From September 4 through 9, 2008,
Cincinnati, the birthplace of circuit-bending, will host its first
Circuitastrophe! The dream child of Professor Mark Shafer and the
noise music artist Nebulagirl, Circuitsastrophe! will presents 20+ performers
and groups from around the country appearing at some of Cincinnati’s most
unusual and historic venues such as Northside’s vintage Masonic Art Damage
Lodge. The lineup is included at the end of this press release.
features workshops and talks, including a rare public appearance by Reed
Ghazala on September 6, presenting “The Folk Music of Chance Electronics,” or
“How to Start an Art Movement Without Really Trying.”
Note: The first 100 people to Reed’s talk on Saturday will receive a “Funky
little chunk” of bent history, sure to become a top collector’s item in the
circuit-bending catalog of oddities.
Circuitsastrophe!, Reed Ghazala, the “founder of the circuit-bending
movement,” has invited fellow benders, hackers, anyone interested in futurist
electronic art to the first Bent Be-In.
What’s a Be-In?
The first Be-In occurred in 1967, in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. At least
20,000 people showed-up. There were no mishaps, no arrests. In fact, the police
weren’t even invited. The occasion was to become known as the launching of the
counterculture, the Beat generation merging with the Hippies in a wave of social
evolution. It was at this gathering that Timothy Leary first announced his
now-famous challenge to convention, “Tune In, Turn On, Drop Out.”
Circuit-benders have tuned-in, turned-on, and dropped-out of the conventional,
and are now at the heart of the next generational change. Bending has stirred
notions beyond music; a solidarity of community spirit has emerged in
self-empowerment, consciousness expansion, futurist art, humanist politics,
consumer rights, human rights, and environmentalism. Well, we are still
Anyway, a reporter from the San Francisco Oracle looked out over the crowd and
asked what they were all doing, sitting there, seemingly doing nothing. The
answer came back, “They’re humans, being.” And so, it was a Human Be-In. A show
of solidarity, togetherness, a sharing, and a declaration that futures can be
Although the same numbers may not show up, Reed has chosen a large and splendid
riverside camp for this gathering—Morgan’s Canoe Camp near the Fort Ancient
state historic site.
“The Oregon Country Fair, probably the friendliest tripped-out art fair in the
country, gets a turnout of thousands each year now. They have to turn people
away. But it started with just a small group of like-minded folks with a real
intent to show people cool things, and that energy just spread out more each
year. It’s totally wonderful now, a mind-blower.”—Reed
Just forty minutes north of Cincinnati on Interstate 71, the Fort Ancient area
is the site of a mysterious, world-renowned complex of earthen mounds built by
woodland Native Americans some 2,000 years ago.
Like Stonehenge, these ancient structures were celestial
calendars, and the area is to this day a “power spot” for meditation and study.
The Be-In will happen in the heart of this sacred area, at a woodsy bend of the
beautiful Little Miami River.
Primarily, the Be-In is a meeting place. A day for benders to
hang-out, make connections, discuss ideas, show instruments, jam together,
and simply BE. It is part of Circuitastrophe! And specifically set up for its
performers and aspiring benders and their fellow-travelers. And anyone else
interested. We’re working on a dedicated swap/barter area.
promises to have some very cool things from
Mendelson’s—the renowned electronics salvage store in Dayton, Ohio—for sale,
vintage stuff. And there will be lots of bendables for sale, straight out
of Ohio’s (cheap) thrift shops, at no markup (think Speaks for 69 cents).
While the emphasis is on electronics and circuit-bending materials, if you or
your friend makes something too cool out of whatever, lay it out a blanket or
folding table and name a price—or swap for something you just have to have.
Straight-up sales of your band CDs are fine.
Performing at the Be-In
We have no electricity at the Be-In. Still, our under-the-trees performance
series, OFF THE GRID, is shaping-up. If you’d like to perform (or demonstrate)
at the Be-In, just remember to bring a battery-powered amp and you’ll be fine.
There will also be “Spontaneity” spots, where anyone can play/demo/perform,
anytime, besides the official OFF THE GRID line-up.
If you would like to
perform at the Be-In, and can survive without AC, send us a DVD sample of the
actual work you would do. Set lengths should be of a reasonable length—15 to 30
minutes. Your submission will be viewed by Reed and his Be-In bigwigs. We are
looking for sensitive, artistic use of circuit-bending, with a focus on changing
sound fields, strong compositional elements, and unique performance aspects
(costume, effects, theatrics).
Send DVDs to:
BE-IN: Off The Grid c/o S. Wheatie
P O Box 37062
Cincinnati, OH 45222
Going to the Be-In
We have plans to document the Be-In as well as
Circuitsastrophe! You might
be photographed, filmed, and interviewed. We want you to record your onsite jams
and then leave or send the recordings for a master CD/DVD booklet of the Be-In.
Reed will be circulating. “I want to hug everyone that comes.” He wants you to
ask “all the tough questions” you have about the art. And he wants to see what
you’ve built. So show him!