Four percussionists, modified bass drums and various drum robots investigate the relationship between man and machine in the transdisciplinary work MA(N|CHINE) by Zeno van den Broek. In the characteristically pared-down yet intense minimalistic visual and musical style of this acclaimed maker, performers from the digital domain enter into dialogue with those of flesh and blood. An overwhelming exploration of the area of tension that exists between the algorithmic and the human in composition and performance.
Visuals & composition: Zeno van den Broek
Commissioned & performed by: Slagwerk Den Haag
Percussion: Joāo Borralho, Joey Marijs, Dimitris Pliatsikas, Frank Wienk.
Structure of the piece
Movement I – SYSTEM
Movement one functions as an independent system of the electronics, without any human presence: the drum robots, visuals and modified bass-drums. The system performs with its own algorythmic logic.
At the end of the movement the human performers make contact with the system, triggering an interference after which the system “shuts down”.
Movement II – MIMICRY
During movement two the human performers interact and discover the electronic system and they manipulate the performance of the system by applying pressure on the skins of the bass-drums.
When the system starts performing pulses the human performers follow and mimic the rhythms performed by the robots: at first like two birds in a forest, responding to each other without being clear who’s asking and who’s responding. As the system speeds up the performers become more interlocked, slowly working towards the synchronisation of movement three.
Movement III – SYNC
Movement three starts with a total synchronisation of all performers. This ‘sync’ shifts between different variations and relations. Movement three slowly evolves from ‘total sync’ to ‘total freedom’: the human performers get more and more space for improvisation, in which the robots have a supporting role.
Performance of Movement III
Example of a few pages of the score