Voice at First Sight

Artist C. Spencer Yeh performs a live adaptation of his project “America: The Artists Eye,” published by Triple Canopy on November 17, 2015. He is joined by Triple Canopy editors Lucy Ives and Alexander Provan.

Videography by Jessica Lee

With C. Spencer Yeh 7:00 p.m. 155 Freeman St, Brooklyn $5

“The primitive artist occupied a place that would later be filled by the photographer.” So says the warbling voice, at once earthy and genteel, of the female narrator in C. Spencer Yeh’s “America: The Artist’s Eye,” Florence Eldridge, an actress born in Brooklyn and nominated for a Tony Award in 1957. So says America: The Artist’s Eye, a three-minute-long educational film produced in 1963 by the Westinghouse Broadcasting Co. and later unearthed in a Maryland wood shop. So says one narrator among many whose voices are synthesized, reformatted, compressed, and embodied by Yeh in his quest to experience “the convergence of seemingly disparate modes of reproduction and even perceive the past and the present at once.” The reader is invited—by Yeh; by Spenser/Stephen C. Yeah, Hollywood somebody chasing that authentic vibe (“It’s like, man, how big is the freaking universe?!”); by Clavier Wilcox, purveyor of text-to-speech solutions; by the MPEG’d and remarkable self-taught artists of early America, who traveled the back roads on horseback or on foot in search of customers—to “visit your museum to see America through the eyes of our leading artists.” The reader recalls the soundtrack to American Beauty, makes a note to DL from iTunes for a yoga sesh.

For Voice at First Sight, Yeh will screen and read “America: The Artist’s Eye,” which was published in Triple Canopy’s Pointing Machines issue and emerged from Yeh’s collaborative work with the magazine as part of the 2014 Whitney Biennial. Yeh will also present related works, including excerpts from a visual and musical interpretation of Alexander Calder’s Calder’s Circus (1926–31) and a series of dubbed music videos featuring amateur covers of popular songs. These songs tend to be released on iTunes and other online marketplaces, the authorship concealed by occasional pseudonyms, the impetus being the difference in cost between parroting and licensing the copyrighted version (the ultimate destination is often karaoke machines), the musicians being awkwardly accented and undistinguished. Yeh’s dubs meld the covers and the original music videos, and in so doing envision a world in which copies supplant originals. They are inspired by so-called private press LPs in which amateur musicians intuitively reproduce popular song forms, with results that are extremely various, and whose inventiveness cannot easily be separated from their derivativeness.

Yeh will joined in a conversation about his work by Triple Canopy coeditor Alexander Provan.

  • C. Spencer Yeh is an artist, improviser, composer. He is widely recognized for his interdisciplinary activities and collaborations as well his musical project Burning Star Core. His video works are distributed by Electronic Arts Intermix. Yeh is a Triple Canopy senior editor and media producer editor, a contributing editor of BOMB, and a programmer and trailer editor at Spectacle Theater, a microcinema in Brooklyn. Yeh's work has recently been exhibited and presented at Empty Gallery (Hong Kong), the Whitney Museum (New York City), the Museum of Modern Art (New York City), MoMA PS1 (New York City), the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), the Rubin Museum (New York City), MOCA Cleveland, the 2014 Liverpool Biennial, the Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival, Atelier Nord/Ultima Festival (Oslo), D-CAF (Cairo), the Renaissance Society (Chicago), and the Museum of Chinese in America (New York City), as part of "The Moon Represents My Heart: Music, Memory, and Belonging." Yeh was a recipient of the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists award in 2019 and an artist-in-residence at ISSUE Project Room (New York City) in 2015. Recent recordings include Solo Voice I–X and The RCA Mark II, both published by Primary Information.