Le regard musicien

Imagine a bridge between two riverbanks, covered with a crowd of musicians, choreographers and painters, artists who work with light, with sound, with fog, audiences and listeners and curators, all motivated by the ambivalence of the forms and “reciprocity”.  Marking the 40th anniversary of IRCAM, ManiFeste-2017 explores the dream of synesthesia, or, more precisely, the musician’s gaze that—from Scriabine to the young composers of today—is mobilized via a visual experience. Coming from the other bank, the Musée national d’art moderne creates a unique path through its collections where the eye listens and never stops doing so. “Pas de deux”, from which a third term can be born, in a large deviation or occasional fusion: a discipline unknown to the two others.

The correspondence between listening and vision is the foundation of a large number of fascinating adventures of Modernity and the contemporary world. Schoenberg-Kandinsky, Feldman-Rothko, Klee-Boulez, Cage-Fluxus, an array of historical constellations with two points of view. A glorification of the color-timbre and rhythm of forms, an analogy of structures, alliances necessary against adversity and conventions, the work is not only self-referential, it demonstrates a spirit of time in which we rejoice, most often a posteriori, while it was once booming. Today, artistic invention may be considering the end of a single signature without giving it up completely, pushed to do so by technical systems and shared aesthetics. Chaya Czernowin struggling with the opera and the Hörspiel, Alberto Posadas scrutinizing vocality and painting, the directors Wim Vandekeybus and Ingrid von Wantoch Rekowski faced with the body musician or dancer, Jérôme Combier and Pierre Nouvel listening and filming deserted space in Campo santo, or again these two allegories, Sound and Vision, invited by Ictus for its night Liquid Room: each of these scenes stages the displaced fragments of an expected whole.

A fantasy of resemblance or a simple dream of convergence? The Modernism of the past, mindful of the purity of each discipline, can easily point out the gap made apparent by sound arts, these performances or installations that inhabit an obscure, but tolerated, region of art, that accesses musical writing. It can demonstrate the chasm between the time given to a visual work of art and the time imposed by music. Seen from the musical riverbank, the tireless cult that assigns visual arts to Cage seem exotic and amusing; but, on the other bank, visual artists are justifiably amazed that the philharmonic ritual of the concert remains the only listening possibility. The fact that not everything corresponds takes nothing away from the powerful desire to know each other, affected or chosen by another. Thus the visual arts, prey to the immediacy of mass consumption, come to envy two essential functions of music: interpretation and the code-score, through which the work only exists via successive productions. Praise of ideas from the exterior: this aspect characteristic of contemporary was one of the reasons for the invention of IRCAM forty years ago. Built, not on the identification of science and art, but on the stimulus between autonomous forces, the artist, the engineer, the scientist.
An alliance resumes.

Frank Madlener, IRCAM Director