Brain music and dedications to buildings & bacteries: Marek Choloniewski


‘The project Pandemic Media Space is quite current and extended in the way of different perspectives, references and development’ — said Marek Choloniewski and started his lecture during it. He’s shown a list of different projects, not only net art projects, contained in the whole space of references, that have a very special content and the structure. Here’s the bunch of interesting histories through which we can understand the development and the whole universe of electroacoustic music — in its “Global and NetArt projects”.

NetArt projects are mainly considering a space as a non-real dimension, also as an intimate, virtual, mimetic equivalent of something. The main idea of Global Mix (1998) is communication, challenge and sharing. I was trying to check the status of royalty of composers and their work. 300 composers, all over the world, were invited by me for collaborative composition. The limit was 3 minutes, following special copyright rules and the main condition was to leave the ownership, to cut the royalties. The first act was to leave your own piece, to cut the ownership of the piece as your own property. As a result, the ownership of all other pieces including yours became a special prize and bonus. I’ve got very strange reactions. The first group of invited composers said “Wow, Marek, great idea”, the second reaction was just nothing, which is typical. And the third group was quite interesting, a group with doubts, questions, discussions and different reactions. 

The third group was again divided for those who didn’t respond later and those who said “ok, Marek, let’s try”. When somebody sent me a piece longer than 3 minutes, he acted like anonymous. 

I presented it at the copyright conferences, discussing royalty problem. 

Art Boat (2000). I was on the way to run a boat from Kraków through Warsaw to the Baltic Sea. The boat was a special stage. At the night I presented silent movies, and another idea with the camera under the water. There were a lot of bizarre concepts. But two weeks before the beginning of the project the owner of the boat decided to stop. He said “The level of the water in Vistula river is too low, let’s do it later”. I invited more than a hundred people there. We were using 16 mobile phones, we’ve got contracts with the biggest mobile company in Poland. It was like in a “Matrix”, we’ve got a chance to use these new mobile phones, for 3 months. But it didn’t happen and that’s how the next project started.

Landing by airplane over the city I found a colored map of the city looking like a pizza. So the idea was: let’s cut it like we cut pizza for smaller slices. A divided technology of mapping was implemented to run a GPS-Art project (2000), where the city is treated like mega audio and video container. 15 different performances in different cities in Europe and USA we arranged. On the beginning the Internet was a main stage, so we called it Internet Arena. The city’s map was used like a graphic score. The topophonic and topographic elements were used. It’s quite important for me that we used a large scale actions to navigate the whole city processes. Actually, in 2000 was hard to get the GPS device, relatively expensive, so we’ve got the cheapest model of Garmin and used a special converter to get data streams to the computer. The single car with GPS unit was used as a kinetic performer of a series of GPS-Trans performances. The car was moving over the city, triggering, initiating prerecorded city samples, the main material of audiovisual composition. 

Virtual acoustic sources

Wave Field Synthesis is an extended multichannel system, invented at IRCAM in Paris. It was an early experiment, mega acousmatic, because the speakers surround the whole space. The method was designed to create an open and free sound trajectory. Wave Field Synthesis was a big influence on my concept called the “Vertical Orchestra”. For hundreds years, mainly from baroque time we have a creation of orchestra. We usually listen to the complex of orchestral sounds, resonating in a space, but we don’t really care about the specific sound and its space location. The spatial aspect of the orchestra and its space specific arrangement came later. Try to imagine what happens if we lift the whole orchestra to the vertical position? The front of the stage stays as it is, but the back of the stage will go up. I was just thinking about the instruments as the points in horizontal line, and I tried to move them up vertically! The whole project was dedicated to the building of the Academy of Music in Kraków in it’s 120-years Anniversary. It was a concept of vertical orchestra on vertical stage. 

The concert was considered to be arranged in full darkness. Each musician stays in one window. They are connected by wireless headphones. Single musician stay in a window of a room. There is a second person in a room who switch the light on and off when the first one plays or stop playing. The audience in front of the building hear the sound of oboe for example they also see where the instrument plays from. So the music is not distributed from left to right, but also up and down. Several compositions from 2oth century repertoire are topophonic, including spatial arrangement of orchestra. For example, “Jonchaies” by Iannis Xenakis or “Topofonica” by Boguslaw Schaeffer. 

In all those projects we are talking about macroscale, global and large dimensions. Now we are going to the bottom, to the symbolic representation of kinetic movement but in microscale. 

Biofeedback as art activity

Let’s talk a little about brain music. In most cases in this specific domain a brain is used as a very special controller, a source of very complex data, which are present in music from 1966, from a piece of American composer, Alvin Lucier. In a piece “Music for solo performer” for brain controlled percussion ensemble, the alpha waves, typical for brain activity for deep relaxation, called meditation are used. During his performance the first 15 minutes he tries to be relaxed as much as possible. Then he gets from his brain an alpha wave data, which are amplified and sent directly to the membrane of speakers. 

When doing this, the membrane starts to vibrate, from 8 to 10 hertz, as a sub acoustic vibration, making a special kick of speaker membranes. Alvin Lucier connected membranes with the drums, timpani, big drum, the whole percussion ensemble, the speakers and membrane and extra element in between transfer the alpha vibrations to a series of percussion sounds which represent alpha waves. So on the concert hall you see the composer on a soft chair, with closed eyes, doing nothing, but controlling percussion ensemble live.

We are talking about kinetic molecular structures which are translated from a brain to sound and video material. The sensorial deprivation is a special element when we are going to the edge of our senses and moving them the low frequency and very high frequency phenomena. The space is vanishing, because what you follow, is moving out. And when it’s a solo brain performance, specially when the performer gets to be very relaxed, the lost of control over technologies around happens, which is a form of paradoxical loop. To solve it I learned how to split my conscience in two levels. I’m able to do it, but practically it goes in a form a cascade, or a canon. Every activity of a brain is a form of control, sonification distributed over multichannel speaker system. 

Double Brain from studiomch on Vimeo.

Very interesting project we have made through Skype sessions and VPN server with my friend, a composer Franciszek Araszkiewicz. The title of the piece is Double Brain. We are connecting our computers and control them vice versa bidirectionally. The piece was performed during several concerts. 

Marek Chołoniewski – TeGeLaR from Marek Choloniewski on Vimeo.

In another project TeGeLar we are mixing the natural environment with a resonance of chamber preciously concerned structured inside. 

Folded Maps of Time Performance by Marek Chołoniewski (PL) & Chris Cutler (UK) from on Vimeo.

During FoMaTi we’ve been used bounded biofeedback spheric loops.

Microbiological kinetic manevres

The next project’s idea was that we humans have a lot of organisms inside our bodies, Lactobaccilus bacteries which stay in our body as a separate civilization. My students Nina Szukala got a crazy idea that we should contact with them, more directly than usual metabolism. 

In our project it is referred to internal sensory metabolism. It is called “Microbiological Soundscape”, it’s an idea of communication with another civilization which also landed on the Earth. We did it scientifically, we have read a quite interesting article which says that when the bacteries are growing, they generate high frequencies from 8 hertz to 48 hertz — high and ultrasonic. My idea was to mirror those sounds, to make a mimetic copy of those frequencies and send back to them. Nina built a special incubation where they had to grow up with a certain humidity with small speakers generating high frequencies. Then we found that with special frequencies they grow faster. It was a spectacular success, we’ve got more direct form of communication with them. 

The other aspect is that we are getting the special control on them, as they control processes in our body, what is extremely important for us. Their activity is not controlled from our brain, so that’s why they are called the second brain. They are responsible for our mood, our behavior and other consequences. In a Bachelor diploma work by Nina we created a special form of concert, dedicated not to humans, but to bacteries. 

You’ll be able to see it on the Audio Art festival, there’ll be a diagram which you can touch and hear certain bacteries-colonists. 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *