Kaffe’s already spoken to us about her sonic beds (didja know one of them was featured in the Singapore Science Centre show, Biorhythms?) and her sonic benches, but she recapped here, playing us an extract.
Kaffe: The reason the speakers are cracking right now is these are actually sub-frequencies. They are actually moving along your body. I was interested in the map of human body as score, aligning along different spots of the body.
She described her eureka moment, how she was invited to make the installation and realized it was actually an instrument: getting music inside people, getting institutions to acknowledge that’s how we listen to music.
Now she's offering up a new instrument: the sonic bicycle. In the Marvelo Project, she worked with small-town folks, including 12 year-old kids from a local school, to map different bits of music onto different areas on their town, mounting GPS receivers and computers onto cheap second-hand bikes from flea markets. (No Internet, mind you – this was connected to the satellites for guidance, but also essentially offline.)

Did the same in Ghent, which turns out to be one of the oldest cities in Europe: hence a bicycle opera called The Swamp That Was, trying to draw power from the presence of all the animals and plants and humans who’ve ever been there, still there.

12 bicycles, three different routes, including a spiritual route past a women’s commune where they work with plants and planets; past a pair of brothers who brew elderflower wine. Including stories of the river, featuring an opera singer and a clarinetist as accompaniment. Including a sonic garden, a sound installation of grass and birds and bees in a built-up spot where there was nothing.
Kaffe: Essentially the whole piece was performed by you as you cycled through the streets. The listener with the Music for Bodies project becomes involved in the making of the music. You’re experiencing the music as it unfolds around you. It’s not like going to a concert that has a beginning and an end. As with the Sonic Beds, it’s possible to make music that has no beginning and no end. You can go wherever you like. Take your picnic box with you and you’re independent.
Another project, to be launched in Galloway Forest, Scotland when she gets back next weekend (she’s not looking forward to the blast of cold). The oldest maps in the world are the stars, so she sonified the data – genuine music of the spheres.
Kaffe: I have always been looking for things other than my own ideas to make music, be it chance, be it the weather, and the other thing is machinery – computers, samplers. They do things I could never think of.
Thus Yird Muin Starn, which I think is old Scottish for “weightless animals” (rushing here, can’t search, sorry). Seems that in times of crisis, poor Glaswegians have been running into the forest and realizing how beautiful it is, even discovering old shacks and barns there still are where they can hide out during weekends.

[Correction from Kaffe herself: "Yird Muin Starn is old Scots for Earth Moon Star . Its a collaborative project directed bvy Mandy McIntosh. She also directed Weightless Animals which is another space project but researched at NASA and completed in 2004. Please check www.weightlessanimals.com and www.kaffematthews.net/yird_muin_starn.]

Several ideas that had to be junked: a sonic bath, where you immerse yourself completely except for your head, pedaling tuning forks at the bottom. A silent hole for gazing, where you can lie in a hole in the ground and stare at the sky (she says it’s gorgeous, I say it reminds me too much of my army days digging trenches, the Foresty Department said no digging).

Finally, an adaptation of a Victorian astronomers’ chair, where you simply lie back with your face upwards, the noise of nature around you, the noise of the stars all over your body. Also on your body: portable shelters, like space-age pyjama suits, beautiful printed with designs from collaborator Mandy Mcintosh.
Amazing sample of music to listen to: Star Stream, a futuristic hymn of PHOTONS CREATED MOLECULE BY MOLECULE ATOM BY ATOM.

And finally, an all-female music collective, The Lappetites, which Kaffe formed partly because there seemed to be so few women doing crazy things with synthesizers. She recently wrote an opera remotely with two other members: Japan, Finland and the UK, all about their fathers: a Zainichi businessman, an old East German soldier, a farmer who lives in the same house where he was born.
The piece was shown in Berlin, with nine scenes: routes, survival, body maps, love, beliefs, et cetera, et cetera, including sequences of the three fathers meeting via Skype, which none of them had ever used before.

Large worlds, little worlds, old worlds, new. We are already living in the future.


10/31/2013 13:31

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