1 Xebec Sound Arts 7-Fujishima Emerging Light
by FUJISHIMA Yutaka (lecturer of psychology and contemporary music)

In 1994, FUJISHIMA Yutaka produced the "Strings Electric" concert as an index to a new generation of composers exploring the effective relationship between anti-modernism and electronics. In the issue, we present the final part in this five-part series of explorations that began in SoundArts vol. 3. Moreover, Fujishima will be continuing this work by inviting TANAKA Karen to perform in "Strings Electric II," scheduled to be held at Xebec in the fall.

*The Spirit of Tanaka Karen

As mentioned in the last issue, the "Strings Electric" concert that was held at Xebec Hall in November of 1994 was inspired by the sounds of desert insects electronically processed by and filled with the identity of Kevin VOLANS. There was another experience that was decisive in leading me to organize this project. It was a concert given in Osaka as part of the 19th Minon Contemporary Music Festival in July of 1993. When I heard "Initium (1992-93)" by TANAKA Karen, I intuitively knew she possessed a strong ear. Her deep interest in sound, which I had found in "Initium," became even clearer when I heard her later work, "Wave Mechanics (1994)." She may have developed these interests during her study of acoustics at IRCAM, yet it seemed to me that they had grown out of a simple interest in wave forms. However, unlike "computer boys" (*1), her interest is not rooted in the visual, but in the aural; she has listened to European music for a long time. This brings me back to the importance of facing tradition, a topic I explored in the first article in this series. I believe that her sound is the result of a struggle with the European tradition. Without this, her spirit would never have grown so strong and she would never have been able to persevere in this hard, solitary struggle. Many people find her music quite French. But within this Frenchness, she is attempting to stretch the possibilities of sound on a micro, technical level using live electronics. I began "Strings Electric" because I was motivated by her strong spirit to pursue her own identity and attempt not to escape from tradition. "Strings Electric" was planned as a process for confronting tradition with the most effective tool: electronics.
Tanaka Image

*Beginning After the Earthquake

This series of articles exploring contemporary music came about as a result of the earthquake that occurred on January 17, 1995. Although I knew Kobe and Xebec Hall had both been heavily damaged in the disaster, I didn't know what I as an individual could do at that moment. When I heard that Xebec was publishing a newsletter about their activities to keep people informed following the earthquake, I thought I would like to contribute something to it, although at the time I wasn't sure if writing would be effective or not. This resulted in this five-part series on anti-modernism. The limits of modernism, which I was rather unclear about, became clear through these articles concerned with experiments in sound that surpass serialism and post-serialism.

*Elitism in Art

The concept of "elitism" can be found in political science, sociology, and environmental sociology. PARETO (1900) and MOSCA (1896) criticized socialism as a mere fantasy to try and realize a society without classes in disregard of the historical and empirical reality of the iron laws of oligarchy. (*2) As an alternative to elitist concepts, participatory democracy (*3) was favored in the 1960s, and citizens have therefore come to participate in decision-making in every field of culture. Social systems that were founded on a system of "elite management" have moved toward citizen-powered "public service." As scientific technology was also included in culture, people came to believe that "science should not be left up to scientists." What about art? Shouldn't art be left up to artists? BOULEZ's idea about "studying tradition," which I alluded to in my first article, also represents the elitist position. On the contrary, NYMAN has shown his strong opposition to elitist-dominated art. Similar kinds of opposing viewpoints also exist in the computer world. In centers where large computers are used for research, whether or not a person is allowed to use a computer depends on their class (*4); i.e., first priority is given to administrators of the center. On the other hand, there may be some difficulties involved with managing networks, but personal computers can easily be used by individuals selfishly. Using a certain computer can be regarded as a statement, provided that the music made with it is an outgrowth of a personal, egoistic form of anarchy. One example is Carl STONE's simple system, which exemplifies the concept of a public site. (*5) The same problem exists in sound art. Outdoor sound installations are a form of public art created by an artist who has escaped from the concert hall or museum--both of which are supported by the elite. In a public space, there is no elite to certify the art, and the artist is regarded as just a regular person. But artists are not regular people. Sound artists, then, are artists who confront these double-binding contradictions by performing extremely difficult jobs concerned with the possibilities of artistic creation. (*6) In his article, "Art in the Workplace" (*7), NANJO Fumio writes, "... If aggressive works are to be exhibited, this should most naturally be done in art museums..." Do museums, managed as they are by the elite, actually have the potential to do this? To begin with, artists who create aggressive work generally have no interest in exhibiting in museums, this is a mark of how much resolve and courage they have. And people can respond to the spirit of these artists with empathy.

*Beyond Modernism

According to UMEHARA Takeshi, "Modernism is a theory conceived by Descartes and Bacon in which nature is regarded as being in opposition to human beings or the ego, and is ruled by the objective recognition of the laws of nature. As a result, human life has become richer and more convenient.... In the development of scientific technology, human desire has expanded beyond all limits, leading to the destruction of the natural environment." (*8) In listening to the music of Tanaka Karen , I recognized a spirit unclouded by this desire. And this spirit inspired me to produce the "Strings Electric" concerts in which I intend to present innocent, rather than ignorant, spirits. In 1996, I am commissioning Karen Tanaka and the Hong Kong composer, Kam-Biu CHAN, to take part in "Strings Electric II." I look forward to the pure, crystal light that will certainly emerge from their work.

*1: In Paris, I visited Curtis ROADS with Tanaka. He is the ex-editor of Computer Music Journal, and one of the most intelligent composers working with computers. After setting a large number of channels on the computer screen, as Roads muttered to himself about what sound might occur, a sound similar to a dish being struck could be heard. "Good sound." I said, to which he replied, "Thank you."
Roads Image

*2: See Enforcing Environmental Justice by TODA Kiyoshi( Shinyosha, 1994.)
*3: See The Participation of Citizens by SHINOHARA Hajime (Iwanamishoten, 1977).
*4: In producing works at the IRCAM laboratory, a technical staff assists the composer. By not being able to use the computers by oneself, the facility conveys privilege on those in managing positions and creates obstacles for outside users.
*5: I believe the system Carl Stone uses consists of nothing more than a computer and a sampler. He makes no attempt to emphasize the uniqueness of the system, unlike IRCAM, where the board is for a Next computer.
Suzuki Image
*6: At the 7th International Contemporary Music Forum of Kyoto, SUZUKI Akio created an outdoor sound installation in the Shirakawa River. During his month-long stay near the river, Suzuki suffered from a variety of health problems. These may have been the psychophysical symptoms caused by an ambivalent mind. This made me respect him all the more. I certainly refuse to believe that his ailments were caused by the curse of the river.

*7: "Art in the Workplace," by Nanjo Fumio appeared in SD, June 1994.
*8: See the article, "What is Being Asked Now: Faith in Modernism," Asahi Newspaper, 1993.
River Image

part three
Fluxus in Italy
Christopher Stephens
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