Kasumi, Video/Sound Artist “REMIXED MEDIA: MUSICAL ADVENTURES IN MOVIE MASH, AGITPROP, AND SOUND OBJECTS”
Presented by American Composers Orchestra in partnership with Crane Arts
For the past decade Kasumi has been creating time-based image and sound montage-like compositions almost entirely generated from fragments of found footage and sound materials.
The samples, gleaned from public domain movies, archival government propaganda and the like are chosen for symbolic or metaphorical meaning – an upraised arm as the essence of evil, a defiant shout of protest, thumbs up, thumbs down. These significant moments, central to our perception of certain crucial realities, become the building blocks of her work, called Video Recursion.
Video Recursion is a method of composing these brief, fragmentary gestures and utterances into a multi-dimensional narrative and musical structure. The power of metaphor, central to human thought and communication, coupled with the emotional depth available through abstract musical concepts has the potential of creating work of astonishing psychological intensity.
The cultural and historical context, symbolic and emotional meaning, and the latent transgressive energy of the samples are set off against their purely formal qualities: movement, gesture, color, texture, pitch, timbre, cadence, tempo, rhythm, shape, dynamics, and so on. These opposing qualities are continually in play with each other creating a tension that is central to the work, and as much as it could be said that the works are narrative constructions using found footage, it is equally true to say that it is the clips themselves, in their musical tone, that drives this work.
On Feb 22, Kasumi’s new work, created with composer Margaret Brouwer, will premiere with the American Composers Orchestra at UPenn’s International House (Chestnut at 37th), presented by the Annenberg Center. The work, BREAKDOWN, a sample-based hybrid opera in one act, synthesizes film and sound in an abstract, no-holds-barred narrative flow that reveals “nothing less than the eternal tale of ambition, arrogance, and fall of empire.”
Kasumi, recognized as one the leading innovators of a new art form synthesizing sound, film, and live video manipulation, has won acclaim for her “video/sound recursions.” In performance venues and with collaborators worldwide her work has excited diverse audiences — from Lincoln Center, where she appeared on stage with the New York Philharmonic, to live shows with Grandmaster Flash and DJ Spooky.
Her formal training as a painter and Baroque lutenist is apparent in her exploration of rhythmically intricate and metaphorically rich contrapuntal layering. Time-remapping and polyphonic warping techniques blend with psychologically resonant, “looping” variations composed from incremental human gestures and vocalizations.
Kasumi is also noted for her highly charged commentary on world politics, including “The Free Speech Zone,” her critically acclaimed reflections on the Bush administration’s foreign and domestic policies. Her live performance of that work at Stuttgart’s Württembergischen Kunstverein was described by the Stuttgarter Nachricten as “a modern age
version of Francesco Goya’s ‘Disasters of War’.”
Among the international festivals and distinguished institutions where Kasumi’s work has been screened are: The Chroma Festival de Arte Audiovisual, Guadalajara; the Forum des Images, Paris; Milano Film Festival; Expresión en Corto, Mexico City; Muzeul Florean, Romania; Itau Cultural Center, Sao Paulo; Ankara International; Art Film Festival, Bratislava; Melbourne International; Lausanne Underground; MediaARtLab, Moscow; Project 304 Bangkok; MECAL, Barcelona; Lundabio, Reykjavik; VideoLisboa Lisbon; The Butler Institute of American Art; The Museum of Fine Art, Houston; AFO, Czech Republic; Museu de Arte Moderna and Media Electronica, Rio de Janeiro; San Diego Museum of Art; Madurai Collective, India; Instituto Superior de Arte del Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires; Young Iranian Cinema; and Anthology Film Archives among others. Some of her awards include the Adriano Asti Award for Best Experimental Film at Montecacini, Italy; Director’s and Program Staff Citation at the Black Maria Film Festival; Best Experimental Film at the Sapporo International Short Film Festival; the Seoul Film Festival’s Special Jury Award; IFP Chicago’s Best Experimental Film award.
Formerly a lecturer at the Tokyo College of Music, Kasumi is currently Associate Professor at the Cleveland Institute of Art.