So I went along to the Musify & Gamify Concert 2 last night. Located at the Reginald Theatre at the Seymour Centre, it was great to see the twinkling lights of Vivid across the road to help set the mood, remind people that it’s apart of Vivid Music and of course introduce the works we were about to see.
Inside the foyer, a small number of individuals gather close to the theatre doors, lots of familiar glances exchange, the singer from 7Bit Hero is excited to be there and reminds us to download the app before the show. Once we settle into our seats the show begins. In the dark space, Ollie the curator gives us a short introduction and explains the acts we’re about to see.
The Infosthetic Orchestra (James Nichols, Laura Altman, Pia van Gelder, Tom Smith, Alex Whillas, Ollie Bown)
To open the concert, a group of 5 musicians/technicians on mixing desks and one Clarinet player had their backs turned to us as they took the reigns from the Maestro facing us on the main mixer.
On the screen above was the score for the piece, but it wasn’t the traditional score you might expect to see. This score shows a low fidelity graph with a data output of 15hz that displaying the volatile relationship between the Australian Dollar vs. Bitcoin over the period of 2012-2013. The graphs peaks and troughs ranged from a gentle heart beat to unbearable intense bass as the dollar cycled from $11 to over a $1000 dollars during the piece. It’s hard the describe – but as the piece went on, there were a number of digital sounds that resembled the sounds of wailing ambulances, dialing phones, lawn mowers and other digital noises.
Paul Heslin (ACT)
The dark space is illuminated by the sight of 8 x CRT TV’s, all of different sizes. The relics display only vision of static or menu modes and the stage is barely lit by these. The performer remains in the dark and stands next to a desk with a number of peripherals including a controller and voice augmenter.
The piece expressed some raw emotions that fluctuated between white noise and a number of distorted frequencies that kinda sound similar to the sounds that Aphex Twin produce. Other digital sounds resemble the distorted sound of a dog barking, human growling, a driving percussive sound, and some serious deep bass.
Most sounds were triggered by the use of a controller as the performer ‘played’ the sounds. The aggressive sounds were juxtaposed by moments of silence where the game reset. I’d like the think that the piece represented the intense feelings of lust, desire and stages of frustration that playing a game makes you feel. It’s frustration that the player feels when the lose, drop the ball or let their team down and the seriousness that’s involved in all those stages of grieving. I think the organized sound in this piece offers a musical representation of what it’s like to experience that sense of lust and loss, even if it’s only for a fleeting moment.
Exhibition (Including works by Lucas Abela, David Kanaga, Michaela Davies and The Futile Research Lab.)
A number of the pieces at the exhibition urged the user to look, touch, feel and play. They let the art goer interact and engage with the work and gave them the opportunity to create an artistic contribution. For the works that rely on human interaction, it’s a surreal experience to see an artwork sitting there without interaction – a purposeless object? A cog in the machine waiting on another bit to do its thing to complete it. Without the participation, on quick glance, some might be seen as just a humming artwork.
For the artists of the evening, a lot of their pieces relied on the use of technology. Using technology to create art is captivating enough on it’s own, but I find the bits that slip through the cracks even more intriguing. What happens when a work ‘fails’? What happens when something goes wrong. In this case, a new work is created as the artist loses control of their intended message and it kinda takes on a world and message of its own. What is lost or gained when a performance or art piece ‘fails’ at the attempt to portray a message?
This kind of subdued presence in a space is what I really like about digital pieces, they have a real sense of being in the moment and at any time can be disconnected, reconnected, engaged and reengaged.
My favourite piece of the evening, Lucas Abela’s Mini Duelling Guitars really represented the ‘state of game.’ The pinball machine is made up of 2 electric guitars, an amp and some guitar fx. Essentially the gamer plays, the ball bounces around and hits strings and other bits and pieces and creates music.
In an age where physical media is no longer required to create organised sound, the potential for creation seems limitless. With waves of thought and technologies constantly moving, evolving and becoming more personalised, the digital music landscape is always changing and adapting.
Austin Buckett performs with a new interactive AV work by David Kanaga (US)
In contrast the lighter piece saw Austin Bucket on the piano and a ‘gamer’ at a laptop facing toward each other. On the screen, a psychedelic 3D render of a dog travelling in a digital landscape. It’s pretty trippy – he meets a giant whale and basically travels around the earth/sky and it’s all from the perspective of the dog.
I wasn’t exactly across how the musical production was being made, did the gamer play the game and the performer create the soundscape based on what he was seeing, was the 3D render facilitated by the gamer from the notes played? I’m not exactly sure, but the ‘weird’ setting offered some lightness and created a sense of playfulness.
7 Bit Hero (solo set, QLD)
Definitely the stand out for the evening in terms of audience participation, a fun, strong performance and just a whole lot of fun.
Viewers were asked to download the 7 bit Hero app and during the performance, tap to interact with the performance. With the aid of the projector, cute 8 bit animations explain the rules, song lyrics and tell the story. At the end of the piece, there is a ‘winner’ – he or she who tapped the fastest, who is then incorporated into the song and ultimately into the performance. This piece worked on a number of levels and I thought that these guys really captured the essence of the Musify Gamify theme.
Love, Festival Girl