function:object concert • feature: Simulacra Lingua

function:object • October 24 • 8:00 PM • Sherman Theater • 1702 Sherman Avenue, Evanston • $15/$5

In Ben Sutherland’s Simulacra Lingua the computer sonically and musically interprets the performer’s posture and position onstage by means of the Xbox Kinect interface, synchronizing and juxtaposing recorded instructional language excerpts with live and live-processed flute performance by using C flute and alto flute.

Here, in part, is what electronic pioneer Howard Sandroff said about Ben Sutherland’s musical event “The Machine is Neither” in which Simulacra Lingua was premiered in August:

Those of us who focus our lives on making art using the most current technology are plagued by the conundrum inherent in the balance of technological mastery and artistic sensibility. Yesterday evening was one of those seminal events that demonstrates that mastering the technology AND artistic sensibility are within grasp… Ben Sutherland’s performance at Constellation, was that event.

Ben spent the year mastering the ‘quirkiness’ of the Xbox Kinect driving real-time, interactive programs in Max/MSP instead of its designed application to control Xbox games. Having dabbled in gesture control of Max/MSP I am more than familiar with the programming challenges of just making these devices work with Max let alone reaching a level of programming complexity that forces the ‘machine’ to deliver subtlety, thereby achieving reliable artistic control of audio processing and synthesis. Ben did it. His collaborations with flutist Emma Hospelhorn and dancers from The Space?Movement Project achieved a level of musical and movement meaning that touched and moved this curmudgeonly old composer as well an audience, which included many critical fellow artists.

To my mind, Ben reached the pinnacle of artistic expression through the eight individual pieces, which flowed one to another explicating an organic and seamless transition. Ben’s programming skills, audio practice and compositional excellence perfectly embodies our goal of integrating and mastering audio and music technology to the service of artistic expression…

— Howard Sandroff

In the composer’s words

This piece explores the spatial, embodied, and inter-permeable dimensions of language and music. To begin the movement, the performer selects loops of spoken language which the Machine provides at random. She then manipulates the length and pitch of the loops, before replacing them with musical imitations of each phrase. The performer then blurs the line between dance and instrumental performance by using her body to mold, reshape, and decimate the musical simulacra to create new sonic textures. The piece closes with a return to its linguistic roots.


Comments are closed.

Post Navigation