For modular synthesizer, field recordings, live electronics and prepared Piano
RARE EARTH maps the unruly material byproducts of the anthropocene — in this case, the particles of rare earth metals lodged in the lungs and nervous systems of the miners who once worked in British Columbia’s now abandoned “Cassiar City.” Used as integral components in contemporary digital technologies, rare earth metals have become some of the most sought after raw materials in the world — but also some of the most hazardous. Formerly one of the largest providers of rare earth metals in the world, Cassiar City and its mine were abandoned when rampant negligence was uncovered, as many miners developed health problems on account of unsafe exposure to fine rare earth dust that results from industrial scale mining operations.
In spite of the sleek aesthetic, and seeming ephemeral immateriality of contemporary media, here we are reminded that it is bodies — both human and technological — that register the impact of the material force of a planet in revolt. It is precisely the waste of the Anthropocene which impede the designated uses of contemporary technologies: industrial dust renders transistors, chips, and lungs useless. RARE EARTH witnesses techno-material agency set against the artistic prowess of performer and composer — it stages a conflict between disparate material forces, one in which neat distinctions between nature, technology, improvisation, and composition erode.
Commissioned by Gaudeamus Muziekweek