As one of the earliest composers and pioneers in electronic music, Montréal artist Jean Piché has made a career of experimental sounds.
It's refreshing, then, to hear that someone so invested in technology has recently returned from a fishing vacation on his motorcycle. "I caught four fish and ate them on the shore, which was nice," Piché says.
On Thursday, Piché will show six music/video pieces at University of Texas' McCullough Theatre, including two newly completed works, one of which, "Strands (with colored spheres)," will have its world premiere.
After years spent developing his own musical software, Cecilia, and winning awards as a composer for other people's films, Piché decided to create films of his own to bridge the divide between music and video as art forms.
The result is a genre he calls Videomusic — a sort of abstract video-painting that moves with and around a musical score in equal time. "What you see is basically an expression of my imagination," Piché says.
The films are complex, abstract images or digital graphics, something you might imagine a musical mind would create.
"Boreales" follows honeycombs and waves of multicolored lights as they swirl organically, come and go, and burst in fans across the screen. The soundtrack is a mix of delicate synthetic sounds that resemble glass, resonating in an eerie harmony.
Other works are more abrasive. A series of abstract, walking shots from the artist's extended stay in India are used in the series "paNi intiyA" and act as the inspiration for a frenetic, pulsating soundtrack.
Intriguingly, the videos often have a deeper, concealed layer. In the case of "Boreales," Piché says, the images are the creation of a particle generator, transformed from a single, unedited shot from a spinning video camera in a Parisian square.
Some have taken source audio from famous speeches by Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi, adding yet another layer of artistic intent.
The setup for Piché's live shows is three high-definition projectors on three screens that, side by side, make up a single image across the stage. "The technology is home-brewed because there's nothing on the market that can do this," he says.
In order to avoid storytelling, and to give the music equal weight, Piché uses what he calls the three pillars: movement, color and form. These considerations are the same for both the sounds and images.
"Music does not tell a story. It's pure emotions, pure experience of the medium itself," says Piché. "As soon as you recognize images, then you have narrative."
"For me to put image and sound on the same level requires a fairly drastic abstraction of the visuals, in order to marry with the music in a way that one does not dominate the other," Piché says.
The goal, he says, is to create a single work that plays together, not simply a visual representation of the music, or vice-versa.
"The aim is to make them say the same thing."
When: 8 p.m. Thursday, September 9
Where: McCullough Theatre, 2375 Robert Dedman Drive, University of Texas campus
Information: 477-6060, www.texas performingarts.org