31January2013 Dead Language Poetry

Coming soon, my first solo exhibition at Bergen Kunsthall - I will post more info here soon, but here is the text from their spring program communication.

Also there will be 3 performances in the exhibition, as part of the Borealis Festival program. Welcome!

FRI 01.03. Kl 20.00 (exhibition opening)
Performance by Signe Lidén, Mari Kvien Brunvoll, Tolga Balci, Trine H. Friis, Espen S. Eide.

WED 06.03. Kl 17.00 (borealis 1. day)
Performance by Alexander Rishaug, Janne-Camilla Lyster, Signe Lidén, Tolga Balci, Trine H. Friis, Espen S. Eide.

SUN 10.03. Kl 14.00 
Plattform: Presentation by Espen Sommer Eide and a composition performed by Trine H. Friis. 

Every ten days another language disappears—at the present rate about half of the world’s 6000 languages will disappear in the course of a few generations. What is lost when a language dies is a many-faceted issue which can be viewed in several perspectives, for example cultural history, linguistics and the philosophy of language. With a background in art, music and philosophy, Espen Sommer Eide has taken various approaches to the phenomenon.
His main interest is in the complexity of the processes behind the destruction, evolution and creation of languages.

The archiving of languages can function as both a destructive and a creative process. One of the works in the exhibition revolves around how linguistic structures are stored in a collective consciousness, and how in certain cases the voice can neutralize the destructive power of time and memory. The sacred Vedic texts of India have been passed down through generations (since 1800 BC). Despite exclusively oral transmission their content has been preserved word for word thanks to the special way in which they are recited, in complex paralinguistic patterns.

In the exhibition the theme is also dealt with from a purely aesthetic point of view. For example is there a unique aural imprint embedded in all languages, and can such an aesthetic aspect be separated from the knowledge-bearing and identity-forming aspects? What is the sound of a dead language and can it be revived? When Edison invented the first recording apparatus for sound, the phonograph, it was quickly seen as a medium not primarily for reproducing music, but for listening to recordings of voices from people who had passed on. The voices from the phonograph were experienced as voices without bodies, as spirits in space. Through deconstructions of language and the voice Sommer Eide deals with issues such as the boundaries between living and dead languages, between meaning and sound, and between linguistic-metaphorical structures and the musical organization of sound. In addition to the exhibition, the project consists of a series of performances with a point of departure in self-made instruments (“Philosophical Instruments”).

Espen Sommer Eide has participated in a number of group exhibitions and theatrical productions, and has had a wide-ranging career as a performing musician and composer. Since the end of the 1990s the projects Alog (with Dag-Are Haugan) and Phonophani have been among the most prominent representatives of experimental electronic music in Norway, with a series of releases from the label Rune Grammofon. “Dead Language Poetry” is Sommer Eide’s first solo exhibition. The exhibition is part of an annual collaboration between the Borealis Festival and Bergen Kunsthall. This year’s Borealis has ‘The End’ as an overall theme for its programme, with cue words like endings, old age, obsolescence and decay.

Espen Sommer Eide (b.1972) grew up in Tromsø. He lives and works in Bergen.


04December2012 B-post dialogue

A dialogue between me and my long-time collaborator Nicholas H. Møllerhaug is now printed in the art journal B-Post. Also available online with a sound montage we made some years back. 


21November2012 Upandcoming autum leaves concerts

This autumn: a few all-exclusive concerts (like selected autumn leaves for herbarium) coming up:

29. November Alog with Signe Lidén Brugata Oslo
1. December Alog Christmas with Signe Lidén Bergen Kjøtt
7. December Electric Folkways with P. Bastien Next Festival Bratislava

Tags:

11October2012 Le Grain de la Voix

The instrument is made for 4 singers and 1 conductor. The conductor controls the sounds that are played through four miniature speakers that are (more or less) inserted into the singers mouths. The singers then proceed to shape the sounds resonance with their mouth cavity as the resonant chamber. It is perhaps best described as reversing the speech direction, where I as the conductor supply what is normally the vocal chords or "voice box" job. The resulting piece is a polyphonic and minimalistic transformation of various vowel resonances. The title alludes to Roland Barthes famous essay on the grain of the voice, giving identity to the voice and reflects on the relationship between the voice and the subject.

The piece featured in the video was composed for coreographer Eva-Cecilie Richardsens perfomance "Speaking and building" in April 2012, Dansens Hus, Oslo.

The singers: Cecilie Lindeman Steen, Janne-Camilla Lyster, Gry Bech-Hanssen and Marte Vold
The conductor: Alexander Rishaug


01October2012 Manifesta 7: building instruments

Searching through old files I came accross these photos by Denis Isaja of my "workshop-performance" at Manifesta 7 in 2008. I invited local participants to bring old vinyl records to have them refurbished with a simple electronic circuit to make them into "vinyl instruments". A separate brush is attached to the arm of the recordplayer that records the conductive carbon material that is painted or sprayed onto the record. The physical orginal grooves may still be heard as well. 






21September2012 the Ligetizer


The Ligetizer is a 6 metronome instrument designed and constructed by Espen Sommer Eide in 2012. It has been presented and performed on in various contexts like the Stedilijk Museum Hear It! series in Amsterdam, Borealis festival and Rad #4 Bergen, Norway and Mutek festival, Montreal. This video presents a short improvised piece on the instrument.

Each metronome has a particular function, made visual by the hypnotizing pendulum movement. It could be LFO, pitch control, note-pulses or other parameters. The metronomes are also interconnected to produce more complex rhythms and waveforms when running simultaniously. The instrument is connected to a suitable sound generating source via MIDI.

This instrument is the first of a new instrument family I call "Philosophical Instruments" - musical instruments that explore various philosophical concepts. Inspired by 18. century scientific instrument builders, these instruments seek to experiment, forcing nature to produce phenomena not normally observed or heard.

30March2012 3 Phonophani events

3 upcoming concerts:

19. April: Phonophani at Hear it! 2, Stedelijk / Trouw Amsterdam
10. May: Phonophani at Bogotá electrónica, Colombia
31. May: Phonophani vs. Pierre Bastien at Mutek 13th Edition, Montreal, Canada

See you there!

Tags: phonophani

23March2012 Bømlo brenn om natta

Tags: alog

Tweets

13March2012 Speaking and building

Last week I cooperated with the great choreographer Eva-Cecilie Richardsen for a show at Dansens Hus in Oslo. In addition to composing and doing the sound design I got the chance to test a prototype for a new instrument I am working on at the moment. The instrument is made for 4 singers and 1 player/composer. The composer controls the sounds that are played through four miniature speakers that are (more or less) inserted into the singers mouths. The singers then proceed to shape the sounds resonance with their mouth cavity as the resonant chamber. It is perhaps best described as reversing the speech direction, where I as the composer supply what is normally the vocal chords job. The resulting piece is a minimalistic play with various vowel resonances. 

Hope to get some better documentation of the process soon, for now here is a picture of the dancer Janne-Camilla Lyster in deep concentration during rehearsals. 


11January2012 Wind Speaker

The amazing guys over at Voy (famous for their WIFI lightpainting amongst other works) have made a (kind of) music video to present my new instrument the "Wind Speaker". The instrument was made in collaboration with Voys Einar Sneve Martinussen, who designed and built the birch casing for my electronics. 

The Wind Speaker may best be described as a digital electro-acoustic harmonica made of birch that turns blowing into computerised singing. The sound emerges from the speakers at the front of the instrument when the player blows into the holes in the wooden mouthpiece at the back. The amount of pressure controls volume and various effects to add expression. There are both singing and speaking poetry modes (the latter I play towards the end). The red wire out of the box is the powercord.

More images and information over at Voy (how many Scrabble points for that name?). They just started their design-studio and opened their webpage, so pay them a visit!

And yes... in case you were wondering... the location is a woodshop, the birthplace of the Wind Speaker!

31December2011 the Currency Building

For more than five decades, British buildings in Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta) were left to rot as authorities wrestled with the uncomfortable legacy of British rule. The communist-controlled city government lacked both the resources and the inclination to preserve what many saw as a glorification of colonialism, and the city's magnificent architectural gems crumbled and decayed. For many of the hundreds of old heritage buildings it is too late. Along the Hugli river row upon row of derelict mansions and warehouses are being reclaimed by nature and has become a stunning labyrinth of colonial ruin. It is just too late to save them all, with the enormous amount of bureaucracy and corruption in the city administration not helping either. 

But in the centre around BBD Bagh (Dalhousie square) one building have been saved last minute from demolition. The 178-year old building, constructed in Italian Renaissance style called "the Currency Building", the former reserve bank of India. Ten years ago, under the orders of the central government, a demolition team moved in at the dead of night and began work. By morning they had brought down two massive dome ceilings and were starting on the exterior. But after a public outcry work was halted, and now a major restoration project has begun. 

Now, in this building, during the period 10.-15. December 2011, Verdenteatret built their installation and performance "and all the questionmarks started to sing". In order to overcome the limitations of the gaping hole in the domed ceiling a new temporary roof had to be built using bamboo and linen. 


An old photoalbum shows "before and after" shots of the building during the restoration work.

Click here to view the full photo essay...


20November2011 Alog Unemployed

Our new album Alog Unemployed is now out in all formats! Buy physical from Rune Grammofon, or digital from iTunes - hope you enjoy our hard labour! The 4xLP is the definitive work, so far only available as vinyl, with 2 1/2 hours of Alog Unemployed music. The CD and download is a selection of this material.

"Alog - Unemployed" was recorded in a wide range of spaces and places. From recordings of Haugan and Eide as street musicians in San Francisco while touring, to scavenging old collections of 78-records in the mining town of Bjørnevatn in the far north-eastern part of Norway. From on-the-spot recordings of Sigbjørn Apelands legendary collection of vintage harmoniums in the St. Jacobs Church in Bergen, to high-end capture of the unique sounds of Alogs many custom built instruments in the studios of Notam in Oslo and BEK in Bergen. For a period of three years Alog collected material from all kinds of sources, times and situations and made new songs that constantly push their creative freedom in unexpected directions.

Alog was formed in Tromsø in the late 90s, as the duo of Espen Sommer Eide and Dag-Are Haugan. While touring and composing over the past years they have met a lot of unique musicians, and for "Unemployed" they were invited to extend Alog into new constallations. The soothing harmonium drones of Sigbjørn Apeland. The minimalist fiddle improvisations of the Sheriffs of Nothingness (Ole-Henrik Moe and Kari Rønnekleiv). The resonating everyday objects of the talented young soundartist Signe Lidén. The magical voices of fellow Rune Grammofon artist Jenny Hval and the legendary dutch sound poet extraordinaire, Jaap Blonk. All join in to explore new musical territory, either together or by being invited to create their own pieces for the album. The result is an open-ended collection of voices and expressions, genres, sounds and non-sounds that define a new extended version of Alog.

– On previous albums we have worked slow and with control of every minute detail of our pieces. On "Unemployed" we wanted to exhibit the compositional process, the experiments, the rough sketches and the stream of ideas that goes into it, and not just a series of perfected tracks. Our goal was to free ourselves from the standard song-structures and album-formats widespread today. 

Tags: alog

21September2011 Two dates


Next week I would like to invite everyone within reasonable distance to two events:

27. September: Word/Play - the Sound of Dead Languages, lecture at KHIB, Bergen, Norway

30. September: Phonophani, Full-Pull Festival, Malmö, Sweden


14September2011 the Movement I-V now available in appstore

The Movement I-V is an iPad app that explores the various possible movements of the hand and the fingers in sound manipulation. Included are a set of sounds by me (some of them are used on the upcoming Alog album, set for release in early November. The album use this app as one sound source). You can also upload your own samples in .wav or .aif format through iTunes. 

Here is a link to the app page on iTunes

The development of the Movement I-V was supported by Arts Council Norway and BEK, Bergen center for electronic art