The Mirror and the Door

The first evening, the audience takes its place inside a gigantic box, a space within a space, with mobile walls, doors and windows. The orchestra and chorus are situated on the outside of the box. Inspired by the description of Rumor (Fama) by Ovid, this dramaturgic architecture by the composer Beat Furrer opens Ircam's new festival. Through the awnings and direction imagined by Christoph Marthaler, the two spaces communicate while hiding from each other: the voice inside the box and the vastness of the exterior, the chaotic soul and the neatly folded sound material. The theme of the internal monologue inspired by Schnitzler is embodied in these two spaces. Everything is conducted through a rapid circulation of sound enactments, indicating the influence of the outside powers, of which we know nothing. In Mademoiselle Else's voice one hears murmurs of the vastness of the world she expresses.

Agora and Résonances, united for the first time, bring together all the Ircam teams and confirm the institute's new policy: the convergence of creation and research. Supported by new partners like the Opéra National de Paris and Radio France, expanded to orchestral dimensions, the festival puts in perspective practiced creation and theoretical reflection, the instrumental domain and the technological domain, mirroring each other.

From FAMA's mechanical box to the Pandora's box of electronics manipulated by the choreographer Emmanuelle Huynh, Ircam's festival combines the world of technology and that world which escapes us. Motion capture carried out by Pierre Jodlowski intersects with a completely different experiment with movement where, without any electronics and under the gaze of the choreographer Xavier Le Roy, the true spirit of the act of making a sound becomes tangible. To this performance of sound and visual manipulation we add, one at a time, the vocal automats of A-Ronne de Berio and the electronic voices of Accentus, the digital distortions of Franck Bedrossian and the entirely orchestral display of Enno Poppe.

One of the recurrent problems in contemporary creation can be seen through these unique presences, that of the mirror it holds up to itself.  In the work of the artist Pierre Huyghe in the adventure Apocalypsis by Philippe Leroux, the investigation of the compositon becomes confused with the creative process itself. This narcissist, mirror mindset, abundant in the visual arts, dance, writing and theater, exhausts itself by concentrating on the conditions surrounding of its own activity. The productions that deconstruct their own views are countless, theatrical performances within theatrical performances. Self-reference, self-understanding, this mise en abime participates, perhaps, in perpetrating today's zeitgeist, pushed by the media to the point of becoming a caricature of itself with reality TV.

The mirror has become one of the most effective mechanisms against chaos, an imaginary chaos from which we can expect anything! The composer Brian Ferneyhough, whose new quartet opens the symposium on the writing of time, suggests a radical alternative to this narcissist logic: do things that we do not completely understand. How do the exterior space and the exterior powers suddenly loom up?
Just like in FAMA's box, we need doors even more than mirrors.

Frank Madlener, Director of IRCAM