This 22'10" video presents the complete premiere performance of Jaap Blonk and Golan Levin's "Ursonography" at the Ars Electronica Festival, in Linz, Austria, September 2005.
"Ursonography" (Jaap Blonk and Golan Levin) is a new audiovisual interpretation of Kurt Schwitters’ Ursonate, a masterpiece of 20th Century concrete poetry in which speech is reduced to its most abstract and musical elements. Dutch sound poet and virtuoso vocalist Jaap Blonk has performed the half-hour Ursonate more than a thousand times; in this presentation, Blonk’s performance is augmented with a modest but elegant new form of expressive, real-time, “intelligent subtitles.” With the help of computer-based speech recognition and score-following technologies, projected subtitles are tightly locked to the timing and timbre of Blonk’s voice, and brought forth with a variety of dynamic typographic transformations that reveal new dimensions of the poem’s structure.
Jaap Blonk's performance of the Ursonate is conducted entirely from memory. Likewise, all of the text in this concert is performed live, in real-time, using custom software. Tight synchronization of the text and voice was achieved by linking a score follower to a real-time syllable detector.
We are grateful to the Kurt und Ernst Schwitters Stiftung, Hannover, for necessary permissions to use and reproduce our performance of Schwitters' poem. The interactive software for "Ursonography" was created in OpenFrameworks.