Video Viewing Room: Clarice Jensen and Testu Collective

Jensen Testu

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Clarice Jensen and Testu Collective (Serena Stucke and Dan Tesene)

The experience of repetition as death

I recorded the album The experience of repetition as death (2020) in Berlin with Francesco Donadello at Vox-Ton studios. All the sounds were created by my cello through a variety of effects and effects pedals that I also use in live performance.

In writing this music, I tried to explore concepts of repetition in both large and small formats, and in both obvious and hidden ways. Very generally—in a programmatic sense—it explores the repetitive nature of our existence. Freud described the “compulsion to repeat” in his writings about the Death Drive (“Beyond the Pleasure Principle”). The title is a line from a poem by Adrienne Rich called “A Valediction Forbidding Mourning.”

As an experience, I hope this album in its repetition might provide the listener with a respite from—or reflection on—the malaise and/or comfort of life’s repetition. The central melodic theme of the album is repeated in tracks one, two, and five….

Clarice Jensen, April 2020

The video concept for Clarice’s album The experience of repetition as death is an aesthetic extension of Testu Collective’s previous work Acetone Oceans (2019). This work is rooted in the exploration of special effects techniques used in 60s/70s sci-fi films such as Andrei Tarkovsky’s sentient ocean in Solaris, created by zooming into unfolding chemical reactions. 

We allow the chemical transformations to guide us into finding organic patterns. Although we are using identical chemical building blocks, there is never a similar structure reproduced. New formations emerge from the repetition of mixing the same solvents, pigments, and catalysts. 

Just as Clarice’s album asks us to take a deep listen into the glacial movement of her layers of cello, we are asking the viewer to take a pause in this visual emergence.

— Serena Stucke and Dan Tesene, April 2020

Testu Collective, music video for Clarice Jensen, “Daily,” 2020

Testu Collective, music video for Clarice Jensen, “Day Tonight,” 2020

Testu Collective, music video for Clarice Jensen, “Metastable,” 2020

Testu Collective, music video for Clarice Jensen, “Holy Mother,” 2020

Testu Collective, music video for Clarice Jensen, “Final,” 2020

Screen Shot 2020 04 13 At 10.49.03 Am

Clarice Jensen is a composer and cellist based in Brooklyn, NYC who graduated with an MA from the prestigious Juilliard School. In her role as the artistic director of ACME (the American Contemporary Music Ensemble), she has helped bring to life some of the most revered works of modern classical music, including pieces by Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Gavin Bryars, and more. As a solo artist, Clarice has developed a distinctive compositional approach, improvising and layering her cello through shifting loops and a chain of electronic effects to open out and explore a series of rich, drone-based sound fields. Pulsing, visceral, and full of color, her work is deeply immersive, marked by a wonderful sense of restraint and an almost hallucinatory clarity. 

Jensen previously presented work at The Kitchen as part of the events Clarice Jensen and Jonathan Turner: For this from that will be filled  and Julius Eastman: Macle, Trumpet, Joan d’Arc  (with ACME). To learn more about the artist, visit her website.

Testu Collective is an interdisciplinary art group founded by Dan Tesene and Serena Stucke in 2017 in New York City. Testu creates experimental videos, concept soundtracks, and a.v. installations/performances. Currently the collective consists of an evolving group of performers, videographers, musicians, generative artists, and fabricators. The collective’s goal is to liberate imaginations through unique collaborations with artists in sound, movement, and video. Testu has created immersive installations and curated works at Triskelion Arts (Brooklyn), Wallplay’s On Canal (NYC), Flux Factory (Long Island City), Public Visuals (Brooklyn), Honey’s (Brooklyn), Sound Pedro (Los Angeles), and Ideal Glass (NYC). Testu Collective recently released an audio/visual compilation titled Solace to benefit COVID-19 charities. To learn more, visit the collective’s website.

Image: 1) Still from Testu Collective, music video for Clarice Jensen, “Day Tonight,” 2020, detail.

The Video Viewing Room series makes recent video works and archival performance recordings available online for one month at a time. This initiative revives The Kitchen’s longstanding Video Viewing Room—a dedicated space within our buildings from 1975 through the early 1990s. Functioning at first as a resource facility where visitors could watch their own tapes or view videos from The Kitchen’s archive and collection, in fall 1978 the Video Viewing Room began to feature curated programs of artists’ videos. To see a hand-drawn floor plan that shows where the Video Viewing Room was located within The Kitchen’s space at 59 Wooster Street circa 1984, click here.

Video Viewing Room: Clarice Jensen and Testu Collective is made possible with the support of the NYC COVID-19 Response and Impact Fund in The New York Community Trust; annual grants from Lambent Foundation Fund of Tides Foundation and Howard Gilman Foundation; and in part by public funds from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

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