Images and Videos: Courtesy of Hisham Bharoocha
Text and Interview: Alec Coiro
This Saturday “Metamorphosis” will be a chance for audiences take in much of what Hisham Bharoocha does best. Immersive and interactive, Metamophosis plays with both light and music should not be missed by anyone looking for an original experience. Hisham has been featured in these pages as a contemporary collagist, and Metamorphosis is in a many ways a live extension of his collage work, weaving in diverse but related elements, creating what Hisham calls, “a singular living organism.” Parts of that organism include Brian Degraw, Santtu Mustonen and many others.
What do you think is the unifying element or elements that bring the performers at Metamorphosis together?
I think the unifying elements are that we are all transforming something that we observe or discover as a starting point to then mutate into a progressive entity, to create our own viewpoint on something that inspires us.
Me, Santtu Mustonen, Gabe Liberti and Dave Rife have worked together very closely to create a direct correlation between the elements Santtu and I brought to the table with our visual materials. Gabe used his aesthetic as well as his programming background to combine our materials to create an interactive visual program for the music to generate the visuals live. Dave worked on how the frequencies will directly effect the visuals, and how the drum pads we will have set up during the first three DJ sets can be played by audience members, so they can directly interact with the visuals and the music. The visuals will morph throughout the night, and we made all the visuals specific to how I visualized their music. This was a huge team effort. Becoming one living organism by combining all of our minds made us metamorphose into a singular living organism, or that is how I would describe this collaboration.
The musicians and DJs mutate pop culture music in some way, which made Santtu and I think of the title ‘Metamorphosis”. They bring together all the different cultural music they are interested in, then put their own cultural filter onto that music to make their own tracks or remixes that speak to their own culture, their background. The base of the music they play comes from the point of observation, to then metamorphose into a new sound. I also love that everyone comes from a diverse ethnic background, as well as different sexual orientation. I relate to outsiders and people who are inspired by counterculture, and I feel all the musicians come from this place, of not fitting into mainstream anything.
Is this your first time working in the medium of light? How did this idea come about?
I have done some simple animation and collaborations with Jesse Hlebo under the name Silent H, but this is the first time to be working with Gabe Liberti and Dave Rife on a truly interactive platform, incorporating sound, visual elements and physical activity effecting all of the above. It’s a very exciting step to take as I have been wanting to use more technology in my work recently as I feel growing one’s vocabulary brings in new ways of expression while exploring new conversations regarding our future on this planet, how we must adapt to everything that is changing on our planet.
Can you expand a little on how the audience interactive aspect will work?
The visuals will be projected on a 37 x 16 foot angled, double sided screen which floats just above the audience. We wanted the audience to feel like they are inside an environment without feeling closed in.
There will be drum pads that the audience can play, which are connected to the visual program via midi signal coming from the pads. Depending on the animation each pad will effect the visuals in a different way. For example, there may be a set of abstract shapes that is in the foreground. An audience member can play a pad and make the shapes change direction, or feedback leaving a visual trail, and so on.
During the IIII (Four) set the visuals will be connected to a new technology created by Sensory Percussion. These sensors are placed like drum triggers on the drum to then trigger samples and effects, using 6 regions on each drum with effects we assign to each region on the drum ahead of time. That signal is sent to the visuals to then effect them.
The lighting will also be tied to the music and visuals.
During the Qween Beat DJ and Vogue dance set the MC’s voice will also effect the visuals.
With the camera that A1-Array is bringing, Santtu and I have created a visual environment that the audience members can take a rotating GIF photo, to place themselves inside an environment we created, so they can interact with the visuals in a fun way and take that with them. The elements in this virtual environment are the same elements we used as source material in the animations seen on the screens.
What is the House of Vans space like?
It’s a huge warehouse with a skate park on one side and space to do events like this on the other.
What connection do you see between changes and mutations in nature and the concept of change implied in the idea of human progress?
For humans, we have to adapt to the good and bad things we have introduced to this planet over the short amount of time which we have inhabited this earth, compared to the living organisms which we have mutated or metamorphosed from. The planet hasn’t had time to adapt to our quick and destructive actions. We seem to progress based on desire and greed, but there is some positive aspect to this, such as the growth in technology we can see in all the different aspects of human life. Hopefully the handful of good intentioned humans, relative to the humans who only act on their desire for more money and power, will use technology to give back to the planet, the people who inhabit it, the living organisms we live side by side with. Hopefully, we can use our intelligence to get past the basic instincts which if we let them take over our minds to cause more destruction. If we are really as intelligent as we think we should all be able to grow into beings who can see past destructive mental habits, to accept them but not dwell on them, to not let them fester in the mind, which leads to actions driven by these bad habits. The human’s downfall is to think that they are the most intelligent living organisms on the planet. Smaller living organisms may not have the capacity to think but they can act based on their intelligence to mutate for survival. The conversation I’d like to touch on here is which living organism is the “smart” one then?
You are an accomplished shoe designer in your own right; have you or will you collaborate with vans in that capacity?
I hope so! Let’s see how this event goes and move forward from there.