PRESS – The Philadelphia Inquirer
3/21/96 by Daniel Webster
Music, motion keyed to computers
In the 50 years since ENIAC was born at the University of Pennsylvania, musicians and designers have been invited to adapt the computer to their art.
In programs at Penn on Tuesday marking the computer’s 50th anniversary, artists showed how there were faring with the computer.
French-born musician Laetitia Sonami showed her piece, titled ….and she keeps coming back for more, as an exploration of the relation of gesture and sound. Not quite dance, the piece grows from slight movements Sonami makes while wired and plugged in like a spacewalker. Sound created by software is the invisible force on the stage. Wearing anklets and armbands and a glkove wired with magnets and elaborate electronic gear, she moved arms, hands and feet to create sounds that ranged from high-frequency peeps to an explosion made by an imperious gesture – like Wotan flattening Lunding.
Linked by heavy cable to the computer as she was, her movement vocabulary was contained in hands, fingers and arms. With often tiny gestures, she created organ sounds, altered the voices and dog-barking that existed in the software, called up percussion effects and sound that had its own coherence. Afterward, she explained her process. Although the sound contained in the software remains the same, each performance is different because of the differences in her gestures.