Sabine Vogel > the duo ORNIS // / and the walls threw back echoes /

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STEIM residency, 15th – 20th August 2010 :-
Kathy Hinde and Sabine Vogel

We had the possibility to use the big studio space at Steim for 5 days to work intensively together on our collaboration as the duo ORNIS, on a new piece called

/ and the walls threw back echoes /

Sabine Vogel – Flutes, Live Electronics & composition
Kathy Hinde – Objects & live video

On the last day of our stay we performed the new piece at the LOCAL STOP CONCERT at STEIM. On the same evening played Anne LaBerge, Sam Pluta, Yedo Gibson, Daniel Schorno, Oscar Jan Hoogslan.

ORNIS on vimeo

It was a very good way for us to prepare ourselves to the concert we had on August 22nd at the ISEA RUHR 2010 in Essen, Germany.

We had previously collaborated, by both being invited to Norberg festival, Sweden by EMS in 2008. This was more like a ‘meeting on stage’ where we combined our audio and visual material spontaneously, with only a short amount of discussion beforehand, which did work very well and lead to a few more performances. From this first brief collaboration, it was apparent that the aesthetics of our work had much in common, And the content we had been working with shared many similarities,
eg, ice, water, glass, quietness, transparency, subtle changes, live sampling.

During the Steim residency we decided to focus on a number of elements in the creation of this new piece:

1 – The relationship between audio and visual. How do we work with this?
Are some connections fixed (eg certain sounds with certain images),
Does one trigger the other? are images and sound always placed together / separately.
Does one follow the other? ie – visuals respond to sound / sound respond to visuals.

2 – How could the performance become an installation? Can we expand the format of stage / performance and screen. How do the audience encounter the work?
What structures / stage design can we incorporate into the piece?

3 – How do we improvise together using sound and image?
The practicalities of this have so far created a way of working where images respond to sounds. How can we make a system where this works both ways?
How do we collaborate together?

We focussed on how we could expand the performance into an installation.
We had been discussing using glass and transparent facades to reflect and project onto and through. Kathy had been working with glass layers, and text exploring the phenomenon that glass is molecular structure is like a fluid, but it behaves like a solid. The existence of opposite properties within one substance has resonance with the other material (sound and image) Kathy and Sabine work with – working with the barely audible sounds from inside the flute, amplifying them to an audible level, audio and visual recording so of ice / water / steam and glass.
It became a little bit complicated to use real sheets of glass and we found with Nico’s and Kaes’ help some sheets of procpects, that we could use. At this point, we chosed to work with what we had, whilst also planning ahead to create a larger, more ambitious installation in the future.

We hung up the reflective sheets – and we realised that we could position a sheet of glass near Sabine so the projected visuals would reflect – and therefore she had a good view of them.
We had been discussing how Sabine could respond to the visuals, one simple problem in the past being that she couldnt’ see them – as they are projected behind her! We thought about setting up a preview monitor, but the reflections in the glass was a great solution, and fitting with how we wanted to make an installation of multiple reflective layers.

Sound influencing Visuals – Visuals influencing Sound…

We decided to be quite low-tech on this front, and simply try out different ways of responding to each others material. For one section, where we set up a system for the sound (short samples) triggered specific related visuals – mainly the ice sounds triggering a timeplase of ice melting. However – this was the only place we set up any direct triggering or visualisation / sonification. We were both very keen to keep things quite simple and avoid too much information being given out at one time.

We experimented with audio with no images and visuals in silence. This worked at the start, and we decided to have some sections like this. It didn’t seem appropriate to introduce the separation of audio and visual later in the piece, as it felt like this broke down the relationship between the two media. We built up a structure and practice from that – filming the results to watch back to refine the structure. We had certain audio or visual cues that we recognised as being a certain ‘section’. Some of the piece was improvised, and other sections we had decided quite specifically to use certain sounds and images.

The sound techniques Sabine uses combines field recordings with live flute and electronics, using Steim’s software LiSa and JunXion. Lots of parameters can be controlled live by foot pedals, that STEIM invented for her and a wii controller plus a deconstructed nunchuk.
Kathy was using VDMX with 2 projectors through a matrox triple head2go, two live cameras and some physical set-ups using glass, perspex, water and lights/ projections.
The main ‘output’ was sent to a projector beaming images onto a large screen behind the performance space. The second output went to a miniature projector, position to project images either onto a set up using stacked glass ‘slides’ or onto 2 hanging layers of perspex. The stacked glass slides were 15cm square, and each one had different text written onto it in a number of ways – sandblasted, written in tippex or ink-jet printed onto acetate. A mirrored layer was at the bottom and created reflections of the projections back onto the glass layers from below. The text related to how glass was similar to a fluid, and other text S and K worked on through the week. The slides were changed live and re-projected onto – and captured with a live camera feed into the visuals projected onto the main screen (similar technique was applied to the hanging sheets – projected onto and captured with live camera). One of the ideas for working in this way stemmed from the idea of traces, palimpsests and content being resampled and gradually shifted and evolved.

Thank you to Daniel, Nico, Taku, Kaes and all the STEIM people. We are looking forward to come back in April 2011 and continue our work!