Sight and sound at first hand

The Digital Landscape Music show, by the Nohlab team from Turkey, lights up The Israel Festival

ONE OF THE Nohlab team’s digital landscapes. (photo credit: Courtesy)
ONE OF THE Nohlab team’s digital landscapes.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israel Festival artistic directors have come up with all kinds of entertainment formats over the years.
After all, one of the core advantages of having such a large and financially well-supported event, is that you can afford to take the odd risk, and step outside well-trodden artistic ground.
The Digital Landscape Music show, by the Nohlab team from Turkey, which will be performed three times at the Jerusalem Theater on Thursday (6 p.m., 8:30 p.m., 11 p.m.) is certainly not your run-of-the-mill offering.
As the name suggests, the work involves crafting forms of a highly visual nature in tandem with a sonic substratum. As Deniz Kader puts it: “Digital Landscape Music is a collaborative performance, including the audience. We’ll be using our custom software NOS Engine, of which we are the artistic directors and Osman Koç is the creative coder.” The “we” also includes Candas Sisman, with whom Kader establish Nohlab seven years ago.
In fact, the pals and professional copilots’ personal and working liaison goes back a lot further.
“Our collaboration goes back to 1999,” says Kader. “We studied Plastic Arts in high school together, then moved onto college for Animation and Motion Design education, again together. We had the chance to study multimedia design for a year in the Netherlands while we were still at college.”
Temporarily relocating from their home patch enabled the Turks to broaden their horizons, as well as feeding off a wide range of contemporary works.
“We observed many new media festivals and studies there and they inspired us, too,” Kader continues. “These experiences accumulated for a long time and ended up under the roof of Nohlab in 2011.”
The Henry Crown Hall spectacle combines live music with interactive video projections using advanced technology. The members of the audience will be able to follow the mesmerizing visual patterns from close quarters. They will be in the thick of creative things – on the stage surrounded by video projections. The work is described as “an hour of meditative-musical-technological immersion to the sounds of works by Philip Glass, John Cage, and other great composers of the 20th century.”
“The audience are invited to sit on stage inside the projection area,” says Kader. “They will be surrounded by the visuals responding to piano compositions by Ligeti, Prokofiev, Feldman, Shostakovich, Glass, Cage and Messiaen played by Udi Bonen.”
While the creation is the fruit of advanced technology, it is also a living breathing and evolving entity.
“All the visuals are real-time and generated by our custom software, NOS Engine,” Kader adds. “The NOS engine produces real-time generative visuals responsive to sound. As Nohlab, we’ll manipulate the visuals that the NOS Engine creates and use NOS almost like an instrument.”
The work, he says, is designed to draw you into the visual vortex.
“With the use of a wall-to-floor projection style, the audience will feel the immersive experience around, a holistic perception of sound and visuals. The aesthetics of minimal geometries and curated music will mesh together, letting the people live through a synthesis experience. NOS performances [are] an experience unique each time to the performance of the day.”
Kader says that he and Sisman bring some of their earliest formative events into their work.
“Most of the time we realize that an idea we found actually comes from a visual memory from our childhood era.”
There is later baggage,
“Obviously we get inspired by many things – especially the movies: science fiction, fantastic, dystopic, animation movies. The musicals we came across in our childhood, where the space gets transformed by the sound and the light as parts of a choreography, is somewhat parallel to the theatrical, stage and other works we do now in their focus on experience and transformation.”
The twosome are fueled by a broad swathe of sounds and rhythms, citing “electroacoustic music, contemporary classical music, sound art, minimal/glitch/idm electronic music, ethnic music, soundscapes, experimental music, ambient music, and much more…” among their sources of sonic inspiration.
Music is at the core of Kader and Sisman’s creative endeavor.
“In any of our projects, sound is almost always about 50% of the whole effect,” Kader notes. He says by appealing to hearing and sight faculties, it is possible to imbue their work with something akin to a corporeal feel, and draws the audience even deeper into the spectator experience.
“Visuals without sound reveal a weaker experience. A visual backed up with properly designed sound almost doubles the effect and adds a physical feeling to the visual by making the audience live through an immersive experience. So, we can say that sound is an essential element for us.”
With all the cutting-edge technology at their behest, one might have expected the Turkish crafters to go that virtual route for the aural side of their projects too. Instead, they opt for an analog-digital oxymoronic mix which, they feel, enhances the end product and makes for a more vibrant and engaging time for all.
“When it comes to live music… a live performance of what’s observed on stage, builds a firm emotional bridge between the audience and the performer. Therefore, especially during a visual performance, live execution of sound alters the emotional experience levels of both the performer and the audience. Just like a nice, naturally flowing conversation.”
And that “conversation” is conducted at close quarters, with the consumers right there on stage. Kader says that is an integral part of the artistic package.
“Once the installation or performance gets immersive, engulfing the audience directly, they let the audience become something other than only a viewer. They become participants, directly experiencing the piece. The perception of time and space changes and the whole thing becomes an absolute audiovisual happening.”
Prepare to be immersed.
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