Alex Nowitz for BodyControlled #2 from CDM on Vimeo.

Electronic media artist Mario de Vega (Mexico City/Berlin) says his work plays with the creation of “unstable systems.” As part of the official Vorspiel, or lead-up, to Berlin’s massive Transmediale festival, here we get to visit two artists working with the materiality of live performance, drawing from the festival theme of “in/compatible.” The sonic environments they create seem poised on the brink of sonic chaos, a dance at the edge of entropy.

CDM will again be editorial co-presenter of BodyControlled; you can see the show for free (donation suggested) in Berlin at LEAP, or tune into the live video stream from anywhere in the world, and we’ll be bringing you details of the artwork. We’re a ticket to Alexanderplatz that’s even cheaper than easyJet, in other words. The performances start at 20h CET Thursday, 26 January. (That’s 2p East Coast time / 11a Pacific, so scare your office mates and turn it up loud.) Full details below.

At top, composer/singer Alex Nowitz demonstrates his gestural performance techniques. I got to see his work for the first time at the Patterns + Pleasure Festival in the fall at Amsterdam’s STEIM research center. While at STEIM, Nowitz built on previous work with the Wii remote, and augmented his gestures with a new instrument, entitled the “Strophonion.” You can see that creation in the video above.

With each contortion of his body, Nowitz rips apart sounds, all while sputtering non-lingual utterances with his gymnastic voice. In the Amsterdam performance, one had the sense of following him into the Schwarzwald (Black Forest), an operatic odyssey echoing with forboding birdsong. But the system can also be dynamic and even, at moments, whimsical.

For his part, Mario de Vega’s “unstable systems” flirt even more with this notion of engineered incompatibility, with sounds that seem like they will explode in an earthquake-like tremor.

Mario de Vega for BodyControlled #2 from CDM on Vimeo.

Films by João Pais, co-curator of the series; edited by CDM.

Also on this program, more works engage the idea of what the curatorial statement terms “hidden acoustics”:

Echo Ho (Canada/Cologne, DE)

Tuned to Site #26012012
This title is from a series of concerts, called “Tuned to Site #…”. As a whole, the series formulates the idea of “musification of urban landscapes”.
In the first performance of this series in 2012 Echo Ho will play a set of instruments: a self-fabricated hybrid semblance of the ancient Qin from China, which combines traditional acoustic and digital interfaces in one unique transparent plexiglas body. Like a sensor box, it will enable Echo Ho to make field recordings of inaudible hidden sounds within
the city environment, such as electro-magnetic fields, variation and wind movements. The performance thus marks the process of generating action by outlining situations in which sounds may occur.

Ignaz Schick (DE)
Turntablist, sound artist, performer & composer Schick promises, through motors and objects, genuine accidents:

Site-specific performance with transducers, wireless controllers, feedback systems and back tape
Through accidents and their outcomes, actions, processes and objects that conceptually connect with acoustic information, the work of Mario de Vega researches the value of vulnerability, exploring the causes and effects that determine the construction of realities. In this site-specific performance with transducers, wireless controllers, feedback systems and back tape, de Vega is investigating aesthetic and social realms through a multiplicity of mediums.

Co-curator João Pais tells CDM that this installment, in keeping with Transmediale’s theme, will “give the performers a room where they can show their ways of working with the dissociation of matter (through sound, in this case) and expression.” Pais co-curates the event with Daniel Franke of LEAP.

This episode includes two self-made instruments that expand on existing practice, he says, in the case of Nowitz and Ho, and the hacked and modulated machines of Schick and Vega.

More information; where to see the show

26 January 2012, 20h (free/donation)

Show details

Anywhere in the world – all performances will be available from 20.00 CET via live stream:


Lab for Electronic Arts and Performance
(Berlin Carré, 1. Stock)
Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 13
10178 Berlin

How to find LEAP