The piece of Pamela Z’s that I know best—Geekspeak—is something that may be loosely called a radio documentary, but actually turns into something more like musique concrete and then back to documentary again, with a moment of crazy glitch in the middle that I still wonder about. It’s a work that documents tech “geeks” during the 90s, but there are moments that challenge an easy picture; part William Burroughs, part Glenn Gould, her techniques get at the deeper issues and paradoxes of telling a story of technology with technology. I’ve also seen her do live performance once in some warehouse in NYC’s Chinatown, using her own voice to instigate a variety of complex effects, gauging minute changes and responding in kind. Her work tends to defy categories . . . in fact one Seattle blog has her Film Forum appearance tagged as an “opera” event, perhaps because she has some classically trained pipes, or maybe because opera itself is just an older word for “intermedia.” Much of her work emerges from an extended exploration of the voice and language—which is why she also fits into the curation of Writing for Their Lives, the series where you’ll more likely find contemporary poets. Because she integrates midi controlled devices that help her extend voice into image, gesture into effect, her media work has close affiliations to that of Seattlite Gary Hill, whose work has explored the way in which language becomes concretized in the image by way of new devices.
Pamela Z will give a FREE talk and demo at the Seattle Campus of the University of Washington for the Writing for their Lives Series on Monday, November 23 at 6:30 in Communications 120. (Other upcoming Writing for their Lives events of interest include language poet Charles Bernstein in January, and performance-writer and media artist Cris Cheek in February.)
Pamela Z’s performance at the Film Forum will be on Tues., November 24 at 8 PM. This program will combine short, stand-alone pieces with excerpts from many of Ms. Z’s full-evening intermedia performance works – including segments from her latest work-in-progress “Baggage Allowance” –providing a representative survey of an extensive body of work.