Blackbody Radiation: Performance-Installation

Friday, March 18, 2016
@ FATVillage Projects

The Nerve Performance Art Festival
Curated by: Leah Brown, Peter Symons, and Jen Clay.

Odd Time

featuring Kassa, Kool A.D., and Dada Powell
produced by troubadour
visuals by Jason Anthony Lalor

Free At Last

produced by troubadour
vocals/visuals by Jason Anthony Lalor (fka Dada Powell)

Dollar Slice of Pizza

produced by troubadour
vocals/visuals by Jason Anthony Lalor (fka Dada Powell)
made with RBGD Toolkit

Blackbody Radiation: Concept Overview

Thesis Demo

Thesis Summary

Hip hop culture encompasses visual as well as literary practice. Traditionally, rappers are acknowledged for their literary and lyrical prowess, including their ability to engage listeners with vivid storytelling and performance. But how would the perception of rappers change if their literary skill was matched with an accompanying design sensibility and methodology? What sorts of performances would emerge from this kind of hybrid rapper / visual designer? ¬†Further, technology and hip hop music have developed parallel to each other — from turntables used by early hip hop DJs to software that allows hip hop producers to create and record hip hop music with relative ease; nonetheless, with few exceptions, rap performance has changed very little since its emergent years. Can technology be employed to change this particular facet of hip hop music?¬†Using technology as the bridge between design and rap, this thesis aims to address these questions and ultimately establish “hip hop performance art” as a distinct element of hip hop culture. It will draw from the multimedia performances of Sun Ra, and the post-modern rap performances of artists such as Kanye West, Jay-Z, and J-Live, and examine the history of various forms of hip hop performance within a new media art perspective.

The thesis itself will take the form of a new media performance involving projected visuals that accompany and augment a song about self-discovery, empowerment, and vulnerability. The goal is to create a unique and immersive new-media rap experience, without completely abandoning traditional rap performance characteristics — particularly, the interaction between performer and audience. Indeed, the use of new media strategies will effectively strengthen this interaction by using the performer’s voice as the catalyst for the visual presentation; therefore, it will be within the audience’s best interests to encourage the rapper to continue his vocal performance, in order to reap the benefit of experiencing the presentation in its fullest capacity.

Thesis Inspiration

Lyrics to “Free at Last”


These have been my darkest days
Some time soon I’ll start to change
But what is the difference in the things you can
And things you can’t
Is it nature, is it fate?
Is it something you attain
In those times you feel the pain?
And whose to blame?

New notes on Thesis Statement

Use projected visuals to tell the story of how the act of rapping and performing helps to reveal the true nature of the emcee / performer. The louder the rapper speaks, the more pronounced the visuals will become. The visuals will be projected on the body of the performer, to further enhance the link between the act of rapping and what it reveals about the hidden nature of the performer. The visuals will also be directly related to the lyrics of the song. Additional visuals will correspond to elements of the music, including specific beats and notes.

Theme: self-discovery and empowerment through vulnerability.