OMONIA is a multi-sided one man art performance about desire, obsession and the game of chance.
OMONIA brings together music, theatre, video and live electronics; the accent relays on the music. The project results in a multimedia unity through which the electroacoustic composition is the driving force of the performing form and the limits of musical expression in the theatrical space become visibly open.
The performance is the presentation of three new music theatre works, specially composed for this project by the Dutch composers Roderik de Man and Arnoud Noordegraaf. OMONIA is performed by the recorder player/multimedia artist Jorge Isaac.
OMONIA (the Greek word for "each-others compliment", "complete") is a multilingual unification of sound and visual media through which the spectator is drawn to observe in various layers. The three pieces are presented in the order:
1) "Voix égales" (Roderik de Man, 2005),
2) "STRUNG" (Arnoud Noordegraaf, 2005), and
3) "Mensa Secunda" – a condensed version for one musician and video- (Roderik de Man, 2005).
The total duration of the program is circa 70 minutes, with no break.
The various layers of OMONIA (music, theatre, scenography and video) are all structurally related, from each medium comes the unique entrance into the performance in order to create together the final product. Three works, three different stories in one surrealistic context. The performance is based on three principles:
Desire: presented in "Voix égales" through the strong extension to which can be uttered.
The game of chance: played out in "STRUNG" through the unexpected change of an alter-ego,
Obsession: worked out in "Mensa Secunda" through the insane search of a cook for the ultimate recipe.
A virtuoso recorder performance, and a rich musical context comprised of percussive electronic sounds, thick rhythmical structures and a grotesque musical aesthetic make up the musical layer. The music is performed by a live musician (various recorders and electronics) and his corporeality, through the unique use of sensors and software which interpret movement into MIDI data , and it is in turn used for sound manipulation.
Movements and actions made by the musician, in relation to the video, form the kernel of the visual layer. Video images are used in various ways: as dynamic induction of the form through moving images (Voix égales), as the materialisation of an evil Alter-ego (STRUNG), and as the medium of hallucinatory dreams (Mensa Secunda). Images in space and raw electronic sounds come from the full spectrum of sound possible in combination with the recorder. Through the unique combination of images and sound a combinatorial language is formed which allows for an understanding inside of interpretation and serves to create an unnerving whole- a crisp radiating multimedia performance.
part 1: Voix égales
Voix égales started as a practice-based Research Project, resulting in a multimedia performance. In Voix égales, the application of interfaces, sensors and software allow the use of physical movement of the musician to create sonorous layers in opposition to the previously fixed music layer placed in quadraphonic spacialization around the audience. The direction through which the sound is projected plays an important role.
The work is comprised of four movements atacca from which only the last movement contains instrumental music for tenor and contrabass recorder (Paetzold). All of the material for this composition is based on fragments of Samuel Beckett’s work "Not I" from 1972, and Jorge Isaac’s extended techniques on tenor and contrabass recorder. The text and word fragments are realised through all different possible ways from spoken to whispered, also through the instruments themselves. Through recording into a buffer all of the previous sounds were re-worked and manipulated through electronic processing. In addition, particles of different words were transformed into new words through the electronic re-working.
It is known of Samuel Beckett that he had a great affinity with words: their sound, their structure and rhythm; this particular approach becomes important for the composer to observe and treat in the composition. The music of Voix égales is not intended to be based on a text with repetitive character, but instead on the musical and theatrical expression which the performer can acquire through manipulated word's sounds, as well as the possibilities that words and live electronics provide to react and improvise. The live musician plays a character who carries a burden of afasi, a strong physical sickness which affects his ability to speak. He sits tied to a stool, after which we see he sits in a cage. His movements are tracked by computer software, floor sensors, and a wireless camera system through which his disturbing need of the physicality to words are realised. These words (actually fragments of text) will be transformed/deformed during the rest of the piece through the quadraphonic sound system in relation to the video projections.
Each episode of Voix égales makes an attempt at communication. Throughout the entire piece there is a continued dynamic of opposition and unification of the several media without affecting the independence of each of the elements while allowing none of them to be lost from the spectator. Video will be made constructed in real-time during several of the episodes through use of recorded material consisting of zooms of body parts of the musician during earlier episodes contrasted with abstract forms. The use of the two instruments, (tenor and contrabass) during the first three movements will be re-worked into the fourth movement electronically in such that they take the leading role in the last episode. In the fourth movement comes the first understandable fragment of text, the fragment that could be considered as the apotheosis of the entire piece. The title, Voix égales, serves as well to examine the words as contrapuntal element related to the whole.
Total length Voix égales: 22 min.
part 2: STRUNG
In STRUNG the composer has pushed the virtuosic musician to the limit of his ability. In mix with an enormous opposition from the electronics, opposition with a mysterious alter-ego: A girl less innocent than she appears. The question is who now hold the reigns in the hand.
Jorge Isaac plays the virtuosic flutist Jorge Isaac, who, in search of total mastery of his sound, steadily looses control of his electronics. His techniques have become so complex that it turns in a being with a will of its own.
Living in darkness (filmed with an infrared camera) we see how this being, a girl (dancer Mirjam ter Linden) comes to be manipulated through Jorge’s sound. But she can also manipulate him: the electronics can make unexpected changes. The girl commences a bizarre voodoo ritual, through which she will saw a recorder. Jorge tries to stop her by crawling into her skin- just before she saws the recorder. It works but he’s too late, she begins to saw before he can take over her body and in this way is doomed to saw his own recorder. Characters become doubled, mirrored in perfect symmetry, and become unified into their
The images are composed to create a cavernous space, with quick flashes of light. Here again the experience of the observer becomes more intense. Jorge will use four different recorders, the most of which will sound through live electronics. Using various analogue and digital hardware, and the computer software MAX/MSP and LiSa, programmed in such a way as to remain independent in the composition. Therefore Jorge doesn’t know precisely where he is headed and is lead by way of electronics. In addition, Jorge modifies the electronics, tape and the video during the performance.
STRUNG is a unique performance for a
Total length STRUNG: 17min.
part 3: Mensa Secunda (condensed version)
Lights go off. The silence is broken through the soft and irregular sound of small drops. The almost sterile décor stands in contrast with the smell of church incense, which is associated with death. The video starts projecting an intro-text, soft and slowly:
A deep-layered sound with the constant drops of water, the smell of myrrh and incense rounds off a space ready for a ritual. A profound blue-misty atmosphere on the Video introduces two slaves entering the space, both dressing white. They make a ritual around a table in the middle of the space.
The music background is surrounded with digitally modified sounds of mouths chewing and knifes sharpening. It comes to a climax through the high piercing sounds of sopraninos.
The right side of the stage is gradually lit. The light unveils a little kitchen. Behind the table is Apicius, the Chef, calmly washing his hands. He murmurs to himself.
Murmurs, furtive lights, and stalking figures introduce the spectator into a world of delirious dreams. Gradually the obsession is cooked.
On the screen Apicius finds himself in a big and gorgeous kitchen (his illusion). Details of washing his hands and arms are projected, through a combination of concrete and abstract images.
Apicius lights the fire in his kitchen to start cooking. He moves around the table taking cooking tools. He looks for the ingredients he needs, tasting them in the process. Sounds of cauldrons boiling and things dropping around the kitchen can be heard. More percussive sounds fill in the atmosphere.
Different images without synchronisation are projected on the video. In Apicius’ hallucinations, the slaves are helping him to wash his hands and to cook the ingredients.
The projection tensions the atmosphere of the kitchen with the aid of the powerful bass sound of the music.
Apicius’ murmurs become clearer until we realise he is reciting a recipe:
"Teres piper, ligustcum, coriandri semen, mentam, rutam, refundis liquamen et oleum modice, oleum supra seit. Leporem curas, ornas, quadratum imponis. Omento tetes et charta et surclas. Lento igni subassas…"
Intensive use of digital effects on the video images are projected.
The two slaves appear in the foreground of the video and get ready to perform the ‘pre-meal’ spectacle. They constantly change their characters, transforming from a juggler to a flutist, from an amanuensis to a confectioner. They also perform a demonstration of cooks creating a recipe and other pre-meal amusements.
In the background Apicius moves in relation to the slaves as he notices them, and then returns to his recipe. The music increases the energy and transforms into a sharp percussive layer. Apicius performs a virtuosic percussion solo at the table with knifes and pots: the "chopping spectacle". The voice of the chef, along with the sounds produced by chopping and chewing are combined with sounds of pots falling, knives and water boiling.
Consecutive sound, visual media and movement take the observer on a voyage to Apicius’ island of dreams. Where is the special taste? The ingredients talk to Apicius, he tastes them, and they taste him. A shadowy figure slowly appears in the video. It is the Magirus, the hired chef who is carefully watching Apicius and the surrounding ingredients.
Apicius movements and voice become ever more desperate- he believes that the ingredients live (the ingredients speak back though modified electronic sounds.) While Apicius is preparing the meal, he is distracted and cuts his finger. In the sour and salty taste of his own blood he discovers perfection… When he tastes his blood he realises that the dinner guests (the Magirus) has arrived. Apicius, entranced, looks to the Magirus to share in the feast.
From this point develops a basset solo. Apicius plays and moves close to the screen projection. His body melts with the images being projected.
The colour of the scene becomes darker, and the two slaves move to the front where the two chefs are shifting roles and positions. The Magirus starts following Apicius as a shadow. Apicius keeps on decreasing the playing speed. Magirus stalks Apicius and becomes the main chef.
Back in his kitchen, Apicius takes his tenor and plays a solo on tenor & electronics. He is increasingly loosing control of his playing technique and becomes manipulated through the video images.
The Magirus experiences a strange transformation. He begins to murmur as he searches for the perfect recipe. The video makes use of animation techniques and presents a choreographed duo of the two chefs, where Apicius’ obsession is acquired by the Magirus.
The still scarcely moving Apicius is brought into the kitchen.
The Magirus, now transformed into Apicius, washes his hands. The slaves look on mysteriously. They see Magirus’ search, his hallucinations and dreams as he speaks to the ingredients. Music slowly fades out and lights dim.
Total length Mensa Secunda: 45min.
Concept: Jorge Isaac
Music: Roderik de Man, Arnoud Noordegraaf
Blockflute & Live Electronics: Jorge Isaac
Scenography: Nikolaas Vande Keere (UR architects)
Video: Arnoud Noordegraaf Marcel Wierckx
Video images: Morphodidius (Mensa Secunda), Mirjam ter Linden (STRUNG)
Ligth Design: Vincent van Roon
Production: Visisonor Media Productions (2005-06)