The Waiting is a Jersey City-based audio/visual collaboration between sound artist Gocha Tsinadze of Droneclone and video artist Eto S. Otitigbe. I recently caught up with Gocha to discuss The Waiting’s upcoming performance at 58 Gallery on Thursday, Aug. 5, from 7 to 11 p.m.
The Waiting will perform two 25-minute sets at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. in support of the Glossolalia: Intersecting Language & Technology, an exhibition organized by Amanda Thackray. An after-hours DJ set by Gocha will directly follow the second set.
The exhibition, Glossolalia: Intersecting Language & Technology, features the work of Barbara Leoff Burge, Hector Canonge, Adam Rokhsar, Amanda Thackray, and Stephanie Gokhman.
Tell me about yourself-who are you and what do you do?
I am a sound based performance artist. I also paint and sculpt. I came to this country from the republic of Georgia at the age of 11 in 1991 directly after the fall of the USSR. That’s when Georgia regained its democratic autonomy.
Did your family move directly to Jersey City after the fall of the USSR? If so, why did they choose Jersey City?
No, we moved to Bloomfield, NJ. That is where our sponsors/relatives found us a place to stay. We lived in a two-bedroom apartment with my grandparents, brother and parents. It was great. I remember seeing giant grapes, 2 liter coca cola and squirrels for the first time in my life.
You describe yourself as a sound artist. I have an unrefined audio palette. I like music dumb, loud, and fast. With this in mind, please describe what your music sounds like.
I work with a variety of sound sources: field recordings, live sampling from records and modified instruments like guitar. The music tends to be minimal, ambient at times. I am interested in sonic textures that explore a different kind of contrapuntal texture. I love dub and electronic music also and the work evolved out of being a dj and a musician. My brother is a jazz trained guitar player. His playing and going to shows with him as well as artists like John Cage, Godspeed You Black Emperor and Autechre had an influence on my composing. I just always moved into more experimental territory because it appealed to me psychologically and cerebrally.
What are field recordings?
Anything that I hear going on and I decide to capture “in the field” outside the studio could be called a field recording. The sounds of the natural environment convey an element of documentation approach to composition. I like to find things in the environment that have an appeal like train track hum or birdsongs.
I am an artist. The way you describe your music reminds me of collage-collecting a range of material from a variety of sources to make a unified piece. Am I off base in this presumption? Who are some of your favorite visual artists?
In a sense it is a collage. The difference is that we approach a time-based medium in a different way. The sounds and imagery come in and out of the background to foreground. Things become pronounced and they dissipate. It’s a kind of non-pop aesthetic. Because there is bit of ambiguity to the shapes and textures.
Some of my favorite visual artists are Keith Haring, Torben Ghieler, Doze Green, Steve Dibennideto, Cy Twombly, Phillip Guston, Vito Acconci, Luke Dubois, Richard Serra to name a few. I have a painter side to me, I love wet on wet painting, process based painting. But I also love street art.
Tell me about your projects Droneclone and The Waiting.
Droneclone is a name that I have used for about 6 years now for my solo work. The Waiting is a collaboration between Droneclone and Eto S. Otitigbe, a video artist. We construct a live audiovisual performance using the moving image, responsive processing and sound. I man the audio and Eto is on the visuals. It’s often a process of responding to one another in real time to create a live audiovisual experience for the viewers.
It’s exciting to work with another person. It can be challenging, though. How did you meet Eto?
Eto used to run a gallery in Jersey City called Esoro Polymedia Space on Brunswick St. near 2nd St. He and I were friends first. I performed at the gallery once and Eto sat in. After that we started to show together and perform. The group has been together for about a year. I am really into the work we do. It’s more than just two parts of a whole. Somehow we feed off of one another.
What can you tackle in Droneclone that you cannot tackle in The Waiting-and vice versus?
The Waiting is an extension on the work I’ve been doing as Droneclone. Having a video component and a kind of theatrical/cinematic aspect to the work takes it to a different plateau. We also incorporate new computer-based technologies in the responsive aspect of the performance. The audio and video signals are routed into one another and are programmed to manipulate each other based on the programming we do prior to the performance. We use Max/MSP and Jitter as well as Isadora. These are some of the programming environments that really allow the work to be modular in ways outside my direct control during the performance.
I listened to an audio excerpt from your performance in Bushwick that was posted to myspace. The music reminded me of the movie “Throne of Blood” by Akira Kurosawa. I had images of marauding samurai sweeping across the windswept plains in feudal Japan. For the Bushwick gig, what was the source-or sources, of inspiration? Also, what portion-if any-of the performance was ad-libbed and what was rehearsed?
That’s a great association to the soundtrack. I love that actually. I am a Kurosawa fan and a fan of film in general. I pay close attention to soundtracks and sound in film in general. Sound sets the mood for the visuals. The work is part scoring for film because Eto’s video works are very cinematic and slow moving. He and I both layer a lot of material to construct our visions. The inspiration comes out of the moment of creation. The magic happens when we get together.
We don’t exactly rehearse. We get together and talk about ideas, politics, history and try to have a feeling that the session will gravitate toward. The sounds, similarly to the video, are sampled and compiled prior to the show and we symbiotically construct our vision out of these textures, layers. I work live using this software called Ableton and Max/MSP also I use a turntable and prepared guitar to create the set as it goes on.
If you could rescore one movie, what movie would it be, and why? How would your score be an improvement upon the original?
I think it’s more interesting to do a live score like Ornette Coleman used to do a free jazz accompaniment or Mark Ribot or Brent Green. I see this as a more dynamic relationship between film and soundtrack. I guess if I had to choose a film it would be Blade Runner. I love the soundtrack, Vangelis is a huge influence, I would be humbled to try and take it in a different direction. I love the imagery in that film; it’s this bleak, rainy and dark smoke filled city, huge monoliths, artificial light and life.
The Waiting is performing during the opening reception of the exhibition Glossolalia: Intersecting Language & Technology at 58 Gallery. How did you become involved in this exhibition?
Orlando Reyes (Man behind the scenes of 58 gallery) kept asking me to do something at the space. I live two blocks away and we have been friends for sometime. Amanda Thackray (the curator) and I have had me in a show she curated two years ago at Lex Leonard Gallery so we have a past. We are also close friends, having studied at Mason Gross/Rutgers University together. The 58 Gallery is a great space and Amanda’s curatorial practice is always critically and creatively challenging. I had to do it.
Glossolalia means to speak in tongues. The New Testament is filled with episodes of people voicing ecstatic utterances during bouts of religious fervor. My question to you: can the citizens of Jersey City expect the Pentecost during your performance at 58 Gallery, and how will we know what the Holy Spirit is saying?
Ha Ha Ha!! Dude you are serious. We will summon the Demons out of you. Come expecting a mass exorcism! But I think this work comes out of my interest in Zen Buddhism also. So the atmosphere is of a kind of meditation. The work is about memory and presence. The imagery and sounds act as a kind of fog or hum. I would love the viewers to try and let go of their attachments and get on the journey with us.
I think good art is kind of magnetic. It either attracts or repels. There’s a kind of invisible force there. I try to channel that energy in my work.
Let’s focus on Jersey City. How long have you lived here? What is your favorite diner? Who has the best jukebox, and where can you find a decent cup of coffee?
I have lived in Jersey City for about 5 years now. This is a great community. We have 4th street and Art House, 58 Gallery, The Distillery and a strong artist community. A lot of artists just kind of keep to their work and show outside of JC and I think there is a lot of really talented people we don’t see at the galleries here but they do exist. I am also friends with people like Thomas Carlson, Amanda Thackray, Orlando Reyes and Doze Green who have been active locally and internationally.
Forget the jukebox, support dj’s and live music. White Star’s vinyl solutions on Saturdays is great all vinyl. You may even catch me doing a set here or there. As for coffee, well I drink tea or juice. Coffee makes me depressed. I like Nature’s House on Newark Avenue and Barrow Street. My favorite restaurants are Madame Claude’s and Nha Trang Palace on Newark and 2nd Street.
If Madame Claude challenged Nha Trang Palace in a pillow fight, whom would you root for, and why?
I root for the underdog usually. In this case it would be Madame Claude’s I guess. I know the people that work there and they are musicians. It would be ill advised for them to do this since they could easily stub a finger.
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