We've seen an increasing number of artists make use of modular synths again lately, instruments with which they created unheard of sounds, rhythms and vibes.
Modular synthesizers hook up various synth modules (osscilators, envelope generators, filters,…) by cables to create ‘patches’. In this way, almost all parameters of the various modules can be directed via ‘voltage control’ and the possibilities are endless. The only limitation is the creativity of the user.
Developed in the early ’60's, modular synthesizers were originally used by avant-garde artists and musique concrète composers. In the mid-’70's more rock-oriented musicians (Klaus Schulze, Keith Emerson,…) started using the modular systems, which resulted in their use becoming more well-known and more widespread.
The early '80's saw the emergence of more stable and cheaper digital synthesizers, the 'unreliable' analogue, modular machines disappeared from the attention, from the studios and from stages.
In recent years however, there has been a revival of the modular system. Dozens of manufacturers and small, one-man businesses are emerging, and making the craziest modules. Or, you have creative technicians who make their own homemade, sometimes extremely exotic, modules for personal use and elicit the maddest sounds.
The series will be curated by Floris Vanhoof, musician, film-maker and creative technician who has spent many years doing what he wants, in his own unique way, mainly making albums and giving shows with his own homemade modular synth.
‘All Connected’ is a new series in Huis23 that will feature concerts, films, readings and instrument presentations with and about artists who play with the language of ‘voltage control’. Artists who use the ‘modular’ as creative thinking process and who explore musical boundaries in doing so. Artists who work in the spirit of the San Francisco Tape Music Centre, a collective that came into being when pioneers like Terry Riley, Morton Subotnick, Steve Reich, Ramon Sender, Pauline Oliveros, and many others connected their oscillators and tape recorders together to produce the most progressive music of the period.
The title “All Connected” is inspired by the idea of Dick Raaijmakers. He destabilised his studio and created unpredictable noises for pieces like Plumes and Flux, by connecting everything to everything and turning up the voltage as high as it would go.
Film-maker, musician and creative jack-of-all-trades. One who constantly couples new visual ideas and idiosyncratic music performance into his live shows, shows in which self-made synthesizers and the personal dimension are forged into an impressive whole.
When we asked Floris if he wanted to curate All Connected, and could he put something on paper about it, he sent us the following:
Consciousness outside of the mind, in front of the eyes.
‘Arts & technology are not an invention of the digital age’ wrote Johannes Goebel in his preface to the book on the San Francisco Tape Music Center.
Last October I assisted Tony Martin with a multiple light projection during a concert by Morton Subotnick, both of them are founding members of the San Francisco Tape Music Center. That night I saw the whole visual composition in a dream.
"The recollection of these projections by my retina" (as Martin puts it) suggests the potential of what I like to call "straight to brain light" opposed to the projection of images.
So after a year and 22 concerts in two parts, with projection of slides of an imagined journey, opposed to a moiré pattern on 16mm film (...) it became clear:
Just as the well sounding voltages that come out of the electronics in my instruments, these projected lights are an extension of our nervous system.
(fragment from my catalogue text for Xing Live Arts Week, Bologna, April 2012)
The making of sounds with electronic current is called “voltage control”, but losing control is something much more interesting.
‘Since that my first LP was released, I've mainly been busy doing shows with a self-made electronic instrumentarium whereby slides and 16mm films are projected.
The disorienting effect of bringing the two film-projectors into and out of focus during my shows is reflected in the pulsing electronic cycli of side A and the mix of resonant voltages and field-recordings on side B.’
(fragment of a press release for Cycles of Confusion, LP released by Kraak, May 2012)
My shows are always a hybrid form of projected images and an electronic patchwork. I develop my own instruments and configurations in which the border between image (film or slide) and light (projection) are explored. These have been tested during dozens of live performances.
Floris Vanhoof: http://endlesswebsite.blogspot.be/