Please join us for "Uncanny Valley," a piano/poetry/electronics concert Print
News Releases - Music & Entertainment
Written by Univ. of Iowa Press   
Friday, 11 January 2013 14:02

The University of Iowa Center for New Music is proud to presentguest pianist Oni Buchanan and author/poet Jon Woodward performing"Uncanny Valley"a piano/poetry/electronics concert-length work by composer John Gibson

In this program, the piano performance of Oni Buchanan joins and reflects the spoken text of the poem Uncanny Valley as performed by its author, Jon Woodward. Uncanny Valley is a long serial poem in sixteen sections, meant to be read aloud, with numerous optional repeats throughout the text. These repetitions act as accumulations of sound, maddening as well as hypnotic, and Gibson's piece provides a sonic environment in which they can truly blossom.

Although the pacing is determined by the two performers, the musical specificity of each section (from Morse code to sine waves to jazz to a brief quote from Schumann) reflects the poem text in ever-different ways. Digital samples triggered by the reader enmesh the piano and spoken text, haunting the music with echoes of itself. Extending outward from the phenomenon of "semantic satiation" (whereby a single word loses all apparent meaning and identity when repeated for even a short duration), this program investigates whether the same satiation is possible with phrases, sentences, pairs of verse lines, or musical forms.

In 1970, roboticist Masahiro Mori coined the term "uncanny valley" to describe the emotional and empathetic chasm between humans and imperfect human simulacra, a gap created by their imperfection. This program searches out what is most uncanny, and most human, in both language and music.

For more information about the event, please click here.

To hear an excerpt of "Uncanny Valley," please click here.

When & Where

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Riverside Recital Hall

405 N. Riverside Dr.


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