ManiFeste Festival, high mass of multimedia technology at the Center Pompidou

Couples lying on air mattresses of uncertain shapes, strollers leaning on balustrades or seated on wooden benches, the south terrace of the Center Pompidou, in Paris, looks like the banks of the Seine, Saturday June 11, at the end of the afternoon. midday. However, although most of them are wearing sunglasses, these fans of idleness in the fresh air did not go up to level 5 of the great vessel of contemporary art to perfect their tan, but to discover Silent Echoes, sound sculpture by Bill Fontana presented until July 2 as part of the ManiFeste Festival of the Institute for Acoustic/Music Research and Coordination (Ircam).

Broadcast by around thirty loudspeakers placed at face level all around this promenade with a breathtaking view of the rooftops of Paris, the composition of the American artist (born in 1947) finds its origin in the vibrations of the ten bells of Notre Dame de Paris. Seismic phenomena that occur constantly and that an overpowered sensor can capture and transform into sound.

“The secret voice of Notre-Dame”, inaccessible to the human ear, then becomes, through the computerized grace of Ircam, a music that bears witness to “the spiritual life of the cathedral”, summarizes, amazed, Bill Fontana. “It’s too good! », comes to tell him a teenager, happy to have lived this experience with his sister and his mother who, she, wants to underline the character “symbolic” of creation. Following the course of these galactic sounds, veritable dust of bronze stars that defy time and space, while having before our eyes the towers of the building in danger from which they come gives, in fact, the impression of participating celebrating a rebirth.


One floor higher, near the entrance to galleries 1 and 2 of the museum, another device taken from the holds of Ircam – Tact, accessible free of charge until July 7 – allows you to be even more active in the field of soundscapes. Three creations follow one another on a touch screen, each of which can reshape the image and the music associated with it as it sees fit. A view of the Île Saint-Louis, on the residential side, with vocal swarms very much in the vein of Georges Aperghis, or the facade of the Center Pompidou that Didem Coskunseven, a young Turkish composer, invites you to tap on like a gigantic synthesizer.

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The omnipotence of computer music will perhaps awaken vocations in children, who already handle Tact like “pros”. Alexander Schubert (German born in 1979), he swears by it. His latest creation, AnimaTM, will have proved it once again for ninety minutes in the great hall, crowded as ever, of the Center Pompidou. On stage, the seven members of the Decoder Ensemble mimic, with remarkable precision, the different stages of the dehumanization imposed on them by their stay in an institute managed by an Artificial Intelligence. Their voice, their movements, the slightest movements of their bodies are subject to a mutant sound system. Without the use of virtual reality, this pseudo-ritual would be ineffective. With the orgy of effects with which its designer intoxicates, it achieves a baroque dimension that does not touch – the expression is clinical – but imposes. Like a high mass of multimedia technology.

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