Against the Current, Commissioned by the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art for TBA2020

Commissioned for Portland Institute of Contemporary Art's 2020 Time Based Art Festival, Against the Current took viewers on an audiovisual performance journey beside the Willamette River. Along the way they encountered three performance installations mapping the wide-ranging moods of water as it flows and cascades. Spatialized video projections, creative coding, and live sound and movement performances transformed places we think we know into portals into another time or another world. Crystal Quartez and Yaara Valey created live sound to begin and end the path. Movement artist Sarah Brahim will be activating the live video code of the Liminal Performance Space as you find your way. Video documentation of Yunuen Rhi creating of a ritual of healing and water was folded into the larger work. Viewers were assisted along the way by a pair of "guides" with portable projection "lanterns." Other performers appearing in the videos include Jaleesa Johnston, Sophia Wright Emigh, Linda K Johnson, Ela Fala Collective (Barbara Lima and Jordan Kristan), Kusanagi Sisters (Lisa and Juju Kusanagi).

Springs is the first of three video performance installations created for along the Willamette River by Mobile Projection Unit, here with sound design by Crystal Cortez (Quartez). The sonic realms Crystal creates manifest through the collection and transformation of everyday field recordings into playable digital instruments. Through this process she explores and reconfigures the context of our sonic environments to reveal new possibilities. A special healing action was commissioned from Yunuen Rhi of Los Angeles and Mexico City. Yunuen appears with an offering and as a diviner in the first segments of this distillation. All of our collaborators at this site were asked to respond to the idea of a hidden spring or headwaters. After the initial prompt performers were given great autonomy over the shape their actions would take. Yunuen chose to work with cinematographer Eduardo Trejo along the banks of the Tijuana River where there is a small area of the channelized river that has survived in its pre-colonized state. That small oasis became a representation of the possible for Yunuen and Eduardo. Yunuen uses we/our pronouns. In keeping with our identity as a multifaceted being Yunuen's actions distill many inspirations. Additional participants who also appear at other sites along the river, are Sahra Brahim, Yaara Valey, Jaleesa Johnston, and Sophia Wright Emigh. Sarah Turner and Linda K Johnson also appear in the video at Springs. Digital spells mixing our collaborators' actions with elements of the natural water cycle were made through creative coding by Fernanda D'Agostino and Sarah Turner. This project is an inflection point, or eddy, in an ongoing stream of collaborations and friendships. Springs investigates water's universal recognition as a healing bringer of life and vitality and by making its reflective properties central to the installation creates a fully immersive experience. Viewers had the sense of entering a hidden grove or secret eddy in the stream. Performance artists embodied their generational memories of water's powers. Yunuen Rhi was specially commissioned to create a healing ritual along the banks of the Tiajuana River between Mexico and the United States using flowers, pendulums and swords to invoke a spirit of renewal. Other performers were Sophia Wright Emigh, Jaleesa Johnston and Sarah Turner, Sarah Brahim and Yaara Valey, Justin Charles Hoover and Linda K Johnson. Crystal Cortez was commission to create a special score for the project. She chose to transform field recordings from this year's protests in downtown Portland using coding in Max MSP Jitter. Live video mixing and coding in Isadora continually remixed the video to create a "stream of consciousness" at the water’s edge.

Against the Current was three major video installations sited along over a mile of Willamette River shoreline in Portland, Oregon on the Eastside Esplanade. Because the expanse of the installation was so great and to emphasize the lighting of the shoreline as a gesture of healing, two Lantern Bearers guided visitors along the pathway using portable battery powered mini projectors. Images of "Dreamers" that also appear at "Springs" were able to be projected on the architecture and landscapes between the three major sites. The "Dreamers" are Jaleesa Johnston and Sophia Wright Emigh. The Lantern Bearers are Kathryn Garcia and Elisa Barrios.

Confluence brings together performers with a focus on embodiment and ritual from Portland, Tokyo, and Mexico, and reflects both the turbulence and the poetry that occur when bodies of water and bodies of knowledge converge. Video mapping, glitch, live coding in Isadora and live video feeds, transform performances recorded live, as well as in the Liminal Performance Space via SKYPE into a phantasmagorical dreamscape. Performers include Yaara Valey (Live sound and recorded video performance) Sarah Brahim, Yunuen Rhi, Ela Fala Dance Collective, Kusanagi Sisters, Sophia Wright Emigh and Jaleesa Johnston.

Midway along the series of Installations that make up Against The Current viewers encounter Rapids. Performers featured here are Yaara Valey and Sahra Brahim. Rapids combines video recorded in the studio with glitched footage of American waterways using live coding in Isadora to create a mood of movement and change. Rapids is the most ambitious of the mapping projects in Against the Current. Using MadMapper software and two projectors to map video across all three support structures of the Morrison Street Bridge.

© 2023 Fernanda D'Agostino