An explanation of what SHARE is

Since Daniel Smith called it excellent, I thought I’d post this explanation of SHARE that I sent to a Houston Press journalist last night, just in case any y’all are confused. (Notice the “y’all”? I never used to say that when I lived in Texas — I made a point of it. I’m a bit less uptight than I was in high school. A bit.)

SHARE hosts open jams for audio and visual artists. Anyone can come and participate. We provide the infrastructure: multichannel audio mixing and amplification, video projectors and screens, and the expertise to help first-timers learn the basics of audio and visual performance. Share is completely content-agnostic: you can play anything you want on any instrument you can carry in. No structure is imposed on the jam by the Share team. Rather, we encourage structure to emerge from the participants in the jam. Although our audio infrastructure is designed to allow electronic musicians play together, people bring many different kinds of instruments, from traditional/acoustic to electronic to homemade to far-out. No one conducts or actively mixes the sound so the performers communicate the old-fashioned way: by listening to each other and following the flow of the improvisation. Some people prepare extensively, laying down tracks at home to try them out in the mix at Share. Others do almost no pre-recording or pre-structuring apart from practice — like jazz musicians.

I’ve seen Share participants make sound with violins, cellos, laptops, guitars, double basses, lutes, Gameboys, hand drums, kit drums, contact microphones affixed to plastic waterfalls, homemade noiseboxes, analog synthesizers, microphones, circuit-bent toys, keyboards, beatbox, voice, and something in a bright green custom fiberglass body called the Green Bean*. Likewise, the video participants use laptops, cameras, movie clips, film, slide projectors, flashlights, lightboxes, custom screens, DVD players, paper dioramas and more. Then there’s the really far out stuff: motion and light sensors worn by dancers, communicating their movements to audio and visual performers who use the sensor data to affect the sound and light. The distinction between media gets blurred. The separation between performer and audience breaks down and changes.

That’s not the half of it, of course.

* Made by Randy Jones. Really nice guy. Very helpful on the Max/MSP/Jitter mailing lists.

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