OPENING PERFORMANCE: Pilot:Drone: Committee:Target

  • Experimental Sound Studio 5925 North Ravenswood Avenue Chicago, IL, 60660 United States
Michael Zerang performs with Queequeg's Coffin at ESS's 30th Anniversary Gala at Constellation, July 2, 2016 (Photo by Jason P. Holmes)

Michael Zerang performs with Queequeg's Coffin at ESS's 30th Anniversary Gala at Constellation, July 2, 2016 (Photo by Jason P. Holmes)

Musician MICHAEL ZERANG performs in duo with The Androne at 7pm.

Zerang will play Queequeg’s Coffin, a droning stringed instrument that he conceptualized for Blair Thomas and Co.’s theatrical version of Moby Dick in early 2016, that was designed and fabricated by Erik Newman. The instrument has the scale length of a full sized cello, with four strings that are vibrated by a circular, wooden wheel—the same mechanism that sounds a hurdy gurdy.

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ANDREW BARCO / MT COAST

PILOT:DRONE:COMMITTEE:TARGET

CURATED BY ESS STAFF

On July 1, 2016, in a gesture at transparency, the Obama administration released a dubious report on its use of drone strikes in areas outside of active conflict (meaning areas not in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria) between January 20, 2009 and December 31, 2015: 473 strikes that resulted in the deaths of 2372-2581 combatants, and 64-116 non-combatants. If one is to believe these figures, one might interpret the death ratio as a testament to the precision of the unmanned drone as an instrument of the war on terror. However, statisticians and independent media report that the numbers in this report represent only a fraction of the actual death toll exacted.

The silhouette of the predator drone has become a signifier of distrust in the government, of secrecy, of innovation and profit in the industries of destruction, and of the inhuman distance between destroyer and destroyed that is predominant in modern warfare. Enter The Androne—a semi-functional hurdy gurdy sculpted in the familiar form of a predator drone— the creation of artist ANDREW BARCO. (A hurdy gurdy is a drone instrument played by turning a crank to cause a rosined wheel to turn and vibrate an array of strings.) The Androne is a darkly humorous chimaera; the result of the unnatural fusion of an instrument of war with an instrument of music turns out to be an imperfect object that fully succeeds at neither function.

In composer MT COAST's companion audio piece, synthesized drones play against more chaotic sound, explosions sound near and far, and we hear the testimonies of the operators and victims of drone warfare. These sounds give way to periods of ecstatic, placid drone undisturbed by the sounds of war.

Pilot:Drone:Committee:Target serves as a meditation on the fleeting nature of hope during uncertain, inhumane times.

—Dan Mohr