What kind of art would emerge if the fragile conditions we create for performance did not exist? Classical music and dance are fragile and ephemeral, yet, just as with technology, we live with the expectation that they will endure regardless of our care. How do highly stylized artistic expressions fare when exposed to the elements? What unexpected beauty can be found in EcoArt at Interlochen?
Introducing Project Entropy
Inspired by Brazilian artist Christina Oiticica, who is known for using an exotic neoconcretist technique that allows nature’s elements to act upon her works, Project Entropy is the brain-child of Nicola Conraths (Dance), and a collaboration with Steve Larson (Music), Matthew Schlomer (Director of Band), Amy Long (Visual Arts) and Lixing Chu (Visual Arts).
"After reading about Christina Oiticica's work, I started thinking about how to age dance. Oiticica leaves her works exposed to the elements for months at a time, and lets nature change and ultimately shape them," said Conraths. "Ususally when you perform a dance, you try to keep it exactly the way it was when it was first choreographed. And dance is traditionally very clean and pristine. I wanted to bring nature into it somehow as well."
She began talking with Larson and Schlomer, and together they came up with the unthinkable. What if they choreographed a dance to an iconic score, but left the instrument used to produce the music, and the costumes worn by the dancers, to be exposed to the elements?
The group published a Craig’s List ad looking for the unthinkable - a baby grand piano to be used for the project. “The piano seemed to us to be the perfect symbol of human engineering and musical achievement,” explained Schlomer.
The Idea Comes to Life
A Traverse-City family answered the ad within 24 hours, and after learning about the collaborative art project, they donated an instrument. On Wednesday, Oct. 17, the piano began its journey - beautiful, in tune, and honored. Movement was choreographed to Bach's C Major Prelude from Book I of the Well-Tempered Clavier.
Visual arts students designed bodices made of vines and twigs to hang the costumes in trees around the piano, which will remain on the lawn in front of Corson Auditorium for the school year. The original choreography will continue to morph as the piano, score and costumes themselves age and intermingle with nature. Performances will be presented before each Arts Academy band concert, with the next performance scheduled for December 1, 2012. Students, faculty and staff will also be encouraged to interact with, perform at and imagine about the installation throughout the year.
“Our hope is that people will consider their relationship to the arts, to preconceived boundaries, and to our relationship with nature,” said Schlomer. “We hope that new approaches to art can be born from this dramatic treatment of a fragile instrument."
Watch It Unfold
Live footage of the installation may be viewed on the Interlochen website, and a documentary will be created by a Motion Picture Arts student and presented at the Academy Arts Festival celebrations in May 2013. You can also follow the project by visiting entropy2013.tumblr.com.