Presented by Recombinant Media Labs
CTM is psyched to present the Recombinat Media Labs' (RML) CineChamber as a 'lab site within a festival' which illustrates several ideas explored in the CTM.11 theme, #LIVE!?. The CineChamber is a curated, nomadic intermodal platform under the artistic direction of Naut Humon and global operations director, Edwin van der Heide.
Recombinant Medial Labs was founded to research the qualities and artistic potential of spatial media. It does so by means of Experiential Engineering; exploring processes that expand the aesthetic and technological boundaries of panoramic installations, surround cinema, and multichannel AV performances. RML acts as producer and presenter of artworks and performances based on spatial media synthesis; intermodal works using image, light, sound and other disseminated media in three-dimensional space.
The CineChamber is a large but intimate rectangular surround surface apparatus, capable of scaling its 8 by 12 meter proportions to fit into auditoriums, theatre stages and concert halls everywhere on the global circuit. The platform offers extensive, immersive intermedia production opportunities and can be utilized by artists and innovators in a variety of ways – from co-active wrap around synesthesia to telegenic performance settings, from realtime installation interactions with live music to programmed exhibition screenings. The RML CineChamber provides international artists the opportunity to take their creative impulse to the furthest frontiers of aural, optical and cinematic language, and propagates them in a comprehensive and rarefied environment. Numerous renowned artists have created modules for the CineChamber including Alva Noto and Blixa Bargeld, Maryanne Amacher, Biosphere, Ryoichi Kurokawa and Christian Marclay.
Recombinant Media Labs is the result of experiments that started two decades ago with the Sound Traffic Control tower of televisions amidst hundreds of speaker arrays in Tokyo's Ginza district. After a number of years of blending live vs. programmed events of symphonic scale and substance, RML and Asphodel, an independent record label, joined forces to occupy two fixed-location warehouses in San Francisco to headquarter a performance-residency center for developing their immersive, simulation style of surround cinema. After working several years in a fixed location within the central city of San Francisco, a new organization with a focus on mobile setups was founded. This was done in order to formulate an answer to the increasing requests for international presentations at museums and festivals. Over the years Recombinant Media Labs has built up a selected resource of artworks and it was time to highlight this body of AV pieces out to the world. Freed from the constraints of a geographically anchored construction, RML’s nomadic approach is also able to offer residencies together with organizations in metropolitan locations. This vanguard hybrid media platform encompasses many presentational options to potential partners, (co)-producers and curators.
This type of synesthetic habitat formed an ongoing basis for a plethora of real time AV engagements involving groups of humans and their devices. When these performers would occasionally slip out of sight, temporarily leaving the attendees to their own 'devises' what was then the experiential implication of a non-human, machine-driven spectacle? From lip sync to human sync where does the flesh and blood make the difference in our experience of these personality-propelled portrayals? As our hand-operated species stands up for their side we would say a lot, and that we still care a lot in a transformative age where our bio-technological inventions are gradually changing the definition of what all this so-called 'humanness' is all about.
So what is real and what is not? Is it live or is it in memory? Is it hot or is it cold? How does this still really even matter in 2011?
The question of 'liveness', the key thread in CTM.11, is one of these lingering controversies that has caused sparks with artists and their audiences, particularly in electronic music performance, from the seventies on and we're still talking about it! Can't we just accept or surrender to our imagined nano-botic future? Not so likely. Following the increasing sophistication and accessibility of technology, how really 'live' is a laptop performance, for instance? Is it as live as a band? How 'live' is a remote live performance, something streamed in realtime over the internet? Are most viewers going to be concerned that much with whether the broadcast is streamed live or recorded? It depends on the context!
The proliferating use of machines for music performances often takes away the audience's insight into what is actually happening. Whether the artist is simply pressing the spacebar on his laptop to trigger preprogrammed sequences or twiddling with rows of controller knobs, what are considered to be the authentic, genuine or sincere moves of today's 'working' laptop performer? Unless there's a camera showing the computer screen, what difference is even displaying that process going to make in judging the legitimacy on how someone is actually 'playing' their instrument or what craftsmanship or skill is involved? What is valid or what is perceived to be phony or fraudulent affects the attitude of what is deemed 'cool' or 'rocking'. Some groups celebrate the artificial. Contradistinctions fly around: truth or fiction, faith or fancy, belief or disbelief. If its obviously fake – it’s OK – but if it's secretly covert, or not visible then there must be something someone is hiding – does this make it wrong or of less 'value'? Is this musical forgery or are we gonna forge ahead? SO WHAT! How is the audience experience altered by the relative 'liveness' of the 'performance'? What do the musician 'insiders' know that the outsider visitors attending the concert may not? And how does this insider knowledge of the way technical prefabrications are actually achieved affect the concertgoers' aesthetic appreciation and remembrance of a powerful production, regardless of exactly how it was concocted?
The paradigm of the CineChamber activates discourse around various fundamental assumptions behind these questions without always answering them. Blurring the boundaries between ‘temporal one night appearances', and capturing the experiential archived totality of a whole 360-degree sensorium for present-day and future audiences to relive or discover anew is only part of RML’s concept of Experiential Engineering. This kind of approach affects a philosophy of methods, pedagogies, and systems of production for preserving and presenting precocious content that can be built upon and 'experienced' for generations to come.
When the CTM.11 #LIVE!? theme poses the question about the situative intensity someone may feel about the machine performance phenomenon, examples such as the Kraftwerk robots, Survival Research Labs or the User’s dot matrix printers may be pointed out as initial reference points. Or should we go back further in time and take the player piano or huge automated organs as examples?
Coming from a long line of Cineorama multiscreen experimenters throughout the last century and earlier, RML's direct antecedent was patented in 1897 with Raoul Gromoin-Sanson's use of ten synchronized movie projectors in the round that was featured in a world exhibition. Since then, in Disneyland and IMAX, Osaka's Pepsi Pavilion, Lightshows and various circle-vision configurations the urge to surround the spectator in an ocean of stimuli has been keen. Now the CineChamber takes a perseverant place amongst this research and envelopment activity as an evolutionary initiative propagated from the ingenuity, inventiveness and inspiration of these early revolutionary pioneers.
The code 'recombinant' in Recombinant Media Labs is a term taken from the field of genetics. Springing out of this spatial media synthesis grid is a process which simulates the incubation of a recombinant organism in the form of electronic 'offspring' that comes to possess cultural, mutational characteristics that didn’t necessarily exist in either 'parent'.
Recombinant Media Labs has developed partnerships with the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts (CRCA) at University of California at San Diego (UCSD), The ECAS (European Cities of Advanced Sound) and the ICAS (International Cities of Advanced Sound) networks.
Naut Humon & Edwin van der Heide, directors Recombinant Media Labs.
The CineChamber at CTM.11 is funded with the support of the Culture Programme of the European Commission and the Stiftung Deutsche Klassenlotterie Berlin. It is a co-production with The Generator Foundation (Den Haag), Trans-Media-Akademie Hellerau e.V./ CYNETART (Dresden), ORF / Musikprotokoll (Graz), and Cimatics (Brussels).
The CineChamber AV engine has been developed with extensive support from Derivative TouchDesigner.