NortonGarber.com

Bio

"A time that’s just time will let sounds be just sounds.....folk tunes, unresolved ninth chords, or knifes and forks...."
- John Cage, “Silence”,1961

Vermont based installation artist and musician Norton Garber builds installations composed
of sound, light and video. Often starting with sound, they develop organically and spontaneously, usually unearthing meaning along the way. Sound may be synthesized, sampled or spontaneously generated at the site, in the moment. The visual composition is abstract overall but figurative images are often prominent. Randomly changing elements are the rule.

Since the late 70’s, he and the painter Barbara Garber, have lived and worked in a converted barn
 up a dirt road in Westminster, Vermont. Although classically trained on the violin, with the move to Vermont his focus began to shift. With John Cage as inspiration, local midi violin maker
 Tucker Barrett as collaborator, and 24hr. sound marathons with friends loosening inhibitions, he began to experiment and play with sound.

At the same time, Garber's long-standing interest in movement led to collaborations with dancers 
and to combining moving images with sound. In 1997 he started the Vermont Independent Video Festival with a particular focus on promoting innovative video installations. His own work in site specific installations had already begun, pairing sound and visuals (Drawing Out,1995; No Spring Chicken,1998 with B. Garber)) followed by an improvised collaborative visual/dance/sound series in Brattleboro (G.Goering, B.Garber, N.Garber 2000-3).

For the past several years he has worked improvisationally in the studio and with fellow improvisors using keyboards, samplers and touchpads. Occasional gigs with a bunch of Vermont-based improvisers, have taken place in New York City (Muchmores, Spectrum) and Vermont (118 Elliott, Sobo Studios). chronicexpression.bandcamp.com

Garber was formally educated at Harvard, NYU School of Medicine, Yale Dept.of Psychiatry and
Yale Child Study Center. With a background in play therapy and neuropsychology, for many years this work took place in the playroom or classroom. In recent years he developed a series of hands-on workshops for teens with profound learning disabilities. These workshops helped students learn how brains work from a neuropsychological perspective and, in turn, how their own brains work and how they choose to use them. With fellow musician Lex Taylor he has begun a monthly series of improvisational workshops for middle schoolers at the Boys and Girls Club in Brattleboro.

Garber’s last three installations (‘13,‘14,'16) each sprang from a single, discrete perceptual image: 
a dream of a Bharatnatyam dancer, white silhouette suspended in total darkness; a homeless street prophet overheard proclaiming the Apocalypse approaching; and, for “Ways to Strength & Beauty”, memories of Bunraku Tayu chanting from a recent trip to Japan. Each of these launched an appetitive search for the next sound, the next movement or next image, evolving with no overall cognitive nor thematic direction.

He says: “Entering these installations may be disorienting or, maybe, reorienting. A room filled with sound and moving images. What is it about? What’s going on? All the parts are interacting and connected, but what are the connections? What’s the story? Itʼs abstruse, mysterious. Perhaps itʼs the mystery thatʼs the story.”

Stepping back, however, common concerns seem obvious. "Toys are for play; play is good. Repetition can strengthen. Things can mean first one thing and then another. We need to consider the risks as well as the opportunities of modern technology. The voice of the lunatic fringe needs to be heard. We are obliged to reflect on the addictive, aggressive behavior of modern political states."

Who was it who said “there are no free lunches”? Meanwhile, the wisdom of the ages waits to be noticed.