Pamela Z’s Pendulum

Pamela Z will perform her new work The Pendulum – a song cycle/performance work exploring binaries of “Yes and No” through voice, electronics, projected video and manipulation of objects at the Royce Gallery in San Francisco in California from 27-29 of June, 2008.

The Pendulum is a solo multi-media performance work exploring binaries of “Yes and No” through voice, electronics, projected video and manipulation of objects. Using a minimal set large including dangling objects, and two channels of projected video, Pamela Z performs a series of art songs and text-sound pieces with live voice, real-time processing, and sampled voices and sounds.


About the inspiration for the work, the artist says:
“When I was growing up, my mother often wrote long lists of questions about things that concerned her. She would then dangle a small object -such as a needle, key, or trinket- on a thread and divine yes or no answers from the direction of its swinging – systematically writing the answers next to each question. Now in her advanced years, I have found that she amassed a great deal of documentation of her consultations with the pendulum for answers to questions both monumental and insignificant. A few years ago, while helping her to move, I discovered veritable reams of such pages- hand-written and typed. These papers chronicle a portion family history – albeit through my mother’s rather distressed and confused filter.”

Some of the language from these pages finds its way into The Pendulum as a mesh of vocal texture throughout it’s visually rich and sonically layered segments.

Pamela Z is a fabulous San Francisco-based composer/performer and audio artist who works primarily with voice, live electronic processing, and sampling technology. Her performances are kind of ‘sound installations’ that have much in common with a visit to a contemporary museum ~ provocative, interesting and thoroughly unique.

She creates solo works combining operatic bel canto and experimental extended vocal techniques with found percussion objects, spoken word, digital processing, and a MIDI controller called The BodySynth™ (which allows her to manipulate sound with physical gestures.) In addition to her solo work, she has composed and recorded scores for dance, theatre, film, and new music chamber ensembles.

Her large-scale multi-media works have been presented at Theater Artaud and ODC in SanFrancisco and at The Kitchen in New York, and her audio works have been presented in exhibitions at the Whitney Museum in New York and the Diözesanmuseum in Cologne. Her multi-media opera Wunderkabinet – based on the Museum of Jurassic Technology (created in collaboration with Matthew Brubeck and Christina McPhee) has been presented at The LAB Gallery (San Francisco) in 2005 and at REDCAT (Disney Hall, Los Angeles) in 2006.

Pamela Z has toured extensively throughout the US, Europe, and Japan. She has performed in numerous festivals including Bang on a Can at Lincoln Center in New York, the Interlink Festival in Japan, the Other Minds Festival in San Francisco, Pina Bausch Tanztheater Festival in Wuppertal, Germany, and La Biennale di Venezia in Italy.

She is the recipient of numerous awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Creative Capital Fund, the CalArts Alpert Award in the Arts, the ASCAP Music Award, and the NEA and Japan/US Friendship Commission Fellowship.

The Pendulum was made possible through grants from the San Francisco Art Commission and the Zellerbach Family Foundation.

To better understand what Pamela Z is about, here is a clip of a multi-media performance work by Pamela Z, ‘Gaijin’ which explores the concept of ‘foreignness’, or what it’s like to be a Western foreigner in Japan.


  1. […] And last but not least, A. Lee from e Art Fair .com takes a look at an artist who has really sparked my interest (sounds sort of like she does real modern art, but uses sound and layered soundscapes to create her works) in: Pamela Z’s Pendulum […]

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