Chamber Music for one

by: Teemu Kivikangas

Chamber Music is a musical performance for one performer and audience of one listener. Aim of the performance is to critically examine the paradigm of art as mass communication. Modern mass media tends to treat it’s customers as target markets and pools of people with certain demographics. Can artist take this approach to the viewer or should they seek to establish a more personal relationship?

The performer sits opposite to his one person audience and using a custom made electrical and software instruments tries to develop a relationship to the listener with his musical performance. Each performance is unique – something that is based on unique qualities of the listener and the performer and the chemistry of nonverbal communication between them.

The performance aims to take down the performer from his securely elevated position on a platform in front of an audience and force him to communicate on a personal level with his tiny audience of one person. The listener isn’t perfectly safe either – the experience and the work of art experienced is moved to a much more personal level. The listener remains free to leave when ever he or she wants, but if he or she stays the performance ends when the performer decides it’s over and the musical piece is played to an end. The whole performance will probably last about 10 to 20 minutes.

Musical instruments used in the performance include software instruments created with Pure Data and electronic instruments based on microcontrollers, Basic Stamp and simple contact microphones used as loudspeakers. The musical piece is performed using earphones for both the listener and the performer, creating a rather intimate sound-space existing only for the two. Instruments are designed to keep the musical piece simple but flexible.

It can be a difficult and scary situation for both, rather intimate, possibly annoying – how can the two come together and communicate? There is no need for words, there are more universal languages: music and nonverbal communication. Mediating technology is taken down to minimum and within these boundaries anything can happen.

Teemu Kivikangas (1979) is media artist and designer working and living in Helsinki. Currently he is working on his final thesis for MA in New Media at Media Lab of University of Art and Design Helsinki and studying fine art in Helsinki Academy of Art. Teemu also works as a game artist, creating game graphics and designs for leading Finnish game publisher and studio Sumea. He is active member in Helsinki-based media art collectives and Amfibio. Teemu has worked with interactive installations, interactive narrative, experimental cinema and video performances. His cinematic works, often experimenting with narrative, interactivity and various viewing platforms, have been exhibited – and sometimes also awarded – on numerous festivals (for an example Cracow Film Festival and Tampere Film Festival) in Finland and internationally. Together with Amfibio-collective he has crafted audiovisual performances with a number of Finnish and foreign musicians, dancers, theatre makers and artists – for an example with PixelACHE-festival, Amfibio did a tour of video performances in New York and Montreal during the summer 2003. As part of Destination: Helsinki workshop during winter 2004, Teemu worked with theatrical live visuals. In the end of the summer 2004, Amfibio’s most ambitious piece of experimental real-time cinema, The Stories of the Sea, premiered in ISEA 2004-festival. Since then he has performed for an example at in Bergen, Norway, together with Antti Silvast from Pseudotoad Labs.