Double Vortex is situated in an electronic music performance practice that is based on real-time sound processing and gestural interaction. The piece is built on a framework that falls within the current practice of electronic music making. Through this filiation it inherits a number of assumptions and tropes that limit the potential for altering the format.
Moving Music takes on the principles of live-electronic performance and lets a movement expert – a dancer – take on the role of a musician. The dancer’s movement is translated to elements of sound, the control over and responsibility for temporal and dynamic structure lies with the performer. This form proves to be less common in the domains of both music and dance.
In both cases the staging takes into account the use of the black box as an abstract space, where presence shows up in different degrees: the performers are in the limelight, and therefore occupy the centre of attention; the composer-performer sits at the front edge of the stage and is perceived as being part of the performance – his contributing role is clear. The audience partakes from a vantage point situated outside the stage space and contributes to the intensity of the performance by their focussed attention. The decision to frame the pieces in a traditional, frontal concert performance is made to be able to focus on other aspects of the process that seem conducive to generating insights about the core questions asked. Thus, the conventional framing establishes a sort of common baseline or ground truth.
This framework allows for a ‘differential’ method in composing. The frame doesn’t exclude a deliberate stretching of those boundaries but helps focus the energy on those elements that are deemed essential to fulfil the intended goals of the piece. The ‘differential’ that is achieved stems from the fact that for most novel solutions a traditional element can be juxtaposed. An example of this would be the posture of a conventional trombone player and the way it expresses his or her conscious application to presence. In the new piece, this element is consciously shaped and results in making evident or even central the corporal presence of the performer.
The two central pieces of this project serve as vehicles for exploring corporeality. Their entire development and creation processes aim, on the one hand, at performance and, on the other hand, at creating a space for reflection, experimentation, materials collection, and iterative testing – in a continuous dialogue – of the configuration and balance between the key elements of each set-up.
The pieces share the formal framing; they are solo pieces with live-electronics intended to be performed in a concert situation. The composer is always present as a live-electronic performer, influencing to varying degrees the evolution of musical elements. Furthermore, the use of technology is in both cases instrumental – that is, it provides the means to extend or alter the sound outcomes of an artist’s musical performance. From a compositional point of view, both pieces consist of several sections that create a progression of musical materials, gestural expressions, and sonic principles. The works share the notion of a dramaturgic arc; they are neither static states nor minimalistic empty spaces.
The question of augmenting, sensing, and interfering with the performer’s body through movement-to-sound linkage is a recurrent theme. In the case of the interactive dance piece, the connection through sensing technology between movement and sound poses a number of critical questions about the role and impact of wearable and surveillance technology on the performing subject, as is expressed in the quotation by Susan Kozel (above right).