RED – is a collaborative project with Zoë Robertson.com (Canadian violinist), Zoe Robertson.co.uk (UK jewellery artist), and Dayna Szyndrowski (Canadian dancer) who put their skills together to create the video RED
Red is a collaborative project created by a duo of Zoe Robertson’s including Zoe Robertson.com a Canadian violinist and Zoe Robertson.co.uk a British jewellery artist.
The duo discovered each other online and whilst striking up dialogue across continents about their work and interests a collaborative project was born. They established parameters for the project and envisaged a performative film would be created with sound jewels, percussion and dance.
To begin a series of sound jewels were created by the jewellery artist using a variety of materials, technical processes and re appropriated objects. These jewels interpreted a list of favourite sounds established by the duo primarily around percussion and rhythm. These sounds would then be digitally captured to provide a moving soundscape for the film.
The duo meet twice during the project in Birmingham, UK during 2014. This period of enquiry was meet with humour, fun and creative chemistry. This enabled them to explore, experiment and capturing sounds either directly from the jewels or in contrast to sound from the violin.
Back home in Vancouver the musician spent the next few months cutting the recordings into pieces, mixing and digitally enhancing them into an ambient soundscape.
Later the duo where joined by Dayna Szyndrowski, a percussive dancer based in Vancouver, Cananda who was invited to choreograph a dance performance to go with the music. The project gained momentum when it transpired that Julie-anne Soyent and her organization MovEnt arranged for Dayna and Zoe to record the film at the black box theatre at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts with lighting designer Ken Reckahn.
With the teams support they explored abstracted flamenco rhythms, camera angles, choreography, lighting, mood, space, sound, and produced an extensive amount of footage. This when then sorted and distilled to create the final edit.
Discussing the project Zoe (Canadian violinist) said “…..I am not a natural collaborator but both Zoe (UK) and Dayna made it very easy……and I can only hope my future projects will be so blessed with gracious company as I have experienced with red….”
Zoe (jewellery artist) added…. “This chance encounter has a led to a fruitful collaboration, bringing together a diverse set of expertise resulting in an exciting outcome and wonderful achievement for all…”
The final film successfully showcases each collaborators expertise and demonstrates the ability to work across continents in a digital age.
What Zoë Robertson.com (Canadian violinist) had to say about the project……..
“…..Growing up, I thought my name was unusual. At some point in the 90s it became trendy and teachers could suddenly both spell and pronounce it, sparing these new Zoës from the baffling range of phonetic mutations I heard as a child.
Since Googling oneself became a thing I’ve known about the existence of other Zoë Robertsons. One in particular – a jewellery designer based in Birmingham – always trumped me in reaching the top of the results. I never gave it much more than an fist-shake at the screen, but in 2012 a frustrating series of changes to the UK’s immigration regulations plucked me from my violin career in London and deposited me back in Canada, forcing me to start over from scratch.
Starting over required some lateral thinking.
One day in 2013, I was staring at my search results and shaking my fist at this jewellery designer when I realized I could simply flip my thinking around. I sent her an email asking her if she’d like to collaborate on a video. She told me later she initially thought it was spam.
A few emails later, we’d established some parameters for the project. The jewellery would be worn while I played the violin and each would create a different percussive sound. To decide which sounds to create she asked me for a list of ten words describing my favorite sounds.
After this point I didn’t hear anything for a while. In collaborative projects I find things often reach a point at which they dissipate naturally without ever coming to completion. I was beginning to think this had happened to our project when I received a Dropbox file with photos and videos of about a dozen pieces of completed jewellery:
I hadn’t expected anything nearly so developed, and seeing the pieces injected the project with the fuel it needed to move forward. We arranged to meet in Birmingham when I was next visiting the UK in early 2014. When I arrived in the city, I found my way to the School of Jewellery at the Birmingham institute of Art and Design, where Zoe (UK) is the course director for the BA (Hons) Jewellery Design and Related Products course. I stood there in the lobby as I waited for her to come collect me, and stared up at the glass-walled classrooms surrounding the central atrium. It’s a beautiful building full of beautiful things – many of them shiny.
I had no idea what I was doing or whether this other Zoe and I would have any creative chemistry; we’d not yet even really spoken on the phone. So when she bounced out of the elevator with an enormous smile, gave me a bear hug, and started parading me around the school telling her colleagues, “Look, she’s real!”, I started to think maybe things would be fine.
The next eight hours or so were spent between the bar, a restaurant, and the basement of the School of Jewellery where I took recordings as I experimented with what we were now calling the Sound Jewels. There was – when I first looked down at the Sound Jewels with Zoe (UK) perched on a chair, waiting expectantly for me to make something happen with them – a moment of, “I have no idea how to make this into music.” But Zoe (UK) looked so hopeful, I felt compelled to pretend I wasn’t completely lost.
I spent the next few months cutting the recordings into pieces and mixing them into a short piece of music, which you can hear here.
Once the music was complete I contacted Dayna Szyndrowski, a percussive dancer based in Vancouver, and asked her if she’d be interested in choreographing a piece to go with the music. She responded with some enthusiasm, saying the music lent itself abstractly to flamenco rhythms. Only a few days later she informed me that Vancouver’s Julie-anne Soyent and her organization MovEnt had arranged for Dayna to have four days in a black box theater at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts with lighting designer Ken Reckahn.
For four days we were spoiled by Ken’s tremendous creativity and facility while we played with camera angles, choreography, lighting, mood, space and sound. At the end of it, I had a very tired camera and several hours of footage. Together, Dayna and I sorted through the clips and distilled it to the final edit:
I am not a natural collaborator but both Zoe (UK) and Dayna made it very easy. I will always have mountains to learn about process, software, creation and collaboration, and I can only hope my future projects will be so blessed with gracious company as I have experienced with red….”
red was completed using open-source software.
For audio recording and editing: REAPER
For video editing and post-processing: BLENDER3D
The process of turning the Sound Jewels red would not have been possible without the technical support of the Blender Artists Community forum, with a particular thank you to 3pointedit for his (patience with me and) node set-up.
For more information about making things RED please visit zoerobertson.com