Pamela Z

Doris Duke Impact Award, 2015

San Francisco, CA

For over thirty years, Pamela Z, an innovator of electroacoustic music and the use of everyday technology, has worked with voice, live electronic processing, sampled sound, and video. Her large-scale works include Baggage Allowance (2011), which allowed audiences to investigate memory and personal belongings through live performance and an interactive web-based installation. Her 2005 multimedia opera, Wunderkabinet, co-composed with Matthew Brubeck, was inspired by the exhibits at the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles. She has toured extensively throughout the US, Europe, and Japan playing in numerous festivals including Bang on a Can at Lincoln Center (NYC), Interlink (Japan), La Biennale di Venezia (Italy), and Pina Bausch Tanztheater Festival (Wuppertal, Germany). She has received numerous awards and recognitions, including a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her most recent solo project, Memory Trace, will premiere at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in April 2016.

  • Photo Credit: Donald Swearingen
  • Pamela Z- Baggage Allowance (excerpts) (2010): /113882583
    Baggage Allowance (excerpts) (2010)
  • Photo Credit: rurbra (courtesy of Ars Electronica)
  • Photo Credit: Goran Vejvoda
  • Pamela Z- ACQUA (2014): /106552646
    ACQUA (2014)
  • Pamela Z- Carbon Song Cycle (excerpts) (2013) : /113883172
    Carbon Song Cycle (excerpts) (2013)
  • Pamela Z- Breathing (2014: /93931033
    Breathing (2014

What are your key goals for the award period? What challenges, desires, drives, or needs are inspiring these goals?

For many years, I’ve used a particular set of tools in my performance practice, including software for live processing of sound and video, and gesture-controlled instruments for triggering or manipulating sound and image, but I have tended to stay within my own established sonic and gestural vocabulary. I plan to use this time to re-invent my system to accommodate more fluid integration of live performance elements, and broaden my sonic and visual palette. I want to make work that is more abstract, more organic, and less sonically and visually predictable. Also, I’m sorely lacking in recorded work. It’s been entirely too long since I’ve released anything, because I’m always so tightly scheduled with composing and performing projects. Now, I plan to set aside some solid blocks of time to record, mix, and release some of my solo works as well as my more recent ensemble works.