Tag Archive: Berlin Atonal

IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII & Thomas Collet reflect on industrialisation and the anthropocene, live at Berlin Atonal 2021

A collaborative audiovisual performance, recorded live at last year’s edition of Berlin Atonal.

IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII, or Barcode, is an enigma. In an effort to shirk the personality cults that can develop when an audience’s primary tool for engagement with music is social media, the mysterious producer and musician removes their personality entirely from the distribution process of their music. In an age where the widespread adoption of streaming services has removed most value for most musicians releasing their music in digital formats, artists have had to transform themselves into the product, their music becoming a means of signal boosting their personal brand and in so doing imbuing their practice with value. In a critical gesture, Barcode collapses these distinctions, reducing their identity to a visual marker of their creativity as product, a barcode, within which all the information pertaining to the potential value of their artistry is contained. In the absence of any identifiable artist, the listener is left only with the music, evocative and experimental percussive compositions that defy any easy genre definitions or corporate categories. When it came time to translate the project into a live audiovisual performance for the 2021 edition of Berlin Atonal, it made sense that their collaborator, glitch artist Thomas Collet, also had his mind on how inextricable contemporary art is from capital.

“This whole project started during the pandemic, when it was nearly impossible to travel or record videos outside,” he explains. “It’s in that particular context that I decided to explore Google Earth, seeking new images. During this long journey I developed a fascination for industrial forms. Gravitating around Google Earth during curfew made me realize how much our lives are intricately related with industrial culture. It took such an important part in our evolution during the last two centuries that we can barely think without it. This particular mindset led us to the anthropocene we live in today. This concept describes a new geological epoch, where the human impact is more significant in earth’s ecosystems and geology than ever. Google Earth in itself emphasises this idea of a world sculpted by human activity.” A seemingly infinite procession of god’s eye view images of industrial phenomena – supply chains, shipping crates, megaports and coastlines dotted with oil tankers and supply ships – are presented in counterpoint with plains, mountains and seas, simultaneously exaggerating and collapsing the enormity of the vast, globally connected network of industry that enrobes planet earth. Through Collet’s pixel manipulation these artificial forms saturate, warp and shift into patterns that resemble organic forms, as vast aerial images car parks are duplicated, taking on the structure of a teeming ant colony, while 3D rendered shipping crate blueprints glitch and drip like petrol floating across water.

“When Barcode contacted me for Berlin Atonal it was an incredible match between the music and the videos. I can’t imagine a better place than an old electric factory to play this set.” Collet continues. “Destructive processes ground my experimentations and I can feel this in Barcode’s work too. Glitch art has always been a way to create a singular version of reality. In this case it can erase data to the point where the landscapes are consumed and melted into other material. It gives the sensation that time is accelerated and we are travelling through the anthropocene era. It reaches a point where industry becomes a camouflage of nature, and the other way around. You may feel that you are staring at romantic paintings, watching these over-industrialized sites in their terrific beauty. In these experimentations I had this feeling that I was mining glitch in Google Earth, using the same processes I could observe in industry: starting with raw materials to glitch into processed ones.” By aligning his art practice with industrialized processes of production, Collet enacts Barcode’s depersonalised approach to art in his visuals, mapping the extraction of value from the earth onto the aestheticization of distortion presented in his work. Pixels are rendered as precious ore or oil deposits in his excavative approach to glitch art, the most basic units of digital imagery coded as the most basic objects of value within the natural world.

“We live in the information era where data is a new resource, it seems essential that artists use it as well,” Collet concludes. “In this regard glitch art processes open a new narrative where digital doesn’t only produce tangible data, but also generates artifacts through its own destruction. The idea that we can eternally stock everything online seems foolish to me, therefor I prefer to show the fragilities and weaknesses of the medium I use.” By probing at the stress points of digital imagery, Collet formally captures how difficult it can be to think on a planetary scale. He exaggerates how dwarfed our personalised perspective of the world is by global industry, twisting it into even more intricate and overwhelming forms. Capitalising on this inertia, he replicates the feeling of standing in the bowels of Kraftwerk, the old power station and longstanding home of Berlin Atonal, an epiphanic instance of feeling at once impossibly small and intensely alive – insignificant on the scale of a supply chain, yet all powerful on the scale of the consumer.

You can find IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII On Instagram and at Bandcamp. For more information about Thomas Collet and his work you can follow him on Instagram.

IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII x Thomas Collet – Live at Berlin Atonal 2021 Tracklist and Timestamps:

1. IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII – Electric Rated Gesture 00:00
2. IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII – Outlook Remains Untouched 04:06
3. user09081994 – Help Yourself 10:23
4. IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII – All the Hours I Spent in Bunkers 14:00
5. IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII – Qatidiq 17:12
6. IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII – Exoteric Resistance 21:01
7. IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII – A Kenotic Song About The Megamachine 23:23
8. user09081994 – A Red Warning Flag 26:50
9. IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII – Why She Is Hiding in the Other Man’s Eyes 32:40
10. Grand Inc – Stress Kicked In And Hurled You Toward 37:59

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Primary Optics: Pedro Maia on creating ‘live cinema’ for music from analogue film

Primary Optics is a series that dives into the ideas and technology behind some of the world’s most innovative audiovisual shows and artists.

Pedro Maia is a Portuguese filmmaker based in Berlin who primarily works with 16mm and 8mm film. Using a combination of traditional analogue processing techniques and digital technology, Maia’s work in what he calls “live cinema” has led to collaborations with musicians such as Shapednoise, Vessel, SHXCXCHCXSH and Craig Leon.

Earlier this year, FACT travelled to Berlin to capture Maia at work at Andec Filmtechnik, an analogue film lab opened in 1984 that is one of the last in Europe. Here, Maia works as a freelancer part time on film processing and digitisation, and also uses the lab’s equipment to form the raw material he needs to create his arresting visuals live on stage.

“I like the idea of visual music,” he says. “When I come to a project, my idea is ‘how can I make this a live show, a live film, and a performance?” A musician playing in front of a screen, for me, is is not enough. That’s why I do everything live, because I like to be affected by all of these elements. I can also influence the music somehow during the shows.”

In this episode, we also explore some of Maia’s key shows and works, including the video for Vessel’s ‘Paplu (Love That Moves The Sun)’, and performances from Shapednoise and Shackleton recorded at Berlin Atonal 2019.

Credits:

Filmed, directed, edited and produced by Pedro Küster

Excerpts from:
Vessel – “Paplu (Love That Moves The Sun)”, (2018, Tri Angle)
Shapednoise – ‘Blaze’ feat. Justin K Broadrick (2019, Numbers)
Tropic of Cancer – ‘Plant Lilies At My Head’, (2013, Blackest Ever Black)
Vessel – ‘Drowned in Water and Light’, (2015, Tri Angle)

Music:
HSXCHCXCXHS – ‘AOO’, (2019, Rösten)
Vessel – ‘Paplu (Love That Moves The Sun)’, (2018, Tri Angle)
HSXCHCXCXHS – ‘HEM’, (2019, Rösten)
Jacaszek – ‘Dare-gale’, Ghostly International (2012, Ghostly International)
HSXCHCXCXHS – ‘UEA’, (2019, Rösten)
Vessel – ‘Drowned in Water and Light’, (2014, Punish, Honey)

Film excerpts and music videos courtesy of artist, musicians and labels

Extra live footage courtesy of:
Clara Jo, Hiroo Tanaka, Masaya Kato, Kensuke Kurasawa

Thanks to:
Korn Manufaktur Berlin, Andec Filmtechnik Berlin, Berlin Atonal, Outer Agency, Drumming, Joana Gama, Luis Fernandes, Robert Lippok, Sebastian Gainsborough , Montanhas Azuis, SHXCXCHCXSH, Tri Angle, Numbers, Ghostly International, Blackest Ever Black

Watch next: How Robert Henke used five 1980s computers to create his CBM 8032 AV show

FACT Residency: MFO Presents

For our inaugural online residency, we presented the work of audiovisual artist Marcel Weber, aka MFO.

Over the last two weeks we’ve given you a glimpse into the multidisciplinary practice of Berlin artist Marcel Weber. As MFO he has been directing and producing audiovisual performances, video works and installations since 2001 and has worked with some of the most highly regarded experimental musicians in the world, including Tim Hecker, Grouper, Roly Porter and Kara-Lis Coverdale. 

In his expansive audiovisual works Nervous System 2020 and Kistvaen, both featured at the 2019 edition of Berlin Atonal, Weber uses light, space and sound to scrutinize the human condition by interrogating some of its fundamental beliefs, namely, our relationship with technology, our relationship with the past and our relationship with the future.

Nervous System 2020

Described by Weber as a “performance installation”, Nervous System 2020 is an examination of the internet age split into three sections – ‘Intercoastal Exchange’, ‘Sacral Plexus’ and ‘Self-Optimization Cell’. The installation invites the spectator to gaze through a blurry filter at demonstrations of the contemporary necessity for constant high-tech companionship.

Featuring choreography from Guillaume Marie and sound from Gediminas Žygus, aka G.G. Biberkop, the work incorporates dance, spatial sound and holographic lighting as a YouTuber (María Stamenkovic Herranz), an otaku (Carles Romero Vidal) and a runner (Angele Micaux) are secluded in three decentralised chambers, unconnected save for a belief in the radiance of technology.

Kistvaen

Roly Porter took the name Kistvaen from Neolithic granite tombs frequently found scattered across the moorlands of Dartmoor in the south west of England. In this audiovisual performance created by MFO to accompany the album of the same name, the primordial past, explored in ‘Origins’, is connected with the near future, which we cross into in ‘Passage’, with the ‘kistvaen’ acting as a portal between the two.

Marrying medieval Gaelic folk music with contemporary sound design and footage captured at Dartmoor and in the Białowieża Forest with digital imaging techniques, the duo compare pagan ideas of magic, gods and the afterlife with emotional and social rituals of the technological age in order to identify affinities that exist across history.

For more information about Marcel Weber, head over to his website and follow him on Instagram.

Watch next: Primary Optics – How Robert Henke used five 1980s computers to create his CBM 8032 AV show

MFO Presents: Kistvaen – Passage

MFO and Roly Porter’s journey into the primordial past and the near future continues.

We are transported from the site of Neolithic burial rituals to a dystopian glimpse into a sci-fi future in ‘Passage’, the second act of MFO and Roly Porter’s collaborative work, Kistvaen.

The audiovisual performance piece was captured in the imposing interior of Berlin’s Kraftwerk at Berlin Atonal 2019 and is a hybrid of musical performance and experimental theatre, combining cinematic projection, lighting design and live vocal accompaniments.

Contrasting the images captured on the moorlands of Dartmoor and in the Białowieża Forest that we saw in ‘Origins’, here MFO presents us with a Blade Runner-esque vision of rapidly expanding industry, lonely spectators obsessed with technology and strange, biomechanical figures.

Roly Porter’s grand, unsettling score underlines that the spiritual power imbued within the kistvaen and the pagan beliefs that surround them has now passed into a dark and uncertain future.

Kistvaen has been shown at Unsound, Berlin Atonal and Sonic Acts festival. The album of the same name by Roly Porter arrives on May 29, via Subtext Recordings.

For more information about Marcel Weber, head over to his website and follow him on Instagram.

Watch next: MFO Presents: Nervous System 2020 – ‘Sacral Plexus’

MFO Presents: Kistvaen – Origins

MFO and Roly Porter connect the primordial past with the near future.

A ‘kistvaen’ is the name given to Neolithic granite tombs frequently found scattered across the moorlands of Dartmoor in the south west of England. During the Neolithic Age, the bodies of the dead were lain in these tombs facing the sun, before they were covered with a mound of earth and surrounded by a ring of smaller stones.

It is from these simple burial sites that MFO and Roly Porter take the name for their latest collaboration, an audiovisual performance piece that seeks to connect the primordial past with the near future.

Drawing on Welsh and Gaelic medieval poetry and folk music, Roly Porter combines field recording, digital processing and the vocals of Mary-Anne Roberts, from medieval Welsh music duo Bragod, to create a sound that links ancient musical forms with contemporary sound design. In the same way, MFO blends footage captured at Dartmoor and in the Białowieża Forest with digital imaging techniques, cinematic lighting and stage design, transfiguring the space of Berlin’s Kraftwerk, where this video was filmed at Berlin Atonal 2019.

In this way the two artists imagine these kistvaen as portals, unmoored in time, spaces in which they can compare pagan ideas of magic, gods and the afterlife with emotional and social rituals of the technological age in order to identify affinities that exist across history.

Kistvaen has been shown at Unsound, Berlin Atonal and Sonic Acts festival. The album of the same name by Roly Porter arrives on May 29, via Subtext Recordings.

For more information about Marcel Weber, head over to his website and follow him on Instagram.

Watch next: MFO Presents – Nervous System 2020 – ‘Intercoastal Exchange’

Lorenzo BITW links up with percussionist Drumcello for ‘Salto’

A zesty collaboration for Ryan Hemsworth’s Secret Songs.

Roman producer Lorenzo BITW has linked up with the exceptionally-named percussionist Drumcello for a new collaborative track.

Pairing sunny synthesis and clipped vocal chops with live bass, percussion and west African balafon, on ‘Salto’ Drumcello picks out a skippy urgency in Lorenzo’s global dance continuum sound. The accompanying visual sees the duo performing live on a hybrid set up of sequencers, analogue and live drums.

‘Salto’ is out now on Secret Songs.

Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, artists need our support more than ever. You can support Lorenzo BITW by buying his music from Bandcamp.

Watch next: Patch Notes – Hydromantic live from Berlin Atonal 2019

Patch Notes: Hydromantic live from Berlin Atonal 2019

Patch Notes is a series that explores modular synthesisers and the art of making electronic music with hardware.

In this video, recorded exclusively for FACT at Berlin Atonal 2019, Junior Boys’ Matthew Didemus and Martin Maischein, a former Berghain sound engineer and artist behind projects such as Goner and Sandbenders, team up as Hydromantic.

The duo perform with modular synths as well as other gear, and combine “fourth-world acoustic rhythms with divergent techno futurism” to explore timbre, rhythm and space.

Hydromantic’s first release, the Archipelago EP, is available now on Hunee’s Lifetones label.

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