tbyfield on Wed, 29 May 2019 15:52:48 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Eric Whitacre, Virtual Choir

If you focus on the final 'product' this can seem transformative, but if you untangle the constituent practices it can also be seen as little more than a networked variation on traditional musical activities: open communal performances, studio-centered processes that rely on session musicians, sampling and sequencing, karaoke, even the precaritization of music. In opera, for example, the cost of bringing everyone together in a prominent venue can be so immense that performers prepare for months on their own then come together only for a few rehearsals before the live performances. If anything, what makes Whitacre's project seem 'transformative' is the presence of an auteur-manager presenting something as entirely new — which itself isn't so new. A few years back, I think, I read something about the mounting frustration felt by the other three Talking Heads while Brian Eno worked with David Byrne to produce _Remain in Light_: Eno's fascination with sequencing samples made them feel more like studio musicians generating snippets than a band working together. My point isn't to judge Whitacre's work one way or the other, though. It's merely to note — as we've seen in so many other contexts — that TED talks and slapping '2.0' stickers on projects tends to blur all the myriad practices that came before it into a gauzy '1.0' that's both idealized and denigrated. And to generate demands for ever-lower levels of technical latency.

It's worth noting the Belgian audio pottery hoax in this context for the brilliant way it wove together of a half-dozen strands of techno-cultural fascination around the fetish of lost immediacy:



On 29 May 2019, at 8:18, John Preston wrote:

The YouTube algorithm gave me a TED talk by Eric Whitacre [1] sharing
his work conducting 'virtual choirs' where people recorded their parts
separately and uploaded them to YouTube. The individual performances
were then rendered together to create the final 'performance'. The
project is on-going [2].

I thought this was a nice example of a work of a traditional medium
being transformed through network technology. Particularly the
asynchronous nature of the process is very different from how a
physically co-located choir would operate, and the result is not a
conventional performance but a recording (hence my previous quote

I'd like to see a live performance by such a physically distributed
choir using low-latency technology.

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