From March 25th to April 2nd Artist Zoe Nowak visited Texas A&M giving workshops, interviews and ended with a night of performances along with students of the Texas A&M School of Performance, Visualization and Fine Art.
Conceived by Dr. Will Connor
The visit was conceived and facilitated by the new faculty member of the SoPVFA Dr. William Connor, a Texas-based scholar and percussionist who is a lecturer and currently teaching Performance in World Cultures (PERF 301), Electronic Music Composition (PERF 318) and as well as supporting an Independent Study (PERF 685). In addition to his teaching, in the fall of 2022, Dr. William Connor was able to garner resources and funds to develop of Analog Music lab. This lab has proven to be popular with the students and faculty a like. The Media & Gaming Lab visited the Analog Music Lab at the beginning of the Spring 2023 semester and it was a good time.
In an effort to further build out the School of Performance, Visualization and Fine Art’s public facing activities, Dr. Connor applied for one of the schools Interdisciplinary Collaboration Grants. He pitched Zoe Nowak coming to Texas A&M where she would give workshops and put on a show incorporating students from multiple disciplines. The application was accepted and the Media & Gaming Lab is proud to say we were chosen to be part of this collaborative interdisciplinary effort!
The Artist: Zoe Nowak
Artist Zoe Nowak is a U.S. based electronic music artist. Through out her teenage and early twenties Zoe developed a love for musical performance, performing with bands as a drummer, as well delving into her interests with electronics, specifically, tape looping, sequencing and live electronic performance. Zoe now performs electronic in a wide array of spaces using hardware interfaces that allow her to integrate with other performers. She also creates solo pieces that involve poly rhythms and noise that translates into sound spaces that are known to envelope the listener and audience.
High Impact Visits
In addition to performing, Zoe visited multiple classes such as a graduate communication course about gender and identity, as well as music courses. In addition Zoe gave a talk at the Transcend meeting, a groups whose goals are to:
“Transcend exists to better fit the needs of the growing population of students that identify in the transgender, bi-gender, agender, and gender nonconforming spectrum(s).”
As stated by the title, these visits proved to very high impact and allowed students to directly engage with Zoe and her work.
Media & Gaming Lab Monday Meeting & Interview
On March 27th, Zoe Nowak met with the Media & Gaming Lab for an interview and then discussion. Rick Pulos of the Media & Gaming Lab volunteered to head up the weeks worth of on location shooting. For the interview Rick produced and shot the video and Rolf Rydahl was the boom operator. Director of the media lab, joey, interviewed Zoe Nowak. The interview went very well and when it becomes available we will post it here, until then, here are some behind the scene shots.
After the interview Zoe Nowak and the students jammed on her work and also showed their work. It was a great time and the students really enjoyed the experience.
KAMN Radio Visit
Dr. Connor lined up a KAMN Radio visit for Zoe Nowak and boy was it a cool session. KAMN Radio is TAMU’s radio station and they produce a segment called “KAMN Library Sessions.” Zoe put on a good show, check it out.
This section will be broken up into two sections. Professor joey’s reflections and Dr. William Connors, so as to give an attendees view and production.
My reflection of Zoe’s Saturday performance was one from the theater’s cat walk as I was charged with making sure we captured a wide angle with our Sony A7iii. This position gave me a super unique view and one that I loved as I not only got to see Zoe and the students performance from a unique view but also the dancers.
The unique position I was in also allowed me to use my iPhone 14 pro to capture both photos and video of the performance.
The performance itself was amazing. Zoe and Dr. Connor’s students performance was integrated very well and as a quasi audience member I found it to be seamless. I will admit that I am a huge fan of Zoe’s genre, industrial electronica/noise music. The dancing added depth to the performance as well and gave the space an aura that exuded a human experience of body, sound and vision. The length of the piece also worked well for me as I have a short attention span and felt that the works has a progression that allowed for breath in the work while having poly rhythmic features that kept the piece engaging.
Dr. Will Connor’s reflections
Zoe Nowak’s visit to A&M provided an amazing, unique opportunity for everyone involved. The students were given the chance to explore their instruments, experience playing live on stage, and hone their improvisational skills. Dancers imparted that they had not been able to work with music of the style before, citing a mixture of rhythmic and arrhythmic passages, experimental analogue electronic music, and the spontaneous adjustment to varying combinations of other improvising dancers live during a performance. The visual arts graduate student, Emilee Hart, who was responsible for the moving images that accompanied the performance was an inspiration to all the performers, and was guided by the artistic prompts presented by Nowak. Zoe herself also expressed the rareness of the opportunities the performance and engagement throughout the week provided for the her and the students alike.
Furthermore, on a personal note, I am extremely proud of the students involved, who all came together without much or any prior musical or improvisational experience, and embraced Zoe’s visit and their performance with the utmost professionalism and creative vigor. I couldn’t have been any more pleased with the result of the two shows, and I truly hope that the students involved will continue to seek out similar creative endeavors, fulfilling their interests and producing interesting and exciting new works simultaneously.
I also want to thank the audience who attended and supported the event. I received a almost overwhelming amount of positive feedback from the concert goers, colleagues, and the administrators who helped make this opportunity for the students and Zoe a reality. Without the support of people like Joey and all of the fantastic students who are part of his media lab, the student radio station, several student groups and local community members, especially Transcend, who reached out to Zoe during her stay offering outlets for her to express herself in a variety of ways, my fellow teachers and staff at the School of Performance, Visualization, and Fine Arts, and general public, especially the local LGBTQ+ community, the performances and Zoe’s visit as a whole would not have been possible, let alone such an outstanding success.
The biggest thanks, though, goes to Zoe, herself, traveling from Arizona to work with the students and enrich the quality of performative life here at A&M, bring her incredible music and wonderful personality to share with us. We are all better for it and I look forward to when we are able to do it again!