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John Morton: Fever Songs
September 20, 2018 @ 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm
An event every week that begins at 12:00pm on Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, repeating until October 28, 2018
Fever Songs is an interactive sound installation by John Morton to be installed in the back garden at Edward Hopper House Museum and Study Center. Fever Songs focuses on the variety of chants, incantations, songs, and vocalized text found in religious expression throughout the world. It is a commingling of ritual and scriptural vocalization, recorded live whenever possible, woven together and sonically altered by ever-changing computer processing and
sensor-proximity location. Fever Songs is a multi-channel sonically encompassing musical experience,
where the audience is free to wander in a specified space. As they move about, sensors will calculate
proximity & control aspects of the audio output. The actual sonic choices (samples) are woven together,
harmonized, commingled and overlapped by computer.
The installation will be devoid of doctrine. Rather, it is a bringing together of the commonality of the human
ecstatic experience. Morton explains that he is deeply moved by the cultural and vocal expressions of various
religions – “whether it be chant, drone, incantation, speaking-in-tongues, call-and-response, etc. Once religious
text has moved into the musical, there is a sense of meaning that becomes aesthetic rather than doctrinal. To
my ears, it is something all religions share.”
Vocal material for Fever Songs was gathered and recorded from vocalists/practitioners in New York State and
throughout the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic region in the following religious communities: Tibetan Buddhist,
Haitian, Abenaki, Christian, Hindu, Islamic, and Jewish. Morton will be incorporating location recordings
gathered by other musicologists as well.
Born in Los Angeles, Morton studied privately with David Sheinfeld in San Francisco and then attended the California Institute of the Arts, where he studied with Morton Subotnick and Lucky Mosko. For the last 10 years, Morton has been creating large-scale installations that involve direct public interactivity and are based on a particular time and place. In 2014, Usonia, created in collaboration with media students from the Jacob Burns Media Lab was part of the sound festival “Garden of Sonic Delights” at Caramoor. In 2017, he exhibited a new interactive work, Backchannel, at ODETTA Gallery in Brooklyn. Prior to its installation at the Edward Hopper House, Fever Song was presented at ODETTA Gallery from April through May of 2018. Morton currently lives and works in Tappan, New York. Fever Songs is a fiscally sponsored project of NY Foundation for the Arts, and has received support from NYSCA, The Foundation for Contemporary Art, and Symbol Audio.