Miles Davis said ‘don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there’. John Cage decided to play what was not there and it took him 4 minutes and 33 seconds (4’33”).
This is a project about communication, on how communication can be shaped into design objects and how it can be established through an art piece. Performair is an audio-visual interactive installation which ‘misuses’ traditional office devices – printers, modems, scanners etc. – originally designed to perform other functions, to play together as elements of an unconventional orchestra.
Performair aims to awake the everyday user from a state of cerebral numbness caused by the present proliferation of technological devices. By reappreasing traditional devices, new ways of auditory and visual communication can be explored. There is something more to design than developing brand new things.
The ‘natural’ environment of the project are offices where auditory chaos can be replaced by harmonic order by having different devices set to perform together. This implies the possibility to extract the devices from that environment and perform in other contexts such as music festivals.
The project is theoretically based on a 3-step procedure:
- The recovery of objectivity
By decontextualising the object it is possible to discover its communicative potential.
- The modification of ‘affordance’ (ready-made)
The object and its original function get separated: its shape does not suggest its function anymore.
- The recycling of an object
Once the object is ‘set free’ from its cultural limitations it can be reused for artistic purposes. The old object becomes a new object.
In musical terms, a classical orchestra performs a piece from a score, which is nothing but a text. Performair also uses texts: the compiled text, which enables devices to play as if they were musical instruments, and the printed text, as the result of the performance. The crucial difference is that, within Performair, music is not read and played, but played and written for the audience to read. An invisible text which throughout the performance becomes a particular kind of score.