The Land Unknown: Tron Lennon [UK] / Thomas Ankersmit [NL] / Robert Piotrowicz [PL] / Pure [AT]
Sonic Wargames: Musical game by Xavier van Wersch [NL], guests & participants
The Land Unknown:
Tonight’s theme is electronic and electro-acoustic improvisation, with the limelight on performers who develop music spontaneously and remain constantly in quest of unpredictable elements and never-before-heard sounds. In contrast to John Cage, who sought to relegate the artist as subject to an ancillary role, musicians who consciously choose improvisation give centre stage to their personal perception, communication skills and sensitivity, within the ambiance of each specific venue. Improvisation is to a greater or lesser extent "free", depending on how far pre-programmed conceptual and technical parameters come into play.
Music from the Tron Lennon duo, nominated for this year’s transmediale award, emerges both, from the spontaneous communication of its members, Paul Bell and John Ferguson, and their individual interaction with the singularities of their instruments: turntables, guitar and self-built electronic gadgets.
Soloists such as Robert Piotrowicz and Thomas Ankersmit face the challenge of their hard to control instruments alone. Next to the additional saxophone played by Ankersmit, each of them works with modular synth-systems capable of generating an infinite number of different sounds and complex audio patterns. Using cables to patch together the various modules of the instruments, endless variations can be programmed, which in a live performance is not without its dangers: to overlook only a single step in the process can catapult the show in unexpected directions, far from the players’ original intentions, which poses them a new artistic challenge.
Today’s graphic programmer-environments such as Max/MSP or the free software, Pure Data facilitate customized construction of digital instruments, based in part on the emulation of analogue electronics yet also an extension and digital counterpart of these. Peter Votova aka Pure has for years already been programming complex sound generators for his improvised live performances, during which he experiments with dynamic drones and dark sound tones to conjure eerie atmospheres. He recently bid farewell to the mouse/monitor-interface and turned his attention to a more intuitive approach. Using haptic controls rather than monitor displays, he relinquishes visual control and relies only on his ear and his training.
In a quadrophonic arena the battle for audibility is raging. While the referee keeps an ear out, musical gladiators engage in combat with an arsenal of electronic weaponry. Sonic Espionage, in-Filtration, Atonal Behaviour and Hostile Overdubs, it’s an ear for an ear…
Sonic Wargame, created by Dutch sound artist Xavier van Wersch, is a musical game for four players, or four teams of players and a referee. The players are positioned on platforms in the corners of the space. Each player has a game console and a loudspeaker, while the audience can move freely around within the set-up. Sonic Wargame is a hybrid between a living installation and an interactive performance.
The game is played as follows:
The players have to vote for each other using switches on their console. An electronic brain will only pass on a player’s sound if the respective player has two or three votes from the other players. These votes can change at any given moment. A matrix of light bulbs indicates who is voting for whom and respectively who is audible at the moment. A video-projection provides further information including the players’ scores.
Although the audience at any given time hears only the sounds of the players cleared by sufficient votes, the players themselves are interconnected in such a way that they can receive each other’s sound signals at all the time. This way they are enabled to sample and process each other’s material, resulting in a continuously self-regenerating quadrophonic organism of sound.
Sonic Wargame offers its participants new ways of performing together. Although there is a strong competitive element, the best results will be achieved through collaboration. The distinction between being in control and being controlled fades away. The sonic constitution oscillates between parliamentary anarchy and periodical dictatorship, arbitrary consensus, election lottery and survival or the fairest…
Sonic Wargame will be running for two days:
On January 29 there will be 3 rounds with 4 different teams in each round.
On January 30 there will be 2 rounds with the best teams of the previous day, plus a final round with the best 4 teams of all.