Widowsweave is an awareness raising series of performances highlighting the conditions of Iraqi Widows who often struggle to acquire even basic necessities such as clean water or adequate shelter. Through artistic durational activities the artist and public participants mark 3,000,000 lines representing the number of Iraqi widows from 30 years of war, tyranny and sanctions.


Kevin Valentine will have three new pieces in the Faculty Show at North Central College, Naperville. The reception is April 8th, from 6-8

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Shalaka can Dance!

Yesterday was a great day, following my down morning on Tuesday. Shalaka was filming a dance piece that I only heard about on Monday. She wasn't sure how she felt about it beforehand, but it came out as a really intense moment (on many takes). She was so into the dancing/ action that it became more than itself, it was like watching a transformation, a personal struggle, a fight-for-the-truth. It was as if you could see into her soul.

It became a beautiful, unforgettable event. It was genuine. Completely in the moment, the movement took over and possessed her. Great to see her art progressing and reaching new heights.

I also went off to reshoot my Widows chalk piece with no text. After Shalaka finished, Victoria and Shalaka and I caught dinner, went back and captured video till we got kicked out. Ramah was there all day, editing audio including this amazing mike sweep recording of broken cymbals run through lots of reverb. Lessa was also editing, selecting video stills, one frame at a time from a huge edited stream.

Really felt like grad school.

Vision and Strategy

Last week we also talked about my chart "Violation Conspiracy" and the possibility of turning it into a board game! Whoa - that's just a cool idea. Something like a large multiplayer game, something where the participants would get the idea by "playing the bad guys" - by collusion with the violating forces.

Paul also suggested that Sticks and Stones could be sung by a women's gospel choir! I think that I need to stretch those interdisciplinary wings even further. These are great ideas.

He reminded me of his mantra about the difference between vision and strategy.
Vision is to see the things I need to say, what artistically I need to do (And why I do them).
Strategy is how to get it done effectively, creatively, artistically.
Last Thursday I met with Paul C about my work. we talked about the direction of my overall work and whether or not I was willing to let my old songs go for now, and move on. I agreed that they are holding me back, clunky, baggage at the moment.

We talked again about the durational chalk piece Widows. He suggested that I try again, without any text, so that it becomes more universal in its scope. I am going to show this at crits without words (but with sound?). I also want to work on the book for crits.

Recommended artists:

Lee Bontecou
Tseih Hsich
Linda Montero: "Mitchel's Death" at VideoDataBank VDB.org at SAIC 312-345-3550

We also talked about what I try to do in my work. He asked if I try to eulogize (elegies) or cleanse or what?

I've been thinking about it since. Actually, I've been thinking about my current raison d'etre d'artiste since mid semester last fall. Is it autobiographical (to explain myself)? Is it to enlighten/share/evangelize (to change the world)? Do I make work to get things off my mind (cleanse)? To entertain/beautify/show off (hope not)?

After we finished taxes, most of the work on the bathroom, classes before spring break, I felt this sort of let down - post-partum. I am obsessed with this guitar I've been dreaming about for a couple of years. It seems irrational but I can't get it off my mind. With Paul's suggestion that I let the songs go for now, and Mary's shock that I would want yet another guitar, I woke up Tuesday morning in one of those "what is the meaning of my (artistic) life" moments. After not getting out of bed for a coulple of hours, I progressed to "why do anything at all?"

I suppose that running, and helping Shalaka Wednesday helped me out, but didn't exactly answer the question. Keeping busy isn't the same as understanding intentionality. Still, helping friends, watching them progress, and enjoying the environment are ok motives, and starting work again is not intrinsically bad.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Voice Module search

Paul gave me some websites to check out for a voice module.
Anykit.com appears to be a site that links to other sites, and has some kits, w/o pricing
- good for larger installations, made for elevators, fully programable, with up to 250 messages, 10 volt.

also more card kits, that are recorded for you and have a minimum of 100 units ($600!)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Interactive ideas

I want to use Max and/or other kits to make interactive sound/video interfaces. This would be in conjunction with my cabinet series, including the war cabinets and others. I want to try to figure out how to activate the sounds/ video upon opening or reaching a certain proximity threshold. Also the playback could change in volume/speed or change entirely (to another clip) as the viewer approached. Including this in artists books is one definite project for me, and hopefully soon.

I have spent a good amount of time online and at radioshack, looking for a "audio card kit" and the like. So far I have found a slip-to-activate chip for $3, but it will only play about 200 times, and the batteries are not replaceable. In particular, I want to put a chip in my Widows book, so that when the book is open, the reader hears the sound of chalk from my performance.

I need to figure out how to have multiple sounds and maybe video installed in a small box or cabinet, so that it will relate to my multimedia cabinet pieces. When a cabinet drawer is opened, a video will play. Another drawer, containing a book or a set of etchings will play a song or spoken text. Text could be in conjunction with audio track of sound/music controlled by proximity or pressure, depending upon the content.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

MAX tutorials

I just finished the first five max tutorials. Lots of intriguing setups to consider. bangbang and tbif object boxes!

Sound Save

I took Shalaka's sound piece and normanlized it, but there were peaks in the sound wave, so I used a compressor limiter, then an expander, then another limiter and fianlly a linear EQ, to boost the sound to acceptable levels.


In the middle of the night, I was thinking of a software that would ask questions and respond to sarcasm or with sarcasm. It's hard to describe right now but it made perfect sense when I woke up.

Movie Max

I put my trial Widows piece in MAX on a random play (random frame plays every second), and I thought that it actually worked quite well. Maybe random play is good for durational pieces because it changes the sense of time and the delivery of time/ content, allowing the audience to "connect the dots" as it were, at there own speed.

It works for Widows much in the way cross cutting does in a narrative film.

Interactive ideas

I've just been thinking of ways to use video in live performance/installation settings with Max/MSP. Would it be possible to use a Cabinet as a portal to communicate both ways (like skype?) yet also be more interactive, as in adjusting the video and feeding it back to the sender, or blending the two video feeds together to project in a public space. What would be the difference between two-way surveillance and a video chat? or a live chat? How mediated could you make the conversation?

OK, so I take my cabinet and put in a surveillance camera, but project it both back to the viewer and another location. Then film that other location and send it back to the first viewer, so that they know they are not only being watched, but that they have a presence elsewhere that may or may not have an audience.

Or what about a painting or actual person, with pressure/proximity or force sensitive resisters, where the viewer is rewarded for breaking taboos such as touching artwork or performers.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Played with inserts for cubase, layered onto tracks from my performance piece, Widows, and the Venus project. I tried out the Octaver, which seemed to have only a minor effect of adding bass below voice, and the Amp Simulator which can hilariously shred stuff. I played more with the grungelizer, which I would like to use on some tracks to create more ambiance.

I've beeen sorting tracks in cubase for class presentation, and also playing around with the controls on Balldropping software, to try to get someting more musical. The track I took originally sounds good on the file, but sounds digitally clipped in cubase. I'm not sure why that is, but next time I get a zoom out, I will record it at a lower volume or with less gain.