What the blind see

for five players and live electronics

Written for Ensemble L’Instant Donné, commissioned by IRCAM / Centre Pompidou for the Festival Agora, CentQuatre, Paris, 2009. (Bcl, Vla, Hp, Pno, Perc)

What the Blind See takes as its point of departure the sonic and visual imagery of science: stars and particles, the infinitely small and infinitely large.  Written in coordination with video artist Pierre Edouard Dumora, we attempted to realize a modular project, each part complemented by the other.  The film alludes to an unheard musical work; the music evokes images isolated and abstracted from the film narrative.  But all is unified by the notion of scale: perspectives that are distant and desolate, or close and distorted.

The microscopic sounds of the instruments are amplified with contact microphones, as if captured by scientific instruments.  The electronics are modeled on field recordings of rain and snow, diffracted and projected in space.   These “concrete” sounds from instruments and natural sources are manipulated using tools developed at IRCAM in Paris and inspired by research in music cognition.  The title, taken from an article by neurologist Oliver Sacks, suggests perception as the focus of the experience.