Bodied Chambers

Bodied Chambers was developed in collaboration with Seth Parker Woods,who is both a cellist and a movement artist.

Bodied Chambers was premiered in Electric Spring, 2014. In this piece, all of the technology is worn on the body of the cellist: two transducers are embedded in a shirt, such that the cellist brings them into contact with the cello by holding the cello against their body, while the cellist also wears contact microphones and one miniature microphone on the bow hand (see diagramme below).

It is the performer themselves who controls the feedback and processing, as they are able to use their own body to both auscultate the instrument and affect the diffusion of the electronic sound through it. The physical relationship between the performer and their instrument is further altered by the playing positions, which are given as a series of steps forming the structural backbone of the piece, from kneeling on the floor to lying back with the cello held along the length of the body (see diagramme below). Considerable liberty is given to the performer, such that the material performed may be tuned to the cello, to the particular resonances obtained in a given position and resulting contact points of the transducers, as well as to the qualities of feedback obtained due to the reflectivity of the space and the resonance of the cellist’s body.

Seth is pictured below with a steel mesh 'mute', chains, and other preparation during development at the Centre Intermondes in July 2013, and at Huddersfield University, Experimental Studio, September 2013.

Reprises of the work include at Darmstadt 2014 by Stephen Marotto and the Sound Kitchen Series (Gaîté lyrique) by Eric Maria-Couturier, as pictured below.

Eric-Maria Couturier performing Bodied Chambers  

Sound Kitchen series at the Gaîté lyrique with the Ensemble InterContemporain, 20 February photo credit: Jean Radel

Bodied Chambers is somewhat outside of the standard instrument + electronics model, as it will not involve sending electronic sound through speakers, but other through the body of the cello itself There may be optional amplification of the instrument for larger performance spaces, but the electronics will principally consist of the injection and re-injection of sound into the body of the cello. After some conversations about this project and our respective research on interaction and the ‘prosthetic body,’ we decided that in Bodied Chambers, all of the technology will be placed on the body of the performer, rather than on the body if the cello. Seth will be equipped with two small transducers strapped to his body, which he will bring into contact with the body of the cello to make it resonate over the course of the piece, thus heightening the sense of intimacy of he usual playing position and the image of the cello itself as a 'body. He will begin sitting as usual in a chair, then move to a kneeling position, and finish the piece lying on his back with the cello on top of him, first in 'normal' position, with the strings facing up, and finally, holding the instrument with the strings facing his body. He will have a miniature microphone attached to his bowing and, and another small microphone near his ear, so that he may 'listen' to the cello while he is playing — especially through contact with the tuning pegs — and re-inject its sound into the body of the instrument through the transducers he will be wearing. Seth will also use the second microphone to transmit his vocal sounds to the cello, as a further physical merging between his body and the body the cello. ”

sitting with steel mesh 'mute'

sitting on the floor with chain preparation

trying out the feedback system in Huddersfield, Sept 2013 (click for video). Seth is wearing a contact microphone and a transducer on his body. (The 'Madonna-mic' and other microphones pictured here are used only for recording purposes).

trying out the feedback system in Huddersfield, this time with bowing (click here to listen). With the same contact microphone and transducer on his body. (Once again, microphones pictured here are used only for recording purposes, and nothing is coming out of the speakers in the background, all sound comes through the cello itself).

trying out the feedback system in Huddersfield, this time with his voice (click to listen) In this example, Seth is using only his voice and body to excite the instrument. (All sound in the audio example emanates from the cello and Seth's body.)