South Willard, Los Angeles, March 24, 2019. Dominique Cox as Brainchild. Sharon Chohi Kim, Kathryn Shuman, and Micaela Tobin as the chorus. Costumes by Paul Gellman.
Camina Escobar’s composition and staging for Brainchild Part 5 (South Willard, 2019) provided a haunting, ethereal landscape for five voices. As the chorus soothed a still reeling Brainchild after her first major communion with her intersessor, Lead Being, complex, delicate harmonies gave way to a call to action as she takes up her new powers.
Begun in 2008, Brainchild is Johnson’s ongoing, nine-part collaborative fiction and sound project. For each successive part of her story, the artist collaborates with a different guest composer who creates a choral work for performance. The story follows a girl, Brainchild, who discovers the abandoned structures of an ancient civilization, and slowly discovers her own strange connection to its builders. Through an intercessor, Brainchild begins her awakening and subsequent communion with these forces, as mysterious overseers and attendants monitor her progress with unease. Drawing on 15 years in a close-knit sci-fi reading group and passion for experimental music, Brainchild is simultaneously modest in tone and ambitious in scale, and still just halfway complete.