Fall 2023 Concert

CECM Fall 2023 Concert - Program Notes

This concert was streamed by IUMusicLive! on December 3, 2023. We would like to thank Tony Tadey for operating the cameras, encoding the stream, and providing technical advice. Kevin Shima led the team of students who mixed our 8-channel live sound to stereo for the stream.

Alexander Toth: bug garden

bug garden is an interactive installation that makes use of computer vision and colored lights to control a soundscape. Little creatures float around in the dark, making small noises; you can join in on this small music-making by moving creatures around or directly influencing the soundscape with a colored light. This installation takes place in a dimly-lit room, so please be mindful of yourself and the space you share with others.

[This piece does not appear on the video, because it was an installation in another room.]

Huan Sun: Echoes of Ink and Flow

In collaboration with Zitao (Victor) Zhang, this four-channel live performance is controlled by two sensors sewn onto gloves, integrating an IMU system for hand gesture interpretation. The computer processes sensor data, triggering diverse musical elements and spatializations in response to the performer’s movements. As a guided sonic curator, I draw inspiration from Chinese ink paintings, translating gestures into a sonic narrative. The attached Chinese ink painting serves as a visual companion, enhancing the audience’s immersion in the rich cultural tapestry. The piece echoes the sounds of a flowing river, the delicate movement of fish, and the emotional resonance of a poet (“The clouds and mountains are vast, the river flows endlessly” “云山苍苍,江水泱泱”). Central to the composition is the Guqin, a traditional Chinese instrument, whose timbres blend seamlessly with natural sounds, evoking the essence of rivers and winds. Echoes of Ink and Flow is a fusion of gestures, technology, and Chinese aesthetics, bridging ancient traditions with contemporary expression. (Ink painting, Autumn Mountains Boating Scene, by Huang Yi, Qing Dynasty)

Autumn Mountains Boating Scene by Huang Yi, Qing Dynasty

Minho Kang: The Myst

Walking in the mist
Nothing beyond the wall

Standing in the mist
Slowly pushing me into the wall

Running in the mist
No more room to breathe no more

Into the unknown fog, smoke, smog

Yeoul Choi: Palette

Last summer, I was inspired by Neo-Impressionism artists’ work after appreciating Van Gogh’s works at The Art Institute of Chicago. Their works: Vincent van Gogh (1853~1890), Georges Seurat(1859~1891), and Paul Signac(1863~1935) feature some unique characteristics. The one thing that I mostly focused on was “pointillism.” They never blend the color pigments. Instead, they juxtapose various colors to create the illusion of blending. If we go closer to the canvas, we can see numerous colors on the canvas. 

I thought their coloring technique could be transferred into a musical idea along with visual elements. I used eight microphone amplifiers with LED strips, microcontrollers, which are reactive to the sound. Also, I made LED light canvases on the board. In Palette (2023), a player is a sound painter, a snare drum can work as a color palette and two DIY LED light canvases would radiate various colors according to the sound. I invite you to my journey of exploring colors of sounds.

Jacob Wilkinson: Bone

The passage from Hegel comes from his famous discussion of the pseudo-sciences of physiognomy and phrenology in the Phenomenology of Spirit. In this section, self-consciousness attempts to find itself as an objective, physical reality. In the various stages traversed it is manifested as an organ, as action, as visible contemplation of action, and finally as the cold, hard reality of bone. I thought it would be an interesting text to work with in a context where subtleties of physical gesture and speech could be transformed into objectively quantifiable data through the mediation of technology. The form of the piece was developed by improvising with different pen gestures on the Wacom tablet within simple sound environments designed in Kyma. In a sense, one could say its skeleton grew out of its skin, an inversion of the painful gaia scienza alluded to in the text of Aleksander Wat (whom Czesław Miłosz once called an “anti-Hegelian”) that concludes the work. In between the frame of texts dealing with organic structure are two lines from one of Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus where physical gesture (“the lovely hand’s more beautiful hesitation”) is directly opposed to the image of a threatening machine. In this piece, the threat of the machine is very real — feedback noises are allowed to ring almost beyond comfort, and the repertoire of sounds is a distinctly violent one. However, this threat is held in check by physical gestures operating on controls linked to the Wacom tablet. In this way, I have tried to heed Rilke’s warning that the machine must never “exist in spirit” but only “in obedience.”

The glass sounds were recorded by Mary Gilbert, Sam Shoemaker, and myself. Speech sounds were contributed by Mary Gilbert, Katharina Schmid-Schmidsfelden, Sofiya Bodnar, and David Gould. Key to the development of my understanding of the Hegel were remarks of and conversations with David Gould, Sara Albert, and Clara Martinez Zuviria.

Yoonjae Choi: Horizon is Too Dark

I was standing on a dark, deep horizon.
The deep dark horizon in the dead of night,
cold, quiet echo lingered there.

Yao Hsiao: Daiyu

This composition draws inspiration from the traditional Chinese opera, The Dream of the Red Chamber, unfolding a tragic love story within a family facing financial decline. Due to familial interests, Baoyu Jia was deceived into marrying another girl on the wedding day, deeply hurting his beloved Daiyu, who was already gravely ill. In response, Daiyu burns all memories of their relationship, including jointly created poems, manuscripts, and a scarf gifted by Baoyu. The destruction of each memory prompts reflections on their shared moments, culminating in her sorrowful demise.

Daiyu, a renowned character in Chinese literature, is characterized by her sensitivity, virtuous demeanor, and fragile health, coupled with literary talent. In this composition, I express the elegance of traditional Chinese culture and Daiyu’s charm through the delicate presentation of Yue opera. Also, I integrate the dialect and performance style of Yue opera with computer music techniques, relating the hand touching behavior on iPad to Daiyu’s connection with drafts and books. The piece is divided into three sections: the first explores Lin Daiyu’s memories, incorporating dialogues and melodies from the Yue opera; the second employs the traditional Yue opera performance with singing and theatrical posture moves portraying the role of Daiyu; in the third, Daiyu revisits her memories, symbolically burning them along with her body, granting her soul freedom to reunite with the moments in the garden where she and Baoyu once shared.

The white scarf covering Daiyu’s face symbolizes her resentment and sorrow for being unable to marry her love. In her hand, it serves as a token to wipe away countless tears. When thrown away, it signifies the tragic end of the protagonist, taking away all memories and grievances, leaving nothing for her love.


(Flowers fall, and one’s fate is unknown.)
Throughout my life, I’ve been a companion to poetry and literature.
New people and rules fill the house of green delight, but only old items and drafts remain in The Naiad’s House.
Look at these poetic drafts in my hands... ...
這詩稿... ...
I offer my heartbroken writings to the flames, severing all emotional connections from now on.
(Who knew there were others in the garden; I can only secretly shed tears to bury fallen flowers.)

Xinyuan Deng: 触 (Chù)

触 (Chù), my sonic journey with Kyma and the Wacom tablet, invites listeners into a nuanced exploration of touch — a concept encapsulated by the Chinese character “触.” In this musical story, fingers gently interact with the digital canvas, creating melodies inspired by the mysterious language of the pen fairy. Each deliberate pen stroke acts like a spell, smoothly turning into enchanting melodies.

Alexey Logunov: Unknown Worlds

Unknown worlds for violin, live electronics and interactive video is about fear of unknown. Every new scientific research or piece of art brings the excitement of changing our reality. Every moment on the verge of discovery is a step into the darkness. Everyone who explores new, is driven by a desire for innovation. But in the end, we never know what is hidden in unknown worlds.

Sam Parnin: Engagement Quota

Every person has their own preferred amount of entertainment that they wish to consume. This can be thought of in many different ways, such as whether a person seeks a maximal stimulus concentrated in a singular event or whether they seek constant low dosages across a long stretch of time. In this piece various vignettes are presented, demanding different levels of attention. The focus isn’t to jerk the listener around, but rather to show how the varied sonic landscape can create an engaging composite.

Anne Liao: Tile Contact

I brought this ceramic tile back from Paris this past summer. It is a nice piece of tile that makes a resonant sound, and I thought to myself: What if this piece of tile can perform some magic other than covering the floors and walls? I use two contact mics to pick up sounds made on the tile and turn that into a controller that triggers changes in the visuals. Sometimes the tile is the source of sound; other times, it acts as a trigger for some pre-recorded sounds.