String Mask Overflowis a multimedia piece for violin, movement, shadow, video and electronics, written as an artistic response to the virtual reality string quartet Trois Machins de la Grâce Aimante by the US-American composer Rob Hamilton. My response is divided into five movements in which I aimed to comment on some of the ideas I was inspired by while attending rehearsals, discussions and performances of Rob’s piece in Graz.
Participating in the GAPPP work lab for Rob Hamilton’s virtual string quartet as a guest observer, I used methodologies from exploratory qualitative research and artistic research such as participant observation to extract specific problems and interactions I considered relevant to my future response. I gleaned these from collective discussions between the composer, performers and team members of GAPPP. I also accumulated audio and video recordings of the musicians and gathered first experiences as a user of Rob’s interactive music system in virtual reality.
From these recordings and memos, I inferred a series of questions aimed at understanding which elements of Trois Machins de la Grâce Aimante could be relevant to my commentary. These included: how do performers and audience relate to one another in this virtual setting? How does the setup deal with the performer’s identity and physicality? How does Rob’s string quartet refer to string quartet literature? What physical and virtual affordances are made available by current VR hardware platforms and what are their limitations compared to standardized classical chamber music practices like the string quartet?
My compositional approach and the way I developed my material were intuitively based on my personal experience as a string player, 3D animator, and movement enthusiast. In my response, I experimented with different types of movement linked to violin technique coordinated with electronic sounds, and I used a rear-projection screen on which the interpreter’s shadow interacts with texts and 3D projections of the instruments and virtual bodies of Trois Machins de la Grâce Aimante.
Pedro González Fernández String Mask Overflow
performed by Barbara Lüneburg (violin)
audio recording: Ulrich Gladisch
audio editing: Barbara Lüneburg, Marko Ciciliani
video recording: ndbewegtbild
video editing: Pedro González Fernández
recorded on November 10, 2017 in the György Ligeti Hall/MUMUTH of the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz, Austria.
Duration of video: 7 minutes 43 seconds
GAPPP is funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF as project PEEK AR 364-G24.