YOU TO UNITY
You to Unity Sharmi Basu
Performers / Cuties / Kittens
Joshua Marshall Saxophone
Christina Stanley Violin
Crystal Pascucci Cello
Stephan Haluska Harp
Tara Sreekrishnan Piano
Jon Myers Percussion
Oscar Tidd Interactive Dance
Sophia Colmenerez Dance
Kim Ip Dance
Heather Stockton Dance
Laura Thatcher Dance
Miss Ian Dance
Sophia Kim Make-up & Costuming
Sharmi Basu Electronics, Kinect, Voice
Text by Laura Martin and Sharmi Basu
Taurin Barrera & Jesse Austin Sound Tech
Stephen Parris Stage Tech
Georg Hilmarsson Lighting
This piece is an abstract expression of my experiences as a dark-skinned woman of color in experimental music; it is my analysis of systemic oppression, my resigned acceptance of what is, and idealized hope for something else. My body, my historical trauma, and my experiences in that body, inform all of my interactions and access to resources and support in work and in performance. It is important context for the piece.
In its structure, this piece is an experiment in abstraction and material reality; it represents my confusion around academic art forms and my rejection of being explicit and overt with political sentiment. Can non-lyrical music explain our struggles? Is it possible to convey a story without an actor? What does it mean to make work within this atmosphere? Musically, this piece is not explicit and is intended to be my expression of my feelings and my story; I have no control over the subjective translation, but obviously I hope my feelings can be conveyed. This work attempts to convey the conditions of struggle in section one, the personal processes and internal examination of self within struggle in section two, and finally, the necessity of community and resilience of the self to overcome suffering via systemic oppression in section three.
You to Unity, is a story of the rise and demise of power in which the conspiratorial systems that be are broken down once a new mode of consciousness is introduced. It is influenced by my struggle and my interest in mysticism, and is realized through sonic symbolism, dance, and text. My thoughts on race, gender, time, presence, dharma, tarot, and astrology are only manifested through sound and movement.
“We lit a candle for the pain in our stomach”
Movement 1, The Sun – Birth, represents the birth of society, culture, capitalism, patriarchy, and white supremacy. I call it the Sun because of its historical symbolism, the star that allows us to exist and be born, and also the god-like figure that watches over our suffering and oppression. The electronics intend to walk us through the birthing process, the chaos of capitalism and the working day, and the resignation of its workers. It is materialized by the acoustic instruments, which represent the historical reverence of symphonic orchestration as well as the human’s necessity to see material movement in order to validate an objective existence.
Instrumentation: Fixed electronics piece and loosely guided improvisation through graphic score for Violin, Cello, Saxophone, Harp, Piano, and Percussion.
“Even though it was not our fault, we were the ones who were constantly imposing our pain and its consequences upon others. Because things staying as they are (which is what most people wanted) was a good thing for those who had hurt us, and therefore things changing (which was not what most people wanted) could only be accomplished by our impositions.” Laura Martin
Movement 2, The Moon – Death represents the waking of vulnerability within the individual and then collective consciousness. After the rise and fall of the powers that be, a new type of creature emerges from the ocean. The moon is linked to the sign of Cancer, to water, emotion, intuition, hysteria, dreams and inner truth. In this movement, we have chosen to represent vulnerability. As vulnerability emerges within the individual, a violent reconfiguration of body emerges, allowing for a new way of holding suffering and fostering love. Material value, the body, time, race and gender all lose relevance and are immediately more relevant in that the self valorizes it. The vulnerable individual, once they have explored this new way of moving through the world, sleeps to be awakened by the community.
Instrumentation: Electronics using Max/MSP, gestural recognition using the Kinect and Jittr, dance
“We drowned ourselves in conjunction with Wicca and the Sun. I became we, you to unity. A pupil coagulated, superimposing the quoted reality. ‘Imploding into the universe,’ they said, in a limp, gritty, palm. In a pool, a lump cascades into moving bodies, never stagnant, always still. We ask for freedom, because we never had it; liberation, because for a moment, it was there.”
Movement 3, Judgment – Rebirth begins with the awakening of our vulnerable individual, and expands their existence through movement within a community. It seeks to reconstruct the individual as a new being that is especially relevant when in collective form. Each player has an individual part, but must come to being with each other, and with love. Musically, the movement represents a wash of understanding, acceptance, presence and movement. It is meant to call for a feeling of ease, while still understanding and holding any disease that arises.
Instrumentation: Fixed electronics piece and dance