SATSYMPH, Performance Of The Future
Article by Nazzarena Arman for Espaces Arts & Objets.
Watch the specially commissioned film about SATSYMPH one of the 5 finalists for the New Music Award 2010.
If performance is the result of the interaction between a living being, its actions and the space in which it all happens, then SATSYMPH is quintessentially the first and most significant leap forward in terms of artistic performance of this century. SATSYMPH breaks all the rules and conventions we have so far accepted about art. It consists of creating a parallel dimension to our everyday life and forming an organic and experiential world in its own right. SATSYMPH, which stands for Satellite Symphony, liberatingly and irrevocably blurs the boundaries between creator, executor and listener giving the latter the freedom to create without constraints.
SATSYMPH uses the latest GPS enabled technology to present artistic content to the public, in the form of words and sounds of the highest quality. As such SATSYMPH becomes an all-embracing work of art, intrinsically entwining the man-made to the not-man-made. It also revolutionises the way artists can think about their work, programming it down to the millimetre to allow each one of us to create our own performance in a given space, entirely dependant on the listeners’ choices and actions.
This part-art, part-technology installation is totally invisible. Having no visual element, the opportunity for those members of the public who may usually be resolutely against public art to attack and detract from it is, therefore, minimised. Access is reserved strictly to those people who choose to tap into it. The green credentials of SATSYMPH look very good indeed: nothing is physically created. Above all, nothing remains after the performance: no refuse is produced and there are no issues of where and how to preserve this opera (Italian for a dramatised work of music as well as work of art). Once the symphony has been painstakingly allocated an open space and the application uploaded to a receiver, phone or GPS display, the listener can interact with it freely, always occupying only virtual space. But SATSYMPH is no virtual reality exercise; rather it is something that is here to stay, permanently embedded in a new kind of reality: that of the future.
As a performance theory person who has spent a considerable amount of time waiting for something like SATSYMPH to happen, without being able to put my finger on exactly what I was waiting for, allow me to rejoice at SATSYMPH. Hail the team of creators Marc Yeats, Ralph Hoyte and Phil Phelps for finally being able to position themselves on the shoulders of those proverbial giants and sit there with tranquil unawareness and indifference. Both Marc and Ralph had the cheek to tell me that they have very little knowledge of who and what they are sitting on. They came up with the idea via completely independent means from the traditional academic study of the humanities. But this fits in with who they are: doers.
The giants I refer to are the embodiment of ideas which have formed in the centuries since records begun. There has been a long, long build up to this endeavour. How long? Well, it might be worthwhile to mention the “constant flowing of all things” (Πάντα ῥεῖ) which Heraclitus, a philosopher who lived between 535 and 475 BC, initiated by stating that “ever-newer waters flow on those who step into the same rivers”.
This is one of the first concepts set in stone in Greek philosophy, one which has since challenged generations of philosophers and intellectuals throughout the centuries. Reality is constantly in motion, ever-changing, yet manifesting itself in forms that are always constant: the river is always the river, even if the water changes continuously. So, by walking through a SATSYMPH-equipped space, anyone can be in the ever-changing flow of sound. One cannot get much more per-forming than that: forming music in virtue of the fact of existing in a specific space, doing something simple like walking or standing still.
Most crucially, because everyone is different and does different things in different ways at different times, the music that everyone is creating is, by default, unique. This river of fugeant (fusion-sound-word), as Ralph likes to point out, can then be stored away and played and re-played again at will. I wonder what good old Heraclitus would make of SATSYMPH’s application; he would have cause to feel very proud, for someone has finally proven one of the possible interpretations of his work in practice, not just words.
Performance could not be demonstrated and ontologically grasped in a more succinct and down to earth manner than via SATSYMPH. Sensorial fun, intellectual novelty and audience participation could hardly be more democratically mixed together and shared around. Perhaps, it is now time for a new meaning of the word ‘performance’ and the latest corollary to many other concepts in our intellectual toolkit, because, yes, SATSYMPH simply is that kind of seminal work!!
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