simulacrum chamber orchestra


Using devices already integrated in computers (laptops), for instance: sound-card (microphone and speakers), video-card (camera and screens), network communication (wireless connection) – simulacrum chamber orchestra explore the computer as a simulacrum musician.

As a meta-instrument, that combines different Medias and software, the computer could be thought of as platform able to operate as an audiovisual studio in real time (recording, transmitting, sampling, cutting, editing, synthesizing sound and image, showing scores as well as generating them).

In those aspects computers merge operations as well as functions (meta-media): recording, transmission, reception and reproduction of audiovisual material, thinking of the computer as a kind of performative simulacrum which melts the notion of instrument and instrumentalist in a hybrid interactive environment that deals with human and nonhuman aspects.

Duo violin piano version

SChO was created after the invitation of the Duo Hellvist&Amaral (violin and piano). I asked the duo to choose one of the pieces of their repertoire that could be interesting in terms of gesture (visually and sonically). Based on those recommendations they chose the piece Dikhthas (1979) by Iannis Xenakis.

Heloisa Amaral - rehearsal Berlin Jul 2013

Duo Hellqvist&Amaral - Oct 2013 - NMH - Oslo

Simulacrum chamber orchestra (SChO)

The SChO is a hybrid group founded by musicians and simulacra musicians. Each simulacrum will store a framework that will be coordinated and arranged by a "script-score" managed by the master computer to create interactions between musicians and the simulacra. The SChO is sketched below as a group which consists of two musicians and two simulacra. In principle there is no fixed number of musicians and simulacra. It means that this project is at the same time a flexible proposal in the sense that could include different kinds of group formats.

Simulacrum musician

Each musician has their respective simulacrum. The simulacrum musician is embodied physically by an audiovisual system, which constitutes of the following devices: computer, camera, TV, mic, sound-card and speaker. This audiovisual system displays the image (television screen) and sound (speaker) of the musician recorded live and remixed during the performance. (image )


In some ways this project is a continuation of experimentations that I’ve been developed with Alexandre Fenerich on the project Duo N-1 where we've appropriated different technologies gathering video and sound to integrate them in music live performance. SChO seeks to extend the concept of meta-instrument - explored in the piece-installation Lanhouse Concert and Laptop Choral - that considers the computer and LAN (Local Area Network) as multimedia instrument.

NMH - 28 Oct 2013 / Oslo

Process and parts

For this reason the SChO uses properties included in the Dikhthas’ score as a source of elements to re-coordinate elements inside the main structure for the performance that is divided into five parts. 1) At first the duo plays the Xenakis’ piece, in parallel, the computers record the performance (image and sound). 2) when the piece is finished, the simulacra musicians start to do an audio-visual remix with the material recorded and the musicians leave the stage. 3) The simulacra play samples displaying only images on the screens. The duo returns to stage to play imitating (sounding) the gestures displayed on the screens. 4) The simulacra play image or sound, as the 3rd part the musician follow the image of themselves displayed on the screens, other times they remain silent when the simulacra makes sounds (via speakers). 5) The simulacra play (sound and image) the musicians follow the gestures (sound and image) of them. The duration of the simulacra (2nd to 5th parts) is the same as the Dikhthas piece (1st part).

Score / metascore

The Xenakis’ score acquire a double function, first as a primary score for the musicians, second as a meta-score for the simulacra. The metascore re-articulates the data flow of the audio and video data grabbed.  For instance, the moments and the duration (were the simulacrum piano, simulacrum violin and both musician play) follow the sequence and the proportion time of the instruments correspondently in Dikhthas’ score. Additionally, other parameters are extracted from the Dikhthas’ score to control how the samples are played during the performance. For instance the ratios that exist on the Xenakis score are references to control the proportions of grains of each sampler of simulacra as well as the proportion of them. The Xenakis’ score was used as a meta-score or score-tools to create another script-score that coordinates the way that simulacra play.

Beyond the score function that provide for the musicians instructions for the performance (live), the Dikhthas’ score has been used to articulated the stored data material (sound and image stored on the memory of the computers). This aspect makes us consider the Dikhthas’ score as a meta-score (source of metadata) that is used to re-combine the samples stored on the memories (computer-simulacrum) as well as it is a reference to co-ordinate the data flow of the data.

Hybrid environment / open group formats

Following the concept of meta-instrument the simulacra mix functions of record, play, generate process, random score, data store, coordinating distributed process of data flow via network, etc. During the 3rd part the simulacrum works at the same time as a visual score for the musicians, when the musicians imitate the gestures of themselves displayed on the screens. Other times it plays like a musician coordinating samples of the previous performance (4-5th part). The possibilities of functions combinations provide a kind of environment with different layers of interactions that guide the performance. The purpose of the SChO is to deal with some strategies that merge and remediate the own performance on the stage. Somehow the main work was to create a stable system (Simulacrum Orchestra) capable to establish a mixed performance on the stage. Creating a hybrid environment with human and nonhuman actors that could be open furthermore to transposable of different chamber orchestra formats.

dikhthas / dual entity / simulacrum

"This piece is like a personage made up of two natures, it is like a dual entity (dikhthas). Indeed these two natures contradict each other although sometimes they merge in rhythm and harmony. This confrontation is realized in a variable dynamic flux which exploits the specific traits of the two instruments." (Xenakis 1979 - Score of Dikhthas)

The piece explores the simulacrum as a personage of the musician, a double of them that seems to be contradicted but they merged somehow. The simulacrum is a doubler of the musicians as well as an extension of them.

Karin Hellqvist - rehearsal Berlin Jul 2013

What is it?

Simulacrum Chamber Orchestra (SChO) is an audiovisual live performance that tries to establish a dialogue with chamber music in the field of “media art”. It brings to the stage an environment with acoustic instruments, computers, video cameras and screens.

The goal of this work is to create an interactive environment where the gestures of the musicians will be recorded (by cameras and microphones) while they play a piece of their repertoire. Each computer will store a framework that will be coordinated and arranged by a meta-score creating a special situation of interaction between music and the simulacra musicians. The proposal is to emulate a Simulacrum Chamber Orchestra (SChO), constituted by simulacra musicians.

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+ Oslo - Norwegian Centre for Technology in Music and Arts (NOTAM), Oct. 2013.