[PD] Pd performance at TED

Pagano, Patrick pat at digitalworlds.ufl.edu
Mon Jun 20 16:39:58 CEST 2011


On 6/20/11 10:36 AM, "Andy Farnell" <padawan12 at obiwannabe.co.uk> wrote:

>I think the "problem" is really a simpler one. It applies to all
>kinds of technological music. It is the understanding that the
>audience has of the performance.
>Most people have an idea how a flute or saxophone or guitar works.
>They have picked one up and had a go at playing. Indeed,
>many are are musicians. Thus it's possible to appreciate a wonderful
>virtuoso performance.
>When you see someone adorned with lights and technology
>dancing around on a dark stage it's hard to see cause and effect
>amidst the visual spectacle. And thus hard to differentiate
>man and machine. That was always the thrill of confusion with techno
>in the 1990s, with laser beams emanating from the magical DJ with
>stacks of synthesisers. It allowed only a select and geeky few to
>ruminate on what they had seen, vis a vis performance. For the rest
>it was the pure novelty and energy of the sound. It's hard to know
>whether you see a talented master or a slave to an electronic whip.
>What I crave to see in gestural music is more like Tai Chi, a
>dancer who looks like they are at one with the wind, but what I
>often see is quite violent and spasmodic, maybe representing a
>unspoken relationship to technology.
>One suspects, in the TED clip we saw, very few of the audience
>had any idea what was actually happening. The sound was relatively
>pedestrian by standards of "progressive synthesis"; acceptably
>funky tonalities. Like many situations in modern art, they are
>applauding with respect for the effort and totality of the
>performance, but also a little bit confused and politely clapping
>because they know something terribly clever is going on. Indeed I
>think some obfuscation rather than exposition was part of that act.
>The ambiguity of man and machine was the lure.
>Put it this way: (and maybe this speaks for my stupidity more
>than anything)... I couldn't tell what was happening and it's my
>business to know. I design this kind of stuff and only last week
>was with a class of masters students of gestural musical interface
>design giving their final presentations. Before I could appreciate
>their work each needed to explain their mappings and design
>It raises the questions (again I suppose); Is the challenge for
>these new arts, of manifold form, to "legitimise" the
>performer? Should they ever feel they have to? Are they seeking
>recognition as performer or technologist? Or is the spectacle
>(including sound) enough, whereas the audience enter into some
>kind of "artistic contract" to expect and ignore the cloak of
>magic ? 
>The MSc kids clearly had a different agenda. As masters
>of _science_ they are required to explicate mechanism. Although
>the T in TED stands for technology their agenda of cultural
>fusion and diversity leaves plenty of room for ambiguity, so I
>don't think it was supposed to be taken as a demonstration of
>anything conceptually fresh so much as slice of fun. Unless I missed
>a 20 minute prelude where Ashanti explains why the system is special.
>To me the coolness was apparent in the preparation, and energy.
>Other than that, a fit, good looking black guy who can dance and
>bang out some beats has an certain je ne sais quoi absent with
>a spooky white guy making scary noises. :) That's nothing to do
>with Design, or with Technology, that's Entertainment.
>Andy Farnell <padawan12 at obiwannabe.co.uk>
>Pd-list at iem.at mailing list
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