Mediated Bodies

Embodied Experience and Situated Cognition in the Performance of Electronic Music

Onderzoeker:
Jan Schacher
Promotoren:
Erik Myin (promotor), Kathleen Coessens (promotor)
Type musicus:
componist, electronica, strijkers
Trefwoorden:
cognition, composition, electronic music and media, embodiment, instruments, performance
Periode:
2012 - 2017
Eeuw:
21ste eeuwse muziek

onderzoeker

Abstract

Music performance with technological instruments questions the relationship between embodied experience, situated cognition and the instrument. Key elements that constitute a present, aware and embodied music performance in an exploratory music practice are agency, intentionality and perceptual attitudes. Based on the experience as a performer on stage, a particular focus is put on the cognitive processes and types of awareness of the body in exploratory music situations. 

In this mixture of elements, and contrary to traditional instrumental playing, technological instruments don’t provide a definitive shape and character that would allow an intuitive and direct understanding of the musicians' actions and expressions. The physical presence, awareness, and embodiment of the performance is mitigated by a broken and heavily mediated relationship between the musician’s listening, the percepts in the physical domain of musical and performative stage action, and the complex adaptation loop linking action and perception to enable the musician to seamlessly shape the music.

The central research question for my project is based on the experience as a performer on stage. A particular focus in this inquiry is put on the cognitive processes, states of mind, and the types of awareness of the body in exploratory music situations. These are key elements that constitute a present, aware and embodied music performance in a technologically mediated yet exploratory music practice.

The questions about agency, intentionality and perceptual attitudes provide a further direction of inquiry, specifically in addressing the musical creation strategies that form part of my practice. The key elements of stage-presence and concentration affect the origination of musical ideas from the associative flow of the music. Discovering and describing some of the non- reflective and pre-conscious elements that influence musical creation impulses could shed light onto the more ineffable parts of this performance practice.

Through this attitude, where compositional decisions can and do occur at the moment of performance, the role of internalized forms, direct access to the experiential foundations as a musician and the capability to grasp and act on so-called ‘intuitive’ impulses opens a field of investigation, which reaches into the human psyche, yet can be observed and experienced in a clear and re-occurring pattern on stage.

This artistic doctoral project aims to strike a balance between concrete artistic works for stage and other contexts and theoretical inquiry and reflection. The artistic work is developed in solo performance pieces with interaction technologies and electronic sound processing, through listening studies and awareness inquiries in the domain of sound art, in interdisciplinary performance pieces with dance, and in interactive, immersive installations in the context of media art. The reflective part is developed in writings, by engaging in structured dialogues with other artists, and in the participation in meetings and projects in the domain of artistic research, music performance studies and music psychology. 

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