My initial reaction to the music (http://www.longplayer.org) is that I find it very haunting. It’s very atmospherical, but also rather theological. It reminds me of Tibetan monks and temple bells, but then they’re Tibetan singing bowls. Meanwhile when certain bells play my dog Henry charges downstairs and barks at the front door making me jump, so maybe not as calming as it could be.
I certainly get the motivation behind the piece, and I find it does make you consider the cosmos, and our place within it. Knowing the piece will be playing long after my body has decomposed into dust adds a philosophical approach to listening to the piece. Will someone rewind the music at a later date, to this place and time, when I’m listening to it? Doesn’t that make this piece an exploration of time travel as well?
I’m sure when Jem Finer considered the instruments to use in the piece, he wanted to go with something ethereal. The bells certainly fill the space around me, even through laptop speakers. I wonder if Finer has ever visited Jodrell Bank because the sounds certainly complement the space sounds that are played there from the satellites.
The quality of the sound is great, really clear and I presume this was one of the reasons singing bowls were chosen as they are both crisp and carry the notes for a long space of time. They also cut through other noise, which I imagine would be very important if the site became busy. The longevity of the instruments were also an important consideration, many other instruments would need more maintenance as strings or reeds would need replacing. I love that the bowls can be played equally well by machine and person. With the webpage discussing artificial intelligence and the question of will machines be able to emotionally create art. Will this happen within the timescale of the composition?
I find the 2 perspectives of the piece really interesting, if I visit the site I’m kept out on the peripheral of the instruments looking in, but not able to really see the complexity of the arrangement. Whereas the view online seems more inclusive, the bird’s eye view feels like I’m more connected.
The connection with the cosmos and the repetition within it, is seen throughout the website. It talks about revolutions of planets and how some take 1000 years to circle their star. So although the piece was designed as a time-based piece I find, personally, it’s more about space and place.
There is an interesting dilemma about how the composition has been designed to last 1000 years. The choice of instrument and computer based performance is fine, but as with all art there is an element of doubt as to whether it will last the full term. I can see the practical side of using a computer, however with computer technology moving at such a vast rate of progression, will the piece become impossible to play on future technology?
Emulating a solar system, with its concentric circles, Longplayer rings out an atmospheric composition using a mix of man and technology based performers . Jem Finer uses Tibetan singing bowls to contemplate our place within the universe through a philosophical solar year of 1000 years. Although you are able to view the bowls at Trinity Buoy Wharf in London, the design of the piece has taken into account the fact the piece may have to moved, and this keeps the audience on the outside of the revolutions of sound. However Finer’s clever use of internet based technologies, such as live streaming, has allowed human interaction through artificial intelligence. It’s a clever juxtaposition between man and machine, which does leave you contemplating our existing in the future.