PASEO sound experience

Victoria Vesna, whose "Noise Aquarium" is at this year's The PASEO, is shown speaking at the TEDxChelsea conference, June 1, 2012 at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. The conference theme was "The true value of art is seldom what someone is willing to pay for it." Courtesy TEDx Talks

Space is the theme of this year's PASEO Festival. Inner space. Outer space. Personal space. Social space. All kinds of space.

I sat down with Agnes Chavez, PASEO Artistic Director and Education Program Director, to talk about this year's PASEO and specifically two events that take place on Friday and Saturday nights (Sept. 14-15) inside of the 8,000-square-foot Space Cloud.

Designed by designer-architects from Madrid, Spain, the Space Cloud is a giant inflatable pavilion with a floor of salt sand that will be set up in Kit Carson Park throughout the festival. While the Space Cloud will house many activities, I'd like to bring your attention to two exciting back-to-back free events with a focus on sound: Victoria Vesna's "Noise Aquarium" (7-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights) and a dance experience called "Cosmos: Total Universe" (10 to 11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights).

Victoria Vesna's "Noise Aquarium" is a visual treat and audio experience that explores the world of ocean plankton, tiny organisms that produce more than half of Earth's atmospheric oxygen. Using 3D scans of plankton enlarged to be the size of whales, "Noise Aquarium" immerses participants in a microscopic world where noise creates imbalance and disruption. Right after "Noise Aquarium," the Space Cloud becomes a dance floor for "Cosmos: Total Universe," a visual and musical experience.

'Noise Aquarium'

Plankton includes diatoms, protozoans, small crustaceans, and the eggs and larval stages of larger animals. It is a major food source for many ocean creatures. We know noise pollution negatively affects large marine mammals, such as whales and dolphins, but what might it do to small organisms, such as plankton? PASEO artist Victoria Vesna explores this through her visual and sound installation "Noise Aquarium."

Chavez explained that participants will walk and move among 3D images of whale-sized plankton. As they do they create noise disturbances. This exhibit asks us to consider how humans are impacting the smallest lifeforms on the planet.

"Noise Aquarium" is a collaborative project of Victoria Vesna and Alfred Vendl. Vesna is a UCLA professor and sci-artist, and Vendl is a scientist and head of the Science Visualization Lab of the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. Martina Fröschl designed the computer animations for "Noise Aquarium" and Glenn Bristol set up the installation.

Chavez was excited to point out that the "Noise Aquarium" will be simultaneously shown at ARS Electronica in Austria this weekend.

'COSMOS: Total Universe'

DJ Rekha is a London-born artist of East Indian heritage known for mixing South Asian Bhangra music with hip-hop dance hall and electronic sounds. CHiKA is a Japanese-born, New York-based visual artist who returns to the PASEO this year to collaborate with DJ Rekha. Together they will create "COSMOS: Total Universe," a New York City dance experience with sound and visual elements. This will be the first time DJ Rekha is in New Mexico, and she's excited to bring her art to our state.

On a phone interview, DJ Rekha told me she will bring her repertoire of music, but she will not preplan the event. "I really just feel the space and the moment … and try to feel the energy of the room," she said.

CHiKA is a visual artist who works with LED mappings, projection mappings, interactive installations and more.

"VJing is just one part of my art practice," she explained. A VJ is a "video jockey" who projects images in real time, creating a live visual mix, much the way a DJ creates a sound mix.

Youth Workshops & Artist Talks

One of the most exciting aspects of PASEO is the opportunity to interact with the artists. Agnes Chavez pointed out to me that there are youth workshops, artist talks and demonstrations throughout the festival.

Here are your chances for meeting up with some of the artists I've described above:

• CHiKA artist talk/demo to local aspiring VJs, Friday (Sept. 14), 10 a.m.-noon., at The HUB, 107 Civic Plaza Drive.

• DJ Rekha youth talk and demo for youth ages 13-27, Saturday (Sept. 15), 1-3 p.m., at The Space Cloud in Kit Carson Park, 211 Paseo del Pueblo Norte.

For more information, visit

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