laser performance [2017]

Above the audience, horizontal laser beams appear, one after another, following the introduction of the musical loops in Karl Heinz Stockhausen's electronic composition 'Cosmic Pulses'. As the piece evolves, the visualisation gets more excited, mimicking and commenting the wild ride provided by the musical score, which itself is an acoustical tour de force, presented as a 8 channel composition surrounding the audience. Towards the end of the piece, the sonic loops one after another disappear in strict progression, and so do the laser beams until only two final layers are left over in the end.

A commission by the Barbican Centre, London, UK, in cooperation with the Karl Heinz Stockhausen Stiftung, Kuerten.

November 20 2017
Barbican Concert Hall
London, UK

The musical score of Cosmic Pulses combines a rigid formal approach with a fluid set of performance instructions, which were carried out when recording the piece to tape. The rigid part defines the succession of 24 audio loops, with exact times of appearance, duration and musical content. The fluid part is about tempo and pitch modulation of the loops, turning the whole piece into a whirlwind of glissandi and constant rhythmical reorganisation. The loops are constantly re-distributed to the 8 loudspeakers, and the work has no inherent sense of spatial directivity, all channels are equal.

The lasers are located next to the loudspeakers and the beams connect them, forming a star-like shape. The temporal appearance of the beams is guided by the score, as well as the changes in beam diameter and beam color which are informed by the loop's length and note duration. To follow the rapid changes of loop lengths and the mixing of the piece in a concert situation; colors and movement speeds of the lasers are further modified in real time. As a result, the laser sculpture is a mix of pre-defined behaviour and spontaneous expression.

Software programming and performance by Robert Henke
Lasers by LaserAnimation Sollinger [link]