The COVID-19 pandemic brought a sudden and drastic change to our daily lives. As social distance was advocated to prevent the spread of infection, the use of various technologies for staging a virtual contact with others spread as quickly as the virus to compensate for the loss of physical contact. Music also followed this trend and concerts using ZOOM and other online communication systems began to take place everywhere. However, the majority of these attempts appeared to only aim at virtually reproducing the sort of musical experience people had been accustomed to, and not many of them took advantage of this change in the media environment to rethink the way music is composed, performed, and experienced.
In this concert, we will imagine that ZOOM could be regarded not as a transparent medium for simulating what has been lost, but as a “musical instrument” equipped with particular biases and affordances, and that there could be a new genre of music that can only be performed and experienced via this instrument: ZOOMUSIC.
Like all technology, ZOOM is biased by the political and economic forces and historical circumstances that created it, and functions by enabling many things while inhibiting many others. As we explore the specific nature of this instrument—its unique signal processing algorithm, interface design, the degree of indeterminacy, or the way it coordinates sound and image—the conceptual categories usually applied to music such as performer/audience, score/instrument, live/recording, music/non-music become dissolved, forcing us to think, perform, and experience music in unusual ways. For example, music performance could overlap extensively with filmmaking, and the very idea of “composition” or “work” might be called into question. On the other hand, choosing to experience ZOOMUSIC offline might approximate being present at a public broadcast of a television program, perhaps changing the meaning of an in-person music concert.
Please join us for a concert in the time of (post-)COVID-19, where strange new forms of music and pseudo-music will roam around inside and outside the venue, perhaps a bit like the park that places wild animals on display evoked by its title. The only thing we ask in advance is for you to make a selection (like a good critic): whether to experience it online or in-person.