„Possibility of experimentation in/between electro-acoustic music and other arts, after the digital revolution",
EMS18 (Electroacoustic Music Studies Network) - 14th Conference, Electroacoustic Music: Is it Still a Form of Experimental Music?, Villa Finaly, Florence, Italy, 20 – 23 June
This paper is a contemplation about the contemporary aesthetics in/between auditory and visual experiences, and about the possibility of experimentation in/between experimental music and other arts, after the digital revolution.
At the beginning as background the “perception” of human ability and the medium "digital" are considered, and in the process the medium “digital” is compared with the analogue medium as well as the magnetic tape from the point of view of aesthetics. For this, three artistic projects are considered. The first is Symphonie pour un homme seul (Symphony for a Man Alone), an early masterpiece of musique concrète by Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry, which was composed in 1950, and as a ballet version, choreography by Maurice Béjart, that was first performed in 1955 at the Théâtre de l'Etoile in Paris.
The second is the sound installation Rotations 2 (2016) by Max Eastley, a visual and sound artist, which was represented in the exhibition of two British sound artists (with Martin Riches) “Two Measures of Time” at the Stadtgalerie in Saarbrücken, September 2016 – January 2017. The third is the piece of music Constellations for Koto and electronic sounds composed by Marc Battier, a composer and musicologist, that was played with a koto (a traditional Japanese stringed instrument) by Naoko Kikuchi and electroacoustic sounds at the “Nacht Klang” concert at St. Elisabeth Church in Berlin, August 2012.
Simultaneously, materiality and performativity are reviewed with regard to experimental music and visual arts.
A CONTEMPLATION OF THE CONTEMPORARY AESTHETICS IN/BETWEEN AUDITORY (INVISIBLE) AND VISUAL (VISIBLE) EXPERIENCES
Visual information processing is the ability to interpret what “I” see (interpretation), namely a vision to direct the action, such as the effect that is the experience of emotion or feeling. In this experience we have another ability, namely auditory perception. Hearing (audition) is the ability to perceive sound by detecting vibrations. Hearing a sound (in the auditory system) draws the attention to something, evokes emotion. The auditory information will be memorized, recognized, and so on, as is also the case in the two distinct visual systems. The sense of sight (vision) and hearing (audition) belong to the five traditionally recognized senses, the other three being taste (gustation), smell (olfaction), and touch (somatosensation); they are a multitude of senses.1
The metacognitive ability is the awareness and understanding of one’s thinking and cognitive processes; thinking about thinking. Metacognition refers to the knowledge in the cognitive processes, in other words the capacity to reflect on our thoughts and behaviors. The perceptional abilities depend on the personal level of perceptual experience. We can reflect those perceptual experiences of the self. This self-reflection is described in the Cambridge dictionary as follows: “The activity of thinking about your own feelings and behaviour, and the reasons that may lie behind them.” The high level of human self-reflection is related to or referred to as the philosophy of consciousness, the topic of awareness, and the philosophy of mind.
- THE MEDIUM “DIGITAL” COMPARED WITH THE ANALOGUE MEDIUM AS WELL AS THE MAGNETIC TAPE FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF AESTHETICS
Magnetic recording systems have been in existence since 1898, when the Danish scientist Valdemar Poulsen invented what he called a telegraphone, where a magnetic recording is made on thin steel wire. After the end of the Second World War, the rapid advances in technology as a result of the war, an upsurge of interest from many quarters in new sound techniques, and a generally expansionist economic climate provided sufficient incentives for institutions to provide support.2 Schaeffer has started to experiment in his compositions that he has served the sound as auditive material, and therefore he developed the technique and the method of montage with everyday natural sounds recorded on tape (Schaeffer termed these everyday natural sounds “sound fragments”3 and they were engraved into a spiral groove which was transformed into an auditory and time-based medium) and the recorded sound also included historically and representable archived sounds (fragment of history). For this he developed a unique concept through his research – acousmatic music, which aimed for the auditive rendition in the performative representation.
"Acousmatic listening" was indicated by musique concrète composers as listening without seeing – without knowing (to require auditory attention and perception rather than recognition of seeing), and Schaeffer termed the process “reduced listening”. Hamilton claims, “Strictly, reduced listening should not be equated with listening without seeing; rather, it is listening that is enhanced by listening without seeing. The object of acousmatic or reduced listening is what Schaeffer calls a sound-object (objet sonore), apparently discounting the commonsense assumption that sounds are temporal processes rather than things.”4