This project came out of the APO33 collective research programme and first was presented on Friday 15th November 2002 at Nantes Museum of Fine Arts. 6 artists work together on the public presentation of this 'orchestra', analysing it from every possible angle, unravelling, unbuckling, skinning it until they discover the cracks that will lead them to new modes of creation. The project rests on the contradiction between two systems : the orchestra and the computer, forcibly linked. The artists do not perform as players of the orchestra, but as actors of an experimental sound event. The project is not experimental because its object is experimental music; it is experimental because it appears incoherent and improbable, because it involves two conflicting choices and because we cannot guess what will emerge as a result. One possible result being of camouflage, of concealment – accepting to amalgamate the cluster of conventions linked to each of these systems (the artists as members of a group using their computers as musical instruments) i.e. becoming a pantomime of an orchestra. Another being of a surprise attack at the core of these systems (orchestra and computers) which would then interrogate each other.
Let's look at the nature of the conflict inherent in the project, at the paradoxical meeting of the orchestra and of the computer.
The orchestra is often considered a fuddy-duddy means of expression, by musicians almost as much as by the public. With its very formal image, it is felt to be as agile as a mammoth trampling in the field of experimental creation. Music creators often find and use much more supple tools (via concrete music, electro-acoustic music and other – mostly acoustic). Conventional, stuffy and formal, the orchestra is very much seen as out of date by most creators. Thanks to the new role of electronics in the production of sound, an orchestra is no longer seen as indispensable to the composer who wishes to hear her/his work played, even when very loud pitches are involved.
The computer is often seen by non specialists as a multimedia instrument : the route of to-day's main media – text, sound, fixed and animated images. And as the tool generating these media. The creator with her/his computer appears to be able to produce all that can be shown or heard in multimedia, a self-contained creation centre. In terms of music creation, s/he commands a kind of virtual orchestra, a orchestral spectre, with an enormous repertory of sounds that can be transcribed on giant scores containing a multitude of timbral lines. The computer here prolongs the old attempt to create the super-instrument inclusive of all the others, attempt which previously resulted in the creation of the organ and then of the symphony orchestra. From this perspective, the computer is just a modern version of the traditional orchestra.
Why should the musician feel the need to work collectively, with all the constraints and the artistic differences attached, when s/he can dictate her/his will to an army of instruments ? Because the computer is more than an army of instruments. It can, of course, be used like an instrument ; but this implies that we skip or miss a lot of its problems and also much of its potential. The computer, unlike other musical instruments, is not primarily a musical instrument. It is not even primarily a specific and interesting super tool, but a means of transforming the way we exchange and communicate : the digital system is inexorably linked to net-work practice. With the Goo, we try to integrate this process into musical creation. The GOO members work at producing sound on the net (via the Internet) : they exchange sound files as they modify them. The result is a peculiar sound form, specific to the digital device and to the net, playing on the variation of repetitions in various parts of the collective space.
The Goo is more then an orchestra because its finality is not pre-determined. It is an open laboratory that evolves with each event ; each event is a new situation where new forms are experimented with (like when some external, far away artists produce sounds that are collected and transformed by the GOO members). The GOO experiments at the two ends of sound production : net-working and sound broadcasting. This poses two questions : how can we create a space that would be open, accessible to the public who do not participate in sound production on the net ? How can we recover and reshape, with the broadcasting device, the spaces which we choose to work in ? These questions have a common answer : the Goo is a multiheaded instrument and a multiheaded broadcasting device. The diversity of the broadcasting systems (i.e. of the listening options) implies a diversity of spaces of intervention and of modes of sound formation in space : sound reveals and reshapes the space.
Because each GOO performance implies specific modes of inscription in space and various points of view, we decided that each sound representation inscribed on CD would not borrow the shape of a sound or music piece, i.e. would not be disconnected from the material space where it had been produced. Each 'tableau' represents a different point of view on a collective action in a given time and space : the Museum of Fine Arts in Nantes, on 15th November 2002.
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