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qintroNix
qintroNix

The PhD project qintroNix transfers a historical teaching methodology into contemporary art practice; the methodology concerns studying the qin, Chinese seven-stringed instrument with a musical history spanning three millennia. In this tradition, musical meaning is communicated as a correlative structure of interlinking elements such as portraits of hand postures, animals, plants, mythical creatures and natural sceneries, along with short poetical metaphors from specific sources and historical references. This illuminates an idea that resists being grasped in discourse but is embodied in art: It reflects a whole spectrum of the early Chinese philosophy of chi (氣), which perceives reality as a process of transformation, where chi patterns organisms that are always already intimately entangled with a world including non-human actors - animals, plants and stones. From this perspective, art is not about representation. It is a practice of articulation and mediation of and participation in cosmic processes through self-cultivation by virtue of the body informed by chi, thus embodying the world's intelligibility. 

The practical part of "qintroNix" consists of experiments that transfer the qin-specific teaching methodology into the context of post-digital lutherie design speculation (or maybe, design fiction). What could highly personalised performative sonic ecosystems be like if we base them on the transformative potential of the chi? What would a sustainable pattern language be like, when we base it on the life cycles of plants in the sympoietic environment of a real physical garden and its gardeners? Could artificial intelligence be deployed to help develop such a language, and what artificial instruments would result from such an entanglement? 

The research outcome will incorporate a theoretical thesis and a complete art production.
 

Experimentations here hypothesise that the technique of cultivating “chi” can prevail when Qin-specific historical teaching methodology is utilised.

This video is one of a series of video experiments in which the qin-specific finger patterns are played not on qin strings but in a glass basin filled with water. The water elements illustrate the spatial and physical dynamics created by playing the different finger patterns, as they offer a new perspective for analysing the qin sound in conjunction with its gesture, which is otherwise difficult to distinguish through the mere sound measurement of the plucked strings.

The pattern on the left is a direct way of transposing the fingering repertoire using ink onto paper. It indicates a quality shared by both in qin music and in the art of calligraphy. And it also suggests a correlation toward the pattern diagram for pulse listening in TCM. As illustrated on the right side is a Chart of pulse variations from 2nd-century C.E. 
It was adapted from the Tuzhu nanjing maijue (Classic of Difficult Issues and Pulse Doctrine) by Camillia Matuk, B.Sc., M.Sc. (Seeing the Body: The Divergence of Ancient Chinese and Western Medical Illustration JBC Vol. 32, No. 1 2006)

Continue to think, its contemporary relevance toward practice in the field of sonic ecology and soundscape studies

Further experiments explore music-making as a practice of articulating and mediating a process of transformation through symbiotic collaborations. During the spring and summer of 2022, various artists are invited to participate in the process of slowly growing a body in my garden to explore a potential sonic/acoustic ecosystem that enables organic, digital, artificial intelligence and symbiotic collaboration in a physical and digital living environment. Thinking in tandem with situated listening, recording, noting, reading, writing, programming, imagining, performing, cooking, soldering and prototyping various instruments from plants that have grown, died and decayed in this garden. (slides 2-4 present the first instrument outcome San-Pedro-Monochord, its notation and the performance)

In the process, a new, digital, artistic language will be developed using a machine learning tool. A “slowly growing body” metaphor serves to cultivate and search for sympoetic relationships in which we are touching sonic reality.

As the first edition of this performance series, a hybrid sonic fiction entitled 2.5097481 x 10^-5 Centuries will be made public and performed live in real-time for 22 hours from my garden in the form of a radiophonic performance during the 100 Days of Radio Art Zone as part of Esch2022 in September – European Capital of the Future.