Installment 1: Grood's ACTual Show 4 (Dec.19.2014)
StrangeCrop’s mission is to put out an amazing piece of art every 3 months, and for our purposes art means “something cool.” Chicago band Grood’s annual “ACTual Show” was an obvious choice for our first installment, since it works predominantly in the live-music-mixed-with-theater genre.
Another part of StrangeCrop’s mission is to break down the line between performer and audience member, and help everyone turn art into something everyone can play. We seek to show people that the art process is so much more thrilling and alive than any final product can be.
Keeping both those parts of our mission statement in mind, we wanted to make our first installment totally free, not only for an audience member, but for the producers and employees. We looked around us to see what materials and ideas we had as a group, and made a show out of strictly what we already owned, and every person involved worked for free.
The idea of Grood’s ACTual Show is to find ways to “see” the music, to devise and enact ways to visualize what we hear. To this end, StrangeCrop was qualified to help. Vincent Naples (drmbt), a founder of SC, had been working for a while on ways to projection map images and footage onto multiple surfaces in a cohesive way, and also how to connect musical instruments to the controls, effectively giving instruments the new power of painting video images along with its musical notes.
Using Vincent’s event space Canvas, we projection mapped most of the walls to look like one image, then applied a unique audio-visual connectedness treatment to 10 songs or so. This was an intense process but the end result was rudimentary but exciting, like an early Mickey Mouse cartoon. In one song, the keyboardist’s mod wheel opened and closed the mouth of an on-screen Cookie Monster. In another, each note triggered a white bar to appear on the screen, the higher the note, the higher up on the screen the bar would appear.
To turn traditional audience members into performers, we set up a green screen before the show and filmed them dancing to a Grood song; then towards the end of the show, we threw their images up on the screen, dancing on a nice balmy beach. The traditional performers on stage were able to dance with their digital counterparts, and many audience members realized that they had witnessed part of the process of making the art. Not needless to say, it was also just a very fun night for everyone. Mission accomplished as far as I’m concerned.
In a slight effort at total transparency, (upon which I surely will improve), here is a small breakdown of financials:
Donations $402 ($240 Patreon, $162 cash)
$140 Door Guy
$76 Pizza for crew day of
$50 Electricity (this is a guess, but we sucked a lot of juice. Maybe next time we will use a meter to figure this out)
Total Costs $266
For Performers: $136
I will partition this money between all the performers based on time involvement. If it feels essential down the road, I will disclose everyone’s income, but with such small marbles it seems useless.