Color-Drone Project /// Mason Brown + Ian Cone

The experience of creating and working on the Color-Tone Drone project was quite different than anything we’d ever undertaken. I presented the concept of a light-guided guitar orchestra to my good friend Mason Brown knowing his similar interests in avant-garde and experimental music, as well as his talent and enthusiasm for the guitar. The idea resonated with him for a while and we both knew it could be done through non-traditional use of theatrical lighting. We met frequently throughout the year to discuss the project, and after a lot of work and some out of pocket expenses we eventually figured out how to make the idea happen using a computer to transform compositional data into lighting data through a somewhat tedious programming process.

With our debut event, Synaesthesia I, we knew we’d have to make it all happen on a mostly do-it-yourself level. After a few tests with the lights and an illuminating geodesic dome we constructed, and some brief rehearsal with our first guitar orchestra, a 16-piece grouping of mostly friends and past collaborators, we were ready. The event went even better than we expected and we had a great crowd there to support us. We knew we wanted Synaesthesia II to be at the Goat Farm here in Atlanta, so soon thereafter we pitched the concept to their staff. They loved it and suggested the event take place in their larger space, which was a bit unexpected. We were thrilled at the opportunity, and their staff of graphic designers, event coordinators, technicians were really incredible to work with. We were not used to handing over some of our responsibilities, but without the help of the Goat Farm staff it would have been almost impossible to pull off. This time we recruited a group of 25 friends and collaborators to play, and it was really exciting just having all those friends playing together in the same room.

When it comes to planning the logistics and the composition for each event it is more of a discussion or a game of mental chess where we bounce ideas off of eachother. I’m constantly thinking of ways to incorporate interactive and conceptual art and sculpture into visuals for our performances. I’ll be inspired by things like a massive balloon light at an event or at work (film sets) or a James Turrell or Olafur Eliasson piece, and this tends to get ingested into the project in some visual form or another. The concept is continuing to expand with each event, and we have a lot of ideas for the future. Audience members tend to have a lot of great ideas to add as well. One friend of mine wants to see a version where the guitarists are playing wireless guitars while roller-skating around a roller-rink. I would love to see that happen.

In the future we are hoping to continue to expand our concept by potentially incorporating more diverse instrumentation, having more interactive or live human-controlled lighting sequences, and also accompanying performances with installations that may occupy a space for a longer period of time. The visual element is very dependent upon budget and we have faced some challenges in that department but it always comes together in the end and we also end up with multiple residual ideas for installation projects. We are interested in working with art spaces, venues, and festivals in and out of town where ever we can get support and short term residency if needed. We are looking forward to seeing how far we can take this project and how it will evolve. Although we have very diverse and ecclectic taste in music and art we feel that this concept can appeal to a broader audience than some other projects we are involved in because of it's minimal, ambient, and non-representaional nature. We are aiming to do one performance annually in Atlanta so if you missed it this year there is always next year.

Ian Cone