Aresta. 2018.

7m x 4,5m x 3m. 12 channel sound, saxophones, steel, wood, speaker cones, LEDs, dmx controllers, custom software, custom electronics, dimmers.

“In the face of mass automation and artificial intelligence, the impending threat/promise is that we will all become productively superfluous.” –Simon Goldin and Jakob Senneby

As we enter the so-called post-work era, where technology will eventually replace every job that shares a predictable pattern of repetitive activities, even the creative tasks are susceptible to automation.

ARESTA is a sculptural sound installation that turns an ensemble of saxophones into a self-functioning entity by making the instruments autonomous. Suspended by custom metal structures, the saxophones no longer need a human body in order to perform.

Speaker cones are placed inside the bodies of the saxophones, allowing sound to resonate through the tube, creating particular timbres for each instrument. A hundred LEDs inside the instruments are activated in perfect synchronization with the sound. They form a choreography of light and create a sense of movement, even while the instruments are motionless.

The music is generated by a computer, using algorithmic composition and a custom neural network created in collaboration with Gaëtan Hadjeres from the SONY studios in Paris. The neural network is capable of composing chorales in the style of Bach – Bach took melodies from Lutheran hymns and harmonized them in four voices. Trained with 352 Bach chorales, this software automatically harmonizes a melody written for the saxophone ensemble.

ARESTA is a performative installation which exists in various modes, at times with a musician and at times without. The varying absence and presence of a performer who interacts with the installation, provokes questions around the need for a human body on stage and the potential obsolescence of the human performer

ARESTA can be experienced both as an installation and a performance. The piece was created during a three-month FUGA residency at the Etopia Center for Arts and Technology in Zaragoza, Spain.

Photos by Anna Benet