Dissolving Archives I

Media performance, 2023

for piano quartet using smartphones, reenacting their personal sonic diary
Duration: 16:04 minutes
Composed in Frankfurt and Guangzhou, 2022-2023

This composition is part of the complation record "Breathing – Remembering – Dissolving" by Kukuruz Quartet:

Simone Keller - piano
Philip Bartels - piano
Duri Collenberg - piano
Lukas Rickli - piano

This album is sponsored by Innova Recordings and American Composers Forum’s Bay Area Pilot program with support from Pro Helvetia and the Stanford Department of Music.

Recorded at Stanford University, March 2022
Recording, Mixing, & Mastering: Zach Miley
Director of Recordings: Chris Campbell
Manager of Recordings: Tim Igel

Album released as Innova #1 077
By Innova Records, St.Paul, MN, United States
In February 2023

Innova is supported by an endowment from the McKnight Foundation

“Dissolving Archives I” is a piece about the human capacity of remembering; a capacity that is increasingly assisted, and extended by, ubiquitous everyday technology. Long before the performance, the players are each asked to record a “sonic diary” by way of attempting to remember things on their minds that are about to slip and escape from their memory; they are prompted to do so by reproducing faint and blurred recollections on a piano instrument – an arguably insufficient tool to precisely capture and archive the (sonic) past. The performers thus create diary entries on piano, recorded on their personal phones, which are written and stored on a shared web server. From there, the collected archive – a technologically perfect memory of what is an imperfect piano-recreation of the pianists’ recollections – is made available to the pianists again. In the moment of performance, they re-activate the constructed archive via their phones, as they are now tasked to repeat on the piano what they hear their phones playing from the archive. Yet given the overwhelming nature of the task – repeating an innumerable amount of diary entries at once – they necessarily fall back upon the qualities of human remembering. “Dissolving Archives I” is thus marked by artifacts of omitting, of sole adequacy instead of mastery, of failure and forgetting. What remains is a soft and porous sonic world crafted by the performers and the repeated processes of (re)mediation; a sonic world that becomes gradually denser and yet dissolves.