rhizoma is an transdisciplinary project of Elias Durnez (guitar), Arto Van Roey (guitar) and Anton Lambert (double bass) in collaboration with video artist Achiel de Vlerk. Together they explore how acoustic instruments, live electronics and video can interact with each other through improvisation, in real time. The project sprouted from a shared desire to explore the combination of acoustic instruments and live electronics and the blending of both sound worlds. During past collaborations they searched for new sound pallets to extend the sonic possibilities on their instruments and distilled a language out of it for improvising together. The motive for this project stems from a desire to create a transdisciplinary installation-performance which challenges them to rethink and rediscover our musical approaches in their improvisations. They believe both for their individual practices as well as for this project specifically, the improvised character is essential to allow themselves to discover new forms of musical interaction, with the video as an extra and equal part of the journey. Does the dynamic between the music and the video arise from improvisation? Or does the video function as a score to the music? Does the dialogue between the two media foster a substantial interaction, where the distinction between the leading element and the responding element disappears? Secondly, they want to investigate which kind of narratives can emerge from this dynamic between video and music. For example, they’d like to explore different relations where the music is not merely inferior to or a substitute for the video’s narrative. They are interested in modes of interaction where the narrative of the video becomes more opaque, precisely because of the intervention of the music. Discover this sound on the 6th of october in the concert hall during Vruchtbare Grond.
We asked rhizoma some questions:
What's the purpose or goal of your work?
We would like to approach the project as a site-specific work, where it is adaptable to and in relation with the space we would perform in, both indoor as outdoor. We want to experiment and investigate different relations between the performers and the audience., as to find the adequate format to perform in and what the positioning and function of the performers and the public could be. We think they should be intertwined and be experienced as a whole. Could it be an interactive performance where the music or visuals are generated and affected by the movement of the audience, the density of the crowd or even the temperature and humidity of the space? Should the musicians be hidden behind a visual projection and become part of the scenography, instead of putting them on stage? Could we make it a deeply immersive experience where people can move freely through a certain time and space as an ongoing performance, where they enter and leave whenever they feel like it?
Is there a specific environment or material that's integral to your work?
We believe any environment we work in directly or indirectly influences our work. As the core of our practices revolves around improvisation, it’s always related to the mood and atmosphere of the time and space we’re in at that time. During our residency we often went for ‘soundwalks’ (walking in silence and focusing on the sounds around us) in the periphery of Het Bos and returning from those walks (still in silence), we went straight into the rehearsal room to play a session based on what we heard/felt during the walk. These sessions always felt very grounded and rooted in the environment we were in, even if it was in abstract ways or group members had very different experiences, the result was always a fresh approach to our playing and this process helps us to keep searching for new ways to express ourselves.
How can you benefit this workplace?
Being a resident in Het Bos this year offers us a unique chance to experiment freely and try out things in a professional context. Het Bos has lots of technical possibilities which allow us to think beyond the standard setting of a concert and search for different forms of presenting this work. Besides that, being part of Bos Academie has brought forth beautiful and interesting encounters with the other residents and creates a fertile ground for future collaborations. For us, this resulted already in working with Achiel de Vlerk for the live video aspect of this work, hence we couldn’t agree more with the festivals title ‘Vruchtbare Grond’
What’s your background?
We met at the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp where all three of us were studying jazz, thus our background lies within the broad field of jazz and improvised music as well as beyond the scope of genres: we try to allow the use of any musical language we’re inspired by. We believe both for ourselves as well as for this project specifically, the improvised character is essential to allow ourselves to discover new forms of musical interaction, with the video as an extra and equal part of the journey.