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Jazz And Animation Collaboration

Equipped with the latest in animation, and a large jazz ensemble, students at Parsons the New School for Design and The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music will take the stage at The New School's Theresa Lang Community and Student Center on May 4 to present "visual music works," where music and animation come together in new and compelling ways.

The event marks the culmination of the university's first studio course in Jazz and Animation, in which students created original work through an unusually high level of collaboration.

"From Wassily Kandinsky to Oskar Fischinger, artists have long been exploring the relationship between image and sound," said Parsons faculty member Ernesto Klar, a media and sound artist whose work was just featured at the PULSE Contemporary Art Fair in New York. "Today's technology brings the work of visual artists and musicians to a whole new level, and over the past several months our students have experimented with a variety of analog and digital technologies to create innovative audio-visual works."

In the course, Parsons Animation and New School Jazz composition students worked in teams where they took on the roles of composers, writers, directors, production managers, animators, videographers, concept artists, character designers, set designers, and technical directors to complete original works of visual music.

In preparation for this highly collaborative process, the student composers participated in a composition course taught by Klar in the fall and spring where they were trained to think critically about sound-image relationships, and encouraged to conceive musical composition beyond its conventional accompaniment role.

The Jazz and Animation studio is co-taught by Parsons faculty member Ben Katchor. An award winning and widely published illustrator, Katchor recently wrote, animated, and directed the highly acclaimed production of THE SLUG BEARERS OF KAYROL ISLAND, a collaboration with musician Mark Mulcahy.

Among the works to be presented on May 4 are an animated ecosystem that changes and grows in response to the musical score; a piece that brings to life children's dreams with the music moving the animation from the conscious to unconscious state; and another that transforms the live musicians into on-screen avatars, who act out virtual stories through the music performed live onstage.

"Professional musicians and composers are becoming more and more interested in controlling the visual aspects of their live performances," said Martin Mueller, Executive Director of New School Jazz. "This experience will give them an edge as they enter a world post-graduation that is increasingly designed and defined by an ever decreasing divide between visual art and music."

The course harkens back to founding decades of The New School, when it was a major center of modernist visual and performing arts. Artists such as Martha Graham and John Cage resided at the school and worked together in egalitarian, collaborative ways, challenging traditional divisions between the arts. This reflects the direction of the school today, as it strives to weave together arts disciplines.

The performance will be at 4 p.m. May 4 at the Theresa Lang Community and Student Center at 55 W. 13th Street, New York New York, USA.

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