*LOrk digression #6 — “I pledge to believe they are not checking e-mail”

When ten or twenty musicians sit on the floor on colorful cushions with their laptops sitting on nice little breakfast tables in front of them, a theatrical situation is created: the audience is led to accept those everyday objects as musical instruments in some way (more, perhaps, than when a solo laptop performer sits on stage). It is a kind of implicit pact that the public seems generally willing to accept. However, if the activity of these musicians is limited to stare at the screen while occasionally typing on the keyboard and using the mousepad, the already folkloric joke still comes up: “but are they really playing, or simply checking e-mail?” Curiously, the everyday actions required to use a computer (typing, clicking) seem to have a harder time to be accepted into the pact of non-agression between audience and laptop orchestra (or any solo laptop performer, for that matter). How to do away with the suspicion that what is being heard may be a simple playback of a totally fixed composition, or an algorithmic process with minimum intervention from the performers on stage—mere actors without function?


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