stigmergy #


Live-Electronic Performance 07.10. 2023 Future Art Lab - Klangtheater mdw - University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna

When isolated, an individual ant is not very intelligent. It possesses a relatively small set of “rules” of low complexity to follow; its brain has a relatively small memory capacity. Ants, however, when observed in their environment, are capable of astounding constructions of remarkable complexity and undeniable intelligence. But then, where is the ant’s intelligence if not in its brain?

As philosopher Hubert Dreyfus noted, intelligence does not exist in isolation, in a brain without a body which is immersed in a world; or as cognitive scientist Evan Thompson says, cognition emerges only through an ongoing sensous exchange with and through the environment. A mechanism like that in the ants’ case is called stigmergy. Intelligence thus unfolds within the interaction with the world and with its other inhabitants. It is the ability of affecting while being affected by an ever changing world. Intelligence therefore, rests on the openness. Nothing artificial about it.

In this particular iteration, altraconsonanza brings together a set of most diverse means of producing and controlling sound. Our experimental arrangement contrasts generative algorithms with analogue chaotic circuitry, complemented by environmental recordings. As disparate these instruments are, as diverse are the aesthetics they rest upon and as unequal are the modes of listening they afford. Even more heterogeneous are the techniques of playing the instruments, ranging from multi-dimensional tangible interfaces, trivial sequencers and effect processors to textual programming languages. We take all these elements and patch them together; not only conceptually but physically: signals are exchanged between all involved interfaces, effectively affecting, influencing and superimposing each other. We re-compose them into an intractable field of possibilities that is navigated using the senses and the intelligence of the performers and the audience alike. During this performance we will pass through a sequence of preassigned landmarks in this field, finding a way from one to the next, improvising, exploring, listening, interacting.

Audio Excerpts #