By observing the way instruments, architecture, and ensemble performances interface, Catenary is both a stand-alone installation and a framework for performance. Using tuned and stretched piano wire on a massive environmental scale, it pushes the notion of an instrument towards architecture. The scale ruptures conventional structure and allows multiple vantage points of the piece. Viewers experience unique readings of the installation as they move around it.
The score is cut into the front panel of the boxes, juxtaposing instrumental and environmental design with musical notation. The boxes are patterned with coded notation, presented in the form of irregular but gridded dots. These circular marks are the score for the mechanical piece, which is transferred into code and struck by the motors. Doubling as a speaker grating, the incised patterns create a distinct relationship between image and sound. The amplified sound is directed physically through the patterns. The score produces the sound, which then exits through the score — layering sound production and sound notation.
The piece is anchored into the ground with rectangular concrete supports bolted to poles, which are raised over nine feet in the air. Dozens of wires span over hundreds of feet and across multiple trees and mounting points. The internal structure of the piece is built with a piano pin block made of laminated maple. Piano wire is tensioned by tuning pins and is struck by a motorized system with padded felts housed inside the metal boxes. The rhythmic divisions notated on each box sonically overlap, creating endless connections and levels of rhythmic patterns –mirroring both the visual design and the nature of the work itself.
Born in Brookline, Massachusetts, and currently based in New York City, Eli Keszler began playing drums at eight, and composing at twelve. He played in rock and hardcore bands, and his work retains an intense physicality and churning, often ferocious energy. Keszler’s installations and visual work employ piano wires of varying lengths which are struck, scraped, and vibrated by microprocessor-controlled motors. These installations are heard on their own and with accompanying ensemble scores, or solo performance, with Keszler’s aggressive, jarringly rhythmic, and propulsive drumming. His most recent project used 16 wires ranging from 100 to 800 feet long which were mounted off of the Manhattan Bridge. In an NPR All Songs Considered interview he said, “I like to work with raw material, simple sounds, primitive or very old sounds; sounds that won’t get dated in any way.” Often his work will appear accompanied by scores, drawings, and writings. A large body of his diagrams, screen prints, and detailed drawings was recently compiled in a collection ‘NEUM’ which accompanied his installation at the South London Gallery.
His installations and visual work have appeared at the Victoria & Albert Museum, South London Gallery, Tectonics Festival (Harpa Hall) Reykjavik, Centraal Museum in Utrecht, LUMA Foundation (Zurich), Boston Center for the Arts, and Barbican — St. Luke’s, amongst other places.
Keszler has toured extensively throughout Europe and the U.S., performing solo and in collaboration with artists such as Christian Wolff, Phill Niblock, Tony Conrad, Oren Ambarchi, Joe McPhee, Jandek, Roscoe Mitchell, Anthony Coleman, T Model Ford, Ran Blake, and Ilan Volkov with the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra. He has performed at venues including Muziekgebouw (Amsterdam), Barbican, ICA Boston, and Moma PS1 and has recorded solo releases for several labels. He has received commissions and awards from MATA, Gaudeamus, and String Orchestra of Brooklyn, and funding from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and is also a Meet the Composer Grant recipient. Eli Keszler is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music.