*LOrk digression #8 — The enigma remains...

The recoup of sound proximity by the performer doesn't come without new problems. A more sophisticated vocabulary of “instrumental” gestures would certainly help to infuse the regained sound localization with new meaning; but a rich gestural vocabulary (if possible at all) has not yet developed, having been limited up to now to relatively simple connections between gesture and sound. The sound is projected just next to the performers, but their gestures (or lack thereof) continue to put a question mark in the role of these musicians on stage, in spite of them being friendly accepted by the audience. How would it be to listen to laptop orchestra without human performers? There is in fact an appeal to the vision of a “ghost laptop orchestra”—though essentially it would simply become an orchestra of loudspeakers, GRM style, with all its qualities and limitations. Or not: since a laptop performer does not really need to be in front of the machine in order to control it (one can simply control the laptop via network), a ghost laptop orchestra could in fact be controlled by ghost musicians hidden from view, or actually sitting amidst the audience. Moreover, part or all of the sound may be actually coming over the network (JackTrip), having been generated anywhere in the world. In fact, the mere presence or absence of a human performer in front of a laptop tells us very little today in terms of who or what is generating and controlling the sounds we hear. What is, then, the meaning of a laptop performer? How close or how far are we from what has been usually understood as a “musical instrument”? How does an audience assimilate the experience of a laptop orchestra concert? What are the boundaries? Or, what meaningful boundaries can be defined to characterize a new performance?

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