VIRAL SILENCE 2022
Community Portraits in Response to Covid-19
Free Public Programming Calendar (registration requested)
all events live-streamed and in person
Trap and Release – JoVia Armstrong, Stephan Moore and Chicago’s Austin Community
in-person and live-stream: May 22, 2022, 1:00 pm
in-person: Saint Martin’s Episcopal Church, 5700 W Midway Park, Chicago, IL 60644
live-stream: Experimental Sound Studio – The Quarantine Concerts
Six Words – Edward Breitweiser and pt.fwd with the Bloomington-Normal Community
in-person and live-stream: June 24, 2022, 7:00 pm
in-person: McLean County Museum of History, 200 N Main Street, Bloomington, IL 61701
live-stream: Experimental Sound Studio – The Quarantine Concerts
Portal – X
app release: Summer, 2022
About Viral Silence
Viral Silence: Community Portraits in Response to Covid-19 is a statewide collaborative community commissioning and virtual touring program that captures local experiences and responses to Covid-19. This second year of programming partners three new artists and Illinois communities: JoVia Armstrong in collaboration with Stephan Moore, composers and sound artists, with Chicago’s Austin Neighborhood and Saint Martin’s Episcopal Church; Eddie Breitweiser with pt.fwd and the McLean County Museum of History; and X, indigenous futurist, multidisciplinary artist and architect specializing in land, architectural, and new media installation, to create a geolocated augmented reality soundscape app.
Creative artists and the cultural sector have been especially adversely affected economically by the pandemic. Viral Silence strives to address the needs of these accomplished individual artists and offers hope and support to a wide and diverse audience of viewers who mourn the closure cultural and performance institutions. The project’s participatory processes and resulting portraits help to heal and bind communities around memory, loss, and rediscovery.
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Commissioned Artists and Communities
JoVia Armstrong and Stephan Moore with Chicago’s Austin Neighborhood and St Martin’s Episcopal Church
Trap and Release
Trap and Release is a collaborative community effort to release the tension built during the pandemic. During the pandemic, Black people had to deal with multiple losses. In addition to losing loved ones to Covid, the violent protests in response to police brutality and the deaths of George Floyd and Brionna Taylor led to feelings of hopelessness, depression, and a sense of being trapped and not heard. Created by JoVia Armstrong in collaboration with Stephan Moore and members of the Austin community, who responded to prompts about their pandemic experiences, Trap and Release creates a safe space for community members to speak their truths about their Covid-19 experiences and the violence against Black Americans. Their responses—privately recorded within the community—are edited, processed, and combined with other musical materials by JoVia.
The meditative soundscape will be played back through a multi-channel speaker system designed and implemented by Stephan Moore in Austin’s Saint Martin’s Episcopal Church. Participants and the rest of the community will be able to come in to listen, relax, meditate, or just enjoy the sounds of their voices put to music. Systemic discrimination and unconscious bias can make a person feel trapped within their situation. Trap and Release offers an opportunity for release and relief to people in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood.
JoVia Armstrong is a well-traveled percussionist, sound artist, composer, and educator. She is an endorsed artist with four notable companies, including QSC, Sabian, Icon Pro Audio, and Gon Bops. In 2014, she won the Best Black Female Percussionist of the Year through the Black Women in Jazz Awards. JoVia received the 3Arts Siragusa Foundation Artist Award in 2011 for her work as an educator and is a member of Chicago’s AACM. JoVia produced an EP for popular Chicago soul group JC Brooks Band in 2017 and is a member and composer behind Detroit-based World /Jazz group Musique Noire. Their 2008 debut CD, Good Hair, was nominated for three Detroit Music Awards. They won “Best Black Female Jazz Group” through Black Women in Jazz Awards in 2015 and have a 2017 release entitled “Reflections: We Breathe.” She released her debut album, “Fuzzy Blue Robe Chronicles” in 2009. She has performed with El DeBarge, Rahsaan Patterson, Maysa, EricRoberson, Frank McComb, Res, Omar, The Impressions, Nicole Mitchell’s Black Earth Ensemble, Malian musicians Ballaké Sissoko & Babani Kone, Joe Vasconcellos, Martha And Reeves.
Currently, she is a Ph.D. student at the University of California, Irvine, in the music department’s Integrated Composition, Improvisation, and Technology program. While working on her dissertation, she has been a collaborating composer for various projects such as The Black Index Art Exhibit, curated by Dr. Bridget Cooks, and Your Ocean, My Ocean, curated by John Crawford for Eco ArtLab. She is also composing the film score and sound design for an adaptation of “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” being released in 2022 as a short film.
Stephan Moore is a sound artist, designer, composer, improviser, programmer, engineer, teacher, and curator based in Chicago. His creative work manifests as electronic studio compositions, improvisational outbursts, sound installations, scores for collaborative performances, algorithmic compositions, interactive art, and sound designs for unusual circumstances. Much of his work has been realized in collaborative projects, most notably with sound artist Scott Smallwood in their duo Evidence and with choreographer Yanira Castro in the collective a canary torsi. He is the curator of sound art for the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, organizing annual exhibitions since 2014. He is also the president of Isobel Audio LLC, which builds and sells his Hemisphere loudspeakers. He was the music coordinator and touring sound engineer of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company (2004-10), and has worked with Pauline Oliveros, Anthony McCall, and Animal Collective, among many others. In 2019, he co-founded the Chicago Laboratory for Electro-Acoustic Theater to promote and encourage the creation of multichannel audio works. He is a Distinguished Associate Professor of Instruction in the Sound Arts and Industries program at Northwestern University.
Eddie Breitweiser with pt.fwd and the McLean County History Museum
Using archival research, community dialogue, and collaborative music-making, Six Words will engage directly with Central Illinois residents to reflect on our collective experience of the Covid-19 pandemic. Six Words will take the McLean County Museum of History’s Covid-19: The McLean County Experience as a starting point to ask local residents about their pandemic experiences, and to preserve them for future generations.
Breitweiser will collaborate with local non-profits and youth organizations—including the McLean county Museum of History and pt.fwd—to create a communal space for telling and hearing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in the Bloomington-Normal area. These diverse experiences will be shared in a concert-length public performance at the Museum of History, featuring music and words by area residents who contributed to the project.
Edward Breitweiser is an artist, musician, and writer. Incorporating models from various intellectual traditions and bodies of knowledge, Breitweiser organizes particulars (software, electronics, audio/visual signals, text, networked distribution channels, improvisational music, performative activities) into arrangements whose products are the macro-result of the emergent interactions of all components at once.
His works have been presented at Festival MusicAlp (Courchevel, France); Network Music Festival (Birmingham, UK); the School of the art Institute of Chicago (Chicago); Illinois State University Galleries (Normal, IL); MobileHCI (Stockholm, Sweden); Salle Cortot (Paris); threewalls (Chicago; the Giorgio Cini Foundation (Venice); Illinois Wesleyan University (Bloomington, IL); the Fuse Factory (Columbus); the McLean County Arts Center (Blooming, IL); and sixty Inches From Center (online). Breitweiser serves as Director of pt.fwd (Facebook, Instagram), a contemporary music and sonic arts performance series featuring new work by local and regional artists in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois. Breitweiser studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (MFA ’12), l’École Normale de Musique de Paris, and Elmhurst College (BFA ’09).
X is creating Portal, a geolocated Augmented Reality soundscape, that enables participants to activate sound fields and visual poetics, that can be experienced during a specific window of time via smartphones. Release date Summer 2022.
X, M.Arch, MFA is an Indigenous futurist, multidisciplinary artist and architect specializing in land, architectural, and new media installation. His work illuminates the liminal space between the ancestral plane and our accelerating post-human world.
X is a 3Arts Award Winner, a 2020 New City Top 50 Artist and the first Native American contributor to the Chicago Architecture Biennial. His work is exhibited and collected internationally including the Museum of Contemporary Native Art, Ars Electronica, and the MCA Chicago. In 2020, X was commissioned by the U.S. State Department as lead artist of The American Arts Incubator Brazil, where he traveled to Brazil and conducted workshops culminating in a virtual reality exhibition, entitled PORTAL.
X, received a Bachelors of Environmental Design from the University of Colorado, a Masters of Architecture from the University of Southern California, and a Masters of Fine Arts Studio in Art and Technology from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is an enrolled citizen of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana (Koasati) and Indigenous CHamoru from the Island of Guam (Hacha’Maori).
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Viral Silence is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency
and a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events.