Thursday, November 02, 2006

As it was, when it was: The new album on Pinoy underground 80s and the great rock ‘n roll swindle

...or in other words: the liner notes that never made it to the album.

80s pop culture was an enigma. Thick shoulder pads were the order of the day, while Aga Muhlach strutted his way to poseurdom. Yet, despite, the (un)forgettable state of Pinoy-pop culture at that time, another kind of scene was seething on the fringes.

There was a place at 18 Anonas St. Project 2 called A2Z records (relocated from Kamias). It was a record bar and at that time, had everything that wasn’t available elsewhere (at least in 80s Manila)– New Order, Joy Division, The Smiths, The Cure, Dead Kennedys, Psychic TV, The Jam, Stiff Little Fingers, The Damned were some of the music artists on the A2Z vinyl record rack. It was the coolest joint to hang out in.

And hang out we did, from local punk Dominic 'Domeng' Gamboa (Betrayed) and pre-Blues Binky Lampano (Dean's December); spending late afternoons individually discussing the meaning – or the lack of it – of life. Dina, the soul behind the A2Z desk, with the help of Sonia (later the soundbuzz.com lady) tried to maintain order and make sure the Recto punks wouldn’t steal the latest British copy of Punk and Disorderly.

The scene at A2Z at that time was straight out of that John Cusack starrer, High Fidelity – complete with blasting music, non-stop babble about the obscurest music trivia, as well as the bragging and sniping. The place, owned by my editor at Jingle Chordbook Magazine, Ces Rodriguez and her beau Leslie David, was a sanctuary for music of every kind because they did have Miles Davis and The Modern Jazz Quartet and Johnny Cash and The Band and George Gershwin and early Stones on their racks. So I hung, deeming that I had the right as a music journalist and record everything that needed to be heard, and partake of Leslie's cooking. That was a sign I was “in,” to have access to the basement kitchen and sleeping quarters.

And belong I did. On mornings, in the mid-80s, I worked as an early-day custodian for the bar, accepting a daily wage below the minimum. But that didn't matter. As long as I could record or get a copy of those fresh new-music records that Toti Dalmacion (yes, same dude at Groove Nation) lent to the store directly from Hong Kong or LA. It was music heaven. To have the first a copy of Psychocandy and Brotherhood – those were high points.

Chill out chong out


But new wave was the order of the day. While the entire country drowned in the music of Duran Duran and Culture Club, people at A2Z were listening to The Fall and Tones on Tail and The Specials and Bad Manners. Ces and company would later have successful new wave shindigs in small local bars in Malate where the likes of DJ Par Sallan (aka. Par Satellite), also a Pinoy punk scene staple, would spin some of the best if not the latest from British underground. The creative team would go on to buy airtime for their own radio show called “Capital Radio” so they could play what they wanted on DWXB 102, an underdog FM radio station, which by its sheer cult-status spawned many enterprises including a portion of the T-shirt industry along Recto Ave.

Bands such as XTC, Bauhaus, The Cure and Japan were first and only heard on XB, while Capital Radio scraped deeper with the Jesus and Mary Chain, Buzzcocks, Generation X, U.K. Subs, Circle Jerks, the Ska bands from Coventry and yes, even Motown. Local earcandy proponents Dean's December, Violent Playground, Identity Crisis, and Ethnic Faces also found a comfortable home in the government sequestered 10,000-watt radio station.

The term “chong” – to distinguish the new wavers from the punk rockers – originated from the jocks that spun for the A2Z team. Stubborn teens that couldn’t get into the music of Paul Weller or Joe Strummer would approach the music booth and irritatingly ask, “Chong, chong, 'State of the Nation' naman." The name stuck forever.

In an article by Didits Gonzales


Rock journalist and photographer Didits Gonzales made the better distinction on punks and chongs in a column called “The Low Life” for A2Z’s in-house newsletter and fanzine called The Shop (c.1987). "Chongs and mobile discos go together. You'll find them in trendiest discos, privately organized parties, 102 soirées, and Identity Crisis concerts. Chongs go to school and eventually take over the family's handicraft business. Punks avoid school like the plague, and if they don't end up dead, they end up scrubbing decks on merchant marine ships plying the Persia Gulf. You can have a decent if somewhat shallow conversation with a chong. You can have a slurring match with a punk but remember to duck when you see the first sign of a puke-a-thon. Chongs have cars, punks have no money. Enterprising punks have car spare parts. And when chongs and punks meet…they ignore each other." Well, that sums it up.

Punks not dead! Or so they thought


But another scene began thrusting its way out of the underbelly of popular culture. More than 10 years before the Eraserheads, and only a couple of years after Sid Vicious crossed the line between punk and stupidity, Pinoy rock was slashed in the face by an underground music scene that would leave a haunting scar.

Tommy Tanchanco and his Twisted Red Cross (TRC) cohorts led the way in the early ‘80s and introduced some of the best if not the brightest stars in Pinoy underground music. TRC was bred from punk. The music was harsh, hard, and in your face.

Bands such as Betrayed, I.O.V., G.I. and the Idiots, including two of my personal favorites, Urban Bandits and The Wuds, all in their combat boots punk regalia, were just among the few who carried the battle flag that would push Pinoy punkdom its demonizing identity. Like its origins in decadent 70s England, Pinoy punk created tribes stretching from the gutters of Malibay in Pasay to the sidestreets of Recto, disturbing even the once rural life of Malabon.

Pinoy punk threw their guttersnipe punches in Brave New World concerts at PhilCite, an ihaw-ihaw shelter in Malate called Katrina's, or at rundown corner gymnasiums, far from a police precinct. Chicoy Pura's The Jerks, who at one time played regularly at On Disco in Roxas Boulevard, became club favorites for performing upcoming classic punk tunes from London to New York. Indie filmmaker Patrick Puruganan would immortalize the Pinoy-punk scene with his short flick Generation Lost, making reluctant underground stars out of Noel F.Lim and Dominic Gamboa. And l
et's not forget, Dante "Howlin' Dave" David, RJAM rock jock meister who punked his way out of boredom called Martial Law.

Under the TRC label, Pinoy-punk would thrash their wares on the compilation cassette albums Rescue Ladders and Human Barricades and Katrina's Live – Tama na Away!, just to name a couple. Tommy documented everything in his very own punkzine Herald X under the editorial guidance of Edwin Sallan and the late great Dodong Viray.


Yet, however pure it was, the immaculately dark conception of punk just had to end. When the hype started to creep in, it was already a sign that the spiked hair and the bondage pants trend had become no more than a fad. The chongs ended up mixing with the punks and vice-versa, and suddenly, they melted into a single fashion statement. Blame it on MTV. Blame it on Aga Muhlach. And blame it much on Ray 'PJ' Abellana and Leni Santos, who starred in a 'That's Entertainment' variety show-type teen-trash musical movie called , whatelse, The Punks. The entire cast of Generation Lost deteriorated to the reality of being a lost generation. Along with the safety pins and Meralco safety boots, the music got lost too.

The Maya sings


So, what does a general overview of the 80s local underground music scene have to do with Rivermaya? A lot.

If the underground 80s showed us that Pinoy rock reigns beyond pop culture, the alternative 90s, on the other hand, gave rise to a new breed of Pinoy music pinned to the heart of Pinoy pop. Many of the bands bred in the late ‘80s from an underground rock bar in Timog Ave. called Red Rocks (later Club Dredd) and university belt favorite Mayric's produced some of the best Pinoy-rock bands this country had ever seen.

Although Rivermaya could not pinpoint their own origins in those places, the band has proven itself a tenacious wunderkind, churning out hits at the rate bands today come and go while maintaining an omnipresent “alternative” vibe that distinguished it from those slicked to commercial perfection by the mainstream music industry.

Except that Rivermaya was equally slick and commercial. I hated them. I hated how their manager was the Lizza Nakpil and how well she did her job pimping the band to the people, places, events Dreddheads and their ilk would never ever dream of being associated with.

So Rivermaya looked alt, smelled alt, their songs sounding kinda alt, but I felt that wala pa rin silang karapatan. Their creds shot by a…marketing plan.

In the '90s, Rivermaya was not only the new-kid-on-the-block; they were, in the elitist underground I prowled, the only-kids-outside-the-block. For example: while many, if not all of the Pinoy bands played for beer money at the piss-smelling Club Dredd Edsa, Rivermaya gigged at an Italian-cuisine restaurant at the Atrium in Makati on weekends (same place where Razorback and Wolfgang got their kicks).

The band wooed the crowd from International School. They were safe and fashionable for Makati’s teenage elite and quickly landed a record deal maybe not by sheer talent alone, but – according to rumors that were going around at that time - by the industry connections of its movie director manager (Chito Roño) and his socialite PR partner. (Nakpil vehemently denied this unfair assertion.)

They were cuties too who Chito Miranda of Parokya ni Edgar and Ely Buendia of the Eraserheads – certified Dreddizens – couldn’t hold a candle to. I mean, let’s be honest here – Rico Blanco’s Ube-colored hairdo and Mark Escueta’s collegiala-killer looks? They just haven’t paid their dues, yet.

Worse, the band suffered the stigmata of being a manufactured band, as many in the alternative music scene back then originally believed – gotten together by Roño and Nakpil on the basis of specs. Of course, I conveniently forgot that the Sex Pistols were manufactured too, even if they later leaped across Malcolm McLaren’s svengali fantasies and took a life of their own.

But the specs were spot on. The band had chops, looks, talent (I myself, unashamedly have 214 in my iPod). In 2000, Rivermaya even made mini music history by being one of the first mainstream acts to eschew normal distribution channels and market their album online. Their schtick: Free, the aptly named CD, was a gift to fans. It also marked the first time Rico Blanco emerged as frontman.

Why do Rivermaya continue to remain equally strong and high-profile? Well, Rico Blanco, feyly good-looking, knew how to write three-minute pop gems – emo but affecting, hummable but inspired.


Kayong nag-tataka, nag-tataka...

So, for Rivermaya to cover what is probably one of the best songs to come out of Pinoy punkdom, by a band who probably receive teenage panties and bras for Christmas from their girl fans, is courting danger. The Wuds' “Inosente Lang ang Nagtataka,” as with the Urban Bandits' “No Future sa Pader,” is a classic example what 80s underground music really was - fast, hard and painfully true. (Personally, I would have chosen The Wuds’ “Nakalimutan ang Diyos" for this album. But that would have been truly ironic.)

In fact, with this new album Isang Ugat, Isang Dugo, Rivermaya is on dangerous ground. If it were an extreme sport, they’d probably be jumping from a high rise to their deaths without a chute. Nonetheless, it takes courage and real gall for a band to do something like this, as they mined from a time that many people would not even care about today. And from the cream of the underground who didn’t give a rat’s ass about them from the get go.

When the compilation album 10 of Another Kind came out in the latter part of the ‘80s, it sank without a trace. However, it contained legendary names that completely defined what Pinoy rock music should have been if they actually made it at all. If you don't know how Dean's December, Silos, Violent Playground and Ethnic Faces sounded like, then Rivermaya has just made the perfect album for you to listen to.

For members of Rivermaya, the influence of 10 of Another Kind is inseparable to their success today. The album is a salute to the music that made the band create better music. Music already stamped in the annals of Pinoy rock history.

If Rivermaya does better than the originals (but then again, as they say, nothing beats the original, right?) then, good. If not, the very effort itself is commendable. No one would have done it anyway, not at this time (but maybe this will start a new trend?).

The inclusion of other all-time favorites from The Jerks, The Wuds and even Joey Ayala is evidence of the band's eternal respect of the music that somehow helped shape the ‘80s underground music scene.

There are tributes and there are tributes. Actually, there are plenty of tributes going around nowadays. If there's a difference, you can easily spot one here – it's either music you never heard of from bands totally unknown to you, or music you've been longing to hear again.


-- Jing Garcia



Saturday, October 28, 2006

Music deconstruction through technology

(the article below first appeared in the July 31, 2006 issue of Tech Times, the infotech section of The Manila Times, where I am also its editor)


Experimental, avantgarde, soundart, noise. No matter how you label it, music deconstruction is definitely a part of modern art.

On July 22, the first compilation of such “music” materials from a cross section of Filipino musical artists was launched at Future Prospects, an art space located at the compound of the Marikina Shoe Expo in Cubao, Quezon City.“The S.A.B.A.W. [samahan ng mga baliw] Anthology is the result of existing materials collected from experimental musicians/sound artists who had been working in the Philippine underground (read: under-appreciated and under-funded) scene for the last 20 years,” according to underground soundart impresario and S.A.B.A.W. Anthology producer Tengal.

Although the arcade still has the usual shoe shops open at daytime, for some time now, the inner parts of the Marikina Shoe Expo compound is slowly transforming itself at night as a crash venue for Filipino artists, exhibiting their artwork, or simply hanging out with fellow bohemians in places like Future Prospects, Vintage POP, or even at Bellini’s, an Italian restaurant, which created a cult-status of sort for serving "terrific" pasta.

As for the S.A.B.A.W. event, an attentively curious crowd gathered to listen to what Tengal and his collection of music deconstructionists had to offer that rainy Saturday night. A number of these noise artists included in the album performed live, complete with their own electronic noisemakers.

“The project—conceived with the intention of not just publishing but also promoting innovations and experiments in music, is an attempt to fill a gap made real by the lack of critical appreciation and inaccessibility of soundart and experimental music for the past two decades,” said Tengal.

Local artists such as Arvie Bartolome, Ascaris, autoceremony, Blend:er, Blums Borres, The Children of Cathode Ray, Conscript, EAT TAE, Elemento, Foodshelter&Clothing, Inconnu ictu, Insomnia, Nasal Police, Pow Martinez, Tengal and Teresa Barrozo complete the roster of the excellent double-CD release. Most if not all of the artists mentioned used technology to create or deconstruct their brand of soundart—from computer hardware and its accompanying software, transistor radios and analog tapes, to kitchen blenders.

Music deconstruction

“Music deconstruction is not new,” according to Lirio Salvador of Elemento, one of the pioneers of industrial music and music deconstruction in the country. “It started with classical music; in the 20th century, artists such as John Zorn and John Cage [famous for his three-movement classical piece, ‘Silence’] made people to notice it,” he added.

Locally, Lirio made industrial music not only a feast for the ears but for the eyes as well. He creatively makes his own musical instruments from scrap metal, water pipes, and bicycle parts, to disposed electrical materials, to kitchenware — creating a visually engaging mesh-metal sculpture fit for an art museum rather than on a sound stage.

“It took almost 20 years [in the Philippines] for people to appreciate the existence of soundart, I won’t be surprised if it takes another 20 years before most of them actually understand it,” Salvador said.

Another pioneer of music deconstruction in the country, The Children of Cathode Ray, has been doing soundart since 1989. Group member Tad Ermitaño described their music as posted on the autoceremony blogsite (autoceremony.blogspot.com): “A Cathode Ray piece might have radios and 4-second cassette-tape loops feeding into a mix filled with drums and electronic percussion, effected guitars, synthesized pads and passionate raving in an invented language, which would in turn be augmented visually by video feedback, projections of exposed Super-8 abraded with a variety of kitchen implements, or VHS spliced on a pair of consumer VCRs.”

To paraphrase a familiar art adage: music is in the ear of the beholder.
-- Jing Garcia

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

S.A.B.A.W. Recordings

S.A.B.A.W. Album Launching

An anthology of Noise, Electronic, and Experimental Music 2006
22 July 2006 / Future Prospects / Cubao X
S.A.B.A.W. is a non-profit sound art collective
www.groups.yahoo.com/groups/sabaw

PRESS RELEASE

Date: 22 July 2006 / 21:00 (9pm)
Venue: Future Prospects / Shop 62-63, Marikina Shoe Expo. / Cubao,
Quezon City

Admission: FREE

URL: www.groups.yahoo.com/groups/sabaw

S.A.B.A.W. releases its first anthology album entitled:

S.A.B.A.W. An anthology of Noise, Electronic and Experimental Music 2006. The S.A.B.A.W. Anthology is the result of existing material collected from experimental musicians/sound artists who had been working in the Philippine underground (read: underappreciated and under-funded) scene for the last 20 years.

The project—conceived with the intention of not just publishing but also promoting innovations and experiments in music, is an attempt to fill a gap made real by the lack of critical appreciation and
inaccessibility of sound art and experimental music for the past two decades.

The artists here represent but a cross section of a much larger body of musicians and artists from all over the archipelago. (Taken from the album liner notes)

Featuring:

Arvie Bartolome
Ascaris
Autoceremony
Blend:er
Blums Borres
Children of Cathode Ray
Conscript
EAT TAE
Elemento
Foodshelter&Clothing
Inconnu ictu
Insomnia
Nasal Police
Pow Martinez
Tengal
Teresa Barrozo

The two-disc album also includes liner notes (including the bio of
each artist), and the artwork of artist Poklong Anading.

It will be sold for 150 pesos and is packed in a sealed jewel case.
This Saturday's event will have live performances by experimental
musicians/sound artists: Elemento, Inconnu ictu, Nasal Police (Pow
Martinez and Ria Muñoz), Arvie Bartolome, and Tengal.

In addition to the anthology, three other albums will be released this Saturday, Head Ego by Arvie Bartolome, Drones for the Bored by Tengal, and ZPE (Zero-point energy) by Elemento mastermind, Lirio Salvador.

HEAD EGO

Head Ego is a three-part album: Head Ego (Lost Tapes), Altego, and the scratch tracks.

Altego and the scratch tracks were created during the summer of 2006 and includes a remix track of "Only" by NIN. Head Ego (Lost Tapes)is collection of Arvie's most personal works that have been lost for almost seven years. The original tracks were deleted and only after seven years a tape was discovered.

Now remastered and reedited by Arvie himself, Head Ego is his first time release.

URL: http://www.myspace.com/arviebartolome

50 pesos each.

Packaged in a cardboard jacket.

DRONES FOR THE BORED

Drones for the Bored is the first album of Tengal's Sequential Boredom Series (SBS), a series of albums inspired by boredom.

From electronic soundscapes, dronology, to psycho-acoustic
"ear-dances", Drones for the bored features four massive tracks for solo synthesizer, prepared electric fan, mixer feedback and
reprocessed tape.

Spectacular acoustical effects take you to expansive worlds of dancing difference tones and psychedelic sonorities. Tengal has stirred boredom to come to life.

Limited to nine copies. Double-disc with almost two hours of music.
120 pesos each.

Packaged in a jewel case.

ZPE

If you are a science fiction fan, you might have heard of ZPE.

The concept of zero-point energy, and the hint of a possibility of
extracting "free energy" from the vacuum, has attracted the attention of amateur inventors.

Taking the zero-point energy theory from physics, Lirio has applied it to generating sound from steady electro-magnetic coils found in
house-hold appliances.

An album made up entirely of sound explorations of the insides of
house-hold appliances, Lirio Salvador is definitely the mad scientist of electronic sound art.

All the albums will be sold at the event.

For album orders and reservations, questions and feedback please contact:

Tengal 09206045559 or email tengald@gmail.com for more details.


Sunday, April 09, 2006

New-Media Artists Meet

The Ateneo Art Gallery, through gallery curator Richie Lerma and independent curator Fatima Lasay, hosted the visit to the Philippines, the selection committee for the Ogaki Biennale 2006, organized by the Center for Media Culture, IAMAS and Gifu Prefecture, Japan, on Friday, April 7, 2006 in Ateneo.

Present at the forum were committee members Gunalan Nadarajan, associate dean for research and graduate studies, College of Arts and Architecture of The Pennsylvannia State University, and Hiroshi Yoshioka, professor for media aesthetics, and director for center for media culture of the
Intitute of Advanced Media Arts and Sciences in Japan.

It was a rare occasion where Philippine-based multimedia artists gathered together for a day of style presentations as well as an intimate discussion on issues emanating from their own brand of art.

New-media artists such as Tupada International Action Art conveners Ronaldo Ruiz and Mannet Villariba, instalation artist Yason Banal, joined by video-artist Tad Ermitano, and soundartist Jing Garcia of The Children of Cathode Ray, were among the presenters at the event.

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Multimedia: evolution and transformation

In a square white room, 8 monitors, facing in, are arranged in a circle in front of a wall marked with pencil lines. The video commences on the first monitor with a hand holding a lead pencil drawing a horizontal line on a white surface from right to left and then on to the next monitor and so on, until it starts all over again on the first monitor. The manner is loosely systematic but the result is quite effective. The drawn lines overlap continuously until the dark lead almost fills the screens.

Excerpt from:
RealTimeArts- Multimedia: evolution and transformation
by Jing Garcia

Read the entire article at:
http://www.realtimearts.net/rt65/garcia.html (DEAD LINK)


Here's the new link:
http://www.realtimearts.net/article/issue65/7743

and here's the entire article:

Multimedia: evolution and transformation

Tad ErmitañoTad Ermitaño
In a square white room, 8 monitors, facing in, are arranged in a circle in front of a wall marked with pencil lines. The video commences on the first monitor with a hand holding a lead pencil drawing a horizontal line on a white surface from right to left and then on to the next monitor and so on, until it starts all over again on the first monitor. The manner is loosely systematic but the result is quite effective. The drawn lines overlap continuously until the dark lead almost fills the screens.

Conceptualised in 1999 by video artist Poklong Anading, Line Drawing is probably one of the best examples of Filipino multimedia art. Poklong started out as a painter in the mid-90s while studying Fine Arts at the University of the Philippines. Before the decade ended, Poklong discovered a medium that could carry his ideas and a new kind of approach through the convergence of what was commonly known as traditional art and the technology already prevailing at that time—video. Poklong explained, “My works based on video started way back in 1997 when one of our art teachers at the university began offering classes on video, and extensively experimented on the medium. We were still using Video-8 back then, and there was no such thing as editing; all we did was cut-to-cut.”

As video components and computer peripherals became more commonly available, Poklong rode with technology’s evolution. Today he knows his computer, shoots video and stills on digital and edits on Adobe Premiere. “The thing about video is that it’s immediate,” says Poklong. “And with digital technology everything seems to be easier to access and manipulate.” Despite the Philippines still being identified as a third world country, technology—particularly in the capital Manila—is almost on par with its more affluent Asian neighbors. Mobile phones are in the hands of almost 30 million Filipinos, IT infrastructure is visible all around and broadband connection is readily available. So, there is no excuse for a Filipino artist to avoid the onslaught of technology and handle modern video and audio electronics.

In Walking Distance (2002), Poklong’s video collaboration with award-winning visual artist Ringo Bunoan, 2 video frames are played side by side with both showing a hip-level shot of a short back and forth walk, one on a narrow art gallery corridor in Manila and the other on a pedestrian overpass in Gwangiou, South Korea. Again, the framing is slightly out of synch but the effect is visually hypnotic just the same. For Poklong, “since the technology is readily available, it has now become an extension of my own ideas that I can easily project to my audience.”

Artist-photographer Wawi Navarroza, who manipulates photographs with the available technology, says, “...multimedia art is just a collective term I use for the different modes of expression I’ve chosen to utilise. I travel across platforms.” She describes herself as a “darkroom baby.” She is in love with the chemicals, the magic, the romance and all the secrets under the red light. Yet, she cannot escape what technology offers her kind of art. “When digital came about, I didn’t abhor it. It was a stranger that I gladly sought out to know. And it was another tool in the bag that opened other possibilities for me in terms of imaging. I stumbled upon this new world of post-production and a strange but familiar world of ‘digital darkroom’ alias Photoshop...I wanted to create an amalgam of analogue and digital. I wanted to bring together the organic beauty of film and the precision and control of digital. I’m still learning the ropes and I guess it will never end. One thing I know is that digital is here to stay and it should be up to something good.”

Tad Ermitaño, Hulikotekan (2002)Tad Ermitaño, Hulikotekan (2002)
The multimedia experience is very obvious in Navarroza’s artworks whose combination of old school photographic style and computer manipulation techniques radiate from a Victorian Gothic backdrop with a wonderfully dark and gloomy inventiveness. “Artists can’t be contained”, she says. “The thirst of the artist for expression often leads to exploration of new ways to articulate meaning, which change with the spirit of the time, and which eventually alters the world-view of an era.”

For established video artist Tad Ermitaño, who has been doing video and sound art for almost 2 decades now, it’s a different and relatively cautious approach. “The term multimedia is a terrible phrase. There is a lot of stuff that would like to call itself multimedia just because the artists use sound and image, even if the channel of interaction is a mouse and a monitor,” says Tad. “I think the word multimedia ought to be tossed out and at least 4 new categories put in its place: audio/sound art, video art, smart art and interactive art. Audio and video art would encompass everything that involves playing looped audio and video, while smart art would involve having the art react to the audience. As in evolution, smart artworks currently aren’t very smart, but I’m sure that could change. Some of the virtual characters in computer games are full-fledged AIs already. Smart art could be the new film: requiring a level of investment and expertise that can only be matched by corporate backed teams of specialists.

“Definitely we should go back to using the word interactive the way the coiners used it...mean(ing) that the audience would be free to create permanent and maybe fertile changes in the work. In this original sense, a folk song or a recipe with a 100 variants is interactive, while a CD-ROM game, however entertaining, is not. This, I think, is a very radical and exciting option, striking hard and deep into and against our ideas of what art is, what artists do, who artists are.”

One of Tad’s independently produced video artworks, Hulikotekan (2002), a 9-layer video feedback of found instruments gradually synchronising was exhibited at the Hong Kong Film Festival in 2002 and was also shown at The Library in Singapore during the 2004 Singapore International Film Festival. His work with experimental sound art group Children of Cathode Ray was also included at the MAAP Festival at the National Institute of Education last October of 2004, also in Singapore.

Poklong and Wawi are a small sample of characteristic multimedia artists in the Philippines, Tad expresses the need for more focus on the genre. “Well, there are a lot of people playing with sound and video, because there are a lot of computers and a lot of pirated software. But there have been almost no shows focusing on it. Nor is anyone writing on it, giving feedback that leads anywhere. Feedback on sound/audio art (like feedback on all art here) is mostly on the “Okey yan pare” (that’s pretty much okay, man) level. The possibilities that a work opens up, the questions it raises etc remain completely unraised/unpursued.” Reasons for this include a lack of a recognised multimedia movement and of an acknowledged venue for the genre. “Aside from places like Big Sky Mind in Cubao and a handful of other art houses, there is really no place to exhibit multimedia arts here in the Philippines,” says Poklong. Wawi has had to rely on pocket exhibitions at alternative spaces, producing them herself or even showing at one night-engagements, right before a band performance, notably her own, The Late Isabel. “So many ideas on the shelf,” she quips.

Nonetheless, the constraints don’t prevent these artists from continuing to find ways to make multimedia central to the structure and evolution of their work. Multimedia art has become a part of a new energy of expression. In the Philippines, as in many parts of the world, it is a crossroads where artists and techies meet, or, as Wawi describes it: “the left and the right hemisphere of the brain collaborating.”
Jing Garcia is an IT Columnist for the Manila Standard, PULP, a music lifestyle magazine, and a regular contributor to Speed Magazine and INQ7.net’s Hackenslash.net gaming website. Jing is also a member of Children of Cathode Ray, a soundart group which has worked for 15 years in experimental music and the underground video scene.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Gravity of Sound

Katawán, Satti includes Filipino artists Tad Ermitaño and Jing Garcia from the group Children of Cathode Ray. They have worked for 15 years in experimental sound and the underground video scene and collaborated on the sound score for this show. Alfredo Manrique, a famous Filipino social realist, is a painter and printmaker who presented his first exhibition of computer prints in 1998.


Excerpt from:Katawán, SattiThe body between: an interview/review
Keith Gallasch talks to
Fatima LasayRead the entire article at:
http://www.realtimearts.net/maap04/gallasch_lasay.html (DEAD LINK)

New link:
http://www.realtimearts.net/feature/MAAP_in_Singapore:_GRAVITY/8499

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MAAP 2004 - Multimedia Arts Asia Pacific


Filipino artists Tad Ermitaño and Jing Garcia, from the group known as "Children of Cathode Ray", share their long experience of experimental sound and video art, and how they are able to transgress boundaries of abstract sound and what Ermitaño calls a "visual and aural sensuousness underpinned by a rigorous sequential logic."

Excerpt from:
Katawán, Satti (Body, Force)
Fatima Lasay
fats@up.edu.ph
August 2004

Read the entire article at:
http://www.vpa.nie.edu.sg/visual/collect.html (DEAD LINK)

New link:
http://www.realtimearts.net/feature/MAAP_in_Singapore:_GRAVITY/8499
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Monday, February 27, 2006

Children of Cathode Ray

The original 1989 lineup of The Children of Cathode Ray consisted of Blums Borres, Tad Ermitaño, Jing Garcia, Regiben Romana, and Magyar Tuason, with Peter Marquez pitching in as tech and gaffer. The band is a closed but metastable collective, with a 15-year history sporadic dormancy interleaved with sudden bursts of activity. Various combinations of its set of 6 members have disappeared (sometimes for years) only to rejoin as casually as they dropped out. The band is and was a catchall for the members' interests in music, sound, experimental film, lighting, literature, poetry, graphic arts and technological deconstruction.

A Cathode Ray piece might have radios and 4-second cassette-tape loops feeding into a mix filled with drums and electronic percussion, effected guitars, synthesized pads, and passionate raving in an invented language, which would in turn be augmented visually by video feedback, projections of exposed Super-8 abraded with a variety of kitchen implements, or VHS spliced on a pair of consumer VCRs. In its present incarnation, the band consists of Tad Ermitaño, Blums Borres and Jing Garcia orchestrating sound and video live out of computers. However, instead of music being composed to add mood to pre-existing visuals (as happens in film), or video being composed to back up pre-existing music (as happens in rock/electronica), Cathode Ray's methods give equal primacy to sound and imagery. A looping image might inspire a certain timbre or rhythm, which calls up an accompaniment in the lower registers, which in turn provokes a decrease in the image's luminance, and so on. -Tad Ermitaño

autoceremony

Formed in 2005, autoceremony is a solo project-studio effort of mine as a creative musical outlet that spawned from my earlier experimental soundart group Dominguez-Shimata.Colony (est.1995) and The Children of Cathode Ray (est.1989).

The Children of Cathode Ray was a collaborative attempt of a group of six enterprising bohemians hanging-out at Red Rocks(later Club Dredd) in Timog Avenue. Bred from a variety of musical and artistic genre, they got together to create unstructured music out of found instruments, new media and various electronic sound sources, including (ambient) noise. It was a meaningful attempt to deconstruct musical theories and compositions that many of us are already familiar with.

Transforming and synthesizing audio into soundart was an imaginative endeavor that eventually found significant live presentations inside universities, underground rock clubs, and art houses, not to mention three performances at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

The same inspired thought of making sense - or nonsense - out of chaotic sound continues with my current project-studio conception. -Jing Garcia