Steve Mackey


1 percussionist

8 players total


piccolo,flute, alto flute, wine bottle,  clarinet, bass clarinet, violin, viola, cello, electric bass, piano, percussion (vibraphone, marimba, glockenspiel, almglocken, drum set, timbales, 4 tin cans, 4 bottles, large gong, bass drum, egg shaker, tambourine)  tenor/actor, electric  guitar/ narrator.



Slide, a concert-length music/theater work featuring eighth blackbird, actor/singer Rinde Eckert, and composer/performer Steve Mackey, is a multidisciplinary work about the seduction and manipulation of

the American psyche. This multimedia work was inspired by a published psychological experiment in which subjects were asked to view a series of out-of-focus slides, then identify the images when they were brought into

focus. They were then asked to guess the images depicted on another series of out-of-focus slides before the slides were brought into focus. The slides were then brought into focus and the subjects asked to correctly identify the image. It took them longer to identify the actual image when they had previously guessed what it was. In a third part of the experiment a shill was employed whose job it was to disagree with the subject’s guess with regard to the out-of-focus slide. Put on the defensive, the subjects took even longer to properly identify the image of the in-focus slide (up to 30 seconds in one notable example).

Since we live in the age of projected images, we face a similar dilemma every day. Slide uses the results of this experiment as a metaphor of today’s reality in America where images are used to seduce, persuade, and misdirect, with the objective of selling a product, whether it be a tangible consumer product or something intangible as in politics, where we are confronted with unclear political pictures and assured by the shills of various camps that what appears to be out-of-focus or in need of clarification is, in fact, quite clear. This metaphor has psychological ramifications as well – we make decisions based on habit or convention that make it difficult for us to see clearly.

Rinde Eckert plays Renard, the enigmatic psychologist who runs the experiment. Steve Mackey and the members of eighth blackbird will be called upon to take various roles within the story, either as facilitators within the experiment or characters within the drama, as Renard attempts a clear description and analysis of his experiment.

The music will be composed in close collaboration with each individual performer and all the music will be memorized in order to blur the distinctions between composer and performer, actor and musician,

musician and set, set and instrument. The set will be suggestive of the experiment described above, with projected images playing an important role. The goal is an unmediated exploration/expression of sound, text, movement and image.


Annotated by Tyler Flynt