by Luke Levenson
With a flick of her finger, guitarist/composer Kaki King summons a radiant 15-foot orange spiral out of the projector across from her. It beams the moving image out onto a large blank wall, landing also on King’s guitar and making it shimmer and dance with the same motions. It’s a confusing perception to follow, especially because it’s constantly changing and there isn’t any narration other than light and music, but by the end of King’s performance of The Neck Is a Bridge to the Body, the audience will have a different understanding of the guitar and of her as an artist.
On Jan. 22 and 23 at 8 p.m., King will present this multimedia show at OZ Arts. The performance features a seated, white-garbed King wearing sunglasses playing a stationary guitar on which abstract images are projected as accompaniment to the music. It’s meant to be an expression of the power of the instrument.
“When you’re watching it, you realize the guitar is the master,” King says. “I’m just the facilitator, and by the end of it we’ve become interchangeable. The guitar and I become one thing.”
In late 2014, King teamed up with the visual design masters at Glowing Pictures, who started using MIDI technology to link the notes she played on a custom made guitar to images representing genesis, travel, and a grand finale.
“During that time, I had gotten very obsessed with being a disciplined, strong guitarist,” King says. “I wanted the challenge every night of carrying an audience for 90 minutes with just me and two or three guitars onstage.”
Known primarily for her work as a solo acoustic guitarist, embarking on a project with so much emphasis on imagery was new for King, who released her seventh album last year.
But King felt like it was time for a new challenge, and she had been keeping an eye out for new ways to entertain her audiences. A friend suggested that she come up with a lighting concept.
“And so I started researching,” she says. “I had seen projection mapping on the side of a giant building, and I started thinking about this on a smaller scale. I started thinking about doing it on a guitar.”
While there isn’t one particular story told throughout The Neck Is a Bridge to the Body, there is an idea that can only truly be grasped by those that see the show: “This is an X-ray of the guitar,” King says. “This is a deconstruction of what it is. We can’t use a keyboard. We can’t use a cymbal. We have to use the guitar to make this particular thing happen. And it’s effective!”
Kaki King will perform The Neck Is a Bridge to the Body January 22–23, OZ Arts Nashville, located at 6172 Cockrill Bend Circle. Doors open at 7 p.m. for the show at 8 p.m. For more information, visit www.ozartsnashville.org/kaki-king.