ETHEROTOPIE, A PIECE ABOUT THE SEVERAL MEANINGS OF SPACE

by Shawita Parag (EVS Volunteer / Vicolocorto)

On the 12th of September Michela Rosa performed an interesting piece at the Rossini Conservatory of Music in Pesaro. Her performance was called ‘Etherotopie’, which means ‘Heterotopia’.

SPACE – the meaning of heterotopia

Heterotopia is a concept elaborated by the philosopher Michel Foucault to describe spaces that are in between, which are neither here nor there, that are simultaneously physical and mental. Such as the space of a theatre, where the theatre itself is a physical space, however the movie is projected and is mentally taken in by the viewer. Since the viewer is not actually in the place where the scene was shot, (s)he is therefore neither in the theatre nor in the movie, but in between.

SPACE – the meaning of the universe

The Osservatorio Astronomico Valerio of Pesaro, an observatory where you can look into the depth of the universe (space) and gaze at stars through a dome, is also a heterotopia. The observatory is in between the earth and the unlimited universe. Also the universe itself is a heterotopia, as unknown celestial bodies that quickly run through space and vanish in the depth of it offer us an imaginary universe where we can live in and that has multiple routes that go deeply within space.

SPACE – the meaning of sound

Inspired by the sounds of the universe and of the observatory (the gear wheel of the dome), the sound track for the performance was made. The music that was played during the performance is called spatial music, which is also translated as space music. Spatial music is connected with electro acoustic music and is created through synchronizers by which sound is distorted and manipulated. Through this technique sounds of void, depth and movement can be created.

An interesting coincidence was that the performance was held in a room called SPACE (Sound Projection Ambisonic Controlled Environment). Eugenio Giordani, who is the director of the Experimental Eletronic Music Department of the Rossini Conservatory of Music in Pesaro, explained to us that this room is very special, because it contains an ambisonic technique and moreover, is the first ambisonic room in Italy. Ambisonics is a full-sphere surround sound technique: in addition to the horizontal plane, it covers sound sources above and below the listener, which means that you can project sounds in any direction of the sphere. It is like having a 3D effect in sound. Besides that, the room matches the concept of heterotopia, as SPACE is a place that is like a theatre, where the people in the room are in between reality and unreality.

SPACE – in the meaning of the performance

The poetry of the mixture of these different components (the universe, heterotopian spaces and spatial music) blend into a unique composition, developed by Anthony Di Furia, to which the performer Michela Rosa simply added the movement of the body. The movements were slow, subtle, intriguing and mysterious. The subtle spatial music sounds floated inside the dark ambisonic room SPACE and made us not only spectators, but actors in a performance, experiencing the sound of heterotopia.

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