Rokolectiv 10th anniversary edition in pictures

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The Bucharest-based festival celebrated its tenth anniversary this year. From 23rd until 26th of April, the popular event hosted several SHAPE artists (apart from a diverse selection of others, of course): the French techno producer Mondkopf, Swiss-born electronic chanteuse Aisha Devi and local underground heroes Sillyconductor and Borusiade.

Over the years, Asociatia Rokolectiv invited in Romania over 250 artists and professionals in the field, contributing to the development of the local scene and generating projects of collaboration between musicians, visual artists,contemporary dancers, and promoters. The 2015 projects continue to promote new genres in experimental and dance electronic music and act as a complex platform of interaction between musicians, visual arts, professionals and the general public, in close connection with the socio-cultural context in which they are activating. Photos by: Roald Aron.

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April SHAPE Resonance FM show online!

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In this edition of our SHAPE radio show on Resonance FM, we will focus on Dresden, a former East German city with a long and marked history, half-way between Prague and Berlin. Over the course of a week, starting on 27th April, Dresden will become the hotspot for adventurous music and related arts courtesy of the ICAS Festival, a venture by the eponymous network, a SHAPE partner institution. We will talk to the host of the event, the Dresden based Trans-Media-Akademie Hellerau renowned for its CYNETART festival, as well as some of the SHAPE artists who will be performing there, including Gábor Lázár, Kathy Alberici, Borusiade and 12z.  

SHAPE Radio Show #3 – 28th April 2015 by Resonance Fm on Mixcloud

A hint of utopia – An interview about CYNETART & TMA Hellerau

Cynetart-Festspielhaus_Hellerau_A_Konstantin_Rinner_lophoto: Konstantin Rinner

The international festival for computer-based art and trans-disciplinary media projects CYNETART has been taking place in Dresden, Germany, since 1997. It presents a programme linking art, science and media technologies. In a two-year cycle, CYNETART, changes from a programme based into a competition based festival. CYNETART is run by Trans-Media-Akademie Hellerau (TMA), an institute for interdisciplinary research on theoretical and practical level focused on how new technologies influence human body, behaviour and creative expression. Between 27 April and 3 May 2015, the premises of TMA Hellerau will host a gathering of international festivals under the umbrella of the ICAS Network for the ICAS Festival with a subtitle “Networking Tomorrow’s Art For An Unknown Future”. As such, it will be also the official kick-off event of the SHAPE project, presenting 20 SHAPE artists through concerts, installations and performances. Here we talk to Thomas Dumke, TMA Hellerau project manager and former organiser of CYNETART, Nadine Bors, one of the members of the CYNETART curatorial team, as well as Joanna Szlauderbach from the organising team behind the ICAS Festival.

Could you introduce CYNETART and its genesis?

Thomas Dumke: It started in 1996 with domestic participants only, but has grown fast since 1997. Formerly it was called COMTECart and since 2001 it’s called CYNETART (“cy” for cybernetics, “net” for the net and “art”). The aim is to present the latest developments in technology. Since Festspielhaus Hellerau, where our activities are located, is a venue for dance and everything related to the human body, we also decided to focus on the body in relation to new technologies. At CYNETART our visitors experience a lot of interactive media environments, installations, performances, as well sound-related arts in connection with body-generated sounds and dance performance in general, AV performances and electronic music concerts.

How do you reflect upon the development of the festival and the themes over the twenty years. Technology has changed and so has its role in society.

TD: Each year, the festival is looking for its own profile. The new generation of artists and creatives use technologies as a common everyday tool, and there’s a shift in how we reflect upon the use of computers and new technologies. The aspect of design and the definition of interactivity have become more focused, but in my opinion, it is not as deep as it was ten or twenty years ago. Even the nature of the questions artists explore in their projects in relation to new technologies has changed. At the moment it is really more about surface and functionality rather than content.

Is the role of festivals like CYNETART, festivals which stand at the forefront of technological change and innovation, to become a critical mirror these days?

TD: I would say yes, but not as the main focus. People are able to experience on their own what artists or projects promise and are able to reflect on their meaning afterwards. Transmediale, let’s say, has a focus placed more on the DIY and hacker culture. Even if you look at the exhibition at Transmediale, it’s shows more the contemporary art character in general including media projects in research. But on the other hand how can we reflect; where lies the base to have a critical point of view, reflected in the international scene, and be subversive?

There is a change going on at the moment and it also depends on the type of funding. If you are dependent on let’s say private economic funding, you are not subversive anymore. With TMA as a non-profit organisation, which organises the festival, we have a duty towards society. And this is not always only to promote developments in digital economy in general, but also to create an alternative point of view to experience new technologies.

Could you mention some examples of projects that you have developed in this respect?

TD: We had a focus on telematic projects, for instance, in collaboration with CIANT from Prague where we connected four European cities through telematic installation. It was not based on Skype and the typical digital monitor where people can watch each other, but rather, it was more an abstract telematic approach with your own presence and state of mind. The question is how to behave with different kinds of senses and media sensations. It is about abstraction and imagination contrasting with an information overload. There is always this discussion about immersion. In our case, immersion means to get down, get calm, and try to get into the whole situation by single aspects of media control or media influence. It’s not about having 360 degree immersive environments with flicker effects and deep frequencies. These are two opposites, on the one hand there is this overloading of senses and on the other, a more concentrated, contemplative situation.

What sort of projects do you look for in terms of programming? Which aspects of media works are most important to you?

TD: There is always this next big idea behind the idea you have as an artist. If you have a look at the whole social media development in the last years, some of these concepts have been around since 80s or 90s. Somebody got economic power behind Facebook, and did it, but the idea to connect people was not new. People who are involved in creative industries have to think about an economic model behind their developments. In that case, the kind of parameters we use to evaluate those kind of art projects get more and more difficult. I’m personally still interested in alternative media and specially developed media environments, which are not coming from the consumer market and really try to show alternative views of media. There should be a hint of utopia in it.

Does the festival programming strive to reflect current trends in technology and society as such, and how do you personally reflect upon the changes in these shifts over last years?

TD: Sometimes I’m wondering where these trends are coming from. When there are public discussions on let’s say the economic use of private data, we tend to get a lot of projects related to that topic. On the other hand, what I recognised last year was that there have been a lot of projects related to other species and new technologies, such as birds and other animals or plants. And this is what I’m interested in. With Festspielhaus as our venue, a lot of submissions tend to come from the dance or performance scene which are using new technologies as a media element of their dramaturgy in their performances. In terms of sound, it’s going back to show visitors how music is produced, which concerns the age-old discussion about sitting at a laptop in front of an audience checking emails while performing. Musicians are getting aware of that and there are lot of interesting developments, for instance Moritz Simon Geist with his Sonic Robots project. The idea is to make visible how sound is generated or developed in live performance.

How important is the educational aspect of the programme?

TD: There’s this effort of mediation, making it more transparent. It’s not about a mysterious black box. Another trend is with people leaving these new technologies behind because they are not able to handle them anymore. There’s also an aspect of DIY and making and building things on one’s own, the engineering element. This is something we could keep in the development to get an idea about what’s going on inside these new technologies and make it more transparent.

You mentioned utopia as an important element in your curatorial approach, but is also the other side of technology, dystopia, something that you take into consideration?

TD: Both. I cannot promise that utopia will be realised, but I like people who still have utopian ideas and charisma to bring people together to work on one thing to change something or create their own world, rules and culture with its own expression based on technology.

Could you introduce the umbrella organisation of CYNETART, the Trans-Media-Akademie Hellerau, which is based at the Festspielhaus Hellerau in Dresden?

TD: Trans-Media-Akademie Hellerau was founded in 2001 as a result of a need to have an organisation behind the festival. The one focus is the CYNETART festival, but besides that we are involved in a lot of European projects, for instance the ICAS Network and its European initiatives like ECAS and SHAPE. We also run a media lab, the so called Trans-Media-Labor Hellerau, which is a mixture between a media lab and a rehearsal space. We invite artists to provide workshops for pupils aged 12 and 16 to work with us for a week, for instance.

Nadine Bors: We interact in a local and international based network through productions and presentation in media-art projects on the consequences of media technology development for the self- and the worldview, especially from an interdisciplinary point of view and are dedicated to the practical, theoretical, artistic and social research on body-related communication and perception technologies. Our public activities focus on teaching the current trends shaped by technology and medialization culture and thus illustrate the relationship areas of applied media technologies in their aesthetic, social, cultural, economic and political dimensions. 

What are you planning for this year’s festival and what’s are the longer term plans for CYNETART?

NB: This year’s the 19th CYNETART festival, running from 12th – 18th of November 2015, is a programme event in which the focus lies on the theming of the change of body-related communication and perception technologies by the new information technologies. With large-scale audiovisual installations, performances, audio-visual shows, workshops, DIY events and a satellite programme throughout the city that involves the visitor. CYNETART 2015 will present its latest projects produced in cooperation with our international and local networks. A central element of this year’s festival, since we’re running onto our 20th anniversary in 2016, is that we’ll look back in time focusing on the preforms of the computer code, and forward on the technique of translation and body-related individuality and biometric masks as we find them in fashion and games now.

You are the host of the upcoming ICAS Festival, which will be a week-long multimedia event focusing on the artists and organisations involved in the International Cities of Advanced Sound network.

Joanna Szlauderbach: It’s the most interesting festival that I’ve ever worked on. There are more than twenty other festivals and organisations participating, not only regarding the content, but also in terms of finances. It’s a huge collective event and it’s taking place because it’s the final event of the European Cities of Advanced Sound (ECAS) project that took place for five years with nine festivals from the ICAS network participating. It’s also the official kick-off for the new European project by the ICAS Network, the SHAPE platform, which has 16 participating festivals involved. It’s the first festival of this kind and it will also be the place where the network will be formalised.

Can you explain the subtitle of the festival, “Networking Tomorrow’s Art For An Unknown Future”?

JS: This is also the general motto of the network – to develop tools for this unknown future of festivals active in the field of advanced or adventurous music and related arts. It’s something that is really important to all participating organisations – which is to think about alternatives and develop and test them in this lab-like situation. It’s great that it can be discussed and lived in the form of this festival.

In what way is the ICAS Festival different to all the other festivals that you have been working on?

JS: This one is more about networking. It’s a huge meeting. Content is also important, but I have the feeling that this festival is more about the people. Artists, organisers and audience. There will be a picnic, networking lunch and meetings, so there are lot of opportunities to meet. Aside from this, there will be also A/V performances, clubbing nights, a small documentary exhibition, as well as a film programme.

www.cynetart.de

 

 

Lorenzo Senni: From rave voyeurism to mutilated euphoria

Lorenzo Senni

Lorenzo Senni is an Italian musician, a self-proclaimed champion of “pointillistic trance”. He deconstructs elements of dance music, especially 90s rave culture, and reappropriates them with repetition and isolation as key concepts. His work explores the idea of the “build-up” found in euphoric dance music as a starting point to make a non-uplifting, more introspective piece that implicitly preserves its emotional tension and drama. His critically acclaimed album, Quantum Jelly, out in 2012 on Editions Mego, manifested Senni’s affinity for dissecting the structural building blocks of trance, and this was only reinforced by last year’s equally well-received LP Superimpositions. He was nominated for SHAPE by Les siestes électroniques.

What is the importance of the constant deferral of the climax in your music? Is it a statement?

When I describe my music, I call it the “non-uplifting build-up”. If it’s a build-up, it’s supposed to be uplifting. So it doesn’t really make sense. This material already has an inherent climax. What I’m interested in – even if I use very short parts and put them out of context – is that the audience can still recognise this climax and experience it. It’s a bit strange, because it’s not developed how it should be. You understand where it comes from and where it could go, but it’s not going there, so it’s frustrating because it doesn’t respond to your expectations. But if you are a little bit curious, you could say, OK, this is what I’m used to expecting from this kind of stuff, but here is another point of view.

It also feels like fragments of memory gathered from years of going out are being triggered. You can almost imagine the climax happening.

It’s exactly like that. It doesn’t have to be the whole track, or be explained too much. It’s about bringing forth a very strong memory or a feeling, giving a short input to the brain and letting it complete the circle. You make an effort and this makes you more active (as a listener).

Lee Gamble recontextualised old jungle records on his Diversions 1994-1996 EP. But there was also an aspect of melancholia connected to it, a sort of disembodied memento to the halcyon days of dance culture.

I respect Lee’s work. We have some things in common, for sure. But not the melancholia that comes from his work – because it’s also developed in a different way. With me it’s rather euphoria, mutilated euphoria.

Why did you choose trance as your reference point?

Because of my background. When I was playing in punk and hardcore bands, I was also going to clubs. I find the build-up part of a trance track musically interesting. The kick in all the 90s trance tracks is very similar, but the musical region reserved to the build-up is more free, and musicians can express themselves a bit more. It’s functional because it needs to go from the breakdown back to the kick again. There are rules, but there is room for amazing musical solutions and producers can be stimulated by playing with these rules.

When you make music, is it more analytical or is there also an element of improvisation?

It starts in a very analytical way, I call it “Pointillistic Trance”. When I start, I do something very simple, I put the envelope of the synth all the way down, to have the shortest sound possible. It always starts in the same way and then I play around with the synth. What happens afterwards is something that is more improvised, but the way I begin is always fixed to certain ideas.

Is the audience’s reaction important to you, especially since you said that your approach can get frustrating?

It is. And I don’t like the fact that they are frustrated. I get very strong reactions in both ways – very good and very bad ones. I don’t really know what to expect even if I try to predict it when I go somewhere to play. The reaction is important, but it’s not the main thing. Sometimes I try not to be too extreme. I like to see people having fun, and if they “trust me”, I’m sure they will have fun! The release will work differently though. The process and the steps that they have gone through will only be clarified partially, almost as if they have been watched from outside. That’s why I also like to describe it as “Rave Voyeurism”.

Can you talk about your label, Presto!?

The label was born five years ago because I was very respectful of the work of some artists, and the only way to get in touch with them was to collaborate and release their records. When I get asked about the label, I always answer that it’s “cultural cannibalism”, because when I really like someone’s work, I almost want to become that person. The closest way is to make something together.

So it originates from this music fan perspective.

Yes. It’s all based on passion and fun. I’m not thinking about whether I’m losing money or if it’s too expensive. I do it because I really like it.

The label is very diverse.

Yes, it’s also based on my taste, which is also diverse. I hope that over the years you will be able to see a line, something that makes sense.

You studied musicology. Does your analytical approach to music come from these studies, of having a more second level perspective.

Could be. I didn’t finish my studies though I was very close to doing so. I was used to analysing music. Maybe it’s also about that, about seeing how things work.

Which stream or style in music history is closest to you? Apart from pointillism, of course.

Lately, what I’ve been rediscovering from my university studies is the theorist and critic Eduard Hanslick and the importance of content and form – the beauty in music and whether it’s related to feelings or form. We still ask ourselves what’s good in music, if it is connected to the feeling that you get from it or rather the form.

Even though you have said that you have this more clinical, analytical approach, melody and harmony are also important elements of your work.

It’s exactly why I bring this back. My stuff perhaps wants to be analytical with respect to some musical structure, but it also wants to point the finger in the emotional direction, though only slightly. There is this drama, but I don’t want to reveal too much about it. I always think that if people make a little bit of effort to complete it, it can be powerful. In Italy we have a saying: “In a love relationship the one who runs away wins”, and the same goes for my music …I give some strong inputs and then I run away for a bit.

Superimpositions is a really euphoric, uplifting record.

The idea is to sustain this feeling but without using the obvious musical strategies, and see how long one can keep it driving up. Not say too much, but actually a lot. I don’t want to accept the compromises in music that wants to trigger euphoria.

When you produce other musicians like How To Dress Well, do you also have this self-imposed rule, or you work differently?

The only rule I have is that I want to work my way. If I can shape my synths in the way I like, I can work with anyone.

Lorenzo Senni is playing at the ICAS Festival on 30 April 2015. For more information, go here.

www.prestorecords.com

Exclusive mixtape for NTS Radio by 12z

Last week, NTS Live – as part of their collaboration with the SHAPE platform –  aired a selection of exclusive improvised tracks by the Hungarian duo 12z, whose album Free Fall Inspirations has just been released on Nicolas Jaar‘s label Other People. Enjoy it below.

12z will be playing at the grand SHAPE showcase as part of ICAS Festival this Thursday (April 30).
As pure improvisors, 12z (Bálint Szabó and Márton Kristóf) have constructed a substantial body of work, including film scores, studio recordings, and a significant archive of 12z [sessionz] — weekly improvised jams with a shifting cast of collaborators. With Bálint on guitar, Márton on electronics, and former member Áron Porteleki often joining on drums, they fluctuate between jagged rhythmic passages, floating moments of harmonic tension, and any other form that emerges, always chiseling structure from the chaos. Free Fall Inspirations marks a significant shift in 12z’s work, being their first entirely electronic recording.

Click here for other SHAPE-related broadcasts on NTS.

And click here to find out more about the line-up of the ICAS Festival.

Exclusive 12z compilation for Tiny Mix Tapes

To celebrate the participation of Hungarian improvising duo 12z at the ICAS Festival (April 27 – May 3), we’re proud to bring You some of their unreleased music in collaboration with Tiny Mix Tapes.

“For Streams Of Rising Air, a 17-minute work that they call a mixtape, 12z offer “special fragments of the recording process” from their upcoming album, Trembling Air. These fragments unravel slowly and methodically, blending hazily into each other to create a rich tapestry of harmony, melody, and timbre, with repetition, sampling, and processing continually shaping the sounds and, therefore, our reception of them.”

– Tiny Mix Tapes –

As pure improvisors, 12z (Bálint Szabó and Márton Kristóf) have constructed a substantial body of work, including film scores, studio recordings, and a significant archive of 12z [sessionz] — weekly improvised jams with a shifting cast of collaborators.  All this is not even to mention their live work, which is at the foundation of 12z’s craft and artistry. With Bálint on guitar, Márton on electronics, and former member Áron Porteleki often joining on drums, they fluctuate between jagged rhythmic passages, floating moments of harmonic tension, and any other form that emerges, always chiseling structure from the chaos.

To find out more about the SHAPE showcase of the ICAS Festival, click here.

Zamilska’s SHAPE mix for NTS Live

We proudly present You this SHAPE mix, made for NTS Live by Polish producer Zamilska.

Zamilska (Shape Takeover) – 23rd April 2015 by Nts Radio on Mixcloud

Zamilska’s debut album UNTUNE released may 26th 2014 did not disappoint those who hailed Zamilska the sensation of the year on the strength of her first single Quarrel. Live shows, which Zamilska is particularly passionate about, burst vibrant energy, exude monstrous bass and powerful fat beats working the audience into a frenzy. UNTUNE despite its’ heavier nature instantly gained recognition among critics and even more importantly stuck chord with a wider-than-expected audience.

2Photo by Ola Bydlowska i Piotr Matejkowski

Recently defending a diploma in Social and Cultural Animation at the University of Silesia, Zamilska’s creative forms also spill into a knack for visual collage-ing; she complements many of her audio releases with a variably self-designed collection of professional looking music videos.

Zamilska will be playing at a SHAPE showcase at Intonal festival (Sweden) on April 24.

 Click here for other SHAPE-related broadcasts on NTS.

Stream Sillyconductor’s SHAPE artist hour on Resonance FM

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of Romania’s Rokolectiv festival, which happens this weekend, Resonance FM have broadcast a special show, devoted to Rochite a.k.a. Sillyconductor, one of the most interesting and eccentric artists of this upcoming festival edition.

Clear Spot – 22nd April 2015 (SHAPE -Rochite) by Resonance Fm on Mixcloud

The show features music, made under both of his monikers – Rochite and Sillyconductor – featuring comments by the musician himself.

Sillyconductor and Rochite are two monikers of the same Romanian artist living in Bucharest. Sillyconductor excels at the more classical/mathematical side of the imaginary duo, whereas Rochite, the emotional alter­ego, performs a weird juxtaposition of field recordings, classical music sampling, pop structures, polyrhythmic beatmaking, unsuccessful beatboxing, absurd children’s lyrics or nonsensical series of vowels and traditional Romanian folk metaphors. Hiding his identity behind a white mask created by Ioana Nemes and covered in large strokes of abstract shapes and colors projected by Dreamrec, the resulting live performance has toured several electronic music festivals in Europe.

rockitze3

Sillyconductor will be playing at Rokolectiv festival in Romania on April 24.

To sift through previous collaborations between Resonance FM and SHAPE, click here.

SHAPE mix by Low Jack for NTS Live

This brand new mix-tape by Parisian experimental techno producer Low Jack was created for the collaboration between SHAPE platform and London’s radio station NTS Live. It consists 100% of brand new and yet unpublished material, including work from some of his side projects as well.

Lowjack (Shape Takeover) – 16th April 2015 by Nts Radio on Mixcloud

Low Jack’s releases on labels such as L.I.E.S. and Trilogy Tapes as well as his esteemed DJ sets, demonstrate his personal approach to the hypnotic effects of dance music, with techno as his preferred tool of expression. His next album is scheduled for release on 18th May 2015 on Mondkopf and Guillaume Heuguet’s label In Paradisum.

lowjack

You can catch both Low Jack live at the grand SHAPE showcase at I.C.A.S. Festival (April 27 – May 3).

Sillyconductor’s SHAPE artist hour on Resonance FM!

rockitze3

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of Romania’s Rokolectiv festival, which happens this weekend, Resonance FM will broadcast a special show, devoted to Rochite a.k.a. Sillyconductor, one of the most interesting and eccentric artists of this upcoming festival edition.

The show will feature music, made under both of his monikers – Rochite and Sillyconductor – featuring comments by the musician himself.

Sillyconductor and Rochite are two monikers of the same Romanian artist living in Bucharest. Sillyconductor excels at the more classical/mathematical side of the imaginary duo, whereas Rochite, the emotional alter­ego, performs a weird juxtaposition of field recordings, classical music sampling, pop structures, polyrhythmic beatmaking, unsuccessful beatboxing, absurd children’s lyrics or nonsensical series of vowels and traditional Romanian folk metaphors. Hiding his identity behind a white mask created by Ioana Nemes and covered in large strokes of abstract shapes and colors projected by Dreamrec, the resulting live performance has toured several electronic music festivals in Europe.

The show will be aired on April 22 at 8pm (GMT) and repeated on April 23 at  9am (GMT).

To hear the show, stream it live here or tune in to 104.4 fm (central London). …or stream it later on our web-site.

Sillyconductor will be playing at Rokolectiv festival in Romania on April 24.

To sift through previous collaborations between Resonance FM and SHAPE, click here.