Arcana 33 1/3 / Automatic Descriptions

The "Automatic Descriptions" project, is a concert-installation by Mark Trayle, also described as electro-acoustic necromancy, presented during DEAF95.

Arcana 33 1/3 / Automatic Descriptions


The current powerful illusion of virtual reality and interfaces used by spiritists in the last century are the inspiration for Mark Trayle's Automatic Descriptions project, both a concert and an installation.

A century ago, spiritists were masters in conjuring up apparitions and talking to the dead. That is to say, they managed to evoke the illusion by ingenious use of voice trumpets, pneumatically controlled hands and specially constructed furniture. In the same way, in different places and times, mystics, shamans and magicians made contact with the world of spirits, the forbidden and the obscure using drugs, music and ritual.

According to Trayle, modern-day man is no different. Interfaces like data gloves and CRTs serve to make contact with a sacred virtual world, peopled with telenomadic spirits. During the Industrial Revolution, spirititsts furnished an escape route: away from the industry of steel and steam. According to Trayle, the new escape routes are the extreme extensions of the senses, touch, sight and hearing. Away from the world where the body is growing less important, and away from 'the virtualization of the body and the soul-crushing gravity of big media'.

This philosophy of the American performer is embodied in his Automatic Descriptions project. The powerful illusion of virtual reality and the old technology used by 19th-century spiritists to contact the dead, converge here. Says Trayle: I perform a bit of electro-acoustic necromancy.

Visitors find an object reminiscent of an early 20th-century record player in a wooden chest. When the record is made to play, a vast array of hypermodern technological devices is brought into play and all kinds of electronically distorted voices and texts are invoked. For the concert version of Automatic Descriptions Trayle also uses the CD player, computers and electro magnets hidden in the wooden chest. Another part of his performance is titled Primitive Still Life with Pairs, during which he creates an alchemistic sound soup from flora and fauna sounds using finger movements. Lullaby is a 'cradlesong about industrial strength', and for Traffic & Wheather, Trayle announces to make a composition using the electromagnetic web of AM radio waves that define local place and time.

Text: Helmut de Hoogh

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