Miniaturen 15 (2015)

Series of short videos and visual scores. Performed as part of the concert series «Tangible Sound» during the Globale festival at ZKM Karlsruhe.

Miniaturen 15 is a series of visual notations for solo instruments. It consists (currently) of four groups of pieces—Partikel, Peripherien, Phasen, Prothesen—, each of which is based on a particular generative algorithm that renders a possibly infinite number of related pieces. Each piece, lasting around one minute, is provided as a black-and-white, square format video sequence. Although the musicians are free to decide whether the passing of time in the videos corresponds to their interpretation of the piece, the performance includes a projection of the corresponding videos. The videos thus not only function as notations for instrumental interpretation but as autonomous aesthetic objects themselves. The audience is presented with questions of interference between the visual and the auditory sense, between writing as a sign-system and writing as pure trace.

The materials have been chosen for their poetic quality and their personal value to me. They are souvenirs, things I have been carrying around for a while. The series is about bringing these previously encountered elements into new contexts, to probe their role as scores.

The Partikel group is based on text fragments. Although the number of parameters controlling the text layout is rather small, the algorithm is complex enough to make it difficult to exactly control the outcome. Thus, an overall theme of this group is the emergence of geometries that are enabled by algorithms precisely when we abandon the wish of total control.

The Peripherien group is based on a scanning process. The original material was the contours of pruned branches of trees, transferred onto wax paper using crayons. This happened many years ago during the preparation of a sound installation that was never realised, but I was always thinking of the collection of wax papers and the beauty inherent in these drawings. The scans were digitised and then underwent a geometrical transformation from the closed round contours to an entirely horizontal or vertical linear form.

The Phasen group is based on Lyapunov fractals. These structures are produced by the recursive application of a logistic map function, representing a simple dynamic system that can yield very complex trajectories. I chose these functions because I had experimented with them a long time ago and I had found their visualisations enigmatic. Navigating the structures is a principally endless process, so the pieces are sort of transitory windows into an enduring world.

The Prothesen group is based on the leaked video recording of the gunsight camera from a military helicopter, depicting the murder of several men, including two journalists. When I first saw the video, I was like many deeply shocked. We have all grown accustomed to the video games aesthetics of contemporary wars, and although they are mostly absent from our TV screens, we all know that there are death machines constantly flying in the sky, operated from thousands of kilometres away. The grainy and temporally resampled selections from this video appear as a circulatory collapse of the prothesis.

Link to textual instructions for performers.