Whistle Pig Saloon

van Heume, Robert and Ferguson, John (2011) Whistle Pig Saloon. International Computer Music Conference. 31 Jul - 05 Aug 2011, Huddersfield, U.K.


Wide and disjointed, blending a fractured pulse with dynamic texture, this is an immersive and disorientating music; sometimes subtle, often invasive, always close. This live-audio duo foregrounds liveness and real- time decision making, there is no score, each performance features a combination of structured parts with improvised sections. Whilst human effort is celebrated and is clearly discernable, this project aims to extend notions of virtuosity beyond those that emerged during the 19th and 20th centuries. We do not seek to portray ‘effortless’ technique, but believe that the ‘on-stage’ relationship between human performers and computer technologies need not be hierarchical. Utilising a hybrid guitar (extended with motion-sensitive electronics) alongside an advanced table-top computer instrument, this collaboration focuses on filtering and constraining computational automation as often as contributing directly legible actions. By negotiating tactile physical controllers we amplify the exertion of physical gesture, but via the creative possibility of computational inertia, the virtuosity of the interface is perceived (almost) as a third performer. We do not seek to dominate and control our technologies, but to provoke a series of engaging struggles in a lively and cohesive form, thus articulating the question: are we performing the technology or is it performing us?

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