Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Dance of the Nucleotides: a musical setting of a Christian Bök text.



Recently, I was invited to create a musical realization of a short text of Christian Bök's, part of his ongoing Xenotext Experiment for a performance at the Olga Korper Gallery for Matt Donovan and Hallie Siegel's
Petits Genres exhibition.

Here is a detail of the sculpture derived from Christian's text.


In creating this piece, I sought to explore the difference between the time taken by a syllable of spoken text, the space taken by a letter or word in visual space, and musical (rhythmic) space. In Christian's visual text, a caesura (space) zig zags like a 2-dimensional helix through the text. His recorded performance (it is his voice in the recording) varies the observance of that space and the performance of the lineation in general. 


In the first section of my realization, I cut Christian's performance line by line (there are two words per line) in order to find a more exact rhythmic/time analogue to his visual setting. The repeating piano chords in the first section occur in the caesura between the two words of each line.


In the second and third sections, I did not alter Christian's performance, but allowed his oral realization to bend the sonic spacetime as gravity causes spacetime to be bent around things with mass. I placed the musical material accordingly within this stretched spacetime field.

I should say that unlike Christian's brilliant Xenotext Experiment, I didn't address the issue of viruses and DNA. At least not beyond not washing my hands for the performance. 

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