Teratogenesis (2017)

 
 

Premiere: Waterworks Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts, April 2017
An earlier version of the piece was exhibited at Transmediale Festival “Ever Elusive”-exhibition, Berlin, Germany, February 2017

Performance by Jonathan Beilin and Magnus Pind
Synthesizers by Nullsleep (Jeremiah Johnson)
Human vocals by Anja Thietze

A landscape sings of its coming of age: Songs about wounds, explosions, vastly different time scales, and its heart. Sometimes you can hear words, other times only train tracks, hard disks spinning, machinery, a distant forest.

Concerned with the connection between humans, industrialization and natural resources, the piece questions: What is the agency of seemingly ‘dead’ materials, such as iron? Collectively, are humans also just a ‘material’?

The short opera centers the landscape on stage, represented by a human-scale model. The landscape sings with a computer-human hybrid voice. Behind the landscape, video projections create a backdrop of mediated landscapes, wounds, and industrial processes. The landscape itself is transformed via projection-mapping.

The libretto is written in collaboration with a neural network trained on texts about manufacturing, raw metal materials, mythology, and operas. The neural network’s haunting and uncanny sentences evoke a different, mechanistic approach to language, bringing the audience closer to the perception non-human agents have of us.