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Superconversations Day 44: Eyvind Kang responds to Kader Attia, "The Loop"


#Harmonic Criticality

Takehisa Kosugi remarks that “the violin is a composition”. However, for reasons which become clear as the sound progresses, it is a composition which must take the form of an improvisation, invoking a limited range of techniques whose accretions result in an infinitary manner of novel outputs.

The game is to overturn the Pythagorean conception of the string, its harmonics and their respective relations with the series of natural numbers. Under this hegemony, the sound object is conceived of in terms of, or as a number, which in turn becomes the condition for physical structures of the body, initiating sound-action from the executive neurological capacity alone.

The method is to begin from the materiality of instrument along with physical characteristics of the body of the performer. Potentialities of horsehair, wood, metal and gut are structurally coupled with angle, proximity, and pressure of finger(s) and bow to string, further decomposed into dynamics of shoulder, elbow, wrist and joints of the left hand, along with pressure, tilt and latitudinal and longitudinal distance of bow relative to bridge and fingerboard, among many other functors. These dynamics, when set into motion, exceed all models founded on transverse vibrations of the string and suggest resonant capacities and emergent properties in the manner of a complex physical system. In practice, the game of Harmonic Criticality is an entrainment with the instrument as object on a neurophysiological level which can be extended to the biochemical and mineral substrates.

Eyvind Kang is a composer and violist whose albums include “The Narrow Garden” (Ipecac), “Visible Breath” (Ideologic), and, with Jessika Kenney, “the Face of the Earth” (Ideologic). He has also worked with Laurie Anderson, Animal Collective, Bill Frisell, Glass Candy, and John Zorn. Kang is a Member of The New Center for Research & Practice.

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