New editing project — Witness: South Sudan

The episode of the docu-series Witness that I edited will premiere on HBO on Nov. 19th. It profiles the photographer Veronique de Viguerie.  It was directed and produced by David Frankham, and produced by Michael Mann.

The four-part series premiers on Monday, November 5th. For more information on HBO Documentary Films, visit

The embodied voice: Thea Musgrave and Kui Dong

Below are two very different yet fantastic examples of perfomative choral music, and each brings entirely different musical and cultural influences to their work.  Thea Musgrave and Kui Dong are two of my favorite coposers who work in the avant-garde and yet ancient tradition of giving their musical performers performative cues as part of their musical score.  In works such as those below, these composers treat the physical presentation of the music as inseperable from the score itself, yet they present their works in a composed music setting as opposed to a theatrical or otherwise traditionally performative setting — to great effect.

Kui Dong (董葵, born 1966, Beijing, China) is a Chinese-American composer, musician, and teacher. She is known for her music which has often incorporated traditional Chinese music into contemporary contexts, and is currently Professor of Music at Dartmouth College.

Thea Musgrave(b. 27 May 1928) is a Scottishcomposer of opera and classical music.  In 1970 she became Guest Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, a position which confirmed her increasing involvement with the musical life of the United States, where she has lived since 1972. She has received the Koussevitsky Award (1974) as well as two Guggenheim Fellowships (1974/5 and 1982/3). From 1987 to 2002 she was Distinguished Professor at Queen’s College, City University of New York. She holds honorary degrees from Old Dominion University (Virginia), Glasgow University, Smith College and the New England Conservatoire in Boston. In 2002 she was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours List.

If the pain of love were not so pleasant

Adam de la Halle:

Se li maus c'amours envoie

This is the most beautiful song I've ever heard.  It was recorded by the group Sequentia — Barbara Thornton (voice), Benjamin Bagby (harp) — in 1984. The composer, Adam de la Halle, or Adam le Bossu (Adam "the hunchback") lived from 1285 and 1288.  Much of the notation of his music is lost or unclear, and requires active (re)interpretation.

If the pain of love

Were not so pleasant,

One could never suffer through it

For very long without taking the road

To despair, or worse.

But it is such pleasing pain, 

And Love is so gentle,

And is the source of such noble thoughts,

That, in truth, it can be Paradise

For those who love truly. 

The hope of the joy

Of seeing her,

And Love's amaible manners

Encourage every suitor to hope

That he will gain favor,

Provided he will be happy

And eager to serve,

Only hoping for the best,

For no one is suitably enamoured

Who has not this resolve.

I would not for anything in the world

Want to believe that a true lover

Could ever be inconsistent,

Or that he could shrink from sufferings;

Provided his heart and desires

Are ever inclined towards that smiling face,

Those sweet, loving eyes,

And the noble bearing,

And all the goodness, honor and worthiness

Which have made him a prisoner.

For this is what soothes and restores

Those who are most patient in love;

And this is what compels them to sing,

In the hopes that Humility will intercede in their favor.

No advantage is accorded to the bold

Who love only as they see fit,

But steadfast lovers always prosper,

Heedful of their tasks:

Mercy favors them.

My lady, if I thought that I would live

For one hundred thousand years.

And even if you were no longer living,

I could never think of another;

You have so utterly enchanted me

That there will never arise in me anything but joy

At that place where my pure and devothed thoughts

Are fixed. This is my suffering,

And I shall die possessed by it,

I am certain.

O sweet month of May or April,

I am barred from entering that sweet place.

See that my song gets sung

There, and is attended. 

Kestrel's Eye

This intrepid documentary by Swedish filmmaker Mikael Kristersson follows two European falcons as they go about their daily activities. Two years in the making, the film is shot without any supplemental audio, allowing the two birds to be the sole focal point. As the birds hunt for food and care for their offspring, viewers are treated to a literal bird's-eye view from their nest at the top of an old church steeple. (Netflix)

Dark Current

I am delving into dark currents, the scientific poetry of video.  This is what mimesis seeks to screen out: the medium.  Or more specifically, the primacy of the pheno-text.  I would even call it the accountability of the image.  The video image is imagined as immaterial, and yet the material itself is expressive — literally.  As Roland Barthes put it, "The 'grain' is the body in the voice as it sings, the hand as it writes, the limb as it performs." (IMAGE/MUSIC/TEXT, p.188)

In physics and in electronic engineering, dark current is the relatively small electric current that flows through photosensitive devices such as a photomultiplier tube, photodiode, or charge-coupled device even when no photons are entering the device.  It is referred to as reverse bias leakage current in non-optical devices and is present in all diodes. Physically, dark current is due to the random generation of electrons and holes within the depletion region of the device that are then swept by the high electric field.

The charge generation rate is related to specific crystallographic defects within the depletion region. Dark-current spectroscopy can be used to determine the defects present by monitoring the peaks in the dark current histogram's evolution with temperature.

Dark current is one of the main sources for noise in image sensors such as charge-coupled devices. The pattern of different dark currents can result in a fixed-pattern noise; dark frame subtraction can remove an estimate of the mean fixed pattern, but there still remains a temporal noise, because the dark current itself has a shot noise. (WIKIPEDIA)