Chris Salter presents this Friday 'n-polytope', a large-installation of light and sound produced by LABoral

The work recreates Xenakis’ radical architectural environments

Published: Jul 18, 2012
Chris Salter presents this Friday 'n-polytope', a large-installation of light and sound produced by LABoral

The installation n-Polytope, tested by Chis Salter and his collaborators. Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Starting this Friday 20th July at LABoral, the North American artist and researcher Christopher Salter presents n-Polytope. Behaviours in Light and Sound after Iannis Xenakis, a large-scale audiovisual performance employing today’s existing technology to reinterpret the spectacular architectural environments imagined by the Greek architect and composer in the 1960s and 70s of the last century.

n-Polytope. Behaviours in Light and Sound after Iannis Xenakis is a spectacular light and sound environment combining cutting edge lighting, lasers, sound, sensing and artificial intelligence software technologies inspired by composer Iannis Xenakis’ radical installations named “Polytopes” (from Greek poly, many and topos, space), the first of which premiered at Expo ‘67 in Montreal. Far ahead of their time and little known outside of artistic circles, Xenakis’ Polytopes are, however, a major landmark in the history of the audio-visual arts: large scale, immersive architectural environments that make the indeterminate and chaotic behaviour of nature (rivers, clouds, waves and cosmological phenomena) experiential through the temporal dynamics of light and the spatial dynamics of sound.

The installation created by Chris Salter has been developed during a production residency at LABoral’s Plataforma 0. Centro de Producción since the end of last month (June) in collaboration with his team: Sofian Audry, Marije Baalman, Adam Basanta, Elio Bidinost and Thomas Spier. Hundreds of LED’s that function as powerful bursts of light and hundreds of tiny speakers are suspended through the space on thin wires, constructing a walk-through performance environment. While the LED’s create a changing space of bursting points, coloured lasers that bounce off the surface of fixed and changing mirrors generate virtual architectures that appear, flicker and disappear before the visitors’ eyes.

Counterpointing the intense visual scenography, multi-channel audio fills the space, shifting between sparse natural and dense electronic textures – noisy bursts, clangourous lines and percussive explosions of sound.

n-Polytope goes far beyond a simple historical exercise. Xenakis’s creation of these dense artistic experiences that fundamentally examine and model the behaviour and patterns of nature and the cosmos in their exquisite fluctuations between order and disorder powerfully resonates with our historical moment of extreme instability in natural and artificial systems. The installation on display at LABoral until 10 September is expressed in a 25 minute performance which will be run four times a day at 11.30 am, 1.30 pm, 4 pm and 6 pm. For the rest of the time, the installation is in continuously evolving mode.

Produced by LABoral and the Canadian laboratory LabXModal, the design and final construction of the piece by Salter, who is exhibiting his artwork for the first time in Spain, has been made possible by the financial support of Fonds de recherche du Québec-Société et culture  (FQRSC)[Quebec Research Fund for Society and Culture] in Canada; the German engineering consulting firm Schlaich Bergermann & Partner, the Canadian Hexagram Concordia, STEIM (Studio for Electro Instrumental Music) from the Netherlands, and by the Spanish company Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas (FCC).

FCC built a large structure comprising three connection points for the suspension of 22 steel wires which extend 20 metres across the exhibition space from a height of five metres to the floor. This structure, specially designed and built to be easily transportable, is very light, which combined with its dismantling into small pieces will facilitate its use while n-polytope is on tour and being exhibited at various centres. A world leading company in environmental services, infrastructures and renewable energies, FCC is a founding member of the Board of Trustees of the Fundación La Laboral. Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial, Gijón, since its formation.

n-Polytope
Behaviours in Light and Sound after Iannis Xenakis
A performance-installation by Chris Salter. In collaboration with Sofian Audry, Marije Baalman, Adam Basanta, Elio Bidinost and Thomas Spier

Production: LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial and LabXModal, Montreal
Collaborating Board Member: Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas (FCC)
With the Support of: Fonds de recherche du Québec-Société et culture (FQRSC), Canada; Hexagram Concocordia, Canada; Schlaich Bergermann & Partner, Germany; and STEIM, the Netherlands

Concept and Direction: Chris Salter
Composition: Chris Salter and Adam Basanta
Architectural Design: Thomas Spier
Lighting and Laser System Design: Elio Bidinost
Embedded Systems, Micro Light and Sound Design, Media Composition Programming: Marije Baalman
Media Behaviour Modelling and Programming: Sofian Audry
Structural Consultant: Schlaich Bergermann and Partner/David Sommer
Electronics Assembly: Rene Wassenburg (Schrikdraad Ontwerp) and Stan Verberkt
OpenFrameworks Laser Mirror Control Software: Samuel Tissot-Jobin

Schedule for the Performances: 11.30 am, 1.30 am, 4 and 6 pm

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