TENEBRAE: NYC, 3AM (BURNT OFFERINGS) (2014)

Tenebrae: NYC, 3 AM (Burnt Offerings) (2014) from Jenny Olivia Johnson on Vimeo.

I was recently asked by Daniela Rivera, a fantastic visual artist and one of my colleagues at Wellesley College, to contribute a small sound art piece to a show she is curating at the Galeria Machina in Santiago, Chile, at the Universidad Catolica. The result is a piece made out of 25 piezoelectric transducers, 50 unblessed communion wafers, 10 LEDs, communion tray, tea light, wineglass, speaker cone, and pre-programmed microchips. It will be on exhibition beginning August 12, 2014; more details to come!

Meanwhile, a brief program note:

Tenebrae: NYC, 3AM (Burnt Offerings) is just that: an offering. It is an homage to the very late night during which I first heard Allegri’s “Miserere Mei, Deus,” while half asleep in the summer heat of my parents’ apartment in New York City. The intense and shiveringly high C sung by the boy soprano at the end of one of the revolving phrases sounds to me like an angelic scream, a desperate plea whose urgency is thinly disguised as music.

My burnt offerings here are piezoelectric unblessed communion wafers, transformed into glowing embers that can sing very high (almost supersonic) frequencies. From their communion tray, they are a tiny choir, ambulating around a series of detuned high-Cs. They are singing and screaming, desperate to communicate, desperate to remember. Their music is an afterglow.