Messa di Voce by Tmema, Blonk, La Barbara
A Performance for Voice and Interactive Media
Created 2003 by Golan Levin and Zachary Lieberman
with Jaap Blonk and Joan La Barbara.

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print-quality resolution images of Messa di Voce.
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Messa Installation. In addition to being staged as a performance (see pictures below), Messa di Voce has also been exhibited as an interactive installation. In this installation, several of the different graphical modules from the concert are made available to the public.

The photographs are from the Eyebeam Gallery Space, New York City, 2003, and the Ars Electronica Festival 2004.
Photographs from Performances at: Ars Electronica (Linz, September 2003), Ultrasound (Huddersfield, November 2003), ICA (London , November 2003), Poetry International Festival (London, November 2004).

These images document the score of Messa di Voce and are shown in the order in which they are performed.
Brightness/Balance. Messa di Voce begins with a brief exposition of its own fundamental materials: light and breath. The performers, offstage, breathe illumination and animation into the rectangle of the electric canvas. As they breathe, the canvas becomes brighter and begins to turn.

Clouds. The performers enter the stage and continue their elaboration of elementary wind, air and breath sounds. Each respiration is recorded, represented, and replayed by an animated cloud whose visual texture evolves with the timbre of the sound it portrays. After a time, the hall and screen are filled with a swirling soup of clouds and breath sounds.

Bodystamp. The performers obtain concrete forms, drawing our awareness to the relationship between a sound and the body of its maker. Each time one of the performers vocalizes, their sound as well as the outline shape of their body are simultaneously recorded. These sounds and shapes are then synchronously replayed in periodic cycles. The result is an animated chorus of previous selves.

Bounce (Jaap's Solo). A man enters an empty white void. He emits a stream of bubbles by making a special cheek-flapping sound. As his sounds grow more vigorous, his bubbles fill up the screen. But the resulting cloud of jostling sound-bubbles is unstable. Turning to admire his work, his cloud bursts -- raining bubbles that "release" his cheeky sounds when they fall onto him or crash to the ground below. He struggles to contain the noisy torrent, but, failing this, storms off in acute distress.

Ripple. Tension is dispelled as our attention turns to a pair of chirping, clicking wetland creatures, whose curious chatter perturbs their watery environs. Every little sound causes a unique ripple to emerge from its creator's mouth. Wakes emerge in the liquid surface when a performer moves and sings simultaneously.
Insect Nature Show.
The performers adopt different roles: Joan, as a peculiar kind of animal; and Jaap, as narrator or "nature show host", who discourses (in an abstract language) about the remarkable qualities of this creature.
Fluid. The players return to a primordial liquid world. In this hushed dialogue of soft, lulling sounds, a glowing fluid or plasma appears to emerge from the performers' mouths when they speak and sing. The performers direct the flow and movement of the fluid with their bodies, passing it back and forth. (The color of the fluid is related to the vowel quality of their sounds. )
Rothko (Joan's Solo). Joan builds a layered atmosphere of soaring vocal tones. She sings long melodies, which are recorded in real-time, and then loop according to their own natural periods. Each melody is represented by a colored column, which marks the locations where Joan created it. Subtle changes in the color and position of the columns reflect the timbre, pitch and stereolocation of Joan's melodies.
Stripe. Jaap joins Joan, and the two sing a slowly-evolving duet built from simple pure tones and subtle dissonances. Their pitches and timbres are visualized in the softly-changing stripes behind them.
Pitchpaint. The performers take their most direct control of the canvas, painting bold gestures by singing. In this section, descending pitches curl clockwise, while rising notes curl counter-clockwise, and unchanging tones produce straight lines. (Stroke thickness is governed by the singer's loudness; the color of closed regions is linked to vowel quality. The performers erase their marks by making the sound, "Ssh!") From the hushed, simple tones of the previous section, the performers develop an expanded vocabulary of quickly-changing glissandos, melodic fragments, and abstract speech-songs.
Shush-Fade. The performers clear the screen, in the previous section, by slowly saying "ssh". As they continue to shush the screen, it gradually dithers to black, and the performance is finished.
Credits. The creators of Messa di Voce speak their names. As they do, cartoon word-balloons containing their names appear above their heads.
The Messa di Voce Creators. Software by Golan Levin and Zachary Lieberman. Performed and composed by Jaap Blonk and Joan La Barbara.
Screenshots from Messa di Voce interactive software.
Rectangle-Jungle. This module did not make it into the final performance.      
Bounce (Jaap's Solo).      
Bounce II. This module did not make it into the final performance.