Organised jointly by the Polish Cultural Institute, the WRO Art Center in Wrocław and Stanford University, "Where's Chopin?" brings together audiovisual artists of three generations - a performative artist Paweł Janicki, a pianist and composer Jarosław Kapuściński and the legendary video-art pioneer Robakowski - with innovative works that combine Chopin's music with interactive media installations.
Three landmark installations presenting enirely new multi-media interpretations of Chopin's music, integrating some of his most popular piano works with hi-tech instruments to create powerful visual accompaniments, reveals the timeless power and appeal of Chopin's music well beyond the conventional recital hall
As one of the highlights of a year celebrating Frédéric Chopin
's music, the Polish Cultural Institute and WRO Art Center present a fresh new take on the most renowned Polish composer, integrating his compositions into three multimedia installations.
Organised jointly by the Polish Cultural Institute, the WRO Art Center in Wrocław and Stanford University, "Where's Chopin?" brings together audiovisual artists of three generations - performance artist Paweł Janicki, pianist and composer Jarosław Kapuściński and legendary video-art pioneer Józef Robakowski
to bring on innovative works that combine Chopin's music with interactive media installations.
"Where's Chopin?" is on in both Poland and the UK this month, at the Warsaw Autumn Contemporary Music Festival and at Dilston Grove in Southwark Park in London. The UK opening features a performance by Jarosław Kapuściński, the composer of one of the specially commissioned pieces.
In the churchlike interiors of Dilston Grove, the installations will be experienced sequentially in a 60- minute span. Visitors first enter the interactive environment of Paweł Janicki's Mapping Chopin. Within the darkened space, white shapes are projected onto the floor by beams of light. As people move across these white shapes, specially designed software combined with a motion-detection system generates variations on digitalized scores of Chopin's pieces, based on the behavior of the audience/participants.
Janicki's work utilizes Chopin's Etude in A-flat major (Op. 25 No.1), Valse Brillante in A minor (Op. 34 No. 2), Tarantella in A-flat major (Op. 43) and Nocturne in G minor (Op. 15 No. 3). Various musical parameters of the works - dynamic range, tempo, articulation - are linked with data from the motion-detection system, so that people within the installation space can, through their own activity, ‘play' the music, generating phrases and longer passages.
The data from the motion-detection software are also mapped onto the vertical and horizontal axes of the musical score. This creates a graphic allusion to the physical space as well as to the keyboard projected into it, highlighting the sequencing of the notes in the compositions and the way they're linked to the space and to the movements of the audience/participants.
Progressing through the building, visitors next encounter Józef Robakowski's 2004 work Attention: Light! - a work that startles with its intense use of colour and light in an audiovisual manifestation of synesthesia. Attention: Light! was inspired by a film that the famous American artist and experimenter Paul Sharits made in 1981 in Robakowski's apartment in Łódź under the influence of a potent dose of Chopin's mazurkas. Sharits's tape was lost, but a few years later he sent Robakowski a sketch that served as a production plan when - after Sharits's death - Robakowski made a video version of the lost work in collaboration with Wiesław Michalak.
Robakowski describes the situation that gave rise to the original film, when Sharits, who was then on crutches, came to Poland and was staying at Robakowski's apartment:
"Under the influence of a Chopin record that I'd put on full blast, [Sharits] grabbed my camera, hauled himself out on the balcony and started waving the camera around vigorously in time to the blaring mazurkas. That film was never made, because martial law was imposed and the tape was lost somewhere in a state lab where it had been left to be developed. But that performance had made a very powerful impression on us. We were very close at the time. You could say we fell in love because of Chopin and art."
The new installation version of this work - Attention: Light! 2.0 is yet another incarnation of Sharits's and Robakowski's idea, created by Paweł Janicki. He has created digital algorithmic sound-generated images that are broken down into pure colors. Each note played by a Disklavier controls the multi-screen video projection, in which specific colours are assigned to particular piano sounds. Using the vast array of moods discovered in Chopin's 58 Mazurkas, Robakowski creates an absorbing, exhilarating visual experience of some of piano's finest literature.
The installation on which the exhibition based its name is Jarosław Kapuściński's Where Is Chopin? ["Gdzie jest Chopin?"], an audiovisual composition for Disklavier & multichannel projection. The point of reference is an original composition that Kapuściński based on Chopin's 24 Preludes (Op. 28). A programmed MIDI-capable piano plays the pieces, and the notes activate a multichannel video projection showing the faces of rapt listeners. The images are the artist's search for traces of Chopin's music on the faces of people listening to it.
To carry out this project, Kapuściński performed a series of concerts in selected cities in countries where Chopin is hugely popular but where he personally never set foot (Tokyo, San Francisco, Wellington, Sydney, Seoul, Beijing, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Helsinki, Buenos Aires, Santiago and Mexico City). During these concerts camera operators and photographers working with Kapuściński documented the emotional reactions of the listeners to Chopin's Preludes.
The three installations were commissioned jointly by the WRO Art Center, the Warsaw Autumn Contemporary Music Festival and Stanford University for the 2010 Chopin Anniversary Year, and were co-funded by the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the Polish Cultural Institute in London.
For the UK opening of Where's Chopin? and at a private viewing of the exhibition on September 24 (by invitation only), Kapuściński will perform his original composition based on Chopin's Preludes, controlling the real-time multichannel projection.
Curator: Piotr Krajewski.
Preview: September 24, 2010, at 5:00-8:00 PM.
Exhibition runs through October 10, 2010.
Dilston Grove Gallery
Southwark Park, Londyn