SNN #3: Forms of the Living

SNN#3: Forms of the Living is a new world premiere performance from Chris Salter, Alex Saunier and Takashi Ikegami which takes place in four locations simultaneously: Montreal, Berlin, Tokyo and Mozilla Hubs. The live and online performance thematizes the new set of conditions we are all living in and the forms of experience that these new relationships engender – conditions where viral and machine forces and human culture are all symbiotically entangled. Source material produced by the COVID pandemic – news media, sound, statistical and epidemiological data and models – is orchestrated in each physical space and in online Mozilla Hubs rooms and then fed back and forth across the planet in real time so that the different spaces ripple into and across one another.

In Montreal, Alexandre Saunier uses video and special analog lenses and optical modulators to manipulate images taken from hundreds of hours of news media responding to the pandemic condition – generating a powerful visual experience reminiscent of the early son et lumière experiments of Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Walter Ruttman or Thomas Wilfred.

In Berlin, Chris Salter in collaboration with William Russell and Rodrigo Stambuk and MONOM, uses MONOM’s world renowned 4DSOUND system to create a massive 48 channel spatial sound environment that plunges a live audience (restricted to 32 people) into experiencing the shifting acoustic conditions of the world since March 2020 – where the stoppage of the world economy resulted in a 50% reduction of human made sound.

In Tokyo, physicist and artificial life expert Takashi Ikegami manipulates the audio stream from Berlin, turning the pounding sounds of world cities into the sound of natural landscapes that have re-emerged since the pandemic and sending the stream back to Montreal.

Finally, the online audience can experience yet another version of the performance in online VR in three Mozilla Hubs rooms created by visual artist Timothy Thomasson (Montreal) – where, contrary to the belief that the Internet is a new free space for social gathering, social distancing will also need to be practiced since only 25 visitors will be allowed in at any one time.

While each location will offer a unique physical and live experience, no audience will be able to experience the entirely of the performance. 25 years ago there was the belief that the new online world would create a new collective intelligence and a shared reality. Now that we live there because of the pandemic condition, Forms of the Living creates an intense and provocative artistic situation that points to the deeper effects produced by the new normal: the difficulty of isolated individuals sharing the experience of others, despite living in the same reality.

Alexandre Saunier
Chris Salter
Takashi Ikegami

Mutek Montreal 2021
Monom Berlin 2021
Mozilla hub (online)

Image/Light: Alex Saunier (in Montreal)
Sound: Chris Salter (in Berlin)
Artificial Life algorithms: Takashi Ikegami and Itsuki DOI (in Tokyo)
MONOM Spatial Sound Design: Rodrigo Stambuk
Mozilla Hubs rooms: Timothy Thomasson
Production Collaboration (Montreal): Marc-André Cossette

Myriam Menard