chdh: ‘Free software is very important’

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The chdh collective studies the relationship between image and sound by creating audio and visual algorithmic synthesizers. They mainly use these audiovisual instruments during live performances. Using equations describing natural mechanisms, they generate abstract choreography of particles whose minimalist material reveals underlying structures of great complexity, shaped by strange organic attractors. In search of a synaesthetic radicalism, their hypnotic performances strive on joint movement between image and sound and owe to experimental cinema (form-wise) just as much as to improvised music (performance-wise). 

Can you introduce your project?

We are mainly working on audiovisual performances. Morphist, our latest project, is an abstract choreography of particles. Under the action of forces, they organize themselves into complex shapes, constantly disrupted by unstable stirrings. This material reveals underlying structures of great complexity like strange organic attractors. Morphist is very radical and hypnotic and can be placed between experimental cinema and an improvised musical performance.

What is the relationship between sound and image in your work?

This relationship is the main aspect of our work: the sound does not represent the image, and the video is not a vizualization of the sound. They are both generated by an underlying process. Sound and image are very related without being redundant. The material used is very minimalist – white lines and points for the video, sinuses and noises for the audio – to emphasize the movement of these two media: the way they move or interact. Actually, this project is more about movement and choreography than images or sound.

Can you talk about your process of work – creating algorithmic synthesizers?

We create what we call audiovisual instruments, processes that generate sounds and images. These instruments are based on physical modelling: equations simulating natural mechanics like gravity, fluid mechanics or attraction that allow us to produce natural and organic movements. These movements are used to control our audiovisual synthesizers. During our live performances, we interact with the equations by changing their internal parameters. We add forces, modify the environment and change the structures in order to play with this system. The system has a life of its own, so we are constantly struggling against it to follow the score of the performance.

Can you talk about how you distribute your work and its ideological implications? (free software, open source technology, etc)

The existence of free software is very important as an alternative model to counter the greedy appetite of proprietary software companies. We use Pure Data for most of our projects, a free software developed by a large community. We learn a lot from this community, so it makes perfect sense to give back as much as we can. For example, with Egregrore source, we choose to distribute all the code we developed for this performance. Everyone can freely use it, modify it, and see how it’s made. It raises complex questions about the border between code and artistic creation because it is an instrument as well as an artwork.

What are you working on at the moment?

We are working on a new performance exploring the perception of white noise but it’s too early to talk about it.

 

Listen: Sis_Mic on Resonance Extra

GMEM

Listen to a special show by Sis_Mic on Resonance Extra, comprising of her own works. Sis_Mic is the new project by Pom Bouvier B., an eclectic artist: a video maker, scenographer, dancer and performer, especially influenced by her musical background. She has studied electroacoustic music for several years and her pieces have been played in several countries all over the world. Pôm Bouvier B.’s work includes various musical forms: music for dance, installations, radiophonic pieces and concerts. Alone or in collaboration, she works on projects that seek different kinds of public perception and listening.

Tracklist:
1. Rémanence-extract
2.Quark-extract
3. Sòmi-extract
4.Echo and Narcisse-extract
5 Worlds at Echo festival-extract

Listen: UH Fest on Resonance FM

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Listen to a special show dedicated and produced by Budapest’s UH Fest. The Hungarian experimental staple returns for another edition of concerts, talks and workshops this October. UH Fest is one of the 16 members of the SHAPE platform, as the network’s Budapest outpost. Between 1 and 8 October 2017, around 40 artists are set to perform there, among those a number of SHAPE artists: Paris-based DJ, producer and L.I.E.S. Records label head Ron Morelli, Brussels-based hardwave and techno-influenced producer Maoupa Mazzocchetti, Danish DJ trio Apeiron Crew, Stefan Fraunberger, Julien Desprez, Bulk (1/2 Céh), Black Zone Myth Chant.

UH Fest is one of the rare events dedicated to adventurous modern music in Hungary. Since 2001, it has staged more than 500 performances and a number of one-off events. Read our interview with the festival’s organizers here.

Photos: SHAPE Bucharest with Aïsha Devi, Stine Janvin, NSDOS, NMO

Each autumn, Bucharest’s Rokolectiv festival organizes a special SHAPE-dedicated event. This September, they invited a number of SHAPE artists, focusing on voice (Stine Janvin, Aïsha Devi), performance (NMO, Charlotte Bendiks + Boska), club sounds (Új Bála, Solid Blake, NSDOS), and beyond. Claire Tolan’s SUSH Choir workshop also took place, as well as a special lecture-performance Relaxing Data by Swiss artist Lauren Huret. Check out the photos from the event below (by Vlad Dumitrescu).

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Resonance FM show on TodaysArt 2017

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Ahead of TodaysArt in The Hague (September 22-23), comes a preview of the festival’s multiple club nights. Listen to a mix featuring SHAPE artists (alongside other acts) performing at the festival, put together by the festival’s music programmer Joeri Woudtsra. The show is produced in collaboration with and aired by the London-based radio station Resonance FM.

TodaysArt returns to the city centre of The Hague to present its latest edition. The two-day festival takes place in multiple venues of the National Theatre: Theater aan het Spui and Filmhuis Den Haag. For the very first time, TodaysArt is also transforming the city’s classical royal theatre – Koninklijke Schouwburg – into a progressive multifunctional playground housing 4 headlining concerts, 4 clubs and 1 exhibition.

With experimental works inside classical settings, TodaysArt builds a complex reality that deepens the contrasts between location, time, content, creators, and audience. In light of this year’s curatorial theme on the opacity of algorithmic systems, the festival seeks contradictions, the unexpected, clarity and chaos, and occasionally, a disturbing reality check.

Track list:

Ron Morelli — Slowly Losing Sight
Elektrovolt — Remoteness A
Sky H1 — Air
Toxe — Determina
Sote — Operor
Boska — Glass Limb
Elysia Crampton — Dummy Track (Lao Remix)
Boska — Wires
Inga Mauer — I’ve Nothing To Say
N.M.O. Armchair Evader
Thomas Ankersmit — Plague #7
Torus — Kho
Legowelt — Elements Of Houz Music
NSDOS — Money Exchange
NSDOS — Krona
Sky H1 — Huit
Miked106 — Spuiplein

Click here for more info on the festival.

Pictures: Skaņu Mežs at Riga’s White Night event

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Skaņu Mežs festival has been participating in Riga’s White Nights since 2006. As always, Skaņu Mežs participated with a five-hour concert program also in 2017, presenting what can be considered a mini-festival, comprised of very (genre-wise) diverse performances that range from contemporary music and minimalism to free improvisation and ambient electronics. For the first time, Skaņu Mežs had changed the venue for its White Night event – this time, it was the Ave Sol concert hall. The event included performances by four SHAPE artists: Anna Zaradny, Varg, Julien Desprez and Thomas Ankersmit.

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All photos by Pēteris Vīksna.

Erika Szurcsik aka Unknown Child: ‘ I will never call myself a musician’

unknown child uh fest Marton Berta

Erika Szurcsik is a multifaceted graphic artist deeply rooted in music and poetic imagery: her songs are expressionist human landscapes, her visuals are fragments of poetic narratives. Mainly known as the vocalist and intense live performer of Budapest-based art punk band Gustave Tiger, in her solo project, Unknown Child, she represents quite the opposite with her inner persona. Unknown Child is stripped down to soulful singer-songwriter loneliness, while her looped and multilayered hypnotic live melancholia opens up a wide range of sounds, distortions and harmonic interferences with the ethereal and deeply intimate sung words of a wonderfully touching voice. Her latest album, ID Check At Night, is out now. 

You come from an artistic family of painters, graphic designers. Can you talk about your upbringing and your first encounter with art & music?

I was surrounded by it, nonstop. We lived in a studio apartment where my father would work on his paintings while listening to blues and rock records. He was also a self-taught musician and he has played in various bands. He also had his own band Art Reactor in the eighties. He was the frontman and he also created the scenography, all the visuals, backgrounds and masks etc. Every concert was a provocative experimental art show. He also made famous album covers for the progrock band East and many others. With my grandparents, father, mother, uncle, aunt, cousins and brothers, a family of all kinds of artists has always been truly inspirational and still is.

Can you talk about your visual art work and how it is connected/influences/is influenced by the music you make?

First it was the art, I guess. Thinking in images, the way I inherited it from my family. But I’ve always liked to make noise and be loud. I liked to sing, too but never thought about it seriously. I still don’t. I will never call myself a musician. I’ve never learnt music, but I studied art, formally though. I’ve always been doing what I wanted, learnt what I felt was useful. Not that I didn’t give a shit, I just had problems focusing. Observing the world around me at my own pace and giving back something pure and honest is my way of being inspired. As for your original question: I consider my music a soundtrack to my visual art, while my pictures make my music more layered in its meaning. And I use both to illustrate my mood.

How was your solo project Unknown Child born, and what lies behind its name?

I needed to find a name for this art project that was deeply rooted in my life and my depression and was built from eternal loneliness. Unknown Child seemed to be neutral enough, yet expressive and powerful. The ultimate outsider without name and responsibility. I felt comfortable making music under this name although I lack every musical knowledge. It has worked intuitively. Connecting it to other art forms I work in was absolutely natural. Using my voice or a guitar is not different for me than using paper and scissors. I use everything I have to express myself. It’s not always easy for me to explain my art, that’s why I am making it, and not talking about it.

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Compared to your work in your other band, Gustave Tiger, especially your stage presence in it, Unknown Child is much more introspective, forlorn, melancholic. Can you talk about some of the feelings, ideas, thoughts that are connected to this project?

In Gustave Tiger I don’t really do any creative work and I like it that way. They play awesome raw, energetic music. They give me the opportunity to roll on the stage floor screaming and drunk and I get credited for that and that’s cool. It’s a show. In my own project I like to preserve everything for myself. I do every part of the work and I like to do it alone. It belongs to me only. While in Gustave Tiger being part of the band makes the performance easier for me, performing alone on stage as Unknown Child is a much more intimate experience, sometimes even traumatic.

Can you talk about your new album ID Check At Night? The track titles allude to travelling, transformation, being on the road, Americana even (Fast Car, State Trooper, Night Train, etc).

It’s my third album. The title was inspired by the lyrics on Bruce Sprinsteen’s State Trooper, and a hypothetical identity check by a policeman at night. The record is about a lonely journey at night, about being and wandering alone, while strangers are crossing your path and then disappearing. We don’t see farther than our headlights. We don’t know where our train is going. We almost fall asleep to the repetitive sound of the vehicle while we are travelling alone. The sound of the rain and blowing snow. We are safe in fate’s hands under the moonlit sky, but still it leaves us with an unsettling feeling. So it has positive and negative aspects too, but the final conclusion is that we get there eventually. To our destination. And we will discover the unknown as we are changing constantly. These are recurring themes of my art and my music. Some years ago, for instance, I had a series of digital prints featuring nocturnal images of animals, left dead by the road, or just searching for their game.

SHAPE enters phase two: 2018 – 2021

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SHAPE platform for innovative music and audiovisual art, initially conceived as a three-year project, has recently received confirmation of further support by the “Creative Europe” programme of the European Union which will prolong the platform’s existence  until 2021. A new open call has also been announced for artist submissions for the 2018 SHAPE artist roster.

SHAPE consists of 16 festivals and art centers and aims to support, promote and exchange innovative and aspiring musicians and interdisciplinary artists with an interest in sound. In its second phase, the platform will continue to organize also annual showcases beyond Europe and will introduce the idea of “associate partner festivals” to broaden its geographical reach and add cities that are not represented by the member festivals.

The open call closes on Monday, September 25, in order to have the new artist roster ready before the first festivals of SHAPE’s second phase – it starts this December.  Most importantly, musicians are asked to provide an approximately 10 minute long streamable video or audio excerpt of their live performance, while audiovisual artists are asked to provide streamable video documentation (or photos) of their work. Materials that are not sent in accordance to these requirements, will not be considered.

The eligible countries are: all countries of the European Union as well as Iceland, Norway, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Republic of Serbia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

As the creation of the annual SHAPE artist roster is rather complex and demands consensus from 16 different organizations, we will not be able to get back to artists or musicians with detailed evaluations of the submitted materials. However, they will be contacted in the case if they’re chosen for the SHAPE roster of 2018.

To apply for becoming a SHAPE artist of 2018, musicians and artists must fill in this form. (Deadline: Monday, 25 September 2017)

Stay tuned for more news on the next four years of SHAPE!

‘My work is like an archipelago': Sis_Mic interviewed

GMEM

Sis_Mic is the new project by Pom Bouvier B., an eclectic artist: a video-maker, scenographer, dancer and performer, especially influenced by her musical background. She has studied electroacoustic music for several years and her pieces have been played in several countries all over the world. Pôm Bouvier B.’s work includes various musical forms, as music for dance, installations, radiophonic creations and concerts. Alone or in collaboration, she works on projects that seek different kinds of public perception and listening.

Where are you based?

I live between Brussels and Marseille. I like northern European countries. I’ve also been developing a research project in Finland. For instance, the approach to music in countries like Sweden or Finland is different. Landscape is an important element there, it changes the music and the people. I’m interested in contemporary and traditional music of these countries. For example, the Joik (traditional singing of the Saami) sing a landscape or a situation. You can sing the movement of stones or water, you can sing somebody. I like this approach. My work is close to the idea of landscape and time.

Your work is also quite organic.

It’s very close to orality. Orality is not only about singing and words, it’s kind of being in the world. I’m interested in how you learn and give. I’ve never learnt music the usual way, I don’t read notes. I’m listening to lot of different music. I also learnt electroacoustic music through observation and listening. This is the way how I chose to make music.

By listening?

It’s very close to the principle of orality. For example, I like the gamelan because it is an instrument that everyone from a village can play, and people learn to play it by observing others. After a while, you get the feeling of the gamelan.

Can you talk about your approach to music-making?

I started making/producing music ten years ago. Before that I’d done lot of artistic projects. My music is a result of all of these activities. I was a dancer, scenographer – everything was about space. This was also important for my music. I then started studying electroacoustic music in an old way in the beginning because I used tape recorders. It takes time, but it’s similar to sculpting. I’ve done different pieces like this, also with other musicians. Then I wanted to work solo, and I developed my own instruments. I knew I needed an instrument that can express gestures, not only a computer. I built a wooden table with several microphones, strings and objects, which I then process on a computer. Gestures are very important. I also have another system involving feedback and I can work with fragility. Men dominate music, the artist must be in the centre of the stage with power and a kind of domination. I don’t want to go along with this. I would like to think about other forms, other paths of giving music. A blur, borders, periphery, instability, fragility are more powerful because they are more complex and elusive. With feedback, I’m like an animal trying to keep it alive. I also work with the acoustic of a place. I don’t want to be in front of people, but with them.

What are you currently working on?

I’m developing two projects: a kind of installation, but, in fact, a musical score with a beginning and an end – with visuals and a specific location. The images were created in Finland involving my research of time and landscape. I’m very interested in working with concepts that come from science, like the string theory, theory of relativity, quantum theory. I’m also interested in entropy at the moment. My work is like an archipelago. I have several points – the island of time, the island of material, several islands like this, and I try to find what binds them together. At the same time, I’m also interested in meditation, philosophy and politics, and I try to find what they have in common.

Can you talk about your research – can you talk about how you approach it in practice?

At the beginning I decided my research will be about time – I wanted to know how we use time, how music employs it (which kind of music uses circular time or linear time). It was very important to be in Finland because in Finland you have these two seasons – winter and summer, and in between them, there’s a special modification of light. It’s some sort of stretching of the day and night. I went to Finland and asked people how they live, what they do. Afterwards I discovered that the relation to the landscape was very important to me. I came across a writer, Kenneth Write, that has written extensively about that. You are in front of the landscape and you are going through it, and the landscape is going through you. This is like your rapport – a position in front of the world. You are acting and things are acting upon you. My research is very political. How we are in front of the landscape, in front of the world. We have computers with flat screen, tablets – we are in front of this, in front of this landscape, far from nature. I was wondering how to put this into my music.  I would like to open perception – different layers of perception. Our ancestors were in touch with different layers of life and the world. Music is very important, because music is vibration and vibration is at the origin of the world. I don’t care about playing a concert and being on stage, I just hope that there’s a possibility to exchange something with the audience. Sometimes we cannot speak about that, sometimes we don’t know. Sometimes it’s unconscious. But let’s do this thing together.

What are your plans?

I’m involved with a network of female musicians called Fair_Play. We are trying to make women more visible in this kind of music. We organise events and run a Facebook group. We are connected to female:pressure and others.  It’s similar, but our initiative is focused on electroacoustic music and radiophonic and other experiments. It’s mostly Paris-based, but we are also opening a branch in Brussels. I’m also working with a storyteller, Aline Fernande, in a duo with words and vocals. I have another duo with François Dumeau where we play on a modular synthesizer. And a long collaboration with William Petit, a performer and choreographer. Then I have the dream to work with a music ensemble and find ways how to write music without notes!

Listen: Machine Woman on NTS Radio

Machine Woman

Russian-born Anastasia Vtorova a.k.a. Machine Woman is a sound artist and image maker who often collaborates with other artists. Her works are inspired by late night listening to the sounds of down beat minimal electronica along with melancholic cinema from all over the world. She sets what has been defined as “waltzing the line between techno and avant garde”. Since 2014, there have been releases on Tesla Tapes, WTN?, Peder Mannerfelt Produktion as well as contributions to Sacred Tapes and low income $quad, with a new release on Ninja Tune’s Technicolour imprint in August 2017.

Tracklist:

MACHINE WOMAN – MINIMAL HOUSE 128 + POLICE CALL NOCTURNE_ – POSTIVE BETA DECAY
ACTRESS – 8 FALLING RIZLAS
FATIMA – RED LIGHT
MOUNT KIMBIE – MAYBES
DEFTONES – TEENAGER
ANDY STOTT – HATCH THE PLAN
ANGELO BADALAMENTI – THE BOOKHOUSE BOYS
KRAFTWERK – THE MAN MACHINE
PHIL STRUCK – NEONEON