Evolution of Sιήκ
The human brain evolved gradually over time; incremental changes occurred resulting from external stimuli and conditions. Patterns of behaviour involve the natural selection process in humans in the same way that physical characteristics evolve. The need was to develop cognitive principles in thinking, knowing, remembering, judging and problem-solving. Using established mental processes and mechanical tools, humans recreated a mirror image of “the self” in a pre-existing world. Adding a pseudo-life force to these inanimate creations gave humans the ability to believe in their creative capacity, elevating their status over all other living matter. The fragile nature of these developments reflects on the theatrical production of Sιήκ. The audio construction in Sιήκ is the “pseudo-life force” articulating messages through various barriers of communication. The difference in personalities is often in conflict with one another; conscious and unconscious motivating complexes; the life force itself; dreams; intuition; inspiration and many more. The body is a dynamic anchor, represented in the performance by puppets. The viewer, separated from the realm of the habitual physical form, accepts a relationship between this body and other aspects of the self that the creator chooses to represent a material form and an individual state of mind. Characters may have several heads and several bodies, each capable of different actions and possessing different intentions to represent other selves through evolving shadows. Disintegrating and reassembling the body, other aspects may manifest in a different physical form visually still created from the same material, together with mental images not independent of physical elements. The puppets’ abilities of representation are numerous, reaching areas beyond the visual and textural plane. The puppets—shadows—performers’ relationship is one of the areas where puppetry can play with the multiplicity of human dynamics.
The central element of puppets is given in this capacity; its plausible dissimilarity is close to our feeling of being human in that it appears to have intentions, will, and all the other aspects of life force.
At the same time, it is physically capable of representing humanity in many different ways; distorted, caricatured, anthropomorphized objects, and various other abstract bodies. Within the limits of its own established rules of movement, the puppet and the shadows it creates and leaves behind are capable of many physical features which a physical human may only dream of doing. It maintains its proximity to the self through the life force, pushing away from the familiar physical limitations of the body through its manipulated material form. It can give physical form to dynamics that often remain abstract or half-explored in contrast to interactions. Physical performers further extend the dynamics at play in an engagement where “the self” reaches out to the object (puppet). The power relationships reveal positive and negative aspects of the dominant external reality, relationships between organic and inorganic matter.
Sιήκ (theatre for contemporary music and inanimate objects)
Performances 20 and 22 October 2014 at State Puppet Theatre, 4 Dragoman street,Varna, Bulgaria
22 and 24 February 2015 at Vaskakas Puppet Theatre, Györ 9021, Aradi vértanúk útja 23, Hungary
5 and 8 March 2015 at Csodamalom Bábszínház, Kossuth Lajos u. 11, Miskolc 3525, Hungary
The re-construction of Sιήκ
It is relevant to consider the meaning of the sonic part of an object (puppet, space, scenery) to communicate essential information. The levels of functional complexity depend on the relation between sound and action, the individual perceiving the sound: sound notification signals to participants to manipulate, feedback confirms that a given action performed is positive or negative it depends on the correctness of the state of the system, sonic interaction explores ways in which sound used can convey information, meaning, aesthetic and emotional qualities in interactive contexts. The qualitative perceptual aspects of sounds are processed through models of the auditory system. These features are loudness, sharpness, roughness, and fluctuation strength. The consideration of concepts, metaphors, strategies and affordability in listening provided information or perceptual data mainly in sonification.
Sound modifications – automation, strategies and execution
There are twenty-five files each with three folders of audio samples between twenty and not longer than forty-five seconds in duration labelled signal sinusoidal, signal sinusoidal for improvisation, vocalisation e.g. in folder numbered 45 consists of two sinusoidal sound files labelled “body part” and “anatomical angle position areas”. Sounds in a specific folder are assigned to similar sound features of pitch range and timbre. The sounds in the folders and files assist the puppeteers to identify from the sound selection the interaction and manipulation of the specific joints appropriately.
1: Codification, automation of sound selections, synchronous manipulations by puppet groups.
The four puppeteer groups in sound selection trigger the process through sensors and microcontrollers. The sounds selected are to be diffused by the sound projectionist. The procedure previously rehearsed formed part of the score.
Signal sinusoidal folder selections are only for the anthropomorphic puppets.
Selecting the sinusoidal folder and then selecting files labelled body part and anatomical angle by one of four puppeteer groups highlights the folder/files selected, redirecting all other computer screens in the network to that selected folder/files.
Action, constrains the selection of other groups.
Sound selection can only be made once by the puppeteer groups; the action is blocked for re-use. The sound selected is removed and placed into a used folder.
Selecting sinusoidal sounds in the selected folder allows you to target a specific area of the body.
Synchronous joint manipulation followed by the four groups from the instruction chart “prescribed movement”.
Signal sinusoidal sound folders are files labelled numerically with “type of manipulation”.
A similar procedure explained above follows when complex sinusoidal signal sounds are targeting multiple joint manipulations.
The action restricts selections of other files in the signal sinusoidal sound folder and asynchronous joint manipulation follows.
No restrictive measures take place on sound selections made in folders labelled vocalization and signal sinusoidal sounds for improvisation.
Text is a transcription of audible, but also our inner cognitive “vocalisation” of our inner voice rather than our oral expression. The inner voice connected to speech would seem to play no part in expression registered with our ears. Exploring the connection between voice and code, between our vocal expression and programming languages, means that we first have to look at connections between our vocal expressions in written text and other notation systems and meanings we have ascribed to these expressions. We must consider the influence of recorded, artificial voices on how we perceive and express ourselves.
Artificial voices and the subliminal languages of machines have changed our perception of voice even further. Our voice has become an intricate source of verbal, written and mechanical expression.
The file consists of vocal sounds focused on prosodic statements, utterances, vowels, fragmented words, pre-linguistic expressions, tangential discourse, rhotacism, derhotisation and epenthesis.
Vocalisation sounds are created through text-to-speech synthesis.
Sounds in this folder are not used to replace signal sounds marked in the score, alternately they could be used at any other random point by the four groups of puppeteers to trigger vocal sounds diffused through alternate or separate speakers.
3: Sinusoid audio signals for improvisation and automation.
The file signal sine sounds for improvisation has clearly labelled files (body parts, angle and position, digitally, as well as the type of manipulations).
An automated process using the “random sampling method” offers a fair and equal chance through probability in the selection of each audio sample.
Simple random sampling has six steps that need to be followed:
i) define the population of audio samples
ii) choose the sample size
iii) list the audio sample population
iv) assign numbers to the units
v) find random numbers
vi) select sample
One and no more than four folders are to be selected with one audio sample per folder.
The sound selected is blocked for re-use and removed from the user folder.
Similar procedures follow when complex sinusoidal signal sounds are targeting multiple joint manipulations.
Signal sinusoidal sounds in this folder are unique and differ in construction from sounds described under point 1.
4: Extraction of sampling environments
The numbered files are clearly labelled “vocal and motion sounds” from environments created by all in the space during the performance.
The sounds sampled are to be processed at the live performance by the music team/group.
The sounds sampled are to use GRM tools only as prescribed by the manual supplied on “creating environments”.
The automatic selective process using the “randomized sampling method” must be used.
The final sound produced is blocked for reuse and removed into a used folder.
The final environmental sounds created are unique and differ in construction.
Sound projectionist, on diffusion is to avoid disturbing the acoustics of the environment the procedure is to follow subtle measures to take place as prescribed by the “diffusion score”.
5: Interactions, the relation of mixed electro-acoustic music.
A stream is a conceptual tool for explaining textures composed of bands of sonic activities that are part of the overall spectrum of group-related sound events. The perception is based on pitch, timbre, gestural configuration, space or other parameters and is complete or partial. Natural instruments maintain timbre stability and enable pitch to vary constituting different streams. In this configuration, structural flows have discrete values.
One and two independent streams in mixed music are distributed in several forms in a continuum. The perception between streams relating to mixed works can be viewed on the grounds of behavioural relationships between visual and gesture-bearing performer/s, gesture homogeneity and interactions independent behaviour occurring in all these streams. Causality of gesture is organized through similar characteristics in all streams, parts follow the same logic but not synchronously, possessing homogeneous – heterogeneous – interactive independence. Triggering one at the start of another or modification in another part. Electronic sounds generated by the computer, midi instruments, sampled environments and natural instruments share similar origins complementing each other. Electronics frequently exaggerate the character of the instruments, diffracting and disintegrating their timbre. Amplifying the natural instrument affects this procedure and does not mean that we will perceive just one shared stream. Several distinct stages exist in Sιήκ, changing from signal sound, midi instruments, environment sounds, natural instruments, vocalisation executions in the performance space and surrounding musical performance happens by a threshold effect. This transition highlights one sound-morphological area to another, signaling a sound event targeting the manipulations of in-harmonic sounds.
The computer-generated electronic sound is built along 135 marked regions with a marked subregion made up of sounds related to this specific region of the record.
Selection suggestions are made by the composer in the score.
Each region is composed and placed in the score under specific timeline conditions.
The musical team could change the selection of regions as long as they do not alter the timeline of each region.
a. Pressure-activated sensors, applied weight between 65 and 78 kg.
Areas of the audience are equipped with pressure-sensitive sensors that are triggered when pressure is applied, thus allowing the audience to interact with the electronic sound regions e.g. sound region 85, on triggering the sensor will allow one component track to be activated. Selection procedure follows, in the random selection process85e component track is selected for activation once, blocked for reselection (the component track selection 85e is in the parent region 85).
The general duration of play allowed is 10 – 20 seconds for the selected track. On activation of the component track (pressure on the trigger is released) the region is deactivated the original sound reactivates, stopping the track/s of the component.
The parent track region is 60 seconds in duration, upon reaching the 30 second mark a 10 second component track is activated.
At the recovery of the parent track, the track will be at 40 seconds marking not to disturb the time line of the score.
b. Pressure-activated sensors, applied weight between 79 and 95 kg.
Pressure area activation allows for three-component tracks to be chosen from three different file regions e.g. analysis of pitch, timbre, and duration is made from parent region 64 of 120 seconds duration currently playing component tracks 65b of 5-second duration, 74h of 13-second duration, 35c of 8-second duration are selected having a close similarity in pitch, timbre to parent region sound 64.
The selection of component tracks is made through random selection probability, an algorithm designed in Matlab allows for enables splitting and positioning actions to take place in region 64.
c. Pressure-activated sensors, applied weight between 96 and 110 kg.
In this pressure category, the component tracks selected are from the same folder as the parent region.
In the parent sound region, component tracking is split into various areas creating sub-tracks selectively chosen and placed in the corresponding timeline slots within the parent sound file.
Analysis of pitch, timbre and duration is done from the region.
The selection is made using the random selection probability.
An algorithm created in Matlab enables splitting and positioning actions to take place.
7: Music performers on acoustic and midi instruments
Performers of acoustic and midi instruments are allowed to move out and intermingle with the audience.
Their performance zone is central, with a rotating zone.
8: Sound projectionist
Any alterations made need to be compared and checked by the sound projectionist checking (dB) alterations as prescribed in the chart “diffusion guidelines”.
The electronic, midi, natural and sonic environments are diffused through the eight speakers surrounding the audience performed by the sonic projectionist.
score scorefig5: graphic score
9: Elimination of stage, wireless speakers, re-positioning of speaker monitors
The fixed stage position is eliminated and replaced with mobile performance areas.
The fixed-positioned eight active speakers on each stage are relocated around the audience space.
Two active speaker monitors are at the stage area of music performers.
Wireless speakers mounted on the puppets, with more direct targetting, preventing movement restriction and enhancing sound spatialisation.
10: The puppets and shadow puppets
The twelve puppets used in the performance are 1.75m to 3.2m in height.
Manipulations of puppets are through the puppeteers and teams.
Mobile performance areas introduce extended freedom to the performers.
Shadow puppets are mere extensions of shadow theatre and are to be introduced into the space, not in the conventional form but through alternate methods of covering and concealing the figure/s with innovative lighting techniques. The shadow puppet will be introduced at different times and locations in the space by remote and manual manipulation.
Manipulation of the shadow puppets is through the puppeteer team.
11: Introduction of objects and animation
Objects, assembled or partly assembled, introduced into the audience space are an extension of interactive manipulation.
The objects acquire their existence; mobile wings, masks, figures, mechanical constructions, motorized backdrops, light and visual effects in motion; they are the protagonists of the scenic event, transcending reality.
The object competes with the actors (audience, puppets) through acts of depersonalization and personification, inventing a performance area in which to move an inorganic universe that allows actors to step in and out of the space. The character’s personality is created by the psychological elements of an object, giving it new symbolic and metaphorical semantic values.
Exploring the path of changing aesthetic principles, puppetry led towards a break. Anthropocentrism changed its role from an upfront visual to a manipulator and replaced by an inanimate presence. The “self”, where body manipulation is the only abstraction left behind the instrument, is a concept full of new possibilities and alternative creations.
Animation contributes to completing movements that could not have a realistic outcome, transforming them into more than just what they are.
An autonomous world within a multiplicity of separate fragmented social systems, each with a code of its own and no prospect of a meaningful exchange between them. The performance area is represented by several individual puzzles relating to complete or incomplete thought patterns such as “attention, pattern recognition, memory, decision-making, intuition, knowledge”.
The scenographer’s crew and audience participation are likely to occur.
The scenographer’s crew are well informed about procedures following scenic changes and puzzle-solving.
The audience will be informed one hour before the performance about “puzzle-solving” procedures.
Complete and incomplete construction and deconstruction will happen throughout the performance.
Space and object illumination plays a key role and is inseparable from production as prescribed in the illumination chart procedures.
The audience is allowed to freely move in the space during the performance, enhancing their viewing and interactive capacity.
The audience interacts with the sound by activating sensors.
Audience participation is likely to occur in object and scenery construction.
The purpose of eliminating, introducing, rearranging, and positioning changes in the space is to aid the engagement of the audience. Acts of assembling objects at a given time explore the audience’s behaviour, allowing them to engage with the object as if it were generating a universe of expressive and intellectual complexity. Human subjectivity has a mediated nature through processes of projective identification, role-play, and separation that we precipitate into individuation. Engaging with scenic changes, illumination, and puppets arises from the instability that they generate concerning that process.
We no longer understand ourselves as projecting meanings onto the thing; rather, the thing begins to speak to us, and we lose touch with the notion that the object has become sensible solely as a result of our commitment to transfer effect onto it.
Revisiting the creation of “the self,” a landscape filled with traces of assembled or unassembled objects expressing thought patterns, memories resolved or unresolved, areas through which communication flows freely or is obstructed. Objects could also impose restrictions on channels of physical mobility where the audience is trapped in locations, adding to the communicational confusion seen in the biblical story relating to the tower of Babel.