The novel coronavirus changed the world basically overnight. From week to week it is becoming clearer that the ‘old normality’ we were familiar with may never return. The central maxim of the ‘new normality’ currently being established is the avoidance of health risks at practically all levels of society and the economy. While many professions can implement the compliance with social distance rules through at times radical digitalisation, the transition to home office is simply not an option in many other economic sectors.
This is most glaringly the case in the club and festival economy of the electronic dance music scene, which is based almost fundamentally on overcoming interpersonal distances and promoting collective transgressions. The current increase in digitally streamed DJ performances ironically demonstrates that the physical experience of collective dance and musical performance cannot simply be translated into the medial realm.
Against this thematic background, ‘the_new_normal.exe’ is a performance project that deals with the non-digitizability of the physical bodies and places of electronic dance music. In a critical act of aesthetic overdrawing, the production and performance of electronic dance music is now also transferred into the virtual, after its dissemination already had been moved to the digital in the last decade. In ‘the_new_normal.exe’, the artists of electronic dance music do not appear in front of cameras in locked-down clubs, but perform virtually on 3D-simulated sound machines against the backdrop of digitized images of public and subcultural spaces.
Through the radical abstraction of human performers into virtual reconstructions, in which their ‘agency’ is only recognizable from a disembodied ego perspective through the hint of their hands as 3D controllers in interaction with simulated machines, a completely new – and possibly even more comprehensible and thus immersive – fusion of human and (sound-)machine results. This is further underlined by binaural sound spatialization, which is possible in VR simulations and thus also calls into question the established listening habits of traditional mono and stereo renditions.
Which aspects of physical experience can ultimately be not only reproduced – but perhaps even expanded by new forms of virtualization technology and aesthetic practice? And which aspects remain forever denied to technical simulations?
Please get in touch if you want to participate in future performance events. The project is based on an adapted version of the open-sourced music creation application SoundStage VR by Logan Olson.