MUTEK_10 Previews: Christopher Bauder & Robert Henke's Atom
May 29 & 30: Three Exclusive North American performances at Maisonneuve Theatre
Dimitri Nasrallah - May 12, 2009
ATOM will be performed three times during MUTEK: May 29th at 7pm, and May 30th at 3pm and 7pm. Each performance runs 45-60 minutes. Tickets are $15 per show.
It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that Robert Henke and Christopher Bauder’s ATOM counts among the most ambitious undertakings to ever find its way into a MUTEK program.
A matrix of 64 helium-filled balloons connected to a square foundation measuring 8 meters in each direction, the interactive installation requires another 7 meters of ceiling space. In that space, the balloons operate in synchronicity, lighting up and moving as part of a grand installation design arranged by Germany’s Christopher Bauder.
Each dimension of the balloon matrix is tied to a sound source, and so the musician who plays ATOM must orchestrate the balloons to move in a particular fashion in order to compose the ambient textures that are associated with different portions of the matrix.
The entire contraption will be set on the enormous stage of Place des Arts’ Maisonneuve Theatre, and audience members will be allowed onstage to experience the playing of ATOM up close.
At the controls of ATOM is Robert Henke, the experimental techno producer who first made his name in the 90’s as Monolake, alongside Gerhard Behles. Though often cited as torchbearers of the experimental side of dub-laden, minimal techno that was part and parcel with the legendary Chain Reaction label, Henke and Behles are equally renowned as the inventors of Ableton Live, the music-production software that has become the ubiquitous tool of most serious producers.
Henke has always been the type of forward-looking artist to envision the creation of digital instrumentation, no matter how complex, as part of the dream of sound. So it comes as little surprise that his music, which once resulted in the invention of Ableton software, should now result in the striking partnership with cutting-edge interactive artist Christopher Bauder.
For its part, Bauder’s art operates in the borderless terrain between the limitless ether of the technological world and the distinctly limited reach of human sensation. Having founded the WHITEvoid laboratory in 2004 as a platform for his innovative designs, he has spent the past decade cementing his reputation in the art world as someone willing to reinvent limitations for the 21st century view of competing realities.
ATOM constitutes a logical conclusion to a stream of creations that has escalated the possibilities of sound creation from inanimate objects. There is the TONELADDER, an ordinary household ladder equipped with sensory pads that creates tones as you walk up and down. There is Electric Moons, an even bigger variation of ATOM. There is the MIDIGUN, a midi-controlling pistol that allows producers to play music simply by pointing and pulling a trigger. And then there is POLYGON PLAYGROUND, featured in the video below, a musical mini-mountain that shifts as its player walks across it.