Prepared Piano

with Aki Hoffman

A recent interactive performative installations “Sonograms” of the new media artist Alexandra Dementieva was inspired by the works of the two prominent Russian contemporaries: artist Wassily Kandinsky and composer Igor Stravinsky, and their experiments with sound/color waves-frequencies associations.  The project aims to examine a dynamic relationship between audio and visual perception and comprises a series of collaborations with different musicians.

Paired with visuals in film or theatre, music traditionally plays the secondary role usually following the development of the image. In case of opera, or contemporary video clips, the music leads the visuals. However, Alexandra Dementieva focuses her camera on the third party - a musical instrument itself, to depict and reveal for the first time through visual imaging the obscured physical aspects of the performance for both the musician and his audience.

In “Untitled” Dementieva aspires to explores the architecture of the acoustics by inserting a visual recording device into the bodies of different musical instruments. The miniature video cameras capture the distribution of light or energy at different frequencies and stream the images onto a screen positioned in front of a musician, who becomes aware of architectonics of the sounds he produces on his instrument, which allows him to observe and control the effects in the course of his performance. Choosing the position or angle of the cameras and manipulating light, color or contrast of the images via the remote control, Dementieva assumes the role of a movie director. A musician consequently represents both conductor, who translates the musical harmony and rhythm into the displayed imagery, and performer, who coordinates his movements or breathing with visualizations they produced on the screen. Therefore, a challenge for the former and the latter is to synchronize their efforts.

The idea for the duration of the project is to sample several different instruments and to experiment with various camera options in order to conduct an arrangement for a duet, quartet or the whole orchestra. Which can lead to a broader scope of effects from amplified sounds and overtones as well as to surprising visual pastiche.