Iannis Xenakis

Oresteia Opera

Scored for soloists, mixed chorus, children’s chorus and chamber ensemble, Iannis Xenakis’ music for Oresteia has been cited as “ruggedly dissonant” since its 1987 première in Sicily. A wooden-planked stage is empty save three platforms, one each for the chamber players and percussion, another for a drummer on a separate perch. On a high screen to start, a loop video shows an almost-naked woman stretched out face down in a bathtub who is being hosed down uninterruptedly with water. No forewarning, and the clip changes to a thick forest, a small girl being physically abused by an adult man. While the same video images reappear at the end of the opera, but it’s nebulous soft-edged shapes –mood landscapes as it were – that are the usual backdrop for the 90-minute piece.

 

Geoffrey Drake-Brockman

The Coppelia Project
via highlike submit

The Coppelia Project is inspired by the story about a clockwork girl from the 1870 ballet ‘Coppelia’ by Saint-Léon, Nuitter, and Delibes, based on a story by Hoffmann. It also draws the commonplace metaphor of clockwork music boxes, with the little ballerinas that pop up and rotate in front of a mirror when you open the lid. Coppelia is part of the traditional classical ballet repertoire and is performed frequently by ballet companies around the world. It belongs to a small group of enduring stories in Western Culture that directly address the limits of humanity when confronted by our creations. The Coppelia story is unusual in approaching this theme through love and attraction, rather than horror and revulsion, as emphasised by Mary Shelly in ‘Frankenstein’. The Coppelia story deals with some of the issues at the edge of humanity; machines interchangeable with persons, love and attraction confused at this boundary.

Heidi Kumao

Protest

“Protest” is from the project, “Misbehaving: Media Machines Act Out”(2002-2007), a series of mechanical girls’ legs, each with their own prescribed and programmed behavior. In each tableau, an electronically controlled, mechanical being protests with a voice of erratic physical gestures and projected video imagery. As a combination of robotics and performance, they represent girls who disobey or resist expectations. Unlike machines designed for perfect job performance, these machines will declare their fallibility, impatience, approval, and disapproval through small gestural acts. In these tableaus of protest and transformation, the machine is spirited, emotional, thoughtful, and irregular. “Protest” consists of aluminum, mechanized pairs of 6 year-old girl’s legs fitted with shoes and standing on a table top. An electronic circuit and proximity sensors make her responsive to the presence of viewers for whom she stomps loudly and erratically