Carbon Song Cycle at Berkeley Art Museum / Pacific Film Archive / premiere April 12, 2013

Link to full video documentation of the performance at BAM/PFA 

Link to excerpts of the performance at BAM/PFA.



performance / expanded cinema installation / Christina McPhee and Pamela Z
variable dimensions depending on architectural space for performance
45 minutes

Carbon Song Cycle at Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, April 12,  2013. (Please see BAM/PFA L@TE's

Flickr page to view extensive photographs of the performance of Carbon Song Cycle.)

Carbon Song Cycle is a performance work for multiscreen cinema, voice, electronics, and chamber ensemble. Aleatory effects, and chance operations trace the disruptive and generative forces unleashed by climate change.  Time-images spread over multiple backlit and front projection screens and scrims throughout the performance of Pamela Z's songs.  For the premiere at Berkeley Art Museum, the cinematic component included twelve projections in and around the central open volume, Studio B, at the former Berkeley Art Museum, on the campus of the University of California- Berkeley.


Video Composition, Scenography, and Animations: Christina McPhee
Music Composition, Voice and Electronics: Pamela Z
Cello and Voice: Theresa Wong
Bassoon: Dana Jesson
Viola: Charith Premawardhana
Percussion: Suki O'Kane

Set Designer: Hargrave Studio
Video Technician: Drew Detweiler
Sound Engineer: Sean Carson

Performance photo credits : Theresa Wong, Peter Earl McCollough, Terry Hargrave, Drew Detweiler, Silvia Mateus, S. D. Willis, Lina Vezzani-Katano.

Carbon Song Cycle is commissioned by New Music Bay Area, and is made possible in part by grants from the MAP Fund, a program of Creative Capital (2012) and New Music USA's Commissioning Music USA program.



Carbon Song Cycle, a work for chamber ensemble and expanded cinema by composer/performer Pamela Zand media artist Christina McPhee is inspired by ongoing changes and upheavals in the earth's ecosystem, and by the carbon cycle—the process through which carbon is exchanged between all terrestrial life forms and domains. It is scored for a chamber ensemble of voice & electronics, viola, cello, bassoon, and percussion and immersive, multi-screen video projections.

To compose the music, Pamela knitted together melodic motifs inspired by scientific data around the carbon cycle and texts referencing environmental balance and imbalance–playing on the idea of the natural exchange of elements by passing sonic material between the players, and exploring audio elements related to the imagery in Christina’s video material. The video is built from footage that Christina shot at petroleum fields, natural gas locations, and geothermal sites around back-country California along with carbon-inspired drawings and images of processes involving intense heat and chemical transformations.

The piece premiered at the Berkeley Art Museum / Pacific Film Archive in April 2013. where the artists explored working site-specifically – mapping video to the architecture of the immense gallery. For future performances, the multi-channel video projections will be mapped and reconfigured for screens and architectural surfaces of the venues in question.

The ensemble for the premiere was Pamela Z (music composition and voice & electronics), Christina McPhee (video composition, installation, and performance), Dana Jessen (bassoon), Charith Premawardhana (viola), Theresa Wong (cello and voice), and Suki O’Kane (percussion).  For the November 2013 New York premiere, New York musicians Marika Hughes and Russell Greenberg performed the cello and percussion parts. The original ensemble  performed the work in San Francisco at Joe Goode Annex, Theatre Artaud, in February 2014.

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