Subliminal History of New York State: Troy Edition

Subliminal History of New York State: Troy Edition

The Sanctuary for Independent Media

Subliminal History of New York State: Troy Edition
Community Art, Video, and Music Project in Troy this June

Contact: Carrie Dashow or Jesse Pearlman Karlsberg, 617-984-9378,

Artist Carrie Dashow and shape note singer Jesse Pearlman Karlsberg will bring their touring community art, video, and music project, the Subliminal History of New York State (SHNYS), to Troy this June. SHNYS mixes myth, history, geology, shape note singing, and storytelling and will involve singing and video workshops, culminating in an event at the Sanctuary for Independent Media including a community made video installation, storytelling, and participatory singing.

During their week-long stay in the Collar City, Carrie will collect stories about Troy, writing them into poems for which Jesse will compose shape note songs. On June 10 from 4-7 PM at the Rensselaer County Historical Society (57 2nd Street) and June 11 (location TBA), Jesse will lead singing workshops – and open to the public for the admission price of a handful of local twigs! – teaching the new songs and the basics of shape note singing. Carrie will also lead a video workshop in in which invited Troy participants use 12 synchronized video cameras to capture the essence of Troy while each participant moves through the city.

On June 12 from 7-9 PM, the SHNYS: Troy Edition will culminate with a two-channel video installation followed by a participatory performance featuring storytelling and shape note singing in which everyone participates. The performance will be open to the public and will be held at the Sanctuary for Independent Media at 3361 6th Avenue in North Troy. Admission: a handful of twigs plus $10 donation, $5 for students and low income. Twigs combined from tour locations will be woven into a map of New York's waterways.

The Troy stop of SHNYS is part of a larger tour of upstate NY during the summer of 2007. Carrie and Jesse will travel along New York's "route of progress:" up the Hudson River and west along the Erie Canal, ending at Lake Erie. At each stop, SHNYS will work with historians, geologist, and locals for under one week to delve into local lore, write poems and songs, lead workshops, create a video installation, and stage a participatory performance.

Subliminal History aims to uncover geographical features and built environments as powerful agents capable of manipulating New York's human inhabitants. Diverse sources are woven together to form a story of New York that is truer than true: "a better history than what I have written," says Judy Berdy, President of the Roosevelt Island Historical Society from earlier performances of Under Island, the first chapter in SHNYS.

"The land has stories to tell and it tells them through people and buildings," Carrie said in recent NYSun article on the project. The goal, says Jesse, is to uncover a story of New York that "peeks under the rug," drawing on history, myth, feeling, intuition, assumption, gossip, and geology. Gary Shapiro from the NYSun says of Carrie and Jesse "They are explorers of space and time, investigating the human connection to the landscape over time." New York is the site for this exploration due to its significance as a cultural and transportation hub, and since, not coincidentally, it is our home.

A primary expressive vehicle for the subliminal history is shape note singing, an invigorating community singing tradition that passed through upstate New York in the early 1800s. Now more than 200 years old, shape note music has endured because it is easy to learn, open to people with all kinds of voices, and is contagiously fun. At a shape note singing, participants sing for themselves, not an audience. The music features raw harmony, driving rhythms, and full-throated, full-volume, enthusiastic singing.

Shape note singing was first spread through New York by itinerant singing masters who traveled around the state, teaching "singing schools" and selling tunebooks containing songs they often wrote as they went. In the SHNYS, Carrie and Jesse become modern-day itinerants, bringing their Subliminal History to the towns and cities they visit, teaching workshops and holding a culminating performance before moving on to the next tour stop.
Description of a singing workshop can be found here:

The 2 channel video installation, called the "13th Screen" features another way to gather subliminal information of the town via 12 invited members from the community chosen because of their diverse relationships to the town. Each participant will be taught remedially how to shoot video and instructed to wander around town shooting their view. Views will be synchronized and shown at the same time with a computer program that selects individual shots based on a code each of the camera people shoots by. This selection is projected separately as the final 13th screen: an amalgamation of viewpoints.

The Subliminal History of New York State will be keeping a blog of the tour on their website and will be streaming the Finale performances through Free103point9. Eyebeam (541 West 21st Street, Manhattan) will be showcasing in their gallery a computer to access the tour complete with a live printer where the tour can print directly to the gallery from the road (Opening May 31). Documents from the tour will be on view at Eyebeam at a show opening in September. There will be a kick-off party for the tour at the Tank on May 31 at 9:30 PM (279 Church Street, NYC)

The SHNYS is supported by the New York State Music Fund, established by the New York State Attorney General at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, The Tank, a space for performing and visual arts in New York City, the Experimental Television Center and the New York State Council on the Arts, and by the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Arts Center of the Capital Region.


Carrie and Jesse have done several performances using Ms. Dashow's stories combined with Mr. Karlsberg's compositions. Together they Co-Direct the Society for a Subliminal State.

The Subliminal History of New York State has been performed on Roosevelt Island in NYC, at PS1/MOMA in Queens, Gigantic ArtSpace (NYC), The Contemporary Artist Center (North Adams, MA) and in the Widow Jane Mine of Rosendale, NY.

Video documentation, songs from the Under Island chapter of SHNYS, related articles, and high resolution photos of Carrie and Jesse and past performances of SHNYS are on the Society's web site at:


Director of Subliminal History and Video Workshops:
Carrie Dashow is a New York City based interdisciplinary artist working between performance and video. She holds a an MFA in Integrated Electronic Arts from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and a BFA in Video and Performance from the San Francisco Art Institute. Her work has been exhibited at venues internationally and locally. Ms. Dashow is a Part Time Professor of New Media at Purchase College.

Composer and Leader of Singing Workshops:
Jesse Pearlman Karlsberg is a composer and shape note singer who lives and works in Troy, NY. He has an MFA in Integrated Electronic Arts from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a BA in Music and Philosophy from Wesleyan University. His work has been performed at shape note singings throughout the northeast and exhibited at venues and festivals regionally. Jesse is an active member of the shape note community.


Culminating Event in Troy, NY at the Sanctuary for Independent Media, June 12, 8 PM.

Local presentation of the Subliminal History of New York State at the Sanctuary for Independent Media is made possible by volunteer labor and hundreds of individuals donations from patrons of The Sanctuary For Independent Media. Admission is by donation ($10 suggested, $5 student/low income).

The Sanctuary For Independent Media is a community media arts center located in an historic former church in Troy, NY.  The Sanctuary hosts screening, production and performance facilities, training in media production and a meeting space for artists, activists and independent media makers of all kinds.  The Sanctuary is located at 3361 6th Avenue, three doors down from 101st Street in north Troy.  Call (518) 272-2390, email, or visit for more information.


Troy, NY, June 8-12
June 10:  Singing Workshop 4-7 at Rensselaer County Historical Society.
June 11: Singing Workshop in Troy NY, details TBA
Performance, June 12, 8 PM, Sanctuary for Independent Media

Rome, NY, June 13-17
Workshops TBA
Performance, June 17. Location TBA.

Palmyra, NY, June 18-22
Workshops TBA
Performance, June 22 Palmyra. Location TBA.

Buffalo/Lockport, NY, June 23-28
Singing Workshops at Rustbelt Books in Buffalo and Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society
Performance, June 28, Niagara County Historical Society, Lockport, NY.

Lily Dale, NY, July 9-13
July 10 and 12 Singing Workshops: Azur Room in Maplewood Hotel, Lily Dale Assembly
Performance, July 13, 8 PM, Fire Hall, Lily Dale Assembly

Schenectady, NY, July 16-21
Workshops TBA
Performance, July 21, Schenectady Museum
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