Leo Hofmann & Andi Otto
Audiovisual composition / performativ audio drama. 2014, 30 min
Premiere at ZKM Medientheater
"In my opinion, locks are really just a psychological barrier." - Ron Reed, expert locksmith
A video tutorial by the American locksmith Ron Reed serves as the conceptual starting point of the first collaboration between composer-performers Leo Hofmann and Andi Otto. In his instructions on how to pick a lock, Reed is less concerned with the mastery of technique than with a live dialogue between hardware and intuition. Hofmann and Otto apply his idea of a lock as a black box that must be sensitively cracked to their musical interfaces: for years, both have been using gestural controllers of their own making in developing individual interpretation practices for their electronic music.
Through the metaphor of sealing-off, the piece arrives at the theme of a nuclear waste repository. How can we design warning signs that can be understood in a thousand years and locks that would last forever? In a fictional studio session to record auditive warning signals, curious suggestions from current studies are presented.
The performers are situated at a table behind a blind. Throughout the piece, the mechanics to open and close its slats are operated by remote control. A camera captures the duo’s actions on the table from above and projects the image onto the blind in real time. The transparency of this moving projection screen generates a polyphony of simultaneous perspectives: double images with oscillating vibrant feedback elements between camera and projection and room-filling reflections of the slats, suggestive of Northern Lights.
These thematic areas come together in recordings of weather reports from Japanese television. The mechanical game Pachinko serves as a clamorous background which Otto recorded in a Kyoto gambling hall. The countless falling metal balls, which decide the outcome of the game, are out of the player’s control – even more so than a lock being picked. Luck is essential, as in the case of the wind’s direction, when things suddenly become serious.