Water into Wine

Title Water into Wine
Year 2020
Instrumentation Video and electronics (fixed media or live generated from Scored Synthesizer), 2 channel sound system
Duration 6:56 (loop)
Short Technical Description Video HD, projection (variable dimension), 6:56 (loop), 2 channel sound
Premiere 2020, August 15th
Premiere Details Curiosity killed the cat, Kunsthalle Arbon
Artist (Video) Valentina Pini
Camera Loris Ciresa

The soundtrack to Water into Wine is the third commission I have received from the artist Valentina Pini. The collaboration with her and the engagement with her art has had a decisive influence on my work. As part of her solo exhibition Curiosity killed the cat (September 2020), the video had a prominent place as a large-scale projected installation.

In order to create a soundtrack for Valentina Pini’s work, I analyzed the video in various ways and appropriated the material through it. Structurally relevant was on the one hand the processuality of the visual content and on the other hand the temporality of the editing.

First to the process of the visual content. Valentina Pini shows an artistic variation of a straightforward magic trick, which is basically a simple physical process: a fluid exchange between water and wine in a specially created environment. This process is represented in the video by four still images. In between, different perspectives alternate, creating a play of proximity and distance. The relatively quick camera cuts and close-ups capture leisurely dripping moments and gentle swirls in the enclosed liquids. A contemplative state is created in which it only gradually becomes apparent that the water in the upside-down stacked glasses is slowly taking on colour.

© Valentina Pini in Cooperation with Micha Seidenberg (Music)

From a musical point of view, the cutting duration is first of all a randomly thrown structure of durations. However, since the lengths of the cut sequences are often within a (musically) perceptible duration – they should not be longer than about eight to ten seconds – a musically challenging but immensely exciting time structure has emerged from the cut sequence. I then scanned this structure compositionally, read it out, interpreted it as the temporal cantus firmus of my composition, so to speak. In doing so, I followed an artistic concept that I discovered while working on the first video soundtrack (Snake Oil). It is the idea to throw (metaphorically) runes, which are then interpreted according to special rules. More abstractly formulated, it is a game with aleatoric processes in that – contrary to common ways of working with aleatoric ideas – I actively interpret the generated structures: I intervene, create references and generate from them a specific musical sense, which follows rules that apply only to this work and have, in a sense, emerged through the confrontation with the source material.

© Micha Seidenberg

The video work has an extremely spectral aspect due to the process of colour dispersion shown in it. And although the fluid exchange makes a certain, inner movement visible, the video has a rather static, sculptural form of expression. I metaphorically transformed these elements through, among other things, specific harmonics and sonorities. While the musical phrases often coincide with the editing sequences or are in a play between synchronicity and asynchronicity, the harmonics go their own way on a temporal level. This results in a layer that is independent of the visual development, significantly shaping the perception of the work. In the imaginary space, the tonal-spectral constructed harmony also leads musically to the sculptural: a standing, but innerly moving sound object is created.

Scored Synthesizer

Water into Wine (2020) as well as the soundtracks for Snake Oil (2019) With two naked eyes watching slime on the ocean floor (2019) and Bosque Marino (2021) are resorting to a self-built computer program written in Max/MSP, the Bach Library and its text-code based scripting language called Bell. It is a complex instrument bringing together algorithmic procedures with a notation and representation space. Each note has its individual dataset, but each dataset can be either a specific definition of the individual sound parameters or serve as a set for a following algorithm that will produce the final parameters. I wrote the first version of the program during my residency in Berlin (January-June 2019). It has since then continuously evolved on other projects. For a more detailed explanation of the instrument have a look at the dedicated webpage.