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University College of Opera

ALEX NOWITZ 80% seminar "Intercourse with Ghosts: ‘Haunted Territories’ revisited"

Alex Nowitz is a Doctoral Candidate at the University College of Opera since 1 September 2014. His doctoral project is "The Multivocal Practitioner: A Celebration of Vocal Arts". Now it's time for Alex Nowitz 80% seminar "Intercourse with Ghosts: ‘Haunted Territories’ revisited".

The seminar reconstructs a performance and unveils its creative processes with a focus on the interweaving of vocal and bodily practices and sound art. The reflection, a live commentary on various video clips, is based on the preparations and the premiere performance of Haunted Territories, an extended vocal and bodily art performance for two soloists, a female dancer and a male vocal performer who combines the human voice with gesture-controlled live electronics, called the strophonion. The performance took place on the 4th February 2018 in Studio A of Radialsystem V Berlin.

Haunted Territories is inspired by Franz Kafka who elaborated on the notion that ‘The easy possibility of writing letters [...] must have brought wrack and ruin to the souls of the world. […] Writing letters is actually an intercourse with ghosts and by no means just with the ghost of the addressee but also with one's own ghost’.[1] Following Kafka, Haunted Territories circles around the notion that modern communication yields ghost phenomena, and the more technological means are deployed, the more this is the case. It also addresses the idea that emerging fields along the way of their exploration become 'haunted territories'. We have to overcome our fear and insecurity whenever we enter unknown and unexplored terrain. What we need in order to cross and push boundaries, is to endure crises and to develop fearlessness, strength and persistence, stamina and an incessant joy for exploration. With regard to the overlapping of vocal, sonic and bodily practices, the performer must allow the intermingling and the imbuing of each other. The performance’s title points at those kinds of intersections of performance practices that are hitherto unknown and that emerge precisely because they become entangled. Following Nicholas Till’s statement that ‘new artistic forms demand new working processes’, the seminar unveils two long-term collaboration processes with dancer-choreographer Florencia Lamarca and software programmer of digital instruments, Sukandar Kartadinata.[2] With regard to the latter the ambiguous relation between performer and applied technology is addressed by shedding light on the distress the performer is confronted with, on the one hand, and revealing experiences and strategies for how to overcome this, on the other.

The goal of the performance was to map unexplored performance territories out of three practices, i.e. the vocal, sonic and bodily. The seminar aims at elucidating the offsetting of performance-typical practice demarcations and abolishing conventional approaches in order to create open spaces that allow novel kind of experiences for both performer(s) and audience.

[1] See Franz Kafka: Letters to Milena, trans. by Philip Boehm (New York: Schocken Books, 1990), p. 223. [2] Nicholas Till, ’Hearing Voices – Transcriptions of the Phonogram of a Schizophrenic: music-theatre for performer and audio-visual media’, in Composed Theatre: Aesthetics, practices, processes, ed. by Matthias Rebstock and David Roesner (Bristol, UK; Chicago, USA: Intellect, 2012), p. 191.

Moderator:
Anna Lindal (SWE)

Discussant: 
Matthias Rebstock, Prof. for Scenic Music in Hildesheim (GER)

1st Supervisor: 
Rolf Hughes (UK)

2nd Supervisor:
Sten Sandell (SWE)

For more information on designing and playing the strophonion, a custom-built, wireless and gesture-controlled live electronics, see: the strophonion

Find out more about Alex Nowitz doctoral project: "The Multivocal Practitioner: A Celebration of Vocal Arts"

Read more about Alex Nowitz on our website: Alex Nowitz