On the occasion of the closing event of Art Without Death Dorit Chrysler and Carsten Nicolai will perform a new work inspired by ideas found in Russian Cosmism along with a digital translation of its sound into visual patterns.
In the era of the Russian Revolution, new discoveries encouraged artists as well as scientists to produce groundbreaking works. Two of today’s most compelling composers and musicians, Dorit Chrysler and Carsten Nicolai, will use various instruments, sampled sounds, and images, to create a performance relating to this history of invention. Chrysler will be playing two customized theremins. The theremin, one of the first electronic instruments, was created by Soviet scientist Léon Theremin and patented in 1928. A loop antenna controls the volume while an upright antenna controls the pitch. The electrical signals from the theremin are amplified and sent to a loudspeaker. Nicolai will operate sampled sounds generated by the legendary ANS synthesizer, a photo-electronic musical instrument developed by the Soviet engineer Evgeny Murzin and named after avant-garde composer Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin (A. N. S.). The technological basis of Murzin’s invention was the method of graphical sound recording used in cinematography (developed in the Soviet Union concurrently with similar technologies in the United States), which made it possible to generate an image of a sound wave, as well as to realize the opposite goal—synthesizing a sound from an artificially drawn sound spectrogram. The sound produced by the ANS will be familiar to fans of Andrei Tarkovsky: composer Edward Artemiev created the iconic music in Solaris using this synthesizer.
Taking on the history of the “Gesamtkunstwerk,” Dorit Chrysler will in addition perform the biocosmist manifesto written by the Futurist poet Alexander Svyatogor in 1922: “The questions of immortalism and interplanetarianism must not be viewed independently or linked automatically. They both result from and complete one another, constituting a single organic whole united under a single term—biocosmism.”
Dorit Chrysler was born in Graz and is currently based in New York and Austria. Chrysler is best known as a theremin virtuoso, sound artist, and composer. As the co-founder of the NY Theremin Society and creator of KidCoolThereminSchool, the first school of theremin, she has developed a curriculum for early electronic music education for children. Other upcoming appearances include the premiering of new works at Ars Electronica, as well as a Styrian Herbst Festival commission, and a sound performance at Den Frie, Copenhagen, as part of “Sisters Academy.” Artistic collaborations include projects with Jesper Just, Philippe Quesne, Anders Trentemøller, Cluster, Sasha Waltz, and Elliott Sharp.
Carsten Nicolai, aka Alva Noto, is one of the most renowned artists working at the intersection of art and science infamous for his minimalist approach. Born in 1965 in Karl-Marx-Stadt (today Chemnitz), he is part of an artist generation who works intensively in the transitional area between music, art, and science. In his work as a visual artist, Nicolai seeks to overcome the separation of the sensory perceptions of humans by making scientific phenomena like sound- and light frequencies perceivable for both eyes and ears. His installations have a minimalistic aesthetic that by its elegance and consistency is highly intriguing. After his participation in important international exhibitions like documenta X and the 49th and 50th Venice Biennale, Nicolai’s works were shown worldwide in extensive solo and group exhibitions. His artistic œuvre echoes in his musical outputs. Under the pseudonym Alva Noto he leads his sound experiments with a strong adherence to reductionism into the field of electronic music creating his own code of signs, acoustics, and visual symbols.