"Decoder", for MIDI drum pads, projections, and electronic sounds. Written for and commissioned by Eklekto Percussion, premiered in Geneva on November 4th, 2017
Music by David Bird
Projections by Myles Emmons
Performed by Eklekto Percussion: Alexandra Bellon, Anne Briset, and Fabien Perreau
"Decoder" explores how technology connects and disconnects individuals, examining the limits of human agency within complex and interdependent webs of social, economic, or technological structures. In the work, performers are depicted as independent actors locked in a unified system making steadfast decisions yet unable to recognize the full extent or reach of their actions. Each musician is equipped with, and performs on, an electric MIDI drum pad, and despite their most decisive performative intentions, the performance system arbitrarily decides what sounds are produced and how they are manipulated. The use of scrims and holographic projections further act to frame and connect the players on stage, but also serve to illustrate the distance and separation between the individual performers and the unified structure.
"Technology “mechanizes” everything it encounters. Wherever technology extends its reach, the machine model establishes itself. Everything, everyone, and every situation becomes something to be engineered, standardized, regularized—made to operate like a machine. Non-material technology mechanizes activities or behaviors. It is a mechanization of life through rationalization, organization, measurement, assessment, standardization, and statistical analysis. Organization as management or bureaucracy is simply a mechanization of human relations and activity."
In summary of Jacques Ellul's "The Technological System" (1977) from J.M. van Der Laan's "Narratives of Technology"