What Must The Hummingbird See? Performances


photo by Ann Summa, graphic design by Laurie Steellink

photo by Ann Summa, graphic design by Laurie Steellink

“What Must the Hummingbird See?” is a multimedia song cycle about a backyard in Echo Park where skunks, possums, hawks and cats manage to thrive. Written and performed by singer Weba Garretson and guitarist Ralph Gorodetsky, the music reflects a multitude of influences – from Avant pop, folk, noisy punk, opera and jazz. The songs examine the complex relationship between the urban individual and the urban wildlife that surrounds us. The multimedia component of the show includes home videos, shadow puppets and pen and ink illustrations. Edited, modified, and layered, the videos of animals featured in the songs (dead bees, slugs, hummingbirds, hawks) are projected directly onto the walls of the performance space creating an immersive experience.  Objects from the backyard — abandoned nests, dead insects, and animal bones —  are transformed into shadow puppets animated by Frances Garretson using an overhead projector. Title sequences connect the songs and are comprised of pen and ink illustrations by Joe Baiza, and collages by Frances Garretson. “Ralph plucks lines that meander like a dosed fire ant at the crossroads of Beefheart & Braxton. Weba’s voice swoops like a dove alongside and between, sometimes ending a song with an intense sustain. She’s singing about the creatures in her Echo Park life: birds, bugs, possums, cats. They traverse the same cycles of searching, nesting and predation that we do, a similarity Weba clearly grasps.… Meanwhile backyard nature videos are projected on two walls… while Frances Garretson adds a layer of shadow puppets. For two musicians, they spread out a wide spectrum. Most concerts don’t leave a lasting impression. After this one, we could find ourselves looking at other life forms in new ways. I hope they don’t look back.” 


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“What Must the Hummingbird See?” premiered at Automata in Chinatown in March of 2014.
The multimedia performance was made possible in part by a grant from the Center for Cultural Innovation.