Seoul International Computer Music Festival 2005 :: Brigid Burke

10 – 13 November 2005, Seoul Korea

The Festival bought together a comprehensive collection of Korean and International electronic music and media artists, 17 outstanding works were chosen and invited from an array of international artists and researches. I was one of four international artists who attended and performed in the festival in Seoul. I feel fortunate thanks to ANAT to finally be part of the Festival, which provided a fantastic venue and support team. Over the past five years three of my compositions have been performed in this annual event but this was my first visit.

The Festival was opened by Robert Rowe with a Seminar at the KNUA Computer Music Studio entitled Machine Musicianship: From the Audio Signal to Interactive Performance. He discussed the convergence between the fields of music cognition and interactive performance and went into much detail on how performers, improvisers and composers can interact with machines in a musical manner in the context of developing programs for interactive music performance with acoustic and electronic devices having equal importance. The lecture was held in odd circumstances, I soon realized after about ten minutes into the talk except for a couple of international artists no one could understand English and there was no translator. The studio was very small, about 20 or 30 people came and went through out the Lecture. Even though the atmosphere seemed quite chaotic it gave you the opportunity to talk to other artists about their work, programs and projects they were developing and informative updates of the institutions they worked at. Being an independent artist and not really affiliated with an institution gave me another perspective of what many of these artists were doing. The opening concert in the evening at the Seoul Arts Centre showed us the variation in quality works been produced throughout the world each showing its own heritage and cultural influences. My personal favourites were Un regard sur la Ville by Elsa Justel from Argentina with well-crafted integrated audio sounds and images of windows of the city of Paris. The last work on the program Digital Roar by Boncheol Goo from Portugal was scored for clarinet and live electronics had some beautiful interplay between the clarinet and live electronics through repeated material. The other works from Korea at times seemed quite dated and cumbersome in their delivery. The next two seminars the following day given by Philippe Manoury My Electroacoustic Music Works and Serge Lemouton Electroacoustic Music Techniques in the works of Philippe Manoury at Hanyang University, Concert Hall suffered the same problems as the first lecture but also managed to have added technical problems and again the lack of a translator.

On Friday evening the 2nd concert was opened with a well-crafted work from Robert Lowe Flutter it had a great sense of balance and strength from both the flute and electronics that work well together. An Old House in the Raining Day by Eun Jin Kim was a highlight of the concert using the traditional instrument Daegeum and pre recorded flute improvisation and video images of an old house. The presence of the soloist captivated the audience with her energetic performance and understanding of the music style of the work. Your Eyes are Moving by Tae-Hee Kim was an interesting composition in that the dances interplayed with the sound continually moving as if the translation of sound was the dancers.

Concert 3 on Saturday 3:00 pm at Seoul National University, AV Hall showed some of the most innovative and progressive electronic and video works of the whole Festival with Brett Battey from the USA cMatrix 10 based on a mass of flowing particles and traceries of sound always transforming both audibly and visually. This concert was marred by technical equipment difficulties beyond the usual equipment problems, they started “cMatrix 10” twice with only seeing a short part of it which was a shame. Martin Hoogeboom‘s work On Distant Shores also was cut short and started out a very interesting work based on layers of distant sounds but always with much activity. Joao Mendes Triptico Das Almas had a great sense of movement creating different voices of ideas created around a series of defined ideas, but again was plagued with clicks from the audio equipment throughout. At the conclusion of the concert we were shown and informal viewing of the studios of the Seoul National University by Donung Lee whom I had some interesting conversations with related to analysing sensor technology for use with sound in his sensor percussion instrument capsule conceived to perform electronic music with a uniquely responsive interface, allowing an unprecedented degree of expressive control over numerous sonic parameters.

The system signals from the sensors and an ultrasound sub-system (for spatial mapping) and are combined to produce MIDI output for external synthesisers and samplers Concert 4 on Saturday evening at 7:30 in Jayu Theater featured Jupiter by Philippe Manoury engineered by Serge Lemouton. This work was realized at IRCAM and first performed by Pierre-Andre Valade on April 19 1987 nearly twenty years ago. The piece was inspired by the flutist Larence Beauregaed, who at the time had developed a flute with fifteen switches on its keys to aid a computer in tracking its pitch quickly. Philippe Manoury main inspiration behind Jupiter was to create a work for flute pitch detector and computer software controlling the live electronic processing and synthesis. A memorable performance, which is part of bringing, live processing into acoustic instruments.

Concert 5 at 7:30 pm in Jayu Theater was my performance of Grit on this last evening that incorporated live electronics, clarinet and pre-recorded electronics and video. I performed to a full house that had much activity and excitement. Grit visually is set in both the coastline of Victoria, Australia and the city of Inchagaya, Tokyo, and brings two cultures together to form one scene. The piece has accumulated visual components, it has been re-layered, with line drawings, large multi media canvases and small silk screens of both coast lines in a abstract manner, using filters from computer graphics programs to manipulate them and animate. The audio of minimal electronic samples taken from a Indian Drum, bowed vibraphone and angular fragmented clarinet gestures are in conversation and are lyrically thick with the percussive sounds overlapping themselves to form complex rhythms and visual layers of paintings worked on in tissue paper, glass, fish themes and water.

The last Castrati by Ricardo Climent from Spain who lectures at Queens University in Belfast in sensor technology applied to music was a highlight of the concert with its impeccably linked ideas that were at times confronting with memorable sound diffusion. Based on the last castrato singer or a sonic realisation of the voice;
‘…This compositional environment, a sustained castrati timbre, explores and navigates alongside new textures trying to understand such anatomic irrationality in order to become part of it…’

This rich experience in Korea of performing and been challenged artistically by other artists led me to hear an array of cultural differences in the electronic arts particularly music and see the advancements across so many traditions in such a short three days. I would also like to thank Doojin Director of the organizing committee of the SICMF 2005, Jaeho Chang and countless support team for there great effort in entertaining and making the international participants feel welcome in Seoul, also for the evenings and parties they organized at the conclusion of most concerts, the free flowing jugs of beer, interesting edible delights of the Korean palette and the conversations on the state of electronic art and culture.

I went to the festival with an open mind. The exposure to cross cultural influences in electronic art was most exhilarating leaving me with much inspiration that has already effected my work.

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