circadian surveillance

Percussion, computers.

Written for and developed by The Electronic Hammer; Henry Vega, Juan Parra Cancino, Diego Espinoza and Emanuel Flores (video)

circadian surveillance is a piece about the observation of time passing. The central concept originates from an ongoing project based around the idea of 24 hour recordings, which are made at specific locations starting and ending at midnight, and then sped up by 60 times to 24 minutes. What happens in this time condensation is that the large scale events like the change of weather patterns or periodic cycles of machines, or patterns of traffic come to the fore, whereas momentary events which would have caught our attention in real time seem to almost disappear or leave only the slightest trace in a time-condensed listening.

In this performance I have used a 24-track recording I made in central Nicosia, Cyprus in August 2010. The set up and function of the musicians in the performance is in the manner of an imaginary sound archeological laboratory. Firstly the percussion acts like a clock, in fact the music is an encoded form of time-keeping, with the values of the digital clock mapped onto the pitches of the percussion using tuned metal instruments. The percussionist labels the passing time, from 00:00 to 24:00. The two computer parts are divided amongst the 'writer' and the 'map maker'. The 'writer' transcribes a text by George Perec from Species of Spaces called 'Practical Exercises', these are notes on how to observe, about the act of literary surveillance. The typing of the text has a dual effect. The audience can read the text as it is typed out. But also some keys (the vowels) are encoded with a live processing effect that granularly samples the percussion, the grabs moments and holds them to be manipulated in the pitch domain by the 'map maker'. The 'map maker' uses a tablet with a set of 7 prints of the location of the recording. He draws this location at 7 different scales. This again has a dual function. The audience see the lines being drawn on the screen but also the XY axis of the tablet is mapped onto the sound files being recalled by the typist. These sound files are 'frozen in time' and by the movement on the tablet, the 'map maker' is also surgically exploring the fragments of sound itself.

The piece is commissioned by and dedicated to The Electronic Hammer, with funds from the FPK. Special thanks to Henry Vega for creating the software interfaces for the live-processing, and to Emmanuel Flores for the live-video presentation.

performance history

  • 11 November 2010 - Premiere, November Music Festival