MIXER: Brother Islands (Places to Lose People)November 7, 2007 At Eyebeam
Eyebeam launches an exciting new quarterly series with a special one-night-only performance of Brother Islands (Places to Lose People), an “expanded documentary” about quarantine and its machinery, as seen through the sights and sounds of two East River islands.
The night’s performances inaugurate MIXER, Eyebeam’s new series dedicated to showcasing leading performing artists in the fields of live video and audio. In addition to live performance by video artists, musicians, VJs and DJs, each MIXER event presents new interactive work by Eyebeam artists that encourages audience participation and creative play. Hybrid in format, and Eyebeam in spirit – collaborative, spontaneous and a little off-the-wall – MIXER electrifies Eyebeam’s Chelsea warehouse for a Saturday night quite unlike any other.
Each MIXER is organized around a theme; the inaugural Eyebeam MIXER event tackles the theme of “place.” The participating performers explore location in relationship to history, memory, and representation within a format that could be described as “expanded documentary”. Incorporating audio and video field recordings with live digital manipulation, the performers utilize technological tools as both a recorder and processor of information.
Half a century since its abandonment, North Brother Island, a forgotten corner of the South Bronx, fades from New York City’s map as its bleak buildings succumb to nature. Ward’s Island, in neighboring Manhattan, houses New York’s homeless and mentally ill in a dozen immense buildings clustered under the Triborough Bridge.
Brother Islands combines theatre, audio, video and stereoscopic photography to paint a haunting picture of these ill-fated places.
The performance is followed by a live audiovisual set with music by The Jesse Stiles 3000 and video by Vade and Bill Etra, one of the developers of the Rutt/Etra video synthesizer in the early 1970s, whose unique visual effects remain popular to this day.
Co-directed by Eyebeam’s 2007 Education Lab Fellow Benton-C Bainbridge and designer Minou Maguna, Brother Islands incorporates the photography of Matthew Schlanger, music of Ross Goldstein and performance of Ryder Cooley and Dan Winckler, who play ghosts from the island’s past.
The use of Ward’s Island’s as a resting ground for the marginalized traces back through the turn of the century, when it contained the world’s largest psychiatric hospital. As the location of one of the world’s highest capacity sewage treatment centers, the island remains a terminal for the city’s refuse.
North Brother Island’s history is similarly bleak. Notorious as a harsh quarantine and locus of misfortunate legends like Typhoid Mary and the General Slocum ferry disaster, after decades of failed schemes to repurpose the land have gone fruitless, North Brother has literally gone to the birds. Off-limit to visitors, the island is now a vital resting place for herons, egrets and other migrants.
In November 2006 Bainbridge and Schlanger gained special permission to join a team from the NYC Parks Department team to travel to and photograph North Brother, which led to the creation of Brother Islands.
Brother Islands begins at 8pm, followed by The Jesse Stiles 3000, Vade and Bill Etra performing from 9-10pm. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased in advance. Seating is limited.
MIXER is curated and produced by Paul Amitai, Eyebeam program manager.