Dan Foley

I am pursuing an MFA as a way to mature and develop my solo artistic practice, gain a critical vocabulary, and build a network of peers and institutions to collaborate with and be inspired by. My ultimate goal is to establish a full time career in the arts either as a solo performer or as a collaborator on large-scale projects.

I am a performance artist integrating digital media, sculpture, sound, music, movement, voice, and light into my performances. Growing up with films and television as stand-ins for friends in rural Ohio, I choose to pursue performance in collaboration with technology as an extension of my childhood practices of play and make-believe.

After receiving my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting from Ohio University in 2010, I became an autodidact in music production, sound design, and light-sculpture. My work investigates growing up as a rural queer fascinated by television magicians and 80s horror-comedy films in an extended working class motorcycle family. I explore how my work can be supported and enhanced by technology, a form of magic, in a performance space.

I am a founding member and director of the queer performance collective BAATHHAUS (formerly DAAN), active from 2010-2015. The group started in Chicago, IL, as a music and performance project among three theater artists who had grown weary of the limitations of traditional theater. Instead, we sought to utilize our skills in physical theater, vocal performance, technology, and music to tell stories in a different kind of way and in different sorts of spaces. Simultaneously, we were both drawn to and repelled by the highly academic art school culture that exists in Chicago, which often seemed to exclude more theatrical or emotional forms of performance in favor of highly conceptual or cerebral work.

Over five years, DAAN evolved into BAATHHAUS, a four person performance art project / band surrounded onstage by synths, lights, and drums. We were invested in the potential for pop music, choreography, and lighting design to create an alternative, inclusive, and queer space of eroticism, joy, and wonder within straight rock’n’roll venues. More practically, the band became a multi-modal way for me to think about performance, as well as how both technology and set- design can become integrated with the music itself. As the BAATHHAUS music and stage-sets became increasingly sophisticated and automated by self-designed systems, the more I began to wonder about my abilities to produce a show independently and experiment with less linear forms of music and storytelling - performing within a world of my own creation.

A self-identified outsider and autodidact, my interest in graduate school comes at the end of the BAATHHAUS project. Since ending the band, I have thought deeply about the potentials that exist amongst my identities as musician, inventor, designer, and performance artist. I strive to make work that questions those labels and their corresponding expectations. I notice more and more everyday that we are all in various stages of performing the character(s) of ourselves, and often wonder if simultaneity, rather than reconciliation, may be the answer to our constant negotiations of the self. This is why I want to energize my many skills and interests into one, holistic artistic practice.

Hailing from a theater background, I bring with me a high degree of rigor when it comes to vocal delivery and physicality, while also being attentive to the design and organization of space. My theater background predisposes me towards collaboration and I believe myself to be a creator of community through the playing and sharing of music.

My interests in the integration of new media with live performance comes from the feeling that technology is increasingly a part of who we are physically. I resist cynical interpretations of how man and machine combine, and instead am excited by the potentials offered by new and responsive forms of media to amplify, extend, and complicate human beings and actions. I want to contribute to the daily evolution and growth of new media within culture at large through my own forms of experimentation, exploration, and discovery.

When thinking through what a live-set by my band BAATHHAUS could entail, I became increasingly motivated to experiment with new and inventive forms of integrated art, sound, and technology to enhance an audience’s experience. I create my songs utilizing such software as Garage Band and Ableton Live, and such hardware as acoustic guitar, electric guitar, Korg Electribe SX sampler and sequencer, Nord Lead 2 virtual-analog synthesizer, Nord Drum 2 FM drum-synthesizer, the Korg Monotron series of pocket synthesizers, Novation Bass Station II analog monophonic bass synth, and the Waldorf Streichfett string synthesizer, as well as classic sampled drum machines, theremins, and vintage synths.

With that level of attention dedicated to the production of audio, I want the visual experience of electronic music to match the complexity of the auditory experience, and so I turned to lighting design as a solution. I began exploring ways of applying my skills and fluency with MIDI and Ableton Live with forgotten high school theater knowledge of lighting and DMX. This grew to incorporate traditional pre-programmed light shows into our sets, in addition to performer controlled moments via keyboard, drum pads, and a Nintendo Wii remote. I like the way a synth pattern within a particular song could trigger a corresponding lighting sequence utilizing fluorescents, strobes, and LEDs. I wonder how a stand-alone object might light-up and ‘perform' for an audience in response to ‘hearing’ my music. I want to choreograph MIDI, USB, OSC, DMX, LEDs, voice, audio, fluorescents, fog, and architecture into an elaborate dance. And, I want to do this all utilizing often makeshift forms of technology and showing how machines are there to help us, not hinder.

I’m at a point where I need to hone the dialogue between my machines and my body. I’d like the time and space to really figure out how I can perform with and within designed techno- environments in a way that still feels human, physical, emotional, and moving.