Brewer’s Mansion presents an exhibition by Nick Lesley, Epic Doom.
Diffusion of responsibility is a social phenomenon that occurs in groups larger than a critical size. Unless accountability is explicitly assigned, each member’s sense of personal responsibility for group welfare sharply declines as the group reaches a size of approximately 150 members. This phenomenon is a common reaction to our society’s many environmental crises, resulting in anxiety or apathy. However, because social structures are complex systems, societal ills are necessarily emergences: They arise out of the small (seemingly negligible) actions and interactions of individuals.
Epic Doom is both a comment on and an illustration of societal ills as emergent phenomena. It is a generative sound- and video-installation that processes the physical actions of visitors and passersby (using an emergent generative algorithm) and re-presents those actions in real time. Through this process, it provides an illustration of human agency and implicates the individual as a harbinger of evil ..even as “no one raindrop thinks it caused the flood”.
Epic Doom utilizes the familiar and extreme black-metal aesthetic to allude to modern society’s shared sense of panic. Live-captured video and audio is processed, slowed down, and layered to create an overly-dramatized, lurching sense of danger. Because the processing algorithm is analogous to the complex processes that generate (for example) climate change from individual habits, viewer-interaction with the system offers only delayed gratification. As a result, it is not immediately apparent that the projected-video and amplified sound are both products of the viewer’s own actions. As the viewer learns the source of the video content, they will be faced with the truth that the epic doom they see before them is, in fact, a reflection of themselves.
12/3/10 – GUNUNG SARI & DINUGUAN perform inside EPIC DOOM
12/10/10 – DUBKNOWDUB & HUBBLE perform inside EPIC DOOM. CLOSING PARTY!!!
Nick Lesley (b. 1979) is a video artist and musician. Much of his work focuses on physical relationships to sound and art experience. Lesley has created interactive video and audio structures for performance as well as multimedia installations using Max/MSP/Jitter. He regularly performs improvised music, and has composed music for dance and film. His video works for single and multi-channel video have been exhibited around the U.S.
Lesley completed his MFA in Performance and Interactive Media Arts from Brooklyn College in 2008. He holds a BA from the University of California, San Diego (2001) in Film and Video, Media Arts with a minor in Music Technology. Lesley currently works at Electronic Arts Intermix in New York.
Through his video and sound works, Nick is exploring how the idea of play changes as we get older. He regards spectator sports as improvisational interaction, in light of (for example) John Cage’s systems for musical improvisation. He is most interested in activities and events that, while they may end, do not provide closure, as they reframe our interactions with the world around us. Recent works focus on subtly unsettling interactive sound- and video- installations intended to intimidate the viewers with their own presence. For video installations and performances, Nick uses Max/MSP/Jitter to create engulfing environments that are highly responsive to the viewers’ and performers’ actions.
As a musician, Lesley primarily plays improvised drums and interactive electronics (analog or laptop using Max/MSP). His drumming style is in the realm of “free-improvisation” but infused with the hardcore punk he grew up with in San Diego in the early 90’s. On any instrument, he focuses on allowing space for collaboration, and creating energy and drama in an improvised performance.
Nick Lesley is the founder of the improvised noise-rock group Necking, which has been performing since 2004. He is co-founder of Gunung Sari, a noise group inspired by traditional folk musics (particularly Indonesian gamelan music) which employs home-made electronics and percussion. Recently, he has also been performing in the improv-rock group Alien Whale with Colin Langenus (of USA is a Monster) and Matt Mottel (of Talibam). Nick also plays drums in Prsms, a punk band inspired by the west coast hardcore of the band members’ youth.