STEIM celebrates 50 years

With STEIM’s 50th anniversary this year, we wanted to post a timeline to show just some of the wonderful people and projects.

Today’s post covers 1969-1996: more to come!

1967: establishment of electro-instrumental working group by the composers Peter Schat, Konrad Boehmer, Jan van Vlijmen, Misha Mengelberg, Louis Andriessen, Reinbert de Leeuw and Dick Raaymakers.

1968: performances of pieces of workgroup members during political-demonstrative experimental concerts. Use of live electronics: electric key instruments and sound reinforcement with, inter alia, contact microphones.

1969: establishment of the STEIM foundation located on the Prinseneiland in Amsterdam.

1969: preparation and performance in theater Carré of the opera Recontruction i.s.m. the Institute for Sonology.

1970: furnishing of the studio and electronic workshop; setting up a pool of concert equipment with equipment developed by Sonology, among other things. Start with designing and constructing new synthesis and processing equipment.

Until 1971, workgroup members make about 30 pieces, almost always the political relevance of the work is central.

1972: construction of electronic dance floors for choreographer Philippa Cullen: control of synthesizers by motion sensors – one of the first movement interfaces.

1971-1974: co-operation in many concerts and events, among others. Holland Festival productions

1971-1978: design and construction of an analog modular system for sound synthesis and processing (black box system): application of the control voltage principle and a (preMIDI) binary control protocol.

1972: move to larger building on the Groenburgwal. Creation of the STEIM quartet (Peter Schat, William York, Rob van de Poel and Polo de Haas): research and live performances with electrified instruments and synthesizers.

1972: development and performance of Peter Schat’s “To You” – composition for ensemble with live electronics, including man-sized electronic spinning tops with built-in speakers. Peter Schat becomes STEIM’s first Director.

1973: development of a sensor system by Kees van Zelst: movement and light variations control the black box system – an early precursor of the BigEye controller

1973-1976: development of “squat boxes” and other “cracking” instruments by Michel Waisvisz:
alternative synthesizers involving d.m.v. metal touchpads electronic circuits can be made unstable and start to oscillate complex.
Concertante applications, also construction of objects according to the “cracking” principle for exhibitions at home and abroad.

1973-1976: development and implementation of multimedia projects by, among others, Victor Wentink, Tony van Campen and Dick Borstlap: image projection in combination with electronic music or sound objects.
Construction of sound objects by, among others, Hugo Timner, Misha Mengelberg and Victor Wentink for exhibitions, where audience participation is important.

From 1976: concerts in the STEIMpand: predominantly multimedia and music theater performances.
Formation of STEIM ensemble: instrumentalists who can perform work by Victor Wentink, Dick Raaymakers, Steven Smith, Hugo Timmner and Tony van Campen.
Frequent use of sound objects and installations.

1978: start of STEIM’s digital era: purchase of the mini computer PDP11 and construction of A / D – D / A converters for connection to STEIM’s analogue instruments.
1979: performance in six countries of “Mobilodrom” by Michael Fahres: the PDI11 computer, mounted on an electric vehicle, determines musical parameters on the basis of physical input from the environment, such as wind strength, temperature, etc.
Development and performance of the music / dance production “Angel Core” by Shusaku Takeuchi: muscle tensions are directly translated into musical parameters

1980-1983: research into the human-machine relation. In this context Michel Waisvisz made “De Slungels” – computer controlled theater robots and Martin Spanjaard “Adelbrecht” – a speaking and reacting computer ball. A computer-controlled drum set for Dick Hauser’s theater group “De Horde” was also built. Michel Waiszvisz becomes Director in 1982.

1980-1990: development of interactive composing systems: important contributions from George Lewis, Joel Ryan, Richard Teitelbaum, Ron Kuivila, Clarence Barlow, Martin Bartlett and Joel Chadabe

1984: the first international STEIM Symphony on Interactive Composing in Live Electronic Music. Switch to micro-computers Apple, Macintosh and Atari and the rise of MIDI open a new development area: midification of musical instruments and construction of MIDI controllers. Early examples of this are Michael Barkers ‘Bass Recorder and Michel Waisvisz’ “Hands”

A large STEIM manifestation in Rome i.s.m. the Dutch Institute: exhibition and concert series

1985-1986: relocation of STEIM to the Achtergracht 19 in Amsterdam and furnishing of the studios, office and workshop. Approximately 12 “in-house concerts” are held annually in the new building. George Lewis, Joel Ryan and Clarence Barlow are STEIM’s first Artistic Directors.

1986-1987: premieres of “Touch Monkeys” and “The Archaic Symphony” by Michel Waisvisz – the first important compositions with the “Hands” controller. Michel starts his collaboration with Frank Baldé, together they develop the software package The Lick Machine.

1989: multi-year research into DSP programming environments and algorithms for musical applications.

The beginning of a sustained period of research into DSP algorithms and programming environments for musical applications. A videocamera robot is created for Woody and Steina Vasulka. The first video – Midi interface/controller, “Kolmans’ Cube”, is built for Fred Kolman.

1990: A prototype of the “Sensorlab” (Peter Cost) is developed. This is a universal analog Midi interface. The system is reproduced in small series in the years to follow. The “sweatstick” controller (Ray Edgar) is build. The instrument is designed to drive the Sensorlab.

1991: Development of “Spider” (Tom Demeyer): a programming language for the Sensorlab. Michel Waiswisz creates the “Midi conductor” and “Web” (pioneering controllers for the Sensorlab).

In-house workshop by Frank Mann “A woman digital treehouse” with a central theme: women and technology in art. Don Buchla develops the “Thunder” controller.

1992: Franke Baldé develops “Deviator”: a program facilitating the translation of a variety of complex Midi events. Tom Demeyer designs the first version of “BigEye”, a real-time video to Midi interface. Nic Collins becomes Artistic Director.

1993: Happy 25th Birthday! A festival is held in De Balie (Amsterdam) to celebrate STEIM’s 25th birthday, organized by Nic Collins. At this festival Bob van Baarda performs his “Singing Tesla Coil”, a high-voltage installation with bursts of singing sparks. Development of the “LickMachine” (by Frank Baldé and Michel Waisvisz). This is software which facilitates the controlling of earlier Midi sequences (or “Licks”).

1994: Research and development for material for Guus Janssen’s opera “Noach” performed during the Holland festival. David Tudor performs in the STEIM ‘in-house’ concert series. Stelarc gives a lecture and demonstration at STEIM.

1995: Start of the development of “LiSa” (Live Sampling) by Frank Baldé and Michel Waisvisz. The software allows for real-time sampling and the manipulation of acoustic input. Luc Ferrari does research at STEIM into a Midi conductor.

1996: Stein Valsulka is Artistic Director. Tom Demeyer begins his reseach on “Image/ine”, a video performance programe. Image/ine invites the user to physically interact with it in order to manipulate the video image. The Concertgebouw Amsterdam, in cooperation with the Glide Investment Fund invites STEIM to create an event around their theme “Future Music”. Cooperation in “Stroomgeest”: a festival of sound and image-art is held in an 18th century villa in Bentveld, produced by Nic Collins and involving eleven artists: Steina Vasulka, Matt Wand, Matthijs de Bruine, Christiaan Bastiaans and others.

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