The Joshua Light Show and Manuel Göttsching
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 Manuel Göttsching (DE)
Manuel Göttsching is a pioneering guitarist, electronic musician and composer with a career spanning over 40 years. First known in the early 70s as a founder of the German cosmic rockers Ash Ra Tempel, Göttsching earned a reputation with his atmospheric and delicate guitar work. Initially including Klaus Schulze as well as Hartmut Enke, Ash Ra Tempel’s spaced out explorations deconstructed the architecture of rock music, alternating between transcendent and shambolic tendencies. In 1975, -Göttsching’s solo debut Inventions for Electric Guitar opened new doors for playing the electric guitar, establishing a tonal vocabulary that remains highly influential to this day. In contrast, his following album, New Age of Earth, was a compos-ition for keyboards and synthesizers. In 1977 Ash Ra Tempel was reborn as Ashra, with Göttsching at the helm, and featuring a more controlled approach than its predecessor. A string of accomplished albums covered ground between jazz, rock, disco, and ambient music, always striking a balance between guitars and synthesizers. Göttsching’s most -decisive and enduring work, however, was recorded in late 1981 and only released in 1984. E2-E4 is a masterpiece of economy. Its hypnotic, treated synth and drum machine loop morph and unfold gradually over an entire first side of the album without ever losing focus. Side two continues with Göttsching’s unique guitar play, which integrates unpretentiously into the overall sound. With its stringent funkiness and minimalist sonic precision, the album became a touchstone for much of the electronic dance music that would later emerge from Germany and internationally. Meanwhile, E2-E4 is also recognized as a unique and important step within minimal music as conceived by -Terry Riley and Steve Reich. Göttsching has remained active throughout the years, also composing music for theatre and film, occasionally revisiting and reinterpreting older works, and maintaining his position as an elder statesman of kraut-rock, cosmic, and minimal music. He graced the cover of The Wire in December.