Chris McLay.

Interaction designer and user experience consultant.

Visual Music, Kronos Quartet

Seeing this show was supposed to inspire and kick start this whole project, but due to some sort of hardware failure we only got a limited range of visuals projected at the very start and end of the show

What worked?
I liked the use of a crumpled silk screen that was draped from various hanging points over the main screen. This was eventually removed, but it looked great when top and side lit allowing the different lights to play over it. Most interesting was how the creases and crumples disappeared when the silk was projected on from the front.

The main screen was physically separate from the rest of the set. It was about 12 foot high and 18 foot wide, looked self supporting, and was halfway down stage, allowing the performers to work both in front and behind the screen. Having the screen standing like this, meant the entire screen became the projected image, and when the projection was off the screen looked like a series of white flats. At no point did it look like something was missing, such as when a screen is hung on a wall.

The little imagery we did see was abstracted video imagery – simple, looping and repetitive. This worked well when the images related to the spoken word recording through the music, but I found it a little repetitive and it did not seem to keep pace with the building of the music.

What didn’t work?
I didn’t feel any real connection to the early visuals in the show, but the early music was fairly experimental and not easily accessible. By the time the projection came back on later in the show I was too annoyed at the failure of the show to properly connect with and critique the performance.

What is music?
One of the most interesting things about this performance was the opening piece, Pendulum Music (1968) for microphones, amplifiers, speakers and performers Composer: Steve Reich. This is a piece of semi random music which is generated by four performers releasing four microphones on pendulums, suspended above speakers so that the they cause feedback when just above the speaker.

Hearing this description I would say that the resulting sound could not be music, but listening to it I am not so sure. As the piece progressed it developed rhythms and themes (and almost movements) within itself, and was certainly interesting to listen to and at points almost enjoyable. It has certainly made me question what defines music and art in general.

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