In October 2016, I had an opportunity to go on an art residency in countryside of France for a collaboration performance project with Mika Satomi, a Berlin-based e-textile artist, and Corey Fuller, a Tokyo-based sound artist. We worked on creating and developing a collaborative, improvisational performance which Japanese calligraphy, e-textile and sound art come together.
This project was something I’ve been dreaming of for a long time. Mika and I met at an event in Berlin through a friend of ours, Joreg, the founder of the visual/textural live-programming environment vvvv. I felt that our encounter was meant-to-be, and it didn’t take so long until this idea of collaboration sparked in our conversation, and this residency opportunity came true. The team, Corey from Tokyo, Mika from Berlin, and I from San Francisco got together at Les Moulins de Paillard Contemporary Arts Centre in Poncé-sur-le-Loir.
Poncé-sur-le-Loir, a village in the region of Pays-de-la-Loire in north-western France. (On 1 January 2017, it was merged into the new commune Loir en Vallée. ) It’s a small old village with full of characters. The village is also known for its wineries.
Entryway to the Les Moulins de Paillard; autumn leaves were falling, creating a colorful carpet on the ground. These charming roosters woke us up like alarm clock every morning.
When we arrived at Paillard at almost 10pm on October 17th, it was completely dark that we could not see the surroundings. There was the moonlight and a few other dim street light, very quiet. We had to crawl in the air to find the entrance to the place where we are staying. Next morning, I woke up to the quiet, beautiful misty air. There is a river running through the Paillard, which made this area special – Les Moulins de Paillard is a former paper mill in the 18th century. The main building houses countless rooms inside still with the empty concrete tubs and kilns, where now are used as contemporary art residency studios, performance art theater and art gallery.
I loved the misty mornings at Paillard. Air is so fresh, the sound of the river is calming. At the end of October, it gets very cold in this area.
Everyday we cooked breakfasts, lunch and dinners together in the kitchen and dining area in the main theater building. There was a small bakery in town where we could get freshly baked croissant and French baguette. With no heater, it was shivering cold inside, but our conversations and laughter kept us warm.
Brainstorming the ideas…
On day 2, the local music studio let us borrow their amazing speakers and sound system (thank you Shelly & James for arranging everything!). As we slowly set things up, the sky cleared up and a pleasant light came through the windows in the theater. We had this theater all to ourselves as studio for 10 days, how amazing.
From the day 3, assistant Farid joined us. Farid is an art university student living in Le Mans, and he came to help our project at Paillard only during this residency period for his experience.
Mika focused on making my costume with embedded sensors.
This is where Corey makes his magic. Everything was beautifully set up.
Costume fitting and tests — we were so excited to see the linkage of the technologies and the sound in action.
(Photos by Corey Fuller)
My calligraphy brush with a motion sensor attached to the top of the arm by Mika and Hannah (another half of Kobakant, Mika’s e-textile unit) .
Corey’s piano gracefully resonated in this theater space. Surrounded by lots of inspirations in this beautiful environment, I composed a poem for the performance. It usually takes days, sometimes weeks to complete a poem for the performance pieces – but this day, on the 5th day of the residency, all words in my notebook just fell into the right place and everything came together.
The first piece of the three performances was going to be with a sensor on the brush, writing on a long piece of Japanese paper coming out of the piano. We rehearsed in the golden sunset light…
The last performance of the three was improvised with a breathing sensor around my chest and muscle sensors on my elbows and knees, which signals controlling the intensity of the light bulbs. The dynamic movement of my calligraphy writing was translated into light and sound through a sensor embedded costume. The soundscape was composed of acoustic piano and a modular synthesizer system which receive signals generated by my physical movements and are translated into sound.
See our performance at Les Moulins de Paillard on October 23rd, 2016 here.
Breathing sensor details.
Arm muscle sensor details.
(photos by Corey Fuller)
the sound of bells and drums
a light of life
(Corey on the left, Aoi in center, Mika on the right)
Stay tuned for our upcoming performances!