Graveyards, By Ballet Mech

A project from my production group, Ballet Mech, out now on Bandcamp, iTunes, and Spotify.

This project is a remix album of Jeremy Messersmith’s entire “The Reluctant Graveyard” album. We got all the original tracks (stems) from Jeremy, and tried to re-compose the entire album. We focused mostly on keeping Jeremy’s voice, and the general structure of the song, but started over with almost everything else.

I’m really happy with it, and looking forward to the next big Ballet Mech project.


Through-composed music score.

Film based on String Quartet No. 3, by J. Anthony Allen.

This is a film centered around a piece of music with four main characters being musically symbolized by the four instruments of the string quartet.

Radio Sub Rosa

Radio Sub Rosa is a Wi-Fi enabled plush toy that reads live romance chat when squeezed.

Radio Sub Rosa is a Wi-Fi enabled plush toy. When squeezed, the plush toy recites live romance chatroom conversations harvested from the web. Radio Sub Rosa was designed using a Gumstix Linux computer, Wi-Fi card, Flite text-to-speech software and other custom Java and C software. Collaboration with Christopher Baker.


Coffee Cantata

Performers take their improvisational cues from live internet chat sniffed from local public wireless hotspots.
(Collaboration with Christopher Baker) 


Coffee Cantata is a performance that brings two remote locations together via the Internet. The performance space, which is designed to simulate a coffee shop, is equipped to receive a live video and text stream from a remote coffee shop. The incoming text consists of live “sniffed” chat conversations from the wireless network at the coffee shop. The performers then treat the incoming chat conversations as a script, “performing” these live displaced narratives using improvised gesture, song and spoken word. The live video feed of the “real” coffee shop forms the backdrop for this dynamically scripted performance.

Live Performance (Video)  

Urban Echo

Urban Echo is a series of public video projections that aims to collect and creatively represent the thoughts and imaginings of city-dwellers.

Urban Echo is an ongoing series of interactive sound and video installations. The project has appeared in many forms (see below) ranging from intimate outdoor video sculpture to large interactive public façades. Urban Echo aims to collect and creatively represent the thoughts and imaginings of city-dwellers.

In each installation, participants send their thoughts and questions via SMS and voicemail. The responses are the then projected and added to a dynamic spatialized audio composition.

Urban Echo was originally conceived as a collaboration between Christopher BakerLaura Baker and J. Anthony Allen

The Unconvention, Minneapolis, MN

Kitchen Budapest, Budpaest 2008

Copenhagen, Denmark 2007 : Architecturally integrated, interactive projections and sound

Minnesota Museum of American Art, 2007

Spark Festival, 2007

Artsmosis, 2006


Urban Echo visuals have been programmed in both Max/MSP/Jitter and Processing. Audio is dynamically composed using MSP. Everything communicates with OSC. Cocoa UltraSMS, MySQL, PHP, and a little Java enable Voice and Text Messages.


Skewed Visions is a Minneapolis-based arts organization specializing in site-specific performance. They created this unique series called Cubicle. To sum it up in their words:

Welcome to CUBICLE, a new series of podcasts meant to be watched while at work (shh!). We invited artists from a range of disciplines to create short pieces on the theme of ‘work.’ You can find one here every month or so until the year is up (or until you get caught).

This is the second piece I’ve done collaborating with director Rachel Perlmeter. She has a background in radio, and thought it would be interesting to not do a video, but a strictly audio contribution to the series. In order to work with the presentation design Skewed Visions had already setup, they made a video for it that was just a black screen. Somewhat appropriate given the last piece Rachel and I worked on together (along with some other friends), the Marat/Sade production at Macallister College.

Rachel wrote the script, and we recorded it at McNally Smith College of Music, using their recording studios and a couple of student engineers (who did an amazing job, by the way.) I took the audio of the voices and editing together a complete take, and worked with the pacing a little bit. From there I added all the other music. The primary music in the piece is an older work of mine for four cellos, called “Saturations II-A”. I played around with an old recording of that piece to make most of the music in the piece.

Hope you enjoy it – it was fun to work on. If you do, please consider making a contribution to Skewed Visions by going here.

envelop(e): A RADIO PLAY FOR 2 VOICES WITH 3 ASPECTS IN 4 MOVEMENTS from Skewed Visions on Vimeo.

After Voyage

voyageThis piece was done as part of the “Art Inspired Music” Project at McNally Smith College of Music. Students were paired with a local visual artist, and tasked with “translating” a visual work of art to a musical medium. As a faculty member, I couldn’t resist, so I joined in the fun.

From the gallery book:
“When I first met Alonso at his studio to talk about the work, my initial reaction was to make short audio samples of the piece and compose a musical work out of those sounds (how often do you get to bang on an actual piece of Art?) However, what came to me while I was working on the music was much more involved than just using samples of the work. Alonso talked about the piece symbolizing the voyage made by his family when entering the United States as immigrants. Having never experienced a cultural uprooting so sever, I tried to abstract the idea into musical analogies, and treat the piece as a musical voyage. It begins in a world filled with natural sound: wood (incidentally, all taken from the sculpture itself), with some harmonic string instruments familiar to everyone (cello and violin). As the piece progresses, the natural sounds leave their familiar ground, and gradually transform into electronic sounds. Thus, the voyage of acoustic (familiar/home) to electronic (unfamiliar/new) is the voyage taken in my audio rendering of Alonso’s Voyage.”


In November 2009 I was contact by director Rachel Perlmeter about collaborating on an upcoming production of Peter Weiss’ Marat/Sade. It’s a fascinating play about the Marquis de Sade, Jean-Paul Marat, and the French Revolution, with a fair dose of historical ideas of madness as well. Wikipedia sums it up pretty well: “a bloody and unrelenting depiction of human struggle and suffering which asks whether true revolution comes from changing society or changing oneself.”

The music is a tricky thing. It was written without a score, but with sections of the script labeled “song”. Lots of them – about 30 songs in all. Since the 1960s, the common score to use was Richard Peaslee’s. Rachel wanted to set her production in the future, with a fresh score. Certain actors are asked to play instruments in the original play. We ended up with a small ensemble in the cast: clarinet, 2 alto saxophones, a flute, and some percussion. We decided to make the majority of the score electronic, to show a more futuristic sense.

I called on my two favorite collaborators to get the job done: Noah Keesecker and Joshua Clausen. We work together from time to time under the moniker Ballet Mech, and it was a logical step to make this a Ballet Mech project.

The show ran from Feb. 26 – March 6 at Macalester College (St. Paul, MN). It was a great time, and has me really interested in doing more theater.

Below is a promo video that Noah Keesecker made. It shows some of the intensity of our production, as well as our score.

Portrait of a Homeless Man

portraitofahomelessmanPortrait of a Homeless Man was completed in 2002. The video and audio features dialogues and scenes from several nights on the streets in Baltimore. The main subject is “Wayne”, a homeless man in Baltimore.

Duration: 6:23


lazarusLazarus was originally conceived to be a scene within a larger multimedia work based on Richard Grossman’s novel “The Book of Lazarus”. Although the full scale production never made it to fruition, this scene was completed and performed with 2 actors at the Johns Hopkins University film festival in 2003. In early 2005, it was revisited to stand on its own without the actors involved.

The video work was done by Kajsa Brown and Emily Meyer.

Duration: 8:03