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karl pestka

artist bio


Karl Pestka, a composer, video artist, and violinist out of East Lansing, Michigan, strives to create a pointedly visual kind of music. His quadridextrous performances as The Airelectric, however- in which he manipulates live electronics with his toes, while both hands engage the electric violin- are not the only draw for the eye. It is also the narrative of the sound itself, like the cinematic music of Clint Mansell or Philip Glass, which plants the imagination in a fertile bed of orchestral layers, sown with evolving, danceable beats. Live performances often encompass improvised video, generated from toe-operated homebrewed software, or spun from collaborations with Airelectric VJs Colleen Lynne Cox and Andrea Steves. Other collusions include the prog rock quintet Sexual Pantalones, pop-chamberbeats wunderkind Ólafur Arnalds, the Laswellian Icelandic supergroup Steintryggur, post-gamelan string quartet Amiina and Kippi, as well as the Oberlin-based new media/video ensemble The Night, with whom he has toured extensively through East Coast art galleries and noise collectives.


Karl won first prizes in 2008 from the Aegis Film and Video Awards and in three separate divisions of the Telly Awards for his soundtrack work, while his audio/visual productions have earned prizes from the 2008 Lake Michigan Film Competition, the 2006 Lightworks Film Festival, and the 2006 Drunken Boat Panliterary Awards as judged by Paul D. Miller (DJ Spooky). In 2004, the piece Devastation Sandwich (featured on the album X.I.), for solo electric violin with toe-operated electronics, won an ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award special mention, the first of its kind to receive such recognition.


His performances and films have been featured at a wide range of diverse venues ranging from the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. to NYC's Richard Rodgers Theatre and the Tank, as well as Detroit's 555 and Zeitgeist galleries, the 700IS Experimental Film and Video Festival in Iceland, the Ann Arbor Film Festival, the Norwich Arts Centre, the Klappei Filmhouse in Belgium, and the CMMAS sonic arts center in Morelia, Mexico, where Karl was a resident composer in the summer of 2008.


Karl holds Bachelor of Music degrees in both Composition and Performing Arts Technology, having studied at the University of Michigan under Mary Simoni, Virgil Moorefield, Evan Chambers, William Bolcom, Susan Botti, Erik Santos, and Karen Tanaka, as well as violin under Yehonatan Berick. He is currently studying Icelandic, computer science, and various ways of cooking with Icelandic yogurt in Reykjavík.


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