Soft Revolvers is a music performance for four clear acrylic spinning tops designed and built by the artist. Each top, 25 cm in diameter, is associated with an “instrument” in an electronic music composition. The tops are equipped with gyroscopes and accelerometers that communicate wirelessly with a computer. The motion data collected (speed, unsteadiness at the end of a spin, acceleration spikes in case of collisions) informs musical algorithms and controls custom sequencers designed in Pure Data. LEDs inside the tops illuminate the body of the objects in a precise counterpoint to the music, creating stunning spinning halos. With their large circular spinning bodies and their role as music-playing devices, the spinning-top interfaces strongly evoke turntables and hip hop culture. Some of the mappings between gestures and sound have been borrowed directly from the bimodal behavior of turntables: at slow speeds the sounds produced can remind of scratch solos, with the characteristic unstable pitch variations. At full speed, the spinning tops act like normal turntables playing vinyls, in this case playing pre-composed material. Familiar objects, in this case spinning tops, engage audience members in a particularly intricate manner, awakening subconscious physical memories of their lived experience with those objects in terms of behavioral expectations, function and symbolic connotations. The public can anticipate the physical rules that will guide the performance and thus actively participate in the tension and release dynamics at play in Soft Revolvers.
Myriam Bleau (CA) is a composer, digital artist and performer based in Montreal. Exploring the limits between musical performance and digital arts, she creates audiovisual systems that go beyond the screen, such as sound installations and performance-specific musical interfaces. Her presence on the popular music scene influences her hybrid electronic practice that integrates hip hop, techno, experimental and pop elements. Her work has been presented across Canada, in the US and in Europe in festivals such as Transmediale, Elektra & Akousma.
Via S.Pietro Barisano
14 October 2018