Marko Ivic – IF: a music theatre show with wireless sensors

In April 2016 I had the opportunity to work at STEIM for a week, to explore the use of Wireless sensors for my final graduation project. “IF” turned out to be a music theatre show dealing with identity and its constant change, presented on June 26th 2016 at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam as my final project within the Live Electronics Master program.

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The idea was to explore this concept using wireless sensors, to emphasize the presence of a performing body / musician on stage. My physical identity as a pianist has of course been determined by gestures and body language proper of a pianist, and wireless sensors gave me a chance to investigate this relationship. I found great inspiration in the research of Falk Hubner and his work on the musician as a theatrical performer.

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I shared and exchanged ideas with Solomiya Moroz , a colleague and composer that had been working for long with sensors, and the concept of physical absence. Although they didn’t end up as part of the performance, her ideas related with finger pressure sensors and video interaction contributed greatly to shaping up the material that was to become part of the performance. The sensors were  Sense/stage’s Minibees developed by Marije Baalman, who by the time was part of the STEIM’s team.

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I experimented controlling different parameters with the sensors, using Max/MSP as my software base for data mapping and audio processing. Among them I chose sample triggering defined by semi-choreographed movements that reflected a connection between pianistic gestures and the body itself.

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The connection between audio and movement allowed me to take this gestures to the extreme resulting in an attempt to abstract the physical activity of piano playing, i.e. deconstructing its physical identity.

It was a dream come true to move on stage and create sound, as well as to be able to leave the piano while still being able to hear it. I would like to thank STEIM for giving me this fantastic opportunity, and Frank Balde for introducing me to the wireless sensors and making all this possible.

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