Xquisite Force began as what happens when an audiovisual thread is woven from collaborator to collaborator, exquisite corpse style. The resulting images and music have produced a stunning, futuristic compilation – and a benefit for Beirut.
Let’s begin with the premiere – one short but stunning link in the audiovisual chain, from artists Bonebrokk and Soyun Park.
Also coverage of the project and benefit in Arabic:
A Beirut benefit, a different approach to construction
There’s something both incongruous and perhaps hopeful about saying that something with a Beirut benefit is futuristic. Everyone I talk to who is connected to the Lebanese capital has expressed utter anguish and frustration at aftermath of the explosion and a country breaking under the weight of corruption and negligence. The future seems the furthest topic from the discussion. Some residents are simply looking to get out and leave the city or leave Lebanon. In doing so, they would follow a tradition that over recent generations has left 6-9 million people of Lebanese descent outside the country, compared to about 4 million inside. (To some of which I say, thanks for doing something that’s the reason I was born.)
But I would defend the notion of compilations as taking on public benefit. It’s easy to see this as a kind of trend, but it has in the past months recast music-making as something that includes awareness of others, and made connections between producers and scenes. Even if that’s a symbolic gesture, it’s one that can help overcome some feelings of aloneness or powerlessness in complex times. (This approach also obviously solves the otherwise messy issues of dividing up revenue from compilations, which often slices up revenue so many times as to matter little anyway. It has the practical benefit of drawing those resources together and then passing on their value.)
In the case of Xquisite Force, a project of the AV platform SFX helmed by Zoë Mc Pherson with visualist Alessandra Leone, there’s a collective model both for input and output. (The dynamic duo have helped make this project so rich – in this case Zoë on curation, Ale on design.)
On the output side, proceeds have gone to Haven for Artists and Beit El Baraka. The latter of those is still running, building on its existing mission of providing self-sufficiency to families denied it by Lebanon’s non-functioning government (“criminal” is the word that comes up a lot). That work began before the explosion, in a country where basic rights were stripped by negligence, a crisis in itself. As SFX describe it:
All proceeds from sales of the compilation will go directly to two organisations in Beirut: Haven for Artists -who focus on supporting migrants, women and LGBTQI people- and Beit El Baraka. In the wake of the explosion on August 4th, which has compounded already-dire social and economic problems in the city, these two organisations are providing food and shelter and financial, medical and psychological assistance to those who need it most.
But the input model bears mentioning, too. Here it’s just about opening creative involvement, but the results are dazzling, and it shows how people can work together on a compilation in a way that goes beyond just “hey, send me a WAV file at -6 dB.”
Exquisite corpse, but it’s AV
The basic idea of an exquisite corpse aka cadavre exquis is pretty fundamental – you start some writing, pass it on to someone else who continues, and so on collaboratively through a group. No one sees the whole picture, just the connecting bits. Apparently the Surrealists are the ones who gave it its macabre current term, from a phrase they generated with the game – “Le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau.” (“The exquisite corpse shall drink the new wine”). (Thanks, Wikipedia / source!) But this business of working together on parts without seeing the whole until the end I have no doubt came before the Surrealists.
The compilation has grown out of that process – with a terrific, diverse mix of producers from multiple continents, as Aho Ssan, Bonebrokk, Ciarra Black, Désir d’enfant, ELLLL, Flore, Forces, Glass, Gramrcy, Holy Similaun, Hulubalang, John Object, Katie Gately, Klahrk & Ship Sket, KMRU, Luke Lund, Simon Grab & Zoë Mc Pherson feat. Dali de Saint Paul and ZULI all contribute tracks.
The results are somewhere between organic and synthetic, colliding surfaces and rapid-fire stretched digital textures, squishy bubbling percussion and dizzying harmonies. This is frenetic production virtuosity from hyperactive, detail-obsessed creators – matching the eye-popping visuals.
But it’s just one outcome – the packed alien life that has spawned just this generation. The results of Xquisite Force continue growing, a thread without any particular end. The project is sequential, but otherwise blind as artists past from one to another – spawning releases like this first compilation as they go.
As it’s going, you can open each node and learn about the artist and their ideas. There’s a sequence – insight from the artist, input to the next artist. It’s an exquisite corpse, but also a way of passing impulses from one artist to another – passed notes, or trigger signals like connected control voltage. (They call them “Added Inputs.”)
Meet the artists
Soyun, aka RGBdog, and Mario Naris, aka Bonebrokk, premiere their segment here on CDM at top. Let’s say hello (virtually, so really no chance of catching anything):
Soyun Park is an interdisciplinary artist, designer and founder of an audio-visual community studio RGBdog. She grew up in South Korea, now based in The Hague, The Netherlands.
How is technology affecting and changing human discourses — from the very individual level — body movement, relationships, way of living to architecture, communities and politics?
She is interested in how reality is reflecting the digital era and how the influenced virtual space and culture reflect back to reality. In her practice with audio-visuals, she often films spontaneously and bring it to digital software such as TouchDesigner. With this process, most of the time the captured reality in films develops its shape with computational inspiration and experimentation in the virtual space, concluded with, again, the depiction of reality.
And from Greece, the sounds:
Bonebrokk is the personal project of Marios Naris, a sound artist based in Athens, Greece.
He is the founder of the label/club night/platform Trial & Error, which originally started as home for his own productions.
Having spent the last couple of years meticulously crafting his personal sound, 2020 finds him in top form with 2 EPs scheduled for release within the year and a brand new live show based on current and future material.
Definitely pick up the release. As for Beirut, you can also still support Beit El Baraka directly. I have some updates on how these efforts are going from some of the various organizations working in relief.
Previously, on CDM on SFX: