||Chambre, vue for piano/electronics
with video artist Luisa Greenfield (U.S.A)
Shintaro Imai (Japan)
|Figure in Movement II for piano and
audio/visual processing technique
Oliver Schneller (Germany)
Track & Field
audio-visual composition for piano,
4 loudspeakers, accessories, and video projection
Piano con moto for piano/electronics
and video with video artist Claudia Rohrmoser (Austria)
in collaboration with Rainer Kohlberger and Gerhard Daurer
Heather O'Donnell (U.S.A.), pianist & artistic director
« There will be a day when a composer will compose music with a notation that will be conceived in terms of music and light… and that day, the artistic unity we were talking about will probably be closer to perfection… »
Vladimir Baranoff-Rossiné, 1925
The « Piano optophonique » project revisits a topic that captivated a generation of artists during the 1910's and 1920's: namely the possibility of synthesizing two divergent media into one artistic expression, creating a work that went beyond the boundaries and limitations of the two individual media. This attempt was approached with great enthusiasm and an ardent belief in artistic progressivity, developing possibilities for a new transcendent art form capable of surpassing the respective expressive potentials of its individual components.
Specially designed pianos (or organs) were constructed by artists like Vladimir Baranoff-Rossiné, Alexander Scriabin, Zdenek Pesanek and Erwin Schulhoff in an attempt to navigate between musical and visual realms. Scriabin imagined using a «Tastiera per Luce» (color piano) for the performance of his «Promethée »; Baranoff-Rossinés « piano optophonique », projected light through painted and rotating glass plates, whose colors and rhythms closely complemented the music. With their « Spectrophon-Piano », Zdenek Pesanek and Erwin Schulhoff attempted to create an audio-visual sculpture - an idea that has been revisited many times by more contemporary artists like Christian Marclay in his « Video Quartet » (2002) and Pierre Huyghe's « Light Box » (2002).
Inspired by this context, four young composers with a strong interest in incorporating visual elements into their work will write a piano piece involving a temporal-visual dimension. Two composers will work with visual artists (a video-artist and a filmmaker), the other two will use live-electronics (music and video processing techniques) to create a visual « response » to their musical compositions. The outcome results in varying degrees of synthesis/synchronicity between two media- ranging from a work where both elements retain a high degree of independence, to a work in which the two media are integrated and indistinguishable partners, also including works where one medium acts as a « parent medium », designing the other medium in real time through its own defining characteristics.
II. Project Description
Inouk Demers/ Luisa Greenfield
Chambre, vue (2005/06 rev. 2008) for piano/electronics and video
"This is the investigation, detailed yet illusive, of a room. It is also a presentation whose subject and object are anonymous. The sounds form a surface, pointing to something just underneath, barely sensed. Visual images intertwined through the music suggest a fleeting presence, or perhaps absence, of the inhabitant - our pianist."
Mac G5 computer
Figure in Movement II (2006) for piano and real-time audio/visual processing technique
Shintaro Imai's Figure in Movement II
"This piece was composed for piano and real-time audio/visual processing technique. During the piece, the motion of the performer's hands will be captured by a digital video camera and sent to the
computer. The video signal will be processed in real-time in various ways (programmed with Max/MSP/Jitter software), then projected to a screen. Additionally, elements from the piano and piano-based live-electronic sounds (such as spectrum, amplitude, attack etc.) will be sampeled and then applied to the visual image processing parameters. Thus, two very different components of piano performance, namely the physical and gestural movement of the hands on the keyboard, and the
resulting sounds of the piano, are "modulated" by one another on the screen.
This piece was realized at the Sonology Department of Kunitachi College of Music in Japan and at the Electronic Music Studio of TU Berlin, supported by DAAD Berlin."
2 Mac G5
1 digital video camera
5.1-channel loudspeaker system
Track & Field (2006)
audio-visual composition for piano, 4 loudspeakers, accessories, and video projection
"In this world, there are two times. There is mechanical time and there is body time. The first is as rigid and metallic as a massive pendulum of iron that swings back and forth. The second squirms and wriggles like a bluefish in a bay. The first is unyielding, predetermined. The second makes up its mind as it goes along. […] This is a stretch of nerve fibers: seemingly continuous from a distance but disjointed close up, with microscopic gaps between fibers. Nervous action flows through one segment of time, abruptly stops, pauses, leaps through vacuum, and resumes in the neighboring segment. […] So tiny are the disconnections in time that the gaps between segments are practically imperceptible. After each restart of time, the new world looks just like the old."
- Alan Lightman, EINSTEIN'S DREAMS (1993)
Kotoka Suzuki/Claudia Rohrmoser/Rainer Kohlberger/Gerhard Daurer
Piano con moto (2006) for piano and video
Japanese/Canadian composer Kotoka Suzuki has worked intensively with Austrian video artist Claudia Rohrmoser since 2002. Their projects are distinguished by an almost organic integration of the two media, the result of very close collaborative planning at every stage of their creative work. Their new piece will explore conflicting states: reality/dream, emptiness/fullness, and control/freedom. Using the software MaxMSP/Jitter as the visual controlling device, the visual components will be influenced by the sound parameters produced by the piano (amplitude, pitch/color, speed/rhythm, texture, etc.). This information will be transmitted through a microphone, recorded and processed in real-time, then calculated and applied to various visual parameters (hue, color, speed/rhythm, saturation, brightness etc.).
The visual components will be influenced by both the performer's conscious
and unconscious decisions. Within a given set of restrictions set by the composer,
the pianist will be given the flexibility to react both musically and visually
to the images she sees during the performance: possible combinations of sounds
with the corresponding visual manipulations will be indicated in the score,
hence giving the performer the freedom to decide which element(s) to trigger
and when. At the same time, the outcome of the sounds chosen by the pianist
in one section will be mapped and calculated entirely by the computer to determine
the structure of the visual material in later sections. A unique multi-tiered
complex of five hanging screens will surround the pianist, creating the effect
of spatial integration between the performing musician and video element.
Support was generously provided by DAAD Berlin and the Künstlerinnenprogramm Berlin
Music Kotoka Suzuki
Video and animation Claudia Rohrmoser
Real-time graphics Rainer Kohlberger
Audio and video processing Gerhard Daurer
1 or 2 Beamers
1 or 2 Mac G5
1 digital camera (monitor for the pianist)
from « Piano con moto », Rohrmoser/Suzuki
25 November 2008
Sinus Ton Festival, Magdeburg
18 October 2008
Ultraschall Festival (Deutschland Radio), Berlin
25/26 January 2007
major funding provided by
with additional funds from
Studio für Elektronische Musik an der TU Berlin, Berliner Künstlerinnenprogramm
tel: ++49(0)30 243 77044
email: h_odonnell at yahoo dot com
My video and film work is born out of drawing and painting. I like slow images and what they can reveal about spaces previously occupied by people. I inhabit those spaces and record both the lingering resonances and the anticipation that exist there. There is an unconscious choreography to the way people move when they think no one is looking that leaves traces. The Lost Steps (2008) is a video that moves from diagrams dissecting various parts of the piano, to a nonlinear narrative interpretation where the images of a painting, a path, a film are interspersed with exterior movements and interior, museum-like stasis. Treating the images both as archival documents and as part of a fictional narrative results in a blurring of the two.