Over the years, the music industry has grown ever more reliant on the internet and online activity. But as countries entered a global lockdown in 2020, this year has marked a shift in how we experience music and performance.
Without physical events, venues and musicians have found themselves rethinking physical formats, and re-optimising them for a growing online audience. Live videos on Instagram kept people connected during an era of isolation, whilst a number of festivals and clubs swiftly transformed their programmes into live streams and Patreon pages.
Factory Floor’s Nik Void has often explored the intersection of sound and the visual arts in her performances. Known for her multidisciplinary approach, this makes the experimental composer and producer best placed to compile a list of videos and online pieces that show what the future of performance could look like. Below, she taps into her favourite online performances, ranging from live streams to quarantine concerts.
INA grm's Distances blogDistances, a daily post to abolish distances
I performed at INA grm’s pioneering French public centre in electroacoustic research with Peter Rehberg last May. Director Francois Bonnet curated a blog, Distances, which began early, like a revolt against the silence of lockdown. Artists such as John Wiese, Kode9, Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe and Kali Malone all shared a sketch Q&A to where they found themselves the moment when time stood still. The entries admit very few changes from day-to-day routines but emphasise the main challenge: a sense of purpose after being pushed into limbo with tours cancelled and album releases disrupted. Each day, a different artist shared their experiences, impressions and thoughts on this unprecedented situation.
Laurel Halo live at Monopol BerlinUnited We Stream Festival, ARTE concert
A live streamed performance in a venue or gallery can give us a sense of dimension; a box-like area with a floor and walls filled with blue light can give us a sense of volume we, for now, relate to. I like to think the choreography here is a metaphor for yesterday’s selfie-obsessed audience, more engaged with their own performance. The long-form arrangement by Laurel Halo shows how site-specific work can work! The effect of having the option of watching and/or listening exhumes conflict. Having the multiple choice gives us freedom. The confined space of a venue, in reality, works well with performances that have been devised to challenge and question. I hope this is not lost.
Front Porch Production presents ESS (Experimental Sound Studio)The Quarantine Concerts
I am yet to perform a live stream. I performed a pre-recorded live performance for FACT in London a few weeks ago and I’m happy to add it was a success. Pre-event anxieties shifted from “I hope my Eurorack switches on,” to me myself – the way I look, stand and hold myself during a performance. The steps I made to make myself invisible and let the music do the talking, streaming knocked this on the head, but I think I needed it.
Front Porch Productions is a platform for several artists to perform back-to-back via a live feed or pre-recorded in their studios or homes. It also opens up the possibility of merging disciplines like visual art and producing, syncing musicians from different parts of the globe – and, in Tony Buck’s case, visually multi-tracking! Artists are invited to take control of how they want to present their performance. Arnold Dreyblatt is in close view on my screen with his working hands. I’m overcome with the sensation that he was playing an intimate performance just for me and I became the voyeur of an artist’s environment. There are other performers like Daniel Blumberg and Cystabel Riley, who opens with the sound of a drum kit being played in another room. A close microphone interprets the everyday sound of a pen making marks on paper. Take away the visual and the question is: is this the music? Or is this performance? Does he know we are here? Will art and music occupying the same space become the norm?
Fridman Gallery: SO⅃OS – a space of limit as a possibilityDiamanda Galás, 23 July 2020
Warning: this installation contains graphic images some viewers may find disturbing.
Can an outsider be an outsider anymore? It may become the norm, but for some reason giving my email, age and name in return for a network is frustrating. Most people would go to a concert to socialise; I’m one of those people who enjoyed going to shows alone for the thrill and empowerment of getting home safe and inspired, and appreciating the anonymity. So the thought of performance as open to a global audience, and [combined with] the convenience of my own home makes me feel slightly robbed. As the world moves online, our bodies remain situated within physical boundaries, resulting in a kind of dissonance. An intimate and perhaps more private platform, The Fridman Galleryopens its doors once a week to host unique performers such as Daniel Neumann, C Lavender and Diamanda Galás.
Stream SO⅃OS – a space of limit as a possibility via Fridman Gallery.
Semibreve Festival: Post-Pandemic Performative Logic
Will convenience within music take away all the good stuff like convenience food? Will I still be hungry after? I think maybe.
Going to a show can take you to another place mentally. Being interrupted is killer, like someone switching on the lights in a club. Discussions are filling our musical platforms but also much-needed debates are happening. Unsound’s Discussions series kicks off with Black Techno Futures, followed by Creative Practise in the Covid-19 Era. Next month I fly to Portugal where I will take part in a panel to discuss post-pandemic performative logic at Semibreve Festival. Here, I will have the opportunity to contribute my thoughts and experience as a performer who often performs in the present and future.
Semibreve Festival runs from 24-25 October