LABYRINTH, two conjoined installation concertos for violinist Cornelius Dufallo, and cellist Maya Beiser tightly incorporate sound and projected visuals, with the musicians’ performance. House Of Solitude, written for violinist Cornelius Dufallo, features not only massive projections by filmmaker Carmen Kordas but also the K-Bow, described as “a hand-crafted composite sensor bow” created by Keith McMillan to cue and control various sonic effects — live electronic performance based on acoustics — through the musician’s movements. The work was a Krannert Center commission and the electronics were workshopped in a week-long residency at the eDREAM Institute (Emerging Digital Research and Education in Arts Media), where we developed the physical language and sound triggers for the K-BOW and the interactivity of the Erika Harrsch LED cello featured in the cello concerto. A VisionIntoArt and Beth Morrison production.
Part One, House of Solitude, unfolds at the end of the opening page with a lonely 7 note questioning motif. That motif appears in different interpolations and with different answers and ushers in an orchestra of strings and electronics, both live and in pre-recorded backing tracks. The work dives into virtuosic concerto-like passages with a sound world created from every day sounds: a drumset is made from the hiss of a washing machine, the beats from a EKG, and finally the human voice.
The title is taken from concepts found in Octavio Paz’ Labyrinth of Solitude. “Solitude is the profoundest fact of the human condition. Man is nostalgia and a search for communion. Therefore, when he is aware of himself he is aware of his lack of another, that is, of his solitude.” The work follows a man’s timeline of entrapment in a physical house to a final return to nature onto an endless road. The ending was inspired by Holderlin’s words on nature-”If beyond the straight way, the captive elements and the ancient laws of the earth break loose, lke maddened horses, then a desire to return to chaos arises incessantly…” This phrase can be heard, scrubbed, on the K-bow before the ending section of the work, when finally the figment of the man’s imagination is responded to by a woman’s voice.
Film-wise, images of bodies appear—those of humans, other life forms, and hybrids, and Kordas’ artwork follows their journey through the four elements as they become part of the man’s life story. The imagery gradually dissolves into the forces of nature and fluid shapes of dreams and take on a life of their own. They contort, grow, fuse, and age, reminding us of where life originated and the unknown dimension to which we are headed. The man’s journey through the labyrinth of his mind is represented by a solitary house. The bodies symbolize human connection from which he is offered a path of escape. House of Solitude ends with the man leaving on an unknown road.
Artist Erika Harrsch
Cellist Maya Beiser
Director Michael McQuilken
Projections Designer and Lead Animation Brad Peterson
Produced by Beth Morrison Projects and VisionIntoArt
An Installation Concerto illustrates the living relationship between music and visual art. By incorporating the labyrinth theme with music, visual art/film, and advanced technology, this interdisciplinary creative team tackles it’s most exciting installation concerto to date.
Part Two, Room No. 35 is a sculptural multi-media experience directed by Michael McQuilken, that unifies the virtuosic cello performance of Maya Beiser, the intricate and vivid visual worlds of Erika Harrsch (with video design by Brad Peterson), and an orchestra of celli woven into a unique tapestry of sound by Paola Prestini. Led by Anais Nin’s seminal novella, The House of Incest, this production maps hidden cravings of the heart, traverses shadowy recesses of the mind, and seeks to unify the tangential impulses of the human spirit. Room No. 35 invites its audience into a tranquil dream, a fading remembrance of a hotel room submerged in water and surrounded by gaping eyes, and over the course of approximately 30 minutes, this room folds back upon itself until tranquility blossoms into a tidal wave of bright light and ecstatic sound, and then collapses back to the mouth of a calm sea once again. Through the cello, enhanced by LED paneling, a direct relationship of the musician and her instrument reveals itself as an intimate exposition to the audience. This duality reveals the labyrinth. Visually, the work combines paintings, drawings, photography and film, three dimensional elements, video animation and the creation of a visual living installation. The music contains an interactive component specific to the LED cello developed with Meric Adriansen and eDREAM. Finally, the installation concerto creates a larger labyrinth with the symbolic use of advanced technology to depict intimate human turbulence and need for control.