Bellona Times

Ronald Kuivila


After a production residency at Avatar, Ronald Kuivila will present Bellona Times: the turbulence of the present at the 23rd edition of Mois Multi.

As Ron Kuivila began his residency to create Bellona Times, a three-and-a-half-hour video came to his attention. It was the FBI interrogation of Danny Rodriguez, a participant of the January 6 insurrection. There is much ambivalence in the power relationship between the agents and the defendant. The fluorescent lighting of the interrogation room strangely functions like an inversion of Bellona, a city where “the sky is gray, the light unchanging.”

A row of twelve loudspeakers, the video recording of an interrogation played in reverse, a display monitor, the ringing of landline phones punctuating the rhythm, and a handset that viewers can pick up to hear sounds which are otherwise inaudible: this is the framework of the installation Bellona Times. Everything is in place to facilitate the observation of a slow progression in the protagonists’ position and interaction, while the viewer’s safe distance is called into question.

As the tonalities of a watch structure the passage of time, the interjections of the FBI agents, intended to suggest empathy to the defendant and encourage him to collaborate, play in a perpetual loop, adding to a complex sonic network.

Bellona Times refers to the installation Making the World Safe for Piezoelectricity produced in 1997 at Avatar and presented at the Mois Multi.

Ron Kuivila composes music and designs sound installations that often involve homemade and home modified electronics and software and household objects. He pioneered the use of ultrasound (In Appreciation) and sound sampling (Alphabet) in live performance. Other pieces have explored compositional algorithms (Loose Canons), speech synthesis (The Linear Predictive Zoo) and high voltage phenomena (Pythagorean Puppet Theatre).

Many of Kuivila’s compositions also take the form of sound installations. For example Radial Arcs, a
sound installation commissioned by Ars Electronica, involves the coordination of 96 stun guns, while Sparks on Paper, uses strings activated by low power static fields to resonate vellum. Long term installations running between six months and five years have included Visitations at Mass MoCa, The Weather at Six at Wesleyan University and Singing Shadows at the New York Hall of Science. Other pieces, such as Making the World Safe for Piezoelectricity, involve common place objects organized to enact large scale time structures.

He has performed and exhibited installations throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe and has had residencies at TU Berlin, the Bellagio Center, DAAD Berlin, the Institute for Studies in the Arts at ASU, California Institute of the Arts, Mills College, Brown University, STEIM, the Conservatorio C. Pollini, Padova, V2 Rotterdam, Tempo Reale, Stichting STEIM, the Banff Centre, the Central Conservatory of Music Beijing and numerous others. He lives in Middle Haddam, CT and is a Professor of Music at Wesleyan University.

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