Sound Presence
Performing with Bodies and Technology

Music moves us, not just metaphorically, but also through the body. Central to this project is the role of the body and perception in our engagement with the world and the corporeal presence and the perceptual capabilities of the musical performer. The goal is an understanding of musical performance practices centred around the body. This is approached by investigating physical performing through the lenses of the body, the instrument, and the performer's awareness, sensations, and perceptions. Musical performance is seen as a cultural activity with transformational power and improvisation as a mode of playful engagement with the `new', the unmarked space, memory, and awareness. This project focuses on my practice of electronic music performance with movement- and gesture-based sound actions, but also open- form, exploratory forms of performance that emphasise interaction between dance and music as well as listening to open spaces.

de Singel, Antwerpen, Belgium, 19/04/2017, full performance, duration 1:09:04
00:00 – Montreal (Quebec CA)
04:09 – Intro
11:00 – Encounter I
13:16 – ‘Quarterstaff’ (2012–2017)
21:25 – Corner Brook (Newfoundland CA)
25:40 – Face to face
31:48 – ‘new islands’ (2011–2017)
41:26 – Rutland (Vermont USA)
43:17 – Encounter II
45:34 – Encounter III
47:34 – ‘Bass Vortex’ (2017)
54:44 – Wesley (Maine USA)
59:05 – Gestures
1:04:25 – Walk Among

In life, but also in arts, particularly in the performing arts on stage, there are encounters, face to face, like now.

Actual places and subjects, is where it’s at, where real events occur. Today it is this - the singular me - in this specific space - with exactly you. When I perform, for you, what is happening? You are listening to sound, giving space to sound, paying attention.

You watch me, try to make sense, understand or simply try to enjoy being here now.

You give me permission to share ideas with you. You give me permission to show myself to you. Through my sounds, my presence, my stories and ideas there is an encounter.

This concert hall situation does not make it a spontaneous meeting: we all know the rules, how to behave, what to expect, and where the limits are. At the same time, it provides freedom and safety that we don’t usually get out there in the world.

So during this hour, listen to my past and present, to my presence, to what’s here and was there, now and then. And make these places, sounds, imaginations, and stories part of your own experience.

For me sound is the material, the body provides the means, space is the carrier, time is the canvas, and this is what I need to create a performance such as this.

With the body, what happens when we immerse in the doing? We founder and have the physical presence as anchor, the sounds as materials, the instruments as objects of relation that are scaffolds of activity, and are tinged with the style-habits and patterns of music, with expectations, memories of what worked.

The body is the keeper of these unspoken, unnamed abilities to understand, to communicate, to resonate: the ear drum, yes, the solar plexus, the soles of our feet, also the imprinted traces of experiences, the patterns that are part of the fabric of who we are: all is kept in the body.

Music comes before language, it makes us vibrate with timbre, pulse, tension, phrases, rhythms, units of sound that evoke a meaning.

Listening, hearing, vibrating, resonating: all are our normal stage of being, connected to what’s around us, from the womb, the earth, the places, natural and built ones, the non-human others, plants and animals; the other; you: singular, breathing next to me at night; you: plural, the clan, the tribe, society.

Stirring and thrashing about, sound is a relation, an action, an event, it reaches you, may be perceived consciously or may be part of the environment where we evolve, making sounds, music even.

“Living close to art can be a survival strategy at a period when the stupidity of commercialisation is dressed up as a concept of wellbeing. ... The work expands and widens territories, translates the perceived reality and linguifies the present in new ways. ... I’m in movement, language, in readiness for the action that will inevitably be political.

Every human is her loneliness. We live it and occasionally share pieces of it with others in return for theirs. Most of the exchange is physical. ... Rethinking the balance between words and physical expression I now seek the unbalance, asymmetry and instability that activates all senses and demands from the onlooker a measure of creativity.

Putting yourself at the disposal of your memories, experiences, knowledge, doubt and whatever else is to draw from, gives you unreserved answers. ... Trust and faith in the work is a prerequisite for taking a risk that can lead to failure or its opposite. You live and work in the balance between vulnerability and strength.”

Efva Lilja (2016). Beyond the Ordinary, On Artistic Research and Subversive Actions rough Dance. In: S. Quinten, S. Schroedter, (eds.), Tanzpraxis in der Forschung – Tanz als Forschungspraxis, Choreographie- Improvisation-Exploration, Bielefeld: transcript Verlag, pp. 63–72.