Performative sound art event focusing on Baroque theatre noise machines
“Bad Weather” is a performative sound art event centered on sound effect machines used in Baroque theatre. The idea for this performance was developed by composer and sound artist Arturas Bumšteinas, whose affair with the Baroque noise machinery began in 2012, when he was commissioned by Deutschlandradio Kultur to create a radiophonic composition for the centenary of Futurism. This affair has then resulted in an award-winning radio art project “Epiloghi. Six Ways of Saying Zangtumbtumb” (2013). Later on, he came up with an idea to reconstruct, with the help of a professional theatre carpenter, historical devices that were used to imitate the sounds of wind, rain, sea and thunder, identical to the ones whose canon settled in European theatres over the seventeenth century.
In the Baroque era, noise machines constituted but a small part of the whole theatrical illusion – the one invisible to the eye of the viewer, with its positions at the theatre’s wings and behind the scene. In “Bad Weather”, noise machines serve as generators of conceptual ‘climate.’ But like any other man-made and man-operated mechanisms, noise machines are not self-operating perpetuum mobile: their spontaneity is influenced by human (or horse) muscle tension and possible creative intention.
The ensemble of live performers is coordinated by the specially written score, in which musical notes and choreographic instructions are replaced with weather charts from various centuries and their decontextualized fragments that serve to organize the dynamics of movement and, figuratively speaking, set to rotation the ‘wheels’ of natural weather phenomena. Performance artist Ivan Cheng has written a specific performative text for “Bad Weather”, which tells the story of a horse named Shadow – a protagonist of the story that accompanies the show.
Each live version of “Bad Weather” is a little different, depending on the venue and general context of the event. And what about the singing voice...? The aria is floating around in the surround-sound space, looking for the body to pin to.
“The performers are not making sound effects per se; what they are doing is more analogous to accomplished jazz musicians improvising their way through a well-known standard.” (John Doran, The Quietus, on “Bad Weather” as premiered at Unsound Festival, October 30, 2017)
Author of the idea and stage director Arturas Bumšteinas
Librettist and text performer Ivan Cheng
Performers with noise machines: Gailė Griciūtė, Greta Grinevičiūtė, Rūta Junevičiūtė, Aaron Kahn
Live sound processing by Antanas Dombrovskij
Sound designer Ignas Juzokas
Lighting designer Julius Kuršis
Reconstruction of noise machinery by Ernestas Volodzka
Duration – 50 minutes
Première – October 10–12th, 2017, “Cricoteka” Centre for the Documentation of the Art of Tadeusz Kantor, Kraków, Poland