In the Club with: Amy Zhang
For our eleventh episode we are thrilled to welcome new media artist Amy Zhang, also known as Xuan, and cellist Audrey Q. Snyder. Welcome, Amy!
Tell us about a recent musical experience that you particularly enjoyed.
I was listening to a piece on Lyra Pramuk’s album “Fountain” and taking a walk in the woods. It was snowy and sunny that day, which is rather unusual for Rochester! I was so engrossed in the music that I hadn’t realized I’d wandered in pretty deep, into a clearing off the road. At one point the music had built up to this powerful sound made up of a chorus of Lyra’s voice, it was startling and penetrating. I suddenly looked up to see all these tall trees surrounding me, almost as if they were the ones making this massive sound. It was a pretty sublime and inexplicable moment that I’ll never forget.
Who are some composers or ensembles you’ve been enjoying listening to lately?
Aizuri Quartet, Radiohead, Punch Brothers, O. Messiaen, Emily King, Laurie Anderson, Eleanor Alberga
Is there a specific moment that got you interested in contemporary music?
Yes! one of my first aha moments was mastering polyrhythms in this damned hard piano etude my friend wrote for me. It had the most irresponsible polyrhythms - like 14 (left) against 15 (right) and went insanely fast. They were definitely trying to flex on Ligeti. But, working on that piece made me focus just on the mechanics and rhythm without the usual baggage of phrasing and aesthetics. It opened a new way of thinking about piano playing and prompted me to start asking questions about how pieces were constructed, which was way more interesting for me than just playing. Also, it gave me the courage to play in new music ensembles which opened up a whole new world!
What interests you about the relationship between video and music?
I’m most interested in the ways image and sound interact. Why does the red and orange go with the notes 4672? And how do I translate that feeling on paper, in a video, or cultivate as a space in a museum installation that someone can walk around in? There’s something magical about finding that moment when they are absolutely resonating with each other and it opens up this new realm of experience. It’s endlessly fascinating!
Thank you so much for joining us, Amy!
Xuan is a new media artist, filmmaker, and pianist working at the intersection of music, visual art, and technology.
Her work includes experimental animation, abstract scenography, narrative documentaries, music videos, interactive installations and real time audio-visual programming. With a background as a contemporary classical pianist, she actively develops innovative, cross-disciplinary projects that broaden the immersive scope of new music through technology.
She has collaborated with artists such as Glenn Kotche, Pierre Jodlowski, Michael Burritt, Gemma Peacocke, Annika Socolofsky, Third Coast Percussion, Nois Quartet, Parhelion Trio, Rubiks Collective, and Ensemble Garage, which have led to performances at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the MCA Chicago, the Smithsonian Institution, University of South Carolina, Carnegie Mellon University, Constellation, SF Jazz, Le Poisson Rouge, and the Indie Grits Film Festival. Recent projects in interactive design have been exhibited at the ErsterErster Gallery in Berlin, DE, the ibug Urban Art Festival in Reinchenbach, DE, and Design Biennale 2019 in Zürich, CH.
Xuan is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music and has studied Media Spaces at the BTK University of Art and Design in Berlin. She’s currently teaching experimental filmmaking as an Adjunct Professor of Humanities at Eastman and works as a freelance video artist.
Headshot by Nadine Photography