To also view a performance of this work, visit the video section of the Media Center or YouTube.
Although a stand alone piece in its own right, intelligent designs was written to accompany an animated film created by Joe Peragine, an artist and professor in the Ernest G. Welch School of Art and Design at Georgia State University. The film depicts abstracted scenes of the creation of the universe moving swiftly from a “big bang” event through the unfolding of life on the earth. Throughout, images of the periodic chart and various formulas as well as vivid images of a super collider (a large mechanism constructed to force atoms to crash into one another and thus creating small “big bangs” and potential black holes for scientific study) are interspersed. The animation takes place on two large screens with independent images and events shown on each respective screen.
The music tracks along with the formal design of the film; reacting to and commenting upon the images presented. The violin is linked to the imagery and event on one screen while the viola is linked to those of the other screen. The central figure of the cello acts as both a collaborator and commentator on the actions of the others. The opening and closing of the piece feature two related cello solos that frame the work. The entire piece (both film and music) is divided into three main sections: an opening star field that ends with a super nova event; a series of imagery depicting the super collider, periodic tables, formulas and various abstract images; and finally, a series of images depicting the evolutionary development of life on the planet all concluding with a rapid retrograde of all the images collapsing in on themselves. In the opening section, there is a conscious homage to Ive’s Unanswered Question with the cello in the role of the solo trumpet voice of that work. However, the cello, for me, becomes much more than simply a questioner looking towards an empty sky. The cello voice fulfills several functions. However, it is chiefly a conversation between Man and God on a certain level. It poses initial questions, but also collaborates with the other two voices in much the same way as humanity acts in a co-creative way with God on Earth. The cello also features a small fragment from an ancient Byzantine chant melody (Agios O Theos – Holy God) which represents an answer to the question and is constantly working behind the visible scenes.
The composition and film were made possible in part through a grant from the Center for Collaborative and International Arts (CENCIA) at the College of Arts & Sciences, Georgia State University.