[Steim Instrument Lab]: Electrifying Traditional Instruments, Electrifying Performances

When I checked into my room at the Steim Guesthouse, the first thing I noticed was an A4 print of Karlheinz Stockhausen being a little friendly with Minnie Mouse. This funny image set the tone for what I think is a very insightful experience so far.

Introductions to the history of Steim and to some of the ‘legendary’ work that has come out of Steim (such as the Kraakdoos – or Cracklebox –  and other instruments made by Michel Waisvisz, or software such as LiSa or JunXion) are of great interest to me as an artist. Visiting the Soundbunker during our breaks – a cave-of-wonders with many treasures such as hacked Crackleboxes and EMS’s Putney VCS3 – has becoming a personal source of joy. We even were shown how to use videogame controllers to manipulate MIDI outputs in surprising approaches.

We had several talks about the idea behind electronic instruments (as opposed to simply electronic ‘interfaces’): Their ergonomics/implicit design, complexity/learning curve, and perfecting performance practices. By looking at the different types of instruments that have been developed at Steim (both hardware and software), I began developing a series of questions of how I wish to modify my own electric oud and my approach to performing with it. By understanding some of the possible approaches and available tools, I am beginning to sketch out ideas of what kind of sound I am trying to reach. I will certainly be sharing my findings over the upcoming week as this residency progresses.

For now, I look forward to another day with more questions. I am very excited about what is yet to come of this.

[by Hasan Hujairi]

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