Coincidence Engines is a series of works conceived in homage to the Poème Symphonique of 20th-century Hungarian composer György Ligeti, who used metronomes not simply to keep musical time, but as generators of sonic events. Extending and developing this approach, Coincidence Engines employs a multitude of dynamically modulated time-keeping devices to explore themes of regimentation, multiplicity, (im)perfection and entropy.
The project reinterprets the clock as a machine which has the capacity to transcend the workaday function of keeping time. Coincidence Engines treats the seemingly mundane event of a clock's tick as a building block for the construction of rich and complex acoustic structures. Massed clock ticks, both freely drifting and rigorously synchronized, fill a series of environments configured to focus, stimulate and challenge the visitor's visual and auditory perception. Alternately mesmerizing, contemplative and thought-provoking, Coincidence Engines opens a space wherein the passage of time can be considered simultaneously as an abstract concept and as a sensuous, aesthetic experience.
The first two works in the Coincidence Engines series are subtitled One: Universal People’s Republic Time, and Two: Approximate demarcator of constellations in other cosmos. These two installations approach the idea of "co-incident" events from complementary perspectives. Coincidence Engine One assembles a large number of unsynchronized clocks whose combined ticking sounds produce an unusual and intriguingly organic sonic environment. Coincidence Engine Two develops a sophisticated synchronization control and amplification system around a group of specially modified clocks that enables the artists to articulate audio-visual compositions by programming and sequencing the clocks' ticking behaviour.
The notion of concrete sound, and the specificity of the listener's relationship to sound sources in space are central to [The User]'s approach. Beyond being sound-producing instruments, the Coincidence Engines installations are free-standing, quasi-architectural constructions that are integral to the viewer-listener's absorption in fields of sonorous expression. The work's hybrid, interdisciplinary approach is simultaneously engaging and sophisticated. Coincidence Engines' potent experiential qualities provide multiple points for audiences' interactions with an innovative form of contemporary cultural expression.
[The User] is a contemporary art collective comprised of architect and installation artist Thomas McIntosh, and composer and sound artist Emmanuel Madan. This Canadian duo has attained wide international recognition for their ground-breaking projects Silophone and Symphony for Dot Matrix Printers, which re-imagine relationships between technological systems, culture and human experience in striking ways.
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