Heart Chamber Orchestra

I was gutted to miss it at Pixelache Helsinki back in March. Last Thursday however, Sao Paulo’s FILE festival mercifully gave me a second chance to experience Heart Chamber Orchestra.

In this performance by Erich Berger and PURE from TERMINALBEACH, 12 classical musicians use their heartbeats to control in real time a computer composition and visualization environment.

The musicians wearing ECG (electrocardiogram) sensors enter one by one on stage. As they sit down in front of a computer screen which will become their partition throughout the performance, their heartbeat appears and beeps on the giant screen behind them.

A computer software analyzes the 12 hearts in real time and various algorithms turn the data into a ‘living’ musical score. While the musicians are playing, their heartbeats influence and change the composition and vice versa. Musicians and electronic composition are linked via the hearts in a circular, feedback structure.

The resulting music is the expression of this process and of an organism forming itself from the circular interplay of the individual musicians and the machine.
The role of the musician expands, he or she becomes an actor who simultaneously composes and interprets. The score is only temporary and generated in the very moment of the heartbeats.

In parallel to the musical composition, computer graphics generated from the same HCO data add a narrative and visual layer to the performance, providing the audience with a synaesthetic experience. The heartbeats of the musicians and their relation to each other become audible and visible.

TERMINALBEACH and their computer equipment were hidden somewhere within the auditorium during the performance in Sao Paulo.

Previous entries about FILE festival: Scrapbook from the ongoing FILE festival and Feeding the Tardigotchi. The FILE exhibition is open until August 29, 2010. Address: Fiesp – Ruth Cardoso Cultural Center – Av. Paulista, 1313, São Paulo – Metro Trianon-Masp.