works > Negotiating Dialogues

Negotiating Dialogues, High Light Reel 1
64l' x 35w' x 13'h

Negotiating Dialogues, Sept 2021
High Light Reel 1
Carmen Menza - Composer, Poet, Creative Director, Producer
Joel Olivas - Design, Animation, VFX done in Notch and TouchDesigner
Mark Menza - Composer, Music Producer
Eric Farrar - Vibraphone, Technical Support

Negotiating Dialogues
World Premiere - Dallas Symphony Orchestra's SOLUNA Festival and The Cedars Union Co-Commission
Five movement modern chamber work, four Interludes with spoken word, generative visuals created with Notch, Touch Designer, Digital Performer playback/real time editing, Four screen HD projection

Dallas-based artist Carmen Menza premieres a modern, multi-movement chamber work employing music, spoken word and generative visuals. This newly premiered work brings together a creative team featuring Mark Menza, Eric Farrar and Joel Olivas and musicians of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

Artists Statement
Language, a technology that utilizes various visual, musical, spoken and written methodologies to make connections with other humans and with machines. Our technological advances in communication are changing the way we dialogue not only with each other, but also with machines. We are on a path to a more symbiotic union with machines as we give them more roles in everyday aspects of our lives. My interdisciplinary practice utilizes music, generative visuals, video and light to explore the connections between humans and machines.

I am especially interested in interactive and generative works that encourage artistic collaboration between myself and community, utilizing digital processes as a creative collaborator in my works, embracing the unexpected and circuitous path to surprise.

In this work titled Negotiating Dialogues I explore performance of visual and musical dialogue in the world of generative animation and remixing. Movements or “phrases” are manipulated and altered both musically and visually by building new phrases with what preceded. It is alteration and improvisation resulting in a process of interactive real time re-composition. It is “themes and variation” in a new light. Musicians have a dialogue with each other, with algorithms that create generative visuals and through reintroduction of previously performed phrases, they have a dialogue with their former selves.

I invite viewers to see a new relationship between our natural world and new media art by employing different methods of listening, composition, and performance. Exploring the space between different methods of communication I hope we find harmonious points of connection.

Members of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra
Tom Demer - Viola
Nan Zhang - Cello
Andrew Sandwick - Clarinet

*Negotiating Dialogues is a recipient of a grant from the TACA New Works Fund and a recipient of an Arts Activate 2020/City of Dallas Office of Arts & Culture grant. Still photo by Sylvia Elzafon, Video by Paperlyte Films.

Carmen Menza
"Negotiating Dialogues"
Interlude 1 - Utterances, The Space on the Other Side
Somewhere within our daily markings 

Somewhere within the words we speak 

Somewhere within our dialogues 

We’ve come to understand 

That our final destination, our purpose, our primary aspiration is simply . . . human connection
We record our words, one by one 

compose our thoughts page by page 

assemble our pages volume by volume 

The scope of our collective stories 

weaving desire as threads of hope 

laying odds we won’t be erased 

We must ask the questions. 

how do we begin to know the future? 

how do we navigate our path forward? 

We feel the shifting soil, this transformation of language 

but language is a technology 

It is an interface between humans 

An interface between machines 

Before us are the blank pages waiting to be written

Interlude 2 – Image of Thought
How do we begin to see clearly what joins us all? 

I dreamt an image the other night 

I felt your presence in the humid air enveloping me like a shawl 

Your words were like moonlight 

suspended low in the nighttime sky, turning darkness to light 

plucking strings out of the heavy air and dissecting them, 

breaking open stanzas of code to reveal the sweet meaty mesocarp 

And when you had devoured the satisfying fruit you were left with the seed, the pit, the endocarp
which is the genetic beginning of continued copies of yourself
laying odds you won’t be deleted 

You are always searching for a desired function 

Weaving in the sky some pattern I can trace 

Every object knows its type 

I am declaring a return value of zero . . . success. 

I can’t pretend there is no memory held in that 

Let’s pray there is food enough to feed us all

Interlude 3 – Evolving Translations
How do we ensure we do not loose ourselves? 

It’s either yes or no, on or off, up or down 

It’s 1’s and zero’s and jpgs stored inside your head 

breathless software, endless means of generation 

taking nibbles from our apples of human experience 

ever expanding emergent systems 

like the passage of insects becoming one to move the earth, bit by bit. 

The machine becomes greedy and ravenous 

swallowing all data sets it can harvest from the orchards of …our minds 

This will be our challenge in creating 

retaining our individuality, our unique qualities as humans, our intuitive abilities 

Cognition is cognition, does it matter whether it is human or machine? 

we are moving in them 

the soldered joints of migration of language to machines 

Our voices, their voices 

improvements in nuance, context, and the subtleties of timing
create expanding trust the distinction between us and them - dissolving 

Please save a copy of the original file

Interlude 4 – Shared Memories
How do we find our way forward? 

Use this, see this, remember this, these are the things I pray you hold and cherish
receive your sustenance from the extended spoon of history 

bits falling like crumbs from our mouths 

pack these words into the circuit board 

press these memories into the palm of your motherboard 

the beginning of things, the ending of things . . . connection 

How do we become better humans, more empathetic? 

form an idea inside your mind 

build me a labyrinth of words 

Hello world, this is about to get interesting 

In a world that is listening 

we must ask the questions 

how do we understand what joins us all? 

We are what we give each other 

let me say that again 

we are what we give each other 

In a universe that requires our hearts 

a universe that requires our dialogues 

We mark this surface and write our future together