2009 was another great year for STEIM and we want to look back at some notable things that happened.
40 years of electronic music and experimental sound!
2009 marked the 40th anniversary of STEIM. The institution originally started off as a work group for musicians, composers and writers who wanted to explore new possibilities in music through technology. Over the years, it matured through transitions in technology and artistic styles, supporting countless artists from around the world. After coming out of a hard year of 2008, we were happy to celebrate it’s achievements as well as feeling the challenges of renewal and change.
STEIM@40! was a name we gave for all events that we hosted at STEIM this year to celebrate it’s anniversary. Since we were cut all of our funding for organizing events this year, it was a curatorial challenge to put together a compelling program. We relied heavily on the goodwill of local and traveling artists to play for almost nothing, but as a result we attracted a larger audience at each event than previous years. My favorite events this year were – Turntable Music Night 6 in March, Season Ending in June, The Voice in September and Patterns & Pleasure in December. All of these are documented on our vimeo channel.
STEIM@40!: Season ending party in June
International representation and activities
International representation is still one of our main activities. We were particularly active in 2009 with many of our staff and associated artists traveling around the world to perform, present and educate on behalf of STEIM. Some notable visits were SPARK Festival / US, Jauna Musika / LT, Borealis / NO, Sound Music Conference / PT, Amber Festival / TR, Flow Festival / FI, Warsaw Autumn Festival / PL, UM / PT and music and interactive technology courses at numerous universities.
Robert van Heumen’s performance at SPARK Fesitval
Less projects, deeper involvements
For the last several years, STEIM had supported more than 120 projects per year. At the beginning of this year, we evaluated that this wasn’t good for 2 reasons; our staff’s working hours were being taken up by coordination and logistics for these projects and the ministry that funds us didn’t really value the quantity that we supported. So we decided to take in less projects but try to have a deeper involvement with them, documenting the whole process much more thoroughly. Alex Nowitz, Richard Scott, Controllar, Jan-Bas Bollen are some of the artist that worked very closely in 2009.
Interview with Bathysphere during their residency
More local activities
Criticism that we always get is that we don’t do enough local activities. This is partially unfair because we do support a large number of local artists by providing studio space and regularly rent out equipment for local events, but we all agreed that we should do more. We are now much more active in talking with local schools, universities and institutions. We provided coaching for students at the technical university in Eindhoven, hosted lectures for students at the HKU, Rietveld Academy, Royal Conservatory of the Hague and CMD Breda. The Mobile Touch Exhibition was at a middle school in Purmerend where students were taught about interactive technology and electronic music. New projects were initiated with National Archive of Sound and Image in Hilversum and with the region of Limburg. We were also featured in local festivals such as TODAYSART, PICNIC, The Night of the Unexpected and Music & Bits. The STEIM@40! showcased many local artists that had never or had not recently presented at STEIM. We hope to continue this effort to connect with the local scene more.
New staff and members
There was quite a change in our staff this year. Our financial director for 8 years, Erika Combé, our instrument builder for the 11 years, Jorgen Brinkman and our super administrator Minouk Constable all left to pursue new career paths. Their positions were replaced by equally awesome Wouter, Byungjun and Esther. Also Kristina and Vivian joined the team to work on education, communication and documentation. Another huge change in the atmosphere at STEIM is the presence of new interns and volunteers. We have two new long-term software interns Jon and Berit, plus Lawrence and we have a handful of volunteers helping us document our projects and concerts. Although we are taking in less project, the building is much more lively now with spontaneous discussions happening in the studios and hallways.
New R&D directions
With a new team of software staff members, we have had some serous talks about what kind of tools STEIM should provide to it’s community. After a successful release of junXion v.4, we have revisited LiSa, trying to think of how we can bring it to the next level and make it compelling for new users. Through countless prototyping with the Nintendo Wiimotes and using commercially available sensor interfaces like Arduino, it has become even more clearer that STEIM has always represented not innovation in technology, but of innovate use of technology. Practicality, stability, and mobility are crucial criteria for practicing musicians, and we have to focus on their real-world solutions and not get carried away with gadgetry or academic research. In 2010, we will be aiming to release a couple of new products.
STEIM had moved to it’s current location around 1986. Most of the building, including the guesthouse was renovated by staff and friends. In 2009, STEIM received money from the city to work on the ware and tare happening all over the building Most of the walls have a new coat of paint and new floors were installed. Especially the guest house common area is much nicer without lumpy floors that make you nervous every time you walk. Local designer/artist Luna Maurer worked on some interior ideas. It definitely feels fresher now.
What’s up for 2010
2010 will have to be a year of output. We have been taking the criticism seriously about not being visible enough, so more effort will be put into documenting and publishing. We feel huge responsibilities as an unique institution that supports experimenting artists, so we are ready to do what it takes to continue this legacy.
Happy New Year!