Digital Care: Evening of The Hands

14/09/2023
Calendar item
Digital Care: Evening of the hands

Digital Care: Evening of The Hands
A collaboration between LI-MA x V2_

Thursday, 14 September, 2023
V2_ and Online, Eendrachtsstraat 10, 3012 XL Rotterdam
Doors 19.30 // Programme begins 20.00
Entry: €7,00 (regular) / €5,- (student)
Get your tickets HERE

-Programme

Shaping sound with your hands is the main concept that led pioneering artist Michel Waisvisz to create The Hands in 1984 at STEIM. With these two hand-held objects full of sensors designed exactly for his hands, he was able to control synthesizers and live sampling software in an expressive way. Through his year-long practice in performing with these, he became an exemplary virtuosic performer with a digital musical instrument. Today, his practice still inspires many artists and musicians that similarly have made it their practice to perform by capturing their gestures with sensors and manipulating the sound of their voice.

Digital Care: Evening of the Hands at V2, photo by Fenna de Jong
Digital Care: Evening of the Hands at V2, photo by Fenna de Jong

What was complex and unexplored territory back in 1984 and mostly inaccessible to artists due to lack of technical expertise and financial means, is now - almost 40 years later - accessible in terms of available and affordable technology. The art of using these technologies in a meaningful way however, is still something that requires creativity, dedication and practice – this is where the pioneering work of Waisvisz is still a source of inspiration.

On September 14, we will look at artistic work of Michel Waisvisz that he composed and performed for The Hands and take you on a tour inside The Hands to understand the intricacies of their working.

Michel Waisvisz' The Hands during Digital Care: Evening of the Hands. Photo by Fenna de Jong
Michel Waisvisz' The Hands during Digital Care: Evening of the Hands. Photo by Fenna de Jong

Vocal performers Franziska Baumann and Alex Nowitz have both created instruments at STEIM that were inspired by The Hands, and they will perform with their idiosyncratic instruments that give them gestural control over their voice. In between the performances, we will jointly discuss how their approach is inspired by, yet also different from Michel Waisvisz' approach.

Sanneke Huisman, curator at LI-MA and co-curator of the exhibition REBOOT: Pioneering Digital Art will introduce the evening. The historical introduction on Waisvisz' work will be presented by Andi Otto, who worked through the STEIM archives and the Waisvisz' archives between 2007 and 2013, resulting in his thesis "Dutch Touch", and Marije Baalman will present a look inside the Hands and how The Hands influenced other artists and instruments.

The event is commissioned by LI-MA and V2_, and presented by V2_ in collaboration with LI-MA. The evening is curated by Marije Baalman.

-Performances

Pioneering extended vocal techniques and live electronic processing with her SensorGlove, Franziska Baumann creates solo works at the intersection of voice, gesture, mediated voice and spatialized vocal spheres. Her compositions and improvisations push the boundaries of perception, vocal creation and sonic expression by exploring the convergence of the embodied and mediated voice through the communicative practice of her gestural system. She explores the potential of the contemporary voice within mediated practices and the underlying practices, principles, and sensor technologies that support creativity in embodied human-computer interaction in music performance. Mapping plays a central role in her work, also as a means of deliberately provoking a loss of control that leads her into a sphere of heightened awareness.

Franziska Baumann performing during Digital Care: Evening of the Hands. Photo by Fenna de Jong
Franziska Baumann performing during Digital Care: Evening of the Hands. Photo by Fenna de Jong.

Alex Nowitz will perform with his ‘strophonion’: gesture-controlled live-electronics that he developed and built from 2010 through to 2011 in close collaboration with Frank Baldé at STEIM (Amsterdam), and since 2014 further in collaboration with Sukandar Kartadinata. Alex calls his practice with the strophonion voice-induced or ‘vocal sound dance’, as the audience comes to experience unique ways of creating visually intriguing and fascinating, sonic outcomes ranging between the extremes of concrete emotional vocal sounds and abstract computational manipulations. During the lecture-performance “In the Thicket of Invisible Wires” Alex will touch upon the underlying concept and his performance strategies allowing new compositional and improvisational terrains to emerge. He will shed light on the powers as well as on the constraints of the instrument until he finally indulges in pure, non-verbal vocal performance art and merges into the thicket of the invisible wires.

Alex Nowitz performing during Digital Care: Evening of the Hands. Photo by Fenna de Jong.
Alex Nowitz performing during Digital Care: Evening of the Hands. Photo by Fenna de Jong.

-Presentations

Andi Otto: "Dutch Touch"
What is the Legacy of The Hands? The Hands were a groundbreaking gestural instrument to perform music with. Less known and discussed than the instrument, are the compositions and performances made with The Hands. In his presentation Andi Otto will give a historical overview of performances with The Hands, outline the aesthetics and influence of the instrument on other STEIM artists, and ask for a contemporary perspective on the pioneering gestural interface.

Andi Otto presenting "Dutch Touch" during Digital Care: Evening of the Hands. Photo by Fenna de Jong
Andi Otto presenting "Dutch Touch" during Digital Care: Evening of the Hands. Photo by Fenna de Jong

Marije Baalman: “Inside and beyond The Hands”
The Hands were one of the first gestural controllers used in electronic music to shape sound. In this talk we will look into the technical workings of The Hands, and how The Hands influenced other artists to use similar gestural controllers related to their hands, fingers and forearms to perform and compose music. In addition we will take a look at current and past commercially available controllers that trace back to concepts found in The Hands.

Marije Baalman presenting “Inside and beyond The Hands” during Digital Care: Evening of the Hands. Photo by Fenna de Jong
Marije Baalman presenting “Inside and beyond The Hands” during Digital Care: Evening of the Hands. Photo by Fenna de Jong

About The Evening of

In the long-standing series “the evening of”, V2_ invites an artist or researcher to curate an event. The concept is that V2_ invites an artist, researcher, a fellow, or a group to curate an event of one evening.

About the Digital Care project

Digital Care presents collaborative care for digital artworks. From March until October 2023, iconic works, including the_living (1997-1998) by Debra Solomon, Ideophone I (1970-2013) by Dick Raaijmakers and Institute of Artificial Art Amsterdam (1990-present) by Remko Scha, will be researched and shown in public programmes across the Netherlands. In an open process together with artists, producers, scholars, and the public, we will explore what it means to present these works today - and in the future. Collaboration with cultural institutions is key to this project. The partners will highlight key works that connect with their program or history and reflect on them, increasing visibility and support.

The Digital Care trajectory functions as a strong basis for the run-up of the public exhibition REBOOT,  Pioneering digital art, presented by Nieuwe Instituut and LI-MA. REBOOT exhibits key works from the period 1960-2000 and presents new works by contemporary makers. The exhibition presents the impact of digital technology in art and society and builds on the Digital Canon of the Netherlands, compiled by experts in 2017-2019 commissioned by LI-MA. REBOOT runs from 7 October 2023 to 1 April 2024 at Nieuwe Instituut.  

Digital Care and REBOOT are supported by Creative Industries Fund NL, Mondriaan Fund, and Network Archives Design and Digital Culture


Digital Care: Evening of the Hands. Photo by Fenna de Jong

-Biographies

Michel Waisvisz (1949-2008) was a musician, best known for The Hands, and for being the director of Steim in Amsterdam. Michel Waisvisz was known for his highly physical, sensitive and ecstatic electronic music performance using The Hands (a gestural sensor instrument) he developed at the STEIM foundation in Amsterdam. Waisvisz has since the late sixties developed whole new ways to achieve a physical touch with electronic music instruments; sometimes literally touching the electricity inside the instruments and thereby becoming a thinking component of the machine. He was one of the first to use synthesizers on stage and the first to develop and perform with what is now called gestural controllers. He also is the inventor of the CrackleBox and The Web and many other instruments based on touch interaction.

Franziska Baumann is a singer, improviser, composer and sound artist and works mainly with voice, gestural live electronics and sampled sounds. As a vocal artist and vocal performer, she draws on archaic, experimental and stylistically wide-ranging expressions of the human voice. In her research for new sounds, vocal techniques and vocal forms of expression, she creates original, touching, singular concert experiences beyond any stylistic concept. In the border area of an unfathomable vocal universe she unites traditions of different styles and transcends them into the present. She is a pioneer of digital live techniques making use of a custom-built sensor glove to control the sound processing of her voice to create oscillating, complex vocal sound spaces.

Alex Nowitz is a composer and vocal performance artist. He also appears as improviser, sound artist, musician as well as artist researcher, author and curator. Presenting extended vocal performance art he applies wireless and gesture-controlled live electronics through the ‘strophonion’ developed and built at STEIM, Amsterdam.

Andi Otto worked in various residencies at STEIM since 2004, where on the one hand he extended his cello bow with sensors for his instrument "Fello". On the other hand, he also researched, connected and contextualised data in the STEIM archive and in Michel Waisvisz's archive between 2007 and 2013. The result was his PhD thesis "Dutch Touch” in 2018, which is planned as a publication in English for 2024.

Marije Baalman is an artist and researcher/developer working in the field of interactive sound and light art, based in Amsterdam. She makes music and music-theatre performances, worked with dancers and has made several installations.
She is a member of the artist association iii (instrument inventors initiative) in the Hague. She worked at STEIM between 2011 and 2016, and is the author of the book “Composing Interactions - an Artist's Guide to Building Expressive Interactive Systems”.

Sanneke Huisman is trained as an art historian, and works as writer, critic and curator with a focus on media art. She is co-editor of A Critical History of Media Art in the Netherlands: Platforms, Policies, Technologies (2019). At LI-MA, she is active as a curator; recent projects include Cultural Matter (2017-2020), Digital Canon of the Netherlands (2017-2019) LIMA Online (2020-2021) and Mediakunst op Wikipedia (2021-2023). Together with Klaas Kuitenbrouwer (Nieuwe Instituut) she is currently co-curator of REBOOT. Pioneering digital art. Furthermore, she writes about contemporary art for magazines and exhibition catalogs, including Metropolis M and Centraal Museum Utrecht, is a guest lecturer and works as an advisor at Creative Industries Fund NL and Cultuurloket DigitALL.