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Sacred technologies: an autoethnographic exploration of a musician’s relationship with electronic technology.

Starting Year : 2019

Abstract : This doctoral project examines the relationship between humans and technological objects in the context of music performance. It is practice-based research consisting of a written part and four new performances. Each performance focuses on specific electronic music technology such as electric guitar, microphone, speaker, synthesizer and computer. If the more realistic objective of this artistic research project is to deepen my connection with technological objects, the ultimate goal is to make myself believe that these technologies are sacred. 

The method of this research is partly based on autoethnography as it analyzes and criticizes my life events related to my relationship with technological objects and my experiences of the sacred. To fuel this ethnography, I’m creating ritualistic sound performances, where I stage and deconstruct these objects according to my understanding of their sacredness. 

This doctorate is partly a psychological experiment on myself through which I explore the process of belief formation. In doing so, this project examines the mythical and enchanting dimensions of electricity and how this can enable a sacred view of technological objects to emerge. It also explores new ways of interacting with electronic technologies and aims at providing insights into the ritualistic nature of music performance.

1st performance: Le Refuge des Cordes  (Summer 2020)

Photograph by Maija Tammi

Le Refuge des Cordes is an installation/performance consisting of a room-sized interactive sonic sculpture. It is the first work produced as part of my doctoral project at Sibelius Academy. The work aims to metamorphose the electric guitar into a sacred space. The sculpture is 4 meters tall and around 2 meters in circumference. 6 custom-made electric monochords are suspended around a thick Tarzan rope. Six heavy rocks are suspended under the monochords creating tension in the strings. A layer of wood chips covers the floor beneath the stones. Above each string is a small halo of 16 LED’s and a hexagonal structure hovers above the whole room.

 

During the installation, audience members are invited to pluck the strings using their hands, guitar picks or feathers. The low sounds of the strings resonate through the surrounding sound system. The audience can also climb the rope and play the strings from it. Climbing the rope also triggers light and sound sequences when plucking the strings. During the 35 minutes performance, an audience of between 1 and 20 people can sit around the sculpture and watch a performer executing a series of actions involving the sculpture.

 

The work was presented in the gallery Forum Box in central Helsinki from June 17th to July 12th. During that period, I performed the work every day at 1 pm for a total of over 200 audience members. The work was part of the exhibition titled The Immortal’s birthday, a collaboration with Maija Tammi.

More information about this project can be found in an exposition on the research catalogue platform.

© 2021 Charles Quevillon. 

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Contact

Charles Quevillon is a composer/performer based in Helsinki, Finland.

charlesquevillon@gmail.com