We are all Creatures of Moisture - Review

REVIEW: We Are All Creatures of Moisture Kevin Patton/Maria Del Carmen Montoya Concert 1

A young woman, dressed in a traditional Mexican skirt and elaborate costume, enters the darkened hall. Hiding her face behind a handmade skull mask, she approaches a semicircle of oversized glasses filled with water. With each step, a forceful stomp and a whirlwind of bells fill the air. She sits and begins her ritual, a casting of spells of castigation and forgiveness for misogynistic sins against her foremothers. In hushed dialect she tells the story of her grandfather who chose his wife for her lithe figure, not because of his attraction for her but because he could purchase cheaper clothes for her at the market. Above images of a blindfolded woman spitting out water reflect the young woman, an ancient spirit, who continues to pour out the tales from the past. With purpose she drops magic stones into the water and in a trancelike motion uses her nails to force sound from the stagnant glasses. Light from below casts her shadow upon the walls, grayish appendages reaching to the sky and embracing the onlookers. A repetitive image of a heart pumping beats within the cast shadow spirit. The ritual ends, the lights dim, sounds cease their encompassing dance, and the water spirit leaves the privileged onlookers.
Maria del Carmen Montoya wished to reflect the experiences of the women in her family within the context of technology. With Kevin Patton utilizing live computer processing through MAX, the team successfully created a mesmerizing display of Mexican ritual using only the sounds of Montoya's whispers, traditional bell anklets and water glasses, and a compelling use of dramatic theater and video imagery. The visuals projected on the wall were not intimately linked with the ongoing actions of the performer, but their fluidity allowed for a congruence that seemed predetermined. The traditional costuming, handmade by Montoya's family, added a element of surrealism which was enhanced by the manipulation of light and darkness in the hall. For a moment one could forget the recital hall and the fact that this was SEAMUS 2006. Technology tastefully inbred in We Are All Creatures of Moisture gave the audience a truly organic experience uncommon in electroacoustic venues. Montoya and Patton have a sensual originality which hopefully will continue in future projects.

More recent work from the duo can be found at:

Review by S. Pena Young


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