Self_Less with ensemble PHASE

Self_Less is a multipart series of musical works examining our “sense of self” while questioning the uniformity of these perceived feelings. Composer Edward Shocker brings together a cross-cultural collaborative team featuring performance group ensemble PHASE from Korea, experimental film projectionist Keith Evans, and playwright Erik Ehn. Incorporating live music and projected and prerecorded audio of stories from people who have had unique neuropsychological experiences (such as dementia, out-of-body experiences, and episodes of depersonalization-derealization), Self_Less’s mission is to bring awareness to the connections among brain, body, mind, and self. Ensemble PHASE performs excerpts of Self_less: The Crossing and Songs of Undoing

On an everyday level, a unified sense of self can be taken for granted. We wake up in the morning, feeling comfortable and in full control of the physical body we are inside. We are able to make our breakfast, and while doing so, we recollect what we have done in the past and what we plan to do later that day and further on into the future. Yet even within this sense of “linearity,” many people have experienced events that have taken them out of their normal state of mind. These experiences, whether lasting only seconds or for an extended period, have had profound effects on the people who have experienced them. Self_Less investigates these moments when we feel we have crossed over to glimpse an alternate state of being and uses abstract images, music, and storytelling to reflect the emotions and experiences for the audience.

Edward Schoker explained: “"For many years I have been interested in our experiences of crossing over to other states of mind, whether this is through simple ‘daydreaming’ or a more profound experience. I believe these experiences help us understand our ‘sense of self’ and are perhaps even needed in our lives. My goal is to create a musical piece that projects the feelings and sensations associated with these experiences.”

About the Artists

Edward Schocker is a composer and performer who creates music with made and found materials and alternate tuning systems. He is the cofounder and director of Thingamajigs, a Bay Area arts and education organization devoted to alternate methods of creating sound and art. Schocker’s music has been performed at Stanford Lively Arts, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Internationales Klangskunstfest in Berlin, Cultural Station Seoul 284, and Youkobo Art Space in Tokyo. Over the years, his projects have been supported by UNESCO, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Japan-US Friendship Commission, the California Arts Council, the Korean Traditional Performing Arts Foundation, and New Music USA. Currently, Schocker is an ensemble member of the Thingamajigs Performance Group, creating work in a group process with Dylan Bolles, Suki O’Kane, and Keith Evans.

Keith Evans makes films, performances, and installations that bridge the space between cinema and sculpture. His works include whimsically repurposed items like turntables and telescopes. Film becomes reframed as one element in combination with music, movement, and constructed tableaus. Evans’s creations frequently explore ideas of nature, science, and history. Much of his work belongs to the genre of “performance cinema,” described as “an exciting and emergent genre of avant-garde moving-image art . . . arguing for the embodied, collective consideration of real-time, site-specific media experiences. . . . Performance Cinema practitioners create immersive spectacles of sight and sound, opening a space for questioning and contemplating visual culture through direct activation of the senses” (Gray Area, 2016).

Erik Ehn is an American playwright and director. The former dean of theater at CalArts, the California Institute of Arts, he is also the former head of playwriting and a professor of theater and performance studies at Brown University. Ehn is cofounder and co-artistic director, alongside Lisa Bielawa, of the Tenderloin Opera Company in San Francisco and also an artistic associate of San Francisco’s Theatre of Yugen. He is a cofounder of the Regional Alternative Theater (RAT) movement, an international network of alternative theaters. He was a recipient of the Alpert Award in the Arts in 2002 and a Whiting Award in 1997.

ensemble PHASE is a group of musicians with a longtime passion for experimental projects, creating and performing new repertoires through experimentation on Korean instruments with various musical materials and artistic forms. 
The group actively performs traditional and contemporary repertoires, collaborating with living composers and performers from diverse musical backgrounds. In order to expand interest in writing for Korean instruments, ensemble PHASE has also given workshops and lectures for composers and students to help them better understand Korean music and instruments, inside and outside of Korea. Since 2017 ensemble PHASE’s projects have been sponsored by the City of Seoul, Seoul Foundation of Arts and Culture, Art Council Korea, National Gugak Center, and Studio Paju.

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