is part of a broader mission to show how Environmental Studies is relevant to other disciplines on campus," said Program Director and Associate Professor of Environmental Studies and Biology Philip Camill. "The environment isn't just about wilderness and endangered polar bears. It's about how humans relate to the natural world."
"This is an example of how [the environment] relates to the humanities," he said. "It needs to be a greater conversation that's happening across all disciplines and all students. I want to get people to see that the environment is much more relevant."
In a video short produced by Change Performing Arts and Music and Art Management entitled "Artist Ode 2.5" DJ Spooky explains that in "Sinfonia Antarctica" he aims to capture the beauty and truly natural state of the Antarctic, one that is free of human ownership.
"The ice speaks to you. You're looking at geography. I love the fact that music is about patterns, is about geometry. [I want to] not only do a scientific interpretation of the ice, but an emotive relationship like an acoustic portrait of this ice that's transforming and changing," said Spooky.
"I'm looking at the tragedy of colonialism. The tragedy of how people have tried to inhabit this beautiful space that's at the edge of the world. The edge of all of these nation states that have sort of tried to lock the planet down into geography and ethnicity. And at the edge of the world, its one of those places that just says no."
"Sinfonia Antarctica" is a collaboration of the arts with the natural sciences and with tangible environmental issues. Camill said that his sincere hope is that Bowdoin students, no matter their area of interest, will rethink the way they view the environment.
"This is unique because here is a visual and performing arts artist whose intermixing two major media. It brings together the visual arts, music department, environmental studies, and all other humanities in creating a program that helps us understand how this artist can relate climate change to the rest of the world and [also] how it relates to him," said Camill. "It's pretty powerful stuff."