Ensaio sobre a cegueïra / Augenlieder

Johannes Birringer / Paulo C. Chagas

Canções dos olhos


1. Musical form: micro structures and macro structures.

Historically, in the development of European music, we observe how composers often work from small motifs and then build expanded forms (sonata form, opera, e.g. Wagner and his use of leitmotifs). Beethoven¹s symphonies, large architectures, are sometimes based on a few notes that are developed in ever more complex variations and expansions, we could also call these forms transformational. In modern serial music we find a different approach which is not expansive but, similar to some musical traditions in the East, based on a cyclical principle (e.g. Gamelan music in Indonesia, the Indian raga, and other South Asian forms).

This form is based on the cyclical idea of time. Brazilian modernism (the Anthrophagism movement) offers another interesting model, if we look at the history of Samba and the Bossa Nova (in the 50s), the way in which the middle class adopted jazz and musicians developed a Brazilian form (Bossa Nova) which reflected the urban life and the industrialization of Rio.

The tropicalism of the 60s coincided with the Cinema Nuevo, concrete poetry, and the performance movement (Hélio Oiticica), which are contemporaneous with the dictatorship and the construction of the new capital (Brasilia) by Oscar Niemeyer. It could be interesting to look at Niemeyer¹s drawings ("In Front of Nothing") in relationship to the music of the time, the evolution of tropicalismo, rock, and “pop music³ in Latin America. One of the questions that are at the centre of the modernist movement is the question: does one look for the outside or take from the inside, and today¹s “rhythm science³ (DJ Spooky) of mixing and remixing could be more fruitfully understood and analysed in the political and cultural contexts of such modernisms where musical form (mixing inside and outside) evolves alongside complex adjustments of the political/cultural unconscious.

Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky, argues that over the last two or three decades we can speak of a "rhythm science", the creation of art from the dense flow of patterns in culture. His model of course is the DJ and the practice of the re-mix, sampling and hijacking the images, sounds and technologies that bombard us daily. According to DJ Spooky, such sampling (creating with found objects) is flow of endless recontextualisation, parallel soundscapes continuosly using the digital to bridge the inside and the outside, a music of permutation which also conveys a deep sense of fragmentation. In the 21st century, Spooky argues, stories disappear and evaporate as soon as they're heard, a sonic and cultural entropy. The physical density of information becomes a new field open for interpretation. Information and beats and rhythms never stay in one place. It's all about algorithms: code is beat is rhythm is digital... Sound and Imaged divorce and reconfigure before they reunite in the mix...The uncanny remains with us. (cf. Rhythm Science, 2004, pp. 20-28).

How can we connect the practice of mixing (sampling) and remixing to the recent phenomena of interactive art and dance which we explore in our practices of developing concepts and methodologies for "interface design" that brings together not only human performance and machine performance, insides and outsides, but also a whole set of questions (regarding vocabularies) involving the function and meaning of “controllers³ in real time composition (synthesis) or in composition which is really an expansion of programming?

2. Composition

The motif for the production of Augenlieder is blindness (visibility), and the work was not conceived with a few notes or a musical leitnmotif in mind, nor with samples as such, but with the conception of a multichannel sound and dance/film environment that includes interactive elements and is derived from voices that see. The music is voiced, derived-voices and remixed voices become soundscapes, textures, harmonies, disharmonies, flows and ebbs of music processed through the computer software (granular synthesis).

The dance relates to the voice as the eye relates to the ear, and this case to the excavations one might make of the basilar menbrane of the ear, examining the micromechanical properties of the membrane which underlie the activity of the auditory nerve. It is the part of the nervous system which tells us about gravity and our sense of balance, and these micromechanics of proprioception underlie our idea of the vocal microprocessing, music of voice-particles drive one emotional layer of the composition, the other layer is the dancer's gestural movement and her interpretation of the role of the woman in the "blind city" who sees but cannot be seen.

(to be continued)

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Notes on "Ensayo sobre a cegueïra" at INTAKT 2004-2005


Prolog (1 min)(Voice over)

Act 1, Scene 2


Blind Man (Er träumte den Traum vom Spiel) Aria “He dreams the dream of the game³

Film Transition Voice (Doctor)

Act 1, Scene 5 Film Narrator Voices

Woman with dark glasses, Aria

Transition Voice (Loudspeaker, Asylum)

Act 2, Scene 4 Aria , Woman

Transition Voice/Film : Raincatchers

Epilogue Film (continues) Aria


The production (2004)

The performance, as sketched above, in retrospect and under the microscope (video document), has several weaknesses that we now address in our concept and programming. They are mostly not on the musical side, but on the visual and performance side. The outcome of the 2004 lab project" Ensaio sobre a cegueïra" indicated that one cannot rehearse a scene (say with dancer or actress) for one hour a day; of course it needs a lot more time to develop scenography, acting, video and lighting, The acting of the singing voice remains a challenge, and so is the role (physical) of the chorus, and the entire spatial distribution, including the unsatisfying placement of the film on the west wall of the Turbine Building (Maschinenfördergebäude).

Film projection during the 25 minute performance does work, at times, but we don¹t have good documentation to properly analyse it, and so again it cannot be fully reviewed what we did, and what we could have done differently, but I will address that relationship below.

Musically, I have questions regarding the low frequency hum, it sounded good in the space, but is not good on tape. It could be the distorted acoustics of the huge space, once you start recording music in there. The opening phrases, compositionally,were under-scored with Christian¹s samples, and perhaps it is not clear why these samples are there. In other words, even if the idea of using a DJ together with scored music and live real time interactive sound created by performers sounded attractive, it does not seem to make sense unless we detemine how this sampled sound (as sound tapestries or special effects or rythmic/percussive effects) is used and why.

r arias, and the work with the chorus (different pacing and characterization), Paulo's voice in the killing scene, are beautiful. Naturally, the use of the voice, and the bel canto, is emotionally rich and resonant. Perhaps one needs to go back to the drawing board now, and also interrogate the use of bel canto. One must examine the use of prerecorded voice (amplified) ­ the softer parts in the prolog and epilog work, the asylum loudspeaker-voice.. The use of recording, and any amplified voice, allows for spatial distribution with the multi-channel system. Did we have a concept for this, a drawing? If not, we would need to know why and when we distribute what. I liked the circulating voice in the beginning, the voice moves through the “city³, that makes sense. In the case of the arias, and Christian¹s sound, we would need to determine this. Patrick and others felt that the use of the Asylum loudspeaker Voice did not work (perhaps it was not a good recording or reading). It was too distorted.

Now: interactive sound and interactive performance. We can say that we tried to work within an interactive paradigm, but we did not start from a programming approach to an interaction design, or from a system-components approach, but from exploration of content and characterization.

Aftewards we began to look at using (interrelational) objects in space, and also letting the actors create sound, and in the woman-with-dark-glasses scene (the love scene) the use of the wearable sensor had potential. In a rehearsal when she tried the sensor it was fascinating. On opening night it worked less well. The reason why, and what she is doing there concretely, and to what effect -- this needs to become clearer to the audience, so the use of the "instrument" (the sensor) inside the scene, dramatically, poetically, and with an inner logic, needs to be rehearsed and developed, the whole scene has considerable potential.

Prolog: voice over.. Opening leitmotif, orchestra. Let us talk about some more ideas here, and as an Overture it probably ought to be longer, and here the use of film, to set the epic frame (the narrative dimension), can be important. Scene 1 Blind Man scene- the character of blind man, and the words he speaks (recitative), can work well to introduce a series of vignettes, but we need to find out how the role of the ARIA (the woman protagonist) "enters" the world of the opera, where does she come from, why is she there, is her presence logical and motivated (she does not know the Blind Man).

Scene of Blind Man on chair with flowers: FILM corresponds and is evocative, but this film-sequence itself was perhaps not necessary. I felt that the groping hand is a cliché and does not interest me as much as, potentially, a poetic evocation of the tactile, the replacement of vision by touch, and ear. It can perhaps be represented differently with film, and with light.

Our lighting in the Machine Room was inadequate, and the floor lamps - spot lights - did not make much sense, I also felt I could not change that in the last minute.

Transition: Doctor scene, and eye exam. Works well. Could be extended (do we hear sound?). As was noted, the switch or the inter-action between action on stage and film close up works very well here, and is dramatic. It partly works so well as the actress is turned away from the audience, so the audience becomes privy of something only the doctor sees through his instrument. This could be one model of how we us interaction, in terms of extension, substitution, displacement, and replacement of information and characterization. The video needs to be used more as an “actor³ (or as a dramatic device, not a backdrop or illustration surface). The filmic space also could be more three dimensional and plastic, the construction of the scenic needs to be changed. [i am doing research on this, and have translated a couple of texts on video in theatre, and also have some other notes on integration and inter-action of performer ­ video plasticity: and I mean this in a narrative/dramaturgical sense, not in the DJ/VJ sense of flashing particles as we saw in Marlon¹s improvisatory/randomized usage, although Marlon's deployment of samples is very much along the lines of DJ Spooky's notion of rhythm).


(1) Interrelationship music and film, voice and film, acting and video, and dancing and video, use of video as light, and as actor. (Aesthetic/functional models of use of video ­ as extension of stage space/scenario/spatial dimension; - as extension and displacement of action ­ parallelism, synchronicity, asynchronicity; -- as counterpoint, ironic commentary, poetic distraction, --- as distraction and disfocus, - as integrative dialogue between stage actor and film actor, - as real time live interaction/generation, but what are the data that are activate/prerecorded samples, or live-generated visual material, closed circuit, digitally modified, etc.

video as actor

The interactivity ­ if this is desired ­ of stage action and film movement (image time-image space) is also connected to the interaction of stage action and sound or music. Both interface options exist, and it would be interesting to try them separately as well as conjointly

(2) Stage performance vs. Installation. How will interactivity be used (and useful) for installation (say, a three screen modular set of three parallel projections with sound). Will the interactivity here extend to, and include, the audience/the visitor? Stage performance: will interactive design include only the actors who have rehearsed with the interfaces? And how composed (scored) and how live-improvised will the structure of the work be?

(I refer to William Forsythe and “Improvisation³ Technologies in his work with his ballet company when I speak of "operations", see note below)

Love Scene: First part is the flirtation between Woman in dark glasses and the Guide (the protagonist), although we have not established their (personal) or accidental relationship either, and we are having problems of course, scenically, to indicate a "change of locale", the fact that we are in a hotel. This could be done filmically, if the camera went from a wide angle of a location into the same, and then introduced us to the scenario. In this inter-action, I felt the video was merely (surreally) duplicating what we already see. (until she goes into the hotel corridor) The second half, which is the love scene, is very interesting since the chorus creates the rhythmicization of the whole fictional scene, and Angeles can become the protagonist of the experience.

The appearance of the Chorus: i think their role needs to be established from the beginning, from the prolog, a chorus of citizens, perhaps a dozen? They are the city, the forum, the market. They are always there, and they go blind also, and are taken to the Asylum? They later become the rain catchers. We need men and women for the killing scene, since here we see how one people splits and becomes divided, the strong and aggressive and violent against the weaker ones, all blind toward their actions, here in the novel it is a gender political issue, but we can think about that some more. The relationship of Carrie and Angeles remains unclear. Also, staging wise, I had Carrie cross over to the side where Angeles was, but again, the role-place of the chair, and that side of the stage, needs to be explored further.

Killing scene: As I noted before, quite irrespective of the wonderful energy of the dancer, I think the dance does not work, either as a role, or as a dance. Her character is not explained and is illogical, is she a representative of the women in the asylum, is she the Guide who does the killing, then it should be Carrie who does the killing, Carrie ends up in this scene being a weak and frightened woman, and it does not work for me. I also feel that I did not work well with Kristin to develop her work away from the improvisation she is comfortable with. This scene, if we use dancer, needs a precise choreography that does not illustrate what we hear in the words (Paulo, and Carrie). The attack of the men has to be developed in a longer version of the opera, and it can become a center piece, the human violence again the human. Kristin¹s interaction with the objects seems forced, although it made sense at a time to ask her to open the cabinet door to create the feedback, and then move into the open space and “stack³ the mattresses/sound to create a shield, this is something you can only guess if you know the text of hear her say it, the actress would need to create a better dramatization of the this scene, and use of sound.

Both here, but also in the use of the sensor/accelerometer, the actual sound generated through the system (amplification, Max/Msp) seems mundane and uninteresting compared to what might be possible sound wise. I don¹t think it helps the opera as a sound generative world if in one moment we create a wind sound (or breath sound), and in another a screeching feedback sound, these two results seem much below standard of your music, and our vision for the piece. We need to work on the parameters and paradigms for the sound that is generatable here. Then we need to find the right actions and explore those, so that the action and the generated sound create a meaningful whole.

Ending of the scene. Dramatically the running away, or Kristin¹s protection of the Guide-protagonist, is inconclusive. The relationship between these two strong women (the voice and the body) who are really one needs to be explored. And I suppose the men (chorus), and other women, need to be onstage and involved in the action here. This could really become a great scene, I am sure. Musically, however, we also might want to work on it more: we need to figure out who is your voice, whether a male singer on stage can do the part ( a bass?)

Transition: The women (and tbe group, also the Blind Man, the Doctor, the young boy, etc) leave the asylum and go into the city. At this point, the struggle for survival begins, all are blind except the guide. Transition to ending: we cut forward to the Epilogue, the Raincatcher scene (rain), and then the final aria, of the last words from the libretto. Carrie¹s aria, and conjunction with film of the new/old city needs to be explored. At this point, I found it made sense the way it ended, although much is implied here, and we cannot know what is happening. Perhaps there needs to be a film about an actual city with actual people?

(Apologies to the reader who has not seen the exhibition, but these notes were in response to production questions)


Additional notes on interactivity, music, improvisation.

Here I would invite a longer statement from Paulo Chagas, looking at the scenes, and telling me the composer's ideas and comments, especially regarding the overall concept for the music for the opera. Improvisation, structure, performance: We used a traditional rehearsal method but had no time, and we did not rehearse with the entire ensemble, so we could not create a cohesiveness, and see the work evolve together in all dimensions. Especially action and music, sound and action, action and video, action and light rehearsals need to be organized, and then we need to find a “language³ of the operations we want to use for our structuring of the piece.

The operations will be determined by the proportional use of --- scored music (voice) -- orchestra (time, live music, recorded music) --- stage action for singer, stage action for actors and dancers (libretto, choerography) -- temps d¹images (movement images, image time, what kind fo films, and where are they projected) -- scale and placement of film projection, use of light - video and its interactive relation to stage action - unscored music: live interactive/real time sound, instrumental music, and physical improvisation - improvisiational dimensions, and parameters (for interaction).

Relations Choreography - Improvisation:

a) “Werkbegriff³ (aesthetisch) - Bühnen Oper (abgeschlossenes Werk, mit kompositorischer Schlüssigkeit und Zielgerichtetheit). A completed stage work with a clear and distinguished structure, a libretto, a score (which need not exclude other open microstructures and real time elements), a clear time-map (can have different time lines), and a dramaturgy that will be developed, action choreographed and rehearsed, the film is integrated, determinable and motivated.

b) "Nicht-Werkbegriff" : interaktive Bühnen-Oper bzw. site-specific Oper (funktional), open, process, auf interface design und real time emergence angelegt. Interactive stage or site specific opera, uncompleted, functionally designed for real time interaction and emergence (with expert performers), generative microstructures, no score, of if score then the score is just one element of real time interactive sound and film generation, with a system that is complex and operational through improvisation.

c) Interaktive Installation (Projektion). All data are digital and running from computer (there are no live performers) using video and sound projection, possible interface with audience will depend on how sensors can be incorporated into the data structures and the physical architecture..

Methods --- Determine key parameters of “Ensaio³- Libretto (text and action, stage directions). Musical material, instrumentation, score(s). Methods of creating movement and action (focus, disfocus)(single perspective, multiple perspectives). Methods that determine the spatial configuration and use and place of film projection. Determine systems that provide the temporal structures (design, interactive sound, music score, video, patches, etc)

What is the central information map? The libretto? The text? Spoken and sung words? The visual movement, the filmic projection? What is the alphabet (is there a code we organize, a general shape, and what layers will be used). How is the sequencing determined (begin with gesture, begin wit word, with sung phrase, use iteration, modification, folding, freely associating, what procedures do we apply).


Create the maps for the performance (individual maps, group map). The time lines. Building the overall structure, how the maps are used and devoped, what times are kept, how are cues (time) introduced, who introduces them to set off the activities.

Organize basic spatial and temporal structure (and build the stage environment)

Create this stage environment with various overlapping informational sources. For solos and group actions. Create "algorithms" (cf. using directions and constraints, use these as procedures to develop the movement and physical material by each soloist and the chorus).

These procedures, which ought to be shared by the whole team (dancers, actors, singers, musicians, video and camera people, programmers), form the choreographic / compositional process.


Choices: Directed (by director and conductor), or group collaborative/emergent.

We can give out the information, and then ask members of the team to spend a few weeks working on the ideas, or we rehearse together as ensemble. If we use individual input, the director will need to edit and structure the divergent ideas and bring them together. Every oneŒs creative input is needed, but the bottom-up method worked only intermittently, as we lost a great deal of time changing libretto, conceptual, performative and scenographic matters every day which make one wonder whether the notions of auto-poiesis and emergence can be applied comfortably to complex production mechanisms. In terms of rehearsal objectives and re-design (iterative design which evolves and perhaps grows and changes every day) , physical performance modes, choreography and computer science/engineering models do not necessarily overlap, and convergences have to be found and nurtured. The "Ensayo" project will benefit from an overall editing vision which makes determinations. If conductor and director provide overall structure (and design for interaction), the soloists and chorus can concentrate on working in the scenes, and the creative inputs can be developed further in the rehearsals. The piece will grow, evolve, and adapt over time, and we may even work with different versions of scenes.

The basic structure will stay intact, the content will evolve and change. (flow of events, interactions, changes, can also be "directed" live onstage - microphone, indicators on monitors, sound tracks that are cues, cues heard on headphones, etc); such flow-directions would seem to work well with a structure that has improvisational textures inside the structure and that, potentially, uses wireless transmissions (sensors, midi data). If we have a three-act structure, for example, we could also use one act to be completely improvisational, but base the improvisation on a particular phrase that everone knows. For this to work the ensemble ought to have a common language that they know really well, and they all need to know the operations that can be used for changes and interactive scenes (internally regulated event structure, depending on cues or decisions made by the actors, based on shared physical event language). This allows for the setting up of an environment (cf. “blind city³), a set structure, and discover how the set structures change when a few basic instructions are altered. We need to investigate what we mean by “system.³ (for example if we use several Max-Msp patches, Pd patches, and real time sound generating, and live sampling methods, or such modules (Christian). How do we use spoken text, amplied text (voice over), distributed text, voice (sung, sprechstimme), and chorus? Projected text, subtitles, intertitles? Animation, video? How do we work with such text (libretto)?

[This description of the nature of the system is immediately related to the lab research conducted in the 2005 lab amongst Paul Verity Smith, Martin Dupras, Jez Hattosh-Nemeth and dancer Katsura Isobe, the latter performing as interface agent and sensor-instrument through her body, having to learn to remember or to intuit the system map of the data sequences and how she can perform with them, as her dance controls or activates, influenecs or engages the visual data output, the filmic scenes that were created for the interaction. For more information on this look at the "Interactive Grammar" section in this archive]

Interestingly, we used Angeles (actress) without using her voice, but we asked Kristin (dancer) to speak. We asked Kristin to improvise, but we did not work in the same manner with Carrie. Angeles developed her movement material largely on her own. She also likes to act on video, and one could use the video acting in relationship (or counterpoint) with the stage action, and one could start introduying cameras on stage.


The voice work is crucial for our opera, and we can explore many kinds of voice, and also many kinds of silences or not speaking. We can start with known text (from libretto) but we can also experiment with it, with words, phrases, and images sampled from the libretto. The source material (for text, spoken and sung material) can expand and become eclectic. We an organize “fugues³ of text and sound and music. We can use the words also more abstractly, as sound poems, onomatopoeia. First person voice. Narrative (epic) voice. Sprechstimme. We can use other types of text (not from novel, but film scripts, radio play, lyrics, prose).

We need to find the right texts for our actors and singers, distill them, create clear and distinct characters, and let the actors develop characterization, if we want this. We need to work with more variety or modulation. Pace, energy, rhythm, slow motion, fast pacing, changes in quality and shapes. Tension between words, between the heard and seen, not seen. We could work with two separate texts, or separate sung from spoken lyrics. We can work on combining or separating what happens on stage and on film. We could use projection that alternately hides and exposes events (external and internal, imagined and real), seen and not seen, inside and outside. The “environment³ would be constantly transforming. An actor could speak directly into a camera (transmitted to projection), A singer could sing directly into the microphone (sensor) and camera. That actor could be hidden (inside one side of the Asylum), hidden portion of the stage, or make visible the hidden and make it intimate (onscreen). Thus the attention of the audience would move between music and action, between movement (onstage) and film space, interior/exterior, seen by camera and projected on screen or screens. Use of two screens? How dispersed or noncentralized do we want the stage action to be, multiple perspectives at same time, one perspective?

Music and Time

Music in this work: “das Ganze der Zeit³ (Claus Steffen Mahnkopf): Musik ist viel stärker als andere Kunstformen auf den Werkbegriff angewiesen. Das liegt an der Flüchtigkeit des Stoffs: Klang und Zeit. Der Klang verliert sich im Raum und ist per se entgrenzend und bedarf daher wiederum der Eingrenzung, damit das musikalische Ereignis überhaupt sich konstituiere. Nämliches gilt für die Zeit, die zu einer bestimmten Dauer synthetisiert werden muss. Alle Entgrenzungeversuche mühen sich, mit unterschiedlichem Erfolg, an diesen beiden Parametern ab. (Mahnkopf plädiert für einen konkreten Werkbegriff, und spricht gegen die Infragestellung der kompositorischen Einheit des Werks und neueste, erweiterte Präsentationsbedingungen, die Anfang/Schluss, interne Gliederung, Syntheseleistung, emphatischer Augenblick, inhaltsästhetische Entscheidungen, Klarheit, etc) unterschreiten. Mit Unterschreiten meint er: Jede Grenzüberschreitung bleibt kategorial am Werkbegriff ausgerichtet (auch im Falle von neuer Musik, wie John Cage¹s 4.33, it is not a non-work but has a beginning and ending and internal structure, an identity of authorship). Die neuerdings so viel diskutierten Klanginstallationen, deren Repräsentanten sich von der komponierenden Zunft absetzen möchten (vgl. FAZ, 4.9.2004, der russiche Minimalist Wladimir Martynow erklärt die Ära komponierter Musik für beendet, “Nacht in Galizien, CCn¹C 0080 (In-Akustik) u.a, Arrangements des Vorgefundenen.....), sind meist Museumsanordnungen oder Arrangements im urbanen Raum, die sich in diesem verlieren. Der musikalische Anteil in ihnen ist meist nicht höher als bei akustischen Vorführungen am Gymnasium.

.... Die Ersetzung des Werkbegriffs durch ein anderes, sogenanntes performatives oder interaktives Paradigma ist für die Musik besonders heikel. Das liegt unmittelbar am Medium: der Klang bzw. das Hören ist ubiquitär, und Musik kommerzieller Art ist in der Zwischenzeit im urbanen Raum zur Sphärenharmonie geworden, die wie ein quasi-religiöser akustischer Horizont wirkt und eben gerade nicht wahrgenommen, geschweige erfahren wird. Damit Erfahrungen am Klingenden im weitesten Sinne überhaupt möglich seien, muss Musik eine gehörige Selbstkonstitutions- und Syntheseleistung vollbringen.


Noch zwei Beispiele von einer Ausstellung (September 2004), Soiree in the Baumwollfabrik St. Ingbert: Presentation of two works (in progress) by artists from our region:

Stefan Zintel: We meet in the Old Wool Spinning Mill, a vast 80 meter factory which is empty now. It is 8:30 pm, dusk, the room is reddish grey, last rays of light come in, the musician tells us that he will present a 20 minute interactive performance, site-specific, with the room. The room is his instrument, and he will bring it to resonate. He is using two small transfusers, loudspeakers without resonators, they are attached to the air ducts (air conditioning/ventilation system) at the ceiling, on either axis (left and right) of the room, linked to his amp and his laptop. He begins in silence. After a few minutes, we slowly begin to note the soft, subtle vibrations, which gradually swell a little, and then the building materials, metal, aluminum, steel, wood etc begin to resonate a little, as the musican works to send different (higher) frequencies and overtones, and control/modify the amplitudes/volume of signal. After a while, left and right side of the room begin to vibrate and make complex resonating sound, almost as if the whole building is beginning to move, and send sound waves through our bodies, one feels a tremor, and layers of sound (harmonies?) collide. Eventually he reduces the resonating volume or mass, and gradually again the sound ebbs and finally sinks away. It is now completely dark. In the discussion the musician speaks of “composing³ the resonance structure, and modulations (depending on the frequecies he chooses and programs). But he says that he also completely depend on the building, the temperature, the time of day, the way the room behaves, responds, and acts towards the frequencies, and of course the sound that is created is unqiue to this particular room and iys architecture and building materials.

Achim Wollscheid: Sound artist and programmer from Frankfurt, presents on his laptop & video beamer a work that he has been comissioned to do, for an architect friend who lives in Gelnhausen near Frankfurt, a medieval town, where the architect (Götz) had bought an old house that used to be known by the name "Zwiebelhaus", a strange steep triangular building that became dilapidated and fell apart. The architect re-built it, modelled upon the old architecture but now completely surrealized, with white shell, perforated by many windows, and no inside rooms except one "drawer", a central container room on the second floor, a room of 3x4 meters which can roll outside (on hydraulic system) and this sticks outside like a balcony. It will be used as bedroom, all other spaces are open, atriumlike, with staircases on the side going up to the triangualated top-attic, the lower floor is the living space which has a large rock on the floor creating a landscaped flooring, there are artworks and sculptures in the house, and no other accoutrements (no curtains), so the many windows create a perforated look.

The architect now has commissioned from the sound artist an interactive sound installation that will provide a living sound architecture for the house, and Wollscheid has programmed a complex interactive PD patch system based on the concept of perforation and inside-outside exchange of sound. He shows us a drawing/sketch of the concept, which displays a central computer, and speakers facing inside and facing outside the house. There is a control panel, and the dweller can choose 4 different modes of sound communication relations and interactions: In ­ In, In-Out, Out-In, Out-Out. Then there are four modifications that allow control of volume and character/quality of the mixing of the sound aspects of the transfers: there are several microphones inside the house and several mics outside the house, and there is also an interface at the outside door for passers by and visitors to make inputs or incluence the communications. The interactivity thus can be modulated from inside and outside, and the dweller inside the house can hear sounds from outside (pure, mixed, filtered, etc), and the neighbors or passers by can hear sounds from the inside...... In his presentation, Wollscheid comments on his programmatic interest in and concern for interactive sound concepts, and the experimentation with in-out and output functionalities; he said he is not interested as much in the "aesthetics" of the sound qualities, but in the use of the system, and the communication that it allows as part of dwelling, living, the house, the neighborhood, the relation to the environment, and the interactive play. He showed us the nested PD designs (the patches), laid out four small loudpeakers on the floor, and microphones, and simulated the sounding activity that was generated just by our conversation, by sounds in the room in which we were, and how the installation will modify it once in use.

We also discussed the question of interaction at length, in a very stimulating debate on such architecture, and its use by more than individual interaction but, as is intended, by groups, “communities³,neighbors, different people giving different inputs and thus raising the complexity of the transfers and exchanges. He did mention that each interactive system of this kind (and the dweller, the architect, will most likely only see the main surface controller patch with the 8 choices, not the entire nested programming design), once it is used in social context, must invite “play³, playful use, stimulate users, and let the users get used to it (living in sound, in a feedback universe of inside-outside), and therefore the threshold operational parameter has to be simple, so that the user can understand it intuitively, and it most likely will mean that, at this point, the source code is not displayed or openly accessible, but it will be published on the website, and is free, Wollscheid said, since he supports the open source movement and the idea of sharing (interactivity).


I just mention these examples above as interesting cases of the trajectory that we also engage, the interactive performance-environment (performed by musician who uses the space as instrument but still considers his work rehearsed and composed, heor she knows the program, and the instrument, and is tyring to play it with his aesthetic choices and decisions) and the interactive installation/architecture which is not composed and not played by expert but can be used by anyone (and which is not grounded in an aesthetic presumption but conceived as an interactive social playground).

I suggest that Paulo comments, in a separate essay, on his ideas: - the musical ideas for the opera, and now for the new concept of the AUGENLIEDER, and the ideas he might have for (a) stage version, and (b) installation version - suggestions as to libretto and use of text or maps - suggestions as to casting, use of live musicians and singers, actors - suggestions as to interactive sound and what that would mean for us - Furthermore, commentaries are invited on use of video in conjunction with music and acting. We could then begin to exchange our ideas, and debate the role of maps, script, score, system and overall structure, and the also decide whether it is conceivable that we can find a time next spring to work together, in rehearsal, with members of a possible ensemble, singers, etc, or whether we might have to create the work in stages/segments, perhaps doing some work with singers (and record), or you work with score and singers, and I work in Nottingham on visual scenario and actors/dancers and designers. If we make good progress, we can decide in the spring whether we want to complete the installation first and make a film ­ sound recording for a projective installation. Afterwards we could ask a theatre to produce the stage version. The proposal for such a stage version can go out to Producers in 2005, once we have the DVD. I expect that we can make an installation by 2005-06, and the stage version in 2006-07.

Another new research development (conducted with fashion designer Michèle Danjoux and the DAP group in Nottingham) concerns the relations between interaction and fabrics (intelligent textile and fashion design). For more information on the evolution of our ideas on the "telematic dress" and sensory textile design, click here. See also DAP's new essay on the "telematic dress."


Phase II. - 2005

Canções dos olhos

Overall structure for reconceived intermedia songs project

SONG 1 : Prisoner of Visibility

aria 1 The Dream of Blindess

SONG 2 silhouettes of the sky and feet inside silence

SONG 3 wide-open the eyes of the flesh

aria 2 Ecstasy

SONG 4 spasms of the eyelid

aria 3 Violence

SONG 5 I dissolve my eyes in your being

aria 4 Raincatcher/Return to the City


(to be continued)

July 26-27, 2005