The Joshua Light Show and Supersilent
Joshua White is considered the forefather of VJ culture, and his Joshua Light Show as an initiatory spectacle of image-sound synaesthesia. As early as the late 60s, Joshua Light Show’s visual worlds revealed entirely new perceptual spaces in which rock and roll could begin to become transcendent beyond the world of hallucinogens. Now, at the invitation of transmediale and CTM, the Joshua Light Show ensemble turns its projections on the potential of contemporary avant-garde sound, with all the profundity and delirious sensuality this implies. Manuel Göttsching, Oneohtrix Point Never and Supersilent provide accompaniment in collaborative improvisations that makes each concert an overwhelming multimodal experience. Moreover, the ensemble of up to ten players uses a whole arsenal of devices such as film, slide and overhead projectors, color wheels, prisms and mirrors, to conjure a seemingly endless and breathtaking diversity of colors and shapes.
Born and raised in New York City, Joshua White studied theater and design at Carnegie Tech, and filmmaking at the University of Southern California. After college, he returned to New York and became interested in multi-media, especially creating multiple projector/lighting and slide shows. Soon thereafter he started designing environments for the first generation of NY discotheques. In 1967, as the idea of synesthesia between music and light was becoming part of the culture, he founded the Joshua Light Show as a group of artists to perform together, improvising multi-media projections in live concert venues.
Today, the structure of the Joshua Light Show differs little from the original of almost 45 years ago. At the time, it was Janis Joplin, The Who, Jimi Hendrix and The Grateful Dead for example, whose jams were driven by the psychedelic slipstream of so-called »liquid lights« – projections of permutating colored oils that conjured magical morphing shapes. White’s appointment as light show resident at concerts in New York’s legendary Fillmore East was followed by engagements in Woodstock, Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Center. In early 2000, the renaissance of the legendary light show finally began, launched this time in the art world. White has worked on exhibitions for the Tate Liverpool, the Centre Pompidou, the Whitney Museum, MOCA and other venues. He also began to team up with other artists, to add more complexity to the show and further develop the basic analog ideas using digital techniques.
The material extravagance of the Joshua Light Show effortlessly breaks with the now common understanding of the laptop VJ as a behind-the-scenes player. The Joshua Light Show team installs a system of original devices weighing tons, which would by far tower over even the technology parks still used by electronic music’s remaining analog-synth fetishists. The gravitational center of the shows jointly organized by transmediale and CTM should therefore be hard to overlook. The artists supplying the soundtrack for this major synaesthetic event are also heavyweights, when it comes to their track record. They are Manuel Göttsching, mastermind of Berlin electronics and krautrock veteran of Ash Ra Tempel, ambient synth-nostalgist shooting star Daniel Lopatin aka Oneohtrix Point Never, and the Norwegian avant-jazz improv ensemble, Supersilent: three different formal aesthetic approaches that, in the embrace of Joshua Light Show, will surely stretch the bounds of sensual worlds we have not even begun to imagine.
For their Berlin performance, the Joshua Light Show line-up is Joshua White, Alyson Denny, Seth Kirby, Doug Pope, Brock Monroe, Ana Matronic and Nick Hallett.
Joshua Light Show featuring Supersilent (NO)
Supersilent is a Norwegian improvisational band formed in Bergen in 1997. The band came into being when the free jazz trio Veslefrekk (Arve Henriksen – trumpet, Ståle Storløkken – keyboards, Jarle Vespestad – drums) was joined by producer Helge Sten (electronics). 1998 saw the launch of the esteemed label Rune Grammofon, which featured Supersilent’s debut 1–3 as its very first release. The three CD set also established the band’s minimalist approach to titles and album cover art: a linear, numeric system with a monochrome layout and plain font, which has accompanied the group ever since. Supersilent 6 is considered by many to be a particular highlight. While the band’s earlier work was often propelled by drums and harsh electronic treatments, its sound has gradually become more meditative and expansive. The departure of drummer Vespestad was announced in 2009. Undeterred, Supersilent have continued to perform extensively as a trio and have meanwhile released the albums 9, 10 and 11.