The Floating City Collaborators

Christopher Preissing (Composer, improviser, sound artist, and collaborator) earned DMA and MM degrees from University of Illinois studying with Herbert Brün, Salvatore Martirano, and William Brooks. Composer-in-residence at Beloit College, Guest Composer at Indiana University, Artist in Residence at Ragdale Foundation, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Djerassi and Ucross Foundations, and Atlantic Center for the Arts, Christopher has received recognition from the Jerome Foundation, Prix du Concours Destellos 2010, Meet the Composer, Illinois Arts Council, City of Chicago (CAAP), ICMC 60×60, American Composers Forum, and Ruthmere Foundation. He has received a Pritzker Foundation Endowed Fellowship and a Columbus School for Girls Endowed Fellowship in support of residencies at the Djerassi Foundation and the Virginia Center for Creative Arts.

Active as a curator he produced two major Chicago productions of John Cage’s Musicircus (Museum of Contemporary Art, 2005; Chicago Cultural Center, 2007), New Music PLUS Art (2008) with International Contemporary Ensemble and the Zhou Brothers, New Music in the Gallery (2007-2009), Experimental Piano Series (2009-2011) with Pianoforte Foundation, and most recently MakeSound Sound Art show(2012). As a performer Christopher plays flute with several improvisation groups including Preissing’s approach to art-making focuses on the space between the intentional and unintentional, investigating non-hierarchical relationships among sources and collaborators. His dissertation, Intermedial Relationships Among Component Arts in Combined Art Works (2008), and paper, Down with Top Down (2010), (presented at the conference, “Research into Co-Creative Practices in Music”, University of York/Orpheus Institute) embody his research into these relationships. Other lectures include “On Electronic Music and Composition for Multiple Art Forms” and “The Collaborative Relationship Between Working Artists” (Beloit College, 1996) and “Intensity: Stable Versus Floating Hierarchies” (Indiana University, 1996). Current research/practice includes Experiments in Space an Time, a research/performance series that investigates time and space relationships among art forms and spectators, and NON:op, an experimental opera collective that creates non-linear, non-hierarchial stage works.

Recent projects include It All Comes Back, an eleven-station collaboration with Chicago Robotic Theater, installed in Mies van der Rohe’s Crown Hall at IIT (summer 2011); and Whence, a sound-movement collaboration featuring four vocalists, 20 channels of live and fixed sounds, performance crowd, sound sculptures, and solo dancer (September 2011, Chicago). His eight-channel, evening-length composition for The Waking Room (2009) was called a “brilliant… sound-crazy score… that might best be described as John Cage on steroids.” (Chicago Tribune) Sound installations include Tools of the Trade, a sound-graffiti collaboration on hanging metal sheets, with Mario Gonzalez, Jr. Zhou B Art Center, Chicago (2012); Tweet Sheets, a sound text collaboration on metal sheets with Leslie Kerby, FACEMASK, National Self-Portrait Exhibition, Zhou B Art Center (2012); The Backward Glance, wind-activated coffee tree pods, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (2011-2012); Silo Music, text and field recordings for mp3 players, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (2012). In September HERE≠THERE, for four performers and four video projections will premiere at Elastic Arts, Chicago, and in November The Four Attic Windows will premiere at Pianoforte Foundation with David Kalhaus, piano, and Enid Smith, choreography.


James Forni (Video Artist) is the Gold-Webby award winning director and founder of Chicago-based Octane Rich Media, A dynamic creative director, executive producer and storyteller, Jim is an expert in using all of the tools in the rich media chest to render inspirational narrative experiences designed to delight and convert.

For more than 25 years he has specialized in branded entertainment. He has conceived and directed award-winning work including Rolex’ Fearless Luxury Interactive Campaign and Ashes and Snow Nomadic Museum Films, Mercedes GL Confessions and Fashion Week Films, Las Vegas Visitor’s & Convention Bureau’s Vic Wonder, Thermos It Matters Stories and Levi’s Spirit of Denim Campaign.

James worked with film pioneer Albert Maysles to develop the “fly-on-the wall” approach for a branded music artist series sponsored by Samsung including the global release of Britney Spears Stages. He perfected the technique with the nationally recognized CGM reality show: Ultimate Adventure Challenge one of the first series cast on YouTube and sponsored by Hyatt.

James collaborated with Michael Fry to create the web series: The ‘O’ Mission. Studio Daily recognized his work for the series awarding it top honors for best web/mobile series in 2009.

He has a natural skill for creating and disseminating authorized content, and has done so for clients including MasterCard, Hard Rock Café and the National Basketball Association, as well as for prominent personalities ranging from Lenny Kravitz to Michael Jordan.


Julie E. Ballard (Lighting Designer) is a Chicago-based lighting designer, photographer, production/stage manager and sound/media designer.  She worked as the Lighting Director at the Dance Center of Columbia College for nearly 8 years, and is owner/operator of OverlapLighting Productions.  As an independent, freelance artist, Ms. Ballard is an Artistic Associate with Signal Ensemble Theatre and Unnatural Spaces, as well as Technical Director for The Seldoms, Same Planet/Different World, and Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre.  Ms. Ballard has been a part of numerous festivals as well as American Dance Festival, and has toured nationally and internationally with David Dorfman Dance and The Seldoms.  Some of her favorite theatre designs include Cabaret (Universityof Florida), 1776 (Signal Ensemble Theatre) and I Sing (Whitehorse Theatre).  Ms. Ballard holds a BA in Theater, and earned her MFA in Lighting Design from the University of Florida.


Grant Sabin (Set Designer) A native of rural Illinois, Grant blends his rural roots with urban art. He’s a graduate of Columbia College with a BFA in theatre design where he was awarded the 2005 Michael Merritt scholarship for collaboration in theatre design. He is known throughout Chicago for his keen eye in capturing atmospheric detail and his ability to design “impressively executed sets” on a storefront-theater budget. He is a freelance set designer, a scenic artist for Pegasus Theatre Co. and Metropolis Performing Arts Centre and has had the great opportunity to teach scenic painting for Northwestern University Cherubs Program. He’s also the resident set designer and a company member for Dog & Pony Theatre Co. designing their past productions of Ape, Mr. Marmalade, Dead City, Osama the Hero, and Crumble. He was nominated for a Joseph Jefferson award for his design of A Red Orchid’s production of The Sea Horse. Design credits include, Augusta, ATC; Hound of the Baskervilles, City Lit Theatre; A Prayer for my Daughter, The 4 –H Club & Cowboy Mouth, Mary Arrchie Theatre; Forbidden Broadway, Royal George Theatre; Crossing California, Lifeline Theatre; Faster, Thief River, The Side Project, Blasted, A Red Orchid Theatre; Leaving Iowa, Royal George Theatre and the Overture Center WI, The Gift, Chicago Ballet, The Last Supper, Chopin Theatre.


Atalee Judy (Costumes) is a genuine DIY girl (keeps the overhead low). Credits may include at any given time: Choreographer, Dance Artist, Athlete,  Director, Musician, Costumer, Graphic Artist, Web Designer, Set Maker, Contrarian, and Punk Rocker. Her list of creative ventures and performances in Chicago spans over 22 years. A self taught costume designer, Atalee began making costumes as a cash poor student while still in college.  Her sparse beginnings consisted of a $50 sewing machine bought at a second hand store, many replacement needles, de-constructed clothing to make patterns from, and the idea that someday the task of sewing would become easier. Fast forward about 18 years, Atalee has gone on to design (or fix) costumes for most of Chicago’s established modern dance companies. From 1997-2013, Atalee was the founder and artistic director of the now disbanded BONEdanse Productions/Breakbone Dance Company and currently is creating anatomical inspired wearables for her company BONEware.