Upcoming event

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Sonic Cultures Research Group: Martin Blain lecture

The Good, The God, and The Guillotine: Collaboration, Technology, Liveness

For Bob Ostertag, one area to pursue in reclaiming mediated devices into the world of live performance is
through the role of the body in performance. Pierre Hébert, a frequent collaborator of Ostertag, suggested that, the measure of a work of art is whether one can sense in it the presence of the artist’s body. Notions of
performer embodiment and inparticular the proprioceptive relationship that is developed within the musician in relation to an interface device (be it computer or a conventional musical instrument) are not new, however the computer as musical instrument continues to pose a unique set of affordance issues in relation to live performance.

The Good, The God, and The Guillotine is a collaborative project between laptop musicians (MMUle), a theatre ensemble (Proto-type Theater), a video artist and a lighting designer. For me (composer/performer within MMUle), the intimacy of the interaction between human and machine is exposed through ‘live’ performance and this has resulted in the relationship between musician and machine being in a process of constant negotiation. This talk will consider some of the technical approaches and performance strategies that have emerged from this collaboration with particular focus on performance codes that attempt to manage the audience experience. It will consider the relationship between the musician and the computer as musical instrument within the mise-en-scene; it will consider the causal relationship between performative action and resulting sound, and will explore this in light of MMUle’s approach to expand the affordance of the laptop computer in relation to its musical and performative potential. The talk will draw on the work of Cascone (2003), Emmerson (2007), Kirby (1972), Power (2008), Reason and Lindelof (2016) and Sanden (2013), to offer insights into the working practices at play in this collaborative work. 


The Sonic Cultures Research Group explores sonic phenomena from a variety of perspectives. It fosters interdisciplinary research, and its members research in disciplines such as anthropology, music, architecture, design, art, or sociology both at Manchester Met and the University of Manchester.

We meet every second Wednesday of the month (4-5.30pm) to discuss approaches, methods, ideas, theories and interpretations of texts, and the discussion is led by a speaker. For this year, the confirmed speakers are:

Why not join our Facebook Group to receive regular updates: https://www.facebook.com/groups/sonicculturesresearch/

Event contact Dr Beate Peter · B.Peter@mmu.ac.uk