Kingston After Dark: Orchestrated impulse

Eva Magill-Oliver

While some pop-viral cultural moments can resonate with a lot of people and continue to evolve in various remixes and forms (see every version of Old Town Road), often these days art is kind of like spaghetti thrown at the wall with the hopes that something sticks long enough to make an impact before the crushing inevitability of fast-moving, thumb-scrolling disinterest in the high-speed world moves on in the blink of an eye. What will it do to us as a society if we continue to chew up our media this way, like so much fast food? I am guessing the habit will not prove very nutritious in the long run. 

One of the most exciting aspects about Kingston’s annual O+ Festival, soon to be celebrating a tenth year October 11 through 13, is the interplay among visual arts, sound and personal experience. 

One of the most exciting exhibits this year takes that concept to the next level, a musical and visual collaboration called An Orchestrated Impulse. “Chris Hansen and I have been working back and forth with visual artist Eva Magill-Oliver,” said popular indie musician and Kingston-man-about-town Matt Pond. “We’ve scored to her paintings, she’s painted to our music.”


After two decades of pursuing simple truths in popular music, Pond has recently begun to take on projects that stretch beyond the conventional trajectory of independent rock and roll. He seeks unique opportunities for advanced expression. The end results are exciting. 

“Twelve paintings with twelve pieces of looping, ambient/experimental music across twelve keys in one space will be showing at the O+ Festival in Kingston on the weekend of October 11,” Matt discloses. “The purpose, in its simplest, purest form, is to underscore the necessity of meaningful conversation. We are fine with giving the music away. Further, we’re going to offer an open license for other people and artists to score what they want with the music we’ve made.” 

The artists have responded to each other’s work over time and across wireless miles in the languages they speak most fluently. Each piece in the collection is a reaction to what they have seen and heard from one another. Despite the distances involved, the end result promises to be cohesive and something very special that will offer many roads to meaning to the observer. While it is not a given what exactly you will feel, you’ll be hard-pressed not to feel something. 

In its completed state, An Orchestrated Impulse is intended to be interactively experienced. The observer can move through the installation to choose what to see and hear, and how intensely the pieces stand alone or in relation to each other. I absolutely love this idea. It seems to me like both a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book and a sort of do-it-yourself meditative remix maze. 

Eva Magill-Oliver is an artist currently living and working in Atlanta, Georgia known for visual works that reflect and explore different components of the natural world. Her main subject matter is drawn from abstractions and patterns in nature and in organic environments. She feels a sense of connection to the constantly evolving and transitioning state of the natural world that surrounds her.

Chris Hansen graduated from the Mannes School of Music and began his career as a manager and engineer at the legendary Bearsville Studios in Woodstock. He continues a long collaboration with Matt as a multi-instrumentalist and co-producer of numerous Matt Pond PA albums and EPs. He has scored and continues to compose music for film, television and mostly, himself. Matt and Chris have a long-running creative energy exchange. It is nice to see them bounce it off another creative person as they stretch boundaries to move beyond previous confines. 

A preview of the musical components of the work on Soundcloud that Matt Pond allowed me to consume, I was struck by the fact that the ambient and spacious, often soothing sounds really lend themselves to the wandering imagination even without paintings. It will be engaging to hear these works as part of a larger presentation.

I love when people can stretch their creative range conceptually and create new approaches for the ways we consume media, so nihilistically removed from the contemplative that we are as we race for shorter and shorter more immediate micro formats. An Orchestrated Impulse seems the flip side of that, something far more profound in scope than two-minute pop songs, tossoff art or other ephemera – though  those things do have their place.

I love how this exhibition unabashedly presents a more immersive and large-concept piece which leaves room for the listener and viewer to engage as much as their heart desires or time allows. The whole concept feels like a spatial meditation on the nature of life itself.