Steve Bates & Michaela GrillAT/CA/QC
In amplified acoustic, electroacoustic and noise composition and audiovisual performance, Black Seas manifests humanity's long and esoteric history of auditory hallucination. Steeped in horror and dark fiction, cognitive science and philosophy, 18th century mysticism and modern telecommunications, the project explores varied physical-mental elements of hallucination and the social-political oppression of it, with sounds ranging from feedback and wind to piano and church bell resonance.
After an early love affair with punk rock, Black Seas founder Steve Bates began his threshold-pushing experiments in improvised and composed music, radio and art installation projects. This lead to his founding and directing of Winnipeg festival Send + Receive and, after a move to Montréal, launching The Dim Coast, a publishing and curatorial project tied to his and other artists' investigations of signal feedback within systems, and how sound affects our experiences of space and time. A prolific collaborator, Bates is also in improvising, noise, art-punk project Lanterner with musician Marc-Alexandre Reinhardt, and recently performed and recorded with electroacoustic composer and artist Félix-Antoine Morin. Artist Michaela Grill conceives her digital creations for cinema viewing—made for dark rooms and large, encompassing screens. Working pixel by pixel, she transforms music into a radically rethought form of filmic image, intwining the music's emotion into the fabric of her otherworldly visuals. Grill studied film and visual arts in Vienna, Glasgow and London and is involved with long-running Austrian avant-garde film and video art organization sixpackfilm. She's created, screened and performed her work at MOMA NY, National Gallery of Art Washington and several other museums, festivals and cinematheques worldwide.
Solo and as a large ensemble, Black Seas recently visited Austria, Canada, Greece, Germany and Luxembourg and performed as a 12-person ensemble as part of Montréal's Suoni per il Popolo Festival. Black Seas joins MUTEK's experimental Play series as an audiovisual duo, resembling an orchestra in its intensity and concentration of sound while intimately setting the stage for a visceral, dream-like auditory and visual voyage.