Marinos Koutsomichalis is a media artist, scholar and creative technologist. He is coming to Bodø with the piece Sāk vitt ok vītt of verǫld hverja.
He was born in Athens, and has since lived and worked in various cities around the world. His practice is hybrid, nomadic, and ethnographic, involving field-work, creative coding, critical theory, making, lecturing, live performance, workshopping, artist/research residencies, ‘Doing-It-With-Others’, and hands-on experimentation with materials and technologies of all sorts. His artistic corpus is prolific, yet persistently revolving around the same few themes: material inquiry/exploration; self-erasure (in/through performance and production tactics of all sorts); the quest for post-selfhood (through social, hybrid, and networked practices involving both human and nonhuman actors).
He has hitherto publicly presented his work, pursued projects, led workshops, and held talks worldwide more than 250 times and in all sorts of milieux: from leading museums, acclaimed biennales, and concert halls, to industrial sites, churches, project spaces, academia, research institutions, underground venues, and squats. He has a PhD in Electronic Music and New Media (De Montfort University, GB) and a MA in Composition with Digital Media (University of York, GB), has held research positions at the Department of Computer Science in the Norwegian University for Science and Technology (Trondheim, NO) and at the Interdepartmental Centre for Research on Multimedia and Audiovideo in the University of Turin (IT), and has taught at the University of Wolverhampton (Birmingham, UK), the Center of Contemporary Music Research (Athens, GR), and the Technical University of Crete (Rethymnon, GR). He is a Lecturer in Multimedia Design for Arts at the Cyprus University of Technology (Limassol, CY) where he co-directs the Media Arts and Design Research Lab.
The festival theme is «truth?». Can music be “true”?
It typically goes like this: I set up the initial conditions for some sonic hybrid to emerge and actualize; then I try to listen, pull myself out of the way as much as possible, I try to focus on the sheer materiality of sound, to zero in on latent virtualities in there, and then I bring them forth, I amplify them, I give them space, I foreground and let them manifest and actualize. That is, I intend to somehow erase myself in one of the many possible latent truths in there – the particular one that best resonates with a given time-space. There is a transcendental – I’d like to believe almost religious – quality in such an approach, the sonic footprint of which is probably both the means and the end to what I am trying to achieve.
Where do you find the ideas that get you started? What inspires you?
I don’t believe that much in ideas. I may start with one, but sooner or later it would be soon abandoned in favor or some concrete material. I don’t believe in inspiration that much either. I am rather drawn by the various physicalities, hybrids, and phenomena around me – be them physical or cybernetic. I want to explore the materiality of my environment and make sense of it in all sorts of different ways. I like to touch things with my hands, probe the landscape with specialized microphones, retrieve and process environmental data, collect rocks, implement bespoke self-generative algorithms, make my own user-unfriendly DIY hardware instruments, collaborate and doing-it-with-others. I get started once a bond with some particular material or hybrid is formed. I then proceed more or less the way I describe above.
On your piece, sāk vitt ok vītt of verǫld hverja, you seem to have a fascination for the North Nordic landscape. Can you tell us something about this?
For the greatest part of my youth, I have been a man of the South – growing up in hectic Athens. Since then, I have lived, worked, and pursued projects in all sorts of other places around the world, occasionally forming strong bonds with locations that have acquired some significance to me. The North Nordic landscape has always had a very special resonance to me – ever since my very first trips there. This is very hard to put in words, however. For starters, it is a land of weird materialities of all possible sorts! Glaciers, geysers, data centers, frozen seas, reindeers, auroras, fermented meat, weather stations, lava, fjords, firs, piercing cold, midnight sun, midday night, whales, wool, basalt, icebergs. Experiencing the wilderness of the North is a really a mesmerizing experience. Then there are the people, the urban infrastructure, the numerous languages, the sociopolitical orderings, the idiosyncratic localities – albeit uncomprehensible/uncomfortable at times to the Southern man inside me, they speak their very own and rather intriguing truth. Maybe most importantly, there is a certain kind of calmness I think I can only experience there – a kind of silent inner solitude that may or may not be reassuring per se. ‘Sāk vitt ok vītt of verǫld hverja’ is my attempt to explore the Nordic landscape through stories of people and animals living there, sounds and video of geophysical formations/activity, data of all sorts retrieved and sonified, own synthesized content, locally inspired recipes, and materials to haptically engage with.
A hybrid performance pivoting on a multi-level exploration of the North Nordic landscape and the artist’s own personal (un)makings of, and creative responses to, it, in terms of photography, video/audio recordings of various acoustic, electromagnetic, geophysical, and anthropological phenomena, text, stones, seafood, and scientific sonification/visualization of data concerning energy consumption, weather change, seismic activity, fish migration, and spatial distribution of marine population. Sāk vitt ok vītt of verǫld hverja has been produced in the context of Stories of Flights, Ferries, and Fish (nustories) project, with generous support from the Nordic Council, the Nordic Culture Fund, and a series of local organizations.