Ausencias/Ausências/Absences || String Quartet & Electronics, 2016 || Digital Score

ausencias score cover.jpg
ausencias score cover.jpg

Ausencias/Ausências/Absences || String Quartet & Electronics, 2016 || Digital Score

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I believe generating empathy through art can be a strong mechanism to develop our understanding of one another. In this work, I explore the concept of suicide as an attempt to exercise our capacity for empathy and compassion as well as to destigmatize mental illness.

Ausencias/Ausências/Absences, for string quartet, fixed media, dance, and interactive video is a thirty-minute intermedia work that can also be performed in a music-only format. The artistic impetus of this work was taken from the last writings of three South American poets who took their own lives: Violeta Parra (1917-1967) of Chile, Alfonsina Storni (1892-1938) of Argentina, and Ana Cristina Cesar (1952-1983) of Brazil. The three main movements of the piece each focus on one poet and are inspired by the song Gracias a la vida (1966), by Parra, and the poems Me voy a dormir (1938) by Storni and Samba canção (1982) by Cesar.

The audio and video portions of the work include images and recordings taken during my research trips to Chile, Brazil and Argentina in 2015, including the Cuatro Venezolano (small guitar with four strings) that belonged to Violeta Parra. In the intermedia version of the work, the dance floor is illuminated by images projected from two overhead projectors. The dancers’ movements are captured by a camera suspended above the stage. Touch Designer and Kinect motion tracking technology allows the dancers to trigger video gestures with their movements.

Choreographer Sandra Torijano created the dance, visual artist Kat Johnson and myself produced the visual media for the projections, and Carlos García developed the interactive technology. This full work was premiered on March 24th, 2017, at the Duderstadt Video Studio at the University of Michigan. The original music-only version was premiered by JACK Quartet on March 2016, commissioned by the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard university.