BRATTLEBORO -- If your plans to go on tour with Lady Gaga fall through, coming to Brattleboro is a pretty good consolation prize, right?
So it is for Jason Martin, an Albany, N.Y.,-based visual artist, musician and performance artist, who was tapped by Lady Gaga to be part of her "Born This Way Ball" tour which would have started last January, but those performances were canceled when the pop provacateuse injured her hip.
"I was about to go on tour with Lady Gaga wearing a silver spandex wolf outfit," said Martin, who doesn't mind having to come to Vermont, instead. "I'm into it."
Martin will be in town with his Power Animal Systems, a multi-media performance ensemble that blends experimental music, video installation and a cast of human/animal hybrid creatures from another dimension. The performance will take place on Friday at 8 p.m., at the Center for Digital Arts on the third floor of the Cotton Mill and marks the beginning of a series of events, exhibitions and workshops CDA is presenting in the next few months in keeping with its mission of presenting and promoting new work in experimental media, digital art and video.
The creatures of Power Animal Systems caught the eye of Lady Gaga, thanks to their connection with longtime Gaga collaborator Lady Starlight, who happens to be Martin's sister. In spandex outfits and hybrid-animal headpieces, the power animals enact what Martin described as a "species and gender-queer séance."
Delightfully provocative, the performance probes power structures that divide and degrade us creatures here on Earth.
"There are contemporary issues being worked through in an impressionist manner issues of valor, power, empire, aggression there's even strains of Fascism in there," said Martin.
Power Animal Systems grew out of drawings Martin had been making in secret for years exploring "feelings about myself and my perceptions of the universe. They became these sort of hieroglyphs for all these mysterious energies I was experiencing," he said.
Power Animal Systems evolved over the last few years, with the 30-minute piece that will be presented Friday emerging once they were tapped for Lady Gaga's tour. Though the tour fell through, the show must go on.
"Having to launch and overhaul for this Gaga tour allowed the work to do all kinds of new things," Marin said.
Martin will perform the work with artistic pals Jessie Pellerin and Heather Brown. They have performed it several times in New York and up the East Coast from Florida to Turners Falls, Mass., but never in Vermont, until now.
Neil Young Cloaca, a Western Massachusetts performance artist and member of Northampton's conceptual noise/rock band Fat Worm of Error, will open the evening.
Admission to Power Animal Systems is by suggested donation of $5, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds. The Center for Digital Art is wheelchair-accessible.
The series of presentations at CDA continues on Dec. 13-14 with an installation and talk by New York City multi-channel audio/video artist, composer and software developer Matt Ostrowski, whose latest work transforms Hollywood films into dismantled, multi-dimensional, immersive video installations. He has collaborated with Laurie Anderson, Elizabeth Streb, Christopher Janney and Bill T. Jones and presented work at PS1, Roulette and The Kitchen in New York and at venues around the world.
In 2014, CDA will host an exhibition and talk by experimental filmmaker Walter Ungerer in May, a 30- second film festival in June and an ongoing series of multi-media and computer art workshops for the public.
For more information, visit www.centerfordigitalart.com.