Data-Driven Sounds

Together musicians Kaki King, Spencer Topel, and Jay Alan Zimmerman share how they are using data not just to make sounds but to see and experience music. Kaki King’s 2020 Arts & Ideas commissioned Data Not Found explores how big data and personal data have come to affect our lives, and what those effects look and sound like, Yale Quantum Institute Artist-in-Residence Spencer Topel breaks down the sounds of a single moving electron, and composer Jay Alan Zimmerman discusses his collaboration with Google and their music visualization tools.

Join the panelists for a special post-talk reception at Alexion hosted by the Elm City Innovation Collaboration and Yale Quantum Institute.

Ideas talks are going on all Festival long! Read our advice on how to get the most from these explorative conversations >

Kaki King

Hailed by Rolling Stone as “a genre unto herself,” Brooklyn-based composer and guitarist Kaki King has released 9 albums over the past 14 years. She has performed on every continent over the course of multiple world tours, and has presented her work in a variety of prestigious arts centers, including the Kennedy Center, MoMA, LACMA and The Met. Kaki has created music for numerous film and TV soundtracks, including “August Rush” and Sean Penn's “Into the Wild”, for which received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Score.

In 2015 Kaki launched "The Neck is a Bridge to the Body", a groundbreaking multi-media performance that uses projection mapping to turn her guitar into a projection screen depicting a wildly luminous creation myth. King also recently recorded her first full-length album with symphony orchestra, commissioned by the Berklee College of Music, which was released in 2017. Most recently she has added album producer and record label owner to her credits with the announcement of Treya Lam’s debut album Good News, released in June 2018.

Spencer Topel

Spencer Topel is an artist combining sound, sculpture, and installation. He was educated at The Juilliard School, Cornell University, and later joined the faculty at Dartmouth College as a professor of music. There he collaborated with installation artist Soo Sunny Park on several projects including Capturing Resonance for the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park. This intersectional effort led Topel to develop a body of work over the past ten years combining sound, architecture, and performance.  

Topel current and past projects with international arts and performing arts institutions include: Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) NY; The Barnes Foundation, Drawing Center NY, The Arts Club of Chicago, DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park Boston, Det Frei Gallerie, The Hood Museum, and The Huddersfield Festival. His work has been performed by celebrated ensembles that include the FLUX Quartet NY, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, the Oregon Symphony, and the Juilliard Symphony. Notable collaborations continue with cellist Seth Parker Woods, FIGURA Ensemble (Copenhagen), and the Meitar Ensemble (Tel Aviv).

Topel is currently the Artist-in-Residence at the Yale Quantum Institute. Upcoming exhibitions include a large-scale indoor solar installation for The Proctor Academy in Andover NH, set for install in August 2019.

Jay Alan Zimmerman

Jay Alan Zimmerman is a composer, author, speaker, and visual music innovator. He's been featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, Playbill, Broadway World, Voice Of America, and NPR/WNYC/BBC Radio, and his inventive stories, songs, & scores for theatre, film, and dance have been seen at Lincoln Center, Times Square, London’s West End, Canada, and Europe — including the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Paris Pompidou. After losing both home and hearing in the 9/11 tragedy, he transformed his story of resilience into the award-winning INCREDIBLY DEAF MUSICAL seen Off Broadway at the Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater and The Duke on 42nd Street. Then he turned a 30-foot tall window into an instrument for WINDOW MUSIC at the NY Academy of Medicine; morphed the LEMUR musical robots and 2-channel video into an orchestra in Brooklyn; combined EMMI musical bots with live singers at Spotify for ROBOTICUS; and integrated Broadway singers into projections of live frequency analysis for ART/SONG at chashama Times Square. Dance scores include the aerial works I’M KILLING MYSELF, SAFER, and THE SUNLIGHT ZONE as well as many works with choreographer Evann Siebens including THE LAST LEAF (Best Score, First Run Festival) and DO NOT CALL IT FIXITY (Special Music Award, Grand Prix International Video Danse Festival and selected North American film in the MOMA retrospective, Georges Pompidou Centre, Paris.)  In addition, Jay created and directed the award-winning short film musicals PAWNS and LOVE BURNS, composed over 30 children’s songs commissioned by Mondo Music and Warner/Chappell, and scored the plays BOOTH and OUR BRUTUS, which were both Fringe First Award winners at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and had New York and London productions.  Every year he debuts a new holiday song at Lincoln Center for his NAUGHTY & NICE HOLIDAY SONGBOOK—now available on Amazon. Most recently he developed the SETS MUSIC curriculum for the Deaf at Teacher's College/Columbia University, debuted his play COMFORT PET with Fault Line Theatre, and created the SEEING MUSIC visualizers with Google Creative Labs.

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