Rick Gribenas was a printmaking student at Edinboro University when he realized that the art form just wasn't working for him -- he had to go back to square one. Delving into experimental sound, the Greensburg native started making tape collages and hacking up children's electronic toys.
Gribenas soon devised his own system for breaking down the dichotomy of audience and performer. "We'd invite 50 people and cram them into a tight, specific array to force a kind of intimacy. The performers sat in the middle of the crowd with their tape players and toys, blended into this four-channel sound environment that was improvised over about 15 minutes."
Such early experiments presaged a serious career in sound installations: In 2001, Gribenas became the emerging artist of the year at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, afterward landing a two-and-a-half-year fellowship at the University of Illinois at Chicago. From that arrangement came a book-and-CD set called Participatory Autonomy, recorded with guitarist Todd Mattei, from Joan of Arc. Since then, Gribenas has toured solo in Scandinavia and has been written up in Art Forum.
But Gribenas' connection with the DIY underground was cemented with the formation of Antennacle (formerly Antenna Builder), which emerged from the death throes of local grind/metal legends Creation Is Crucifixion. CIC's Nathan Martin, quite an art theorist himself, resurrected Antennacle in 2004 for a public exhibit at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he was getting his master's degree in media art. That lineup included Eric Wood, of Los Angeles harsh-sound behemoth Bastard Noise, who will also perform with Antennacle here, on Sat., April 21.
Despite Antennacle's upcoming CD and 7-inch releases (coming out in conjunction with CIC and Bastard Noise), for Gribenas, it's still mostly about the group's critical theory. "Sound is about physics and how it operates within space. It can either erase walls or construct them. With Antennacle, there's conversation and writing on how we approach sound. Anything that's recorded is a composition that exists specifically for the medium," he says. "But the live performance is more about the moment."
Antennacle and Bastard Noise with Juhyo, Warzone Womyn, and Tusk Lord. 6:30 p.m. Sat., April 21. The Mr. Roboto Project, 722 Wood St., Wilkinsburg. $8. All ages. 412-247-9639