“OverLap” Marina Notaro, Matteo Castiglioni and Maurizio Gazzola
Landing from an explosive journey, which traverses the body and the spirit. Primordial instincts transform into an uncontrollable lust for pure material stratification...
“OverLap” is an audio-visual installation-performance for saxophones, electronics and real-time video projections. At the core of the project are the themes of repetition and rhythm, focusing on the interaction between three performers and video scenography. The idea of the project was to experiment with different types of dialogue between instrumentalists from contrasting musical backgrounds, in an ‘installation concert’ performance that combined classical, ambient, experimental, minimalist and jazz instrumental languages with the use of electronics. This enables each performer to escape the boundaries of their individual instrumental sound, and to listen to and interact with others in the flow of improvised performance.
The music that is created through the interaction between the musicians continuously influences the visuals, which consist of audio-reacting, abstract video-compositions divided into two projections and supported by a pyramid structure placed in the centre of the room. The pyramid structure is built to a size specifically suited to the proposed venue. The videos which interact with the sound are projected onto this structure, creating a narrative dialogue which is free from pure synesthetic connections and constantly adaptable to new exchanges and developments. The sound diffusion takes place via a spatialisation system consisting of four speakers, operated in real-time using the same information that is used to spatialise the projected videos.
Starting from the concept of micro, as the smallest constituent part of the whole, to that of the macro, as the complex structure of the whole, the intention of the performers is to build a sonic and visual narrative between these two layers. When we refer to the micro we mean the forces acting on bodies (for example, protons, neutrons and electrons) as affected by other forces, for instance, different levels of energy (as happens in quantum mechanics). The macro, however, refers to the bodies (such as humans, plants, animals and inanimate objects) which are affected by the force of gravity due to the motion of the planets that revolve around the sun and on their own axis. The basic idea is to transform this continuous exchange of energy into the various levels of musical and visual narration, from the smallest cells that form a theme, a pattern, or a figure, to the vastness of the totality of all elements as they are built up and broken down in the continuum of performance.
The structure for “OverLap” consists of a pyramid with a square base, with two of the four facades covered with a semi-transparent mesh panel (specifically with a projection tulle cloth) onto which the images from two projectors are projected (see Figure 2 and 3). The projectors are usually positioned hanging from above, creating a narrow projection angle suitable for small, as well as large, spaces. This generates the feeling of three-dimensionality as well as an illusion of loss of depth. The dimensions of the structure may vary according to the space and are constructed using a light and portable self-supporting structure.
The core idea of the “OverLap” project, composed by Marina Notaro (Saxophones) and Matteo Castiglioni (Electronics and video installation), formed through the convergence of research and work undertaken during the final projects of their Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Saxophone and Electronic Music at the Milan Conservatory of Music. Early performances of the work did not include visuals and were mainly based on the dialogue between saxophone and live electronics. The original trio, which was made up of saxophones and electronics (composed of Marina Notaro, Jacopo Biffi and Matteo Castiglioni), was formed at the Conservatory primarily to perform live pieces from the historical tradition of saxophone, electronics and contemporary music pieces, such as "Saxatile" (1992) by Jean-Claude Risset and “Gli atomi che si accendevano e radiavano" (2009) by Andrea Agostini.1
Initially, the project’s main focus was to explore the timbral potential of the musical instruments using techniques influenced by the musical avant-garde of the mid-twentieth century, in particular those related to the electronic music tradition. The saxophone, unlike other instruments of the classical tradition, has a relatively short history, as the well-known saxophonist Jean-Marie Londeix explained during a Masterclass held at the conservatory in 2013:
Every musical instrument in history has known its maximum expressiveness after years and years from its invention. The Saxophone is a new and young instrument, and as such it belongs to the literature of the 20th century and its composers. We as students, saxophonists of the future, have the task of continuing this evolution, and promoting its music: the new music.2
The union of the visual and structural elements of the project occurred initially during the construction of the interactive audiovisual installation "Making traces," built and designed by Matteo Castiglioni for his Bachelor's degree in Electronic Music. The main focus of the installation was to bring the moment of visual composition (intended as the visual score of the music) as close as possible to that of its execution, creating a video score, a video graphic in continuous development, realisation and variation. The physical centre of this installation was a structure capable of reacting to visual stimuli in the surrounding environment, through the use of two cameras. Inside the rectangular metal structure were four large hanging transparent panels which were continuously moving, adapting to the stimuli of the environment to which the machine was most attracted (see Figure 5).
These movements modulated the light by creating luminous configurations in continuous variation. The sequence of installation procedures was cyclical, and was determined by three main processes: the first was the analysis of the performance environment, which was carried out through a camera capable of mapping the space; the second was the gestural and concrete response to this analysis, carried out by means of motors that physically moved a pencil on a large sheet of paper; while the third and final process corresponded to the reconfiguration of the light that was projected into space on the structure. In this way, together with the movement of the panels and the camera, it was possible to create a system capable of generating luminous, gestural, graphic and sound configurations in continuous creation and variation.
In-depth research into historical works of graphic notation, real-time visuals and real-time musical graphic notation practices was carried out in order to design and build the installation "Making traces," which can be seen as the nucleus from which the ideas for the "OverLap" installation emerged. This work was of great importance for the creation of the project due to its grounding in research on previous practices of the graphic representation of sound, of notation open to multiple interpretations, and of the score as gestural notation. In “OverLap,” the close score-instrument relationship and the new methods of graphic representation of sound through video scores are present in the performance and create a central link between the music and the visuals.
The visual element plays a fundamental role in the performance. The projections seen on the pyramidal structure, produce an effect aimed at generating a change; the performing musicians communicate with each other in a receptive way in a game of imperfect imitations, enriched every time by new factors. Everything begins with the performer's action, without which the A/V interaction and generation loop could not begin.
The video materials projected during the performance consist of graphic elaborations based on photographs taken in space, collected from the public NASA archive.3 These images are used as textures for the three-dimensional structures animated within a 3D graphics program (Blender 3d in this case) and subsequently the rendered images are further manipulated using After Effect. These materials are divided into separate categories, and for each part of the performance there are hundreds of renders that can be drawn from at any moment. The video-processing in real-time is essential and constitutes the final stage of the circuit.
These videos are projected and spatialised onto the two walls and are triggered by the sonic data collected through the instrumentalists’ microphones. Continuously varying overlaps are created as the materials are superimposed, causing the intensity of pace, movement and light to be modified. Touch-designer software and Max-MSP are used to enable this process to occur in real-time, live performance. The outcome is different every time as only a small quantity of the images will be projected in a single show and are sorted and superimposed in novel ways for each performance. Furthermore, the ways in which the materials are processed will vary, depending on the sound produced during the performance.
The study of the open work as a "plausible text of multiple interpretations," connected to the concept of graphic score, opens up thousands of possible discourses on themes that cannot be covered here.4 However, the experiments and artistic productions within these slightly different but connecting fields have been a fundamental influence on our work. In "OverLap," as already described, the visual element of our project consists of two large video projections that stand out on the two semi-transparent walls of the pyramidal structure which surrounds the musicians. The video-projections are closely linked to the musical element since, being generated in real-time and in sync with the executive part, they act as a visual score for the audience as well as being the only light source in the performance space. The visual element comprises of continuous variations of overlapping images created through the superimposition of the two screens. The visuals continuously interact with the physical forms of the musicians as the projections illuminate them from the front or from the back, depending on where the audience are positioned in the hall. As a result, the visual and sonic experience for each audience member is specific to each individual. During the performance, the videos are continuously moving between the two walls which creates a fluctuation of light and shadow which works between the walls and the bodies of the musicians.
This type of visual spatialisation of light was chosen for several reasons. First of all because it enriched the experience for the audience members inside the performance space as they were able to move around, thus intercepting the projected light and interfering with the system. This creates an additional relationship between the audience and the work, as their movement intervenes and alters the visual perception of the performance as a whole. This choice was made for aesthetic reasons, but also conceptual, as the images coming from the two projectors are not the same, even though they derive from the same procedure.
This particular technique of contemporary double-projection on different types of materials was developed during Matteo Castiglioni's recent Master's thesis in Electronic Music. “Il Monumento Continuo - Structural Constellation," was a site specific audiovisual-installation consisting of two projections onto panel-like structures in cross-linked plastic, inside which eight speakers were positioned on the ceiling.5 The public could move inside and through this space, thus being able to reconfigure the work itself. By the time the thesis was developed we were already at an advanced stage with the installation of "OverLap," and in some ways it could be said that in “OverLap” this perspective was reversed. The audience are situated outside the structure and the musicians are positioned inside, creating different degrees of visual and sonic overlap, which is made possible through the use of semi-transparent screens and through the use of a multi-channel audio system. We define the work as open because of its improvisatory nature for both the performers and the audience. The audience are free to physically interact with the work, and their subjective emotional and imaginative interpretation of the work is encouraged.
It is important to clarify why our work was defined as a site-specific performance-installation and not as a concert. First of all, it is essential for us that the musical, visual and spatial elements (the structure and the relationship between the public and the environment) are treated equally. Furthermore, our work, unlike a concert with real-time projections, can only occur in a space where the audience may move around the structure freely so that the visuals can be experienced from a number of different perspectives. For this reason, the performance is brought closer to the concept of installation rather than a musical concert. With this in mind, the venues that would best suit this work are large spaces without any architectural barriers, for example, large museum exhibition spaces. These places fit especially well because the public is inspired to contemplate the work, and to take their time to interact and move around within the space. At the same time, we don't define this work as a pure art-installation because it requires the presence of the artist/performer in order to exist in its entirety; without the instrumentalists there would be no music and no video, and each are equally dependent on the other.
The name of the performance itself speaks of superimposition, which is one of the central themes of the work. Rhythmic, harmonic and melodic superposition are in continuous dialogue with the visuals, which are in turn superimposed. Together with the spatialisation of sound, these elements create a unique relationship and a continuous dialogue between the performative structure and the individual spectator. The works that have fundamentally influenced this aspect of the performance are manifold and are mainly derived from the field of visual art. Lucio Fontana first theorised in 1947 in the "Manifesto dello spazialismo” and then in 1952 in the "Manifesto del movimento spaziale per la televisione,” the birth of an eternal art as released from physicalmatter.6 Further to this, the tradition of electronic art including the Fluxus movement in America became a core influence of the work. In partiuclar, Wolf Vostell’s insertion of the medium of television into his “Dè-coll/ages,” generated distortions of televisual images and sound collages in a similar way to the first works of concrete music.7
A turning point in art history that is undoubtedly important in our work was the introduction of the “programming” technique, which is attributable to the birth of kinetic art and was shown in the exhibition "Programmed art," organised by Bruno Munari in Milan.8 As we reside in the city of Milan, the movement of kinetic and programmed art, in addition to the movement of light art and the aforementioned spatialism correspond to a historical memory of the city. Precisely for this reason, the museum “Museo del Novecento,” the largest artistic space in the city, offered large spaces for the exhibition of these works. They have undoubtedly influenced the visual aspect of “OverLap” both regarding the overlapping techniques of the images, the use of moving light and the creation of movement within spatial artistic installations. These are spaces for art in which it is possible to move freely, such as in the experience of "Spazio Elastico" by Gianni Colombo.9 It is not surprising that these works have influenced our own ideas and work, as they are so deeply rooted in our heritage and local traditions.
The new artistic practices previously mentioned, which included the use of technology, quickly began to acquire increasing amounts of space in international exhibitions. In the 1960s, Francois Morellet began producing works based on a geometric-graphic language attributable in part to Mondrian and in part to Max Bill's concrete art.10 All of these artistic movements, born following the kinetic tradition, acted as precursors to what is currently called multimedia art. In recent years, multimedia art has often been found to be specifically created for certain spaces (site-specific). The site-specific multimedia art of Casten Nicolai (Alva Noto) and Carsten Höller have greatly influenced our approach, both of whom have created large-scale works inside the Pirelli Hangar in Milan. The former presented the audiovisual work "Unidisplay" in 2012-2013 (which turned into a performance for one night), while the latter designed the complex and experimental exhibition "Doubt" in 2016.11
Aside from these artists, the work of Philippe Parreno, a highly influential French artist of the past twenty years has inspired the “OverLap” project. In particular, in 2015 he presented the installation "Hypothesis," in an enormous exhibition space of industrial origin, and at the Pirelli HangarBicocca in Milan.12 This was conceived as a space in which a series of events take place in succession, as if they were choreographed. The installation was made up of numerous luminous sculptures that directed musical pieces played by two Disklaviers (mechanical pianos) in real time. The interaction of light between the different sculptures continually transformed the visual aesthetic of the surrounding space, as well as of the works themselves. The experience within this exhibition environment was undoubtedly an important influence on our work, in particular, the desire to create an experience that is constantly poised between a multimedia installation and a musical performance. In his latest work, "Anywhen," presented at the Tate Modern in London in 2016, the entire exhibition was animated and controlled by microorganisms contained in a small laboratory within the museum, demonstrating the concept of the micro controlling the macro in a more extreme way.13
And so we return to our initial concept for the project “OverLap,” where even the slightest micro-gestures of the musicians can greatly impact the generation of the audio-visual material. The visual elements of our work can be defined as generative, precisely because the video material would not be perceptible without the initial gesture, without the presence of the performer's action, which generates a chain reaction across the different sounds, images and materials at play. Without human action the principle effect would be that the brightness of the video would be equal to zero, resulting in total darkness.
Eco, Umberto. Opera aperta: Forma e indeterminazione nelle poetiche contemporanee. Bompiani: Milano, 1962.
Fontana, Lucio. “Manifesto Technico Dello Spazialismo.” bauform.it. 1947. Accessed January 20, 2020, http://www.bauform.it/manifesto%20dello%20spazialismo%201947-1951/primo%20manifesto%20dello%20spazialismo%20milano%201947.htm
Fontana, Lucio. “Manifesto del Movimento Spaziale per la Televisione.” hackart.org. 1952. Accessed January 20, 2020, http://www.hackerart.org/corsi/aba01/capuzzi/manifestomovspazialecentro.htm#:~:text=Lucio%20fontana%20apre%20un'importante,per%20la%20rai%20di%20Milano.
Agostini, Andrea. Gli atomi che si accendevano e radiavano. Composition. France, 2009.
Archive.org. “NASA images.” Accessed January 9, 2020. https://archive.org/details/nasa.
Castern, Nicolai. Unidisplay. Installation. 2012. http://www.carstennicolai.de/?c=works&w=unidisplay.
Castiglioni, Matteo. Il Monumento Continuo - Structural Constellation. Installation. Milan, 2018. https://matteocastiglioni.com/il-monumento-continuo.
Colombo, Gianni. Spazio Elastico. Fluorescent elastic cords, electrical motors, Wood’s lamp, Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum Joanneum, Archivio Gianni Colombo. Milan, 1967.
Londeix, Jean-Marie. “MasterClass, Milano: Sala Puccini.” MasterClass at Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi. Italy, May 10, 2017.
Morellet, Francois, Random Distribution of 40,000 Squares Using the Odd and Even Numbers of a Telephone Directory, 50% Blue, 50% Red. Oil on canvas. Paris, 1960.
Munari, Bruno and Giorgio Soavi, Programmed art. Kinetic art. Multiplied works. Open works. Exhibition. Milan, 1962.
OverLap, “OverLap live @LAC, Lugano.” YouTube video, 4:15. January 21, 2020. https://www.youtube.com/embed/xM9dtwrXjK4?feature=oembed.
Parreno, Philippe. Hypothesis. Pirelli HangarBicocca. Milan, 2015-2016.
Parreno, Philippe. Hyundai commision: Anywhen. Tate Modern. London, 2016.
Risset, Jean-Claude, Saxatile. Composition. Alphonse Leduc, Vent de Sax collection. Paris, 1992.
Vostell, Wolf. Dè-coll/age. Multiple works. Sculpture. 1959 - 1968.
“OverLap”: Marina Notaro, Matteo Castiglioni & Maurizio Gazzola
Born in 2018, the idea of the project is to experiment different forms of audiovisual dialogues between the players, whom have a different musical background and play musical genres very far apart such as classical, idm, ambient music, minimalist music and modern jazz. In 2019 the project was selected as ‘case study’ by Urban Corporis for the book “The City and The Skin” published on 13 January 2020 edited by Borlini, Di Loreto and Amadori. In January 2020 OverLap was selected from “Oggimusica” to perform in the prestigious season of “LuganoMusica” in Teatro Studio of LAC Lugano Arte e Cultura for the concert series “Early Night Modern,” performing for the first time the piece “Escape Room” written for them by the composer Dragos Tara.
Marina Notaro [Saxophones]
Marina Notaro began studying saxophone with the “banda G. Verdi” in S.Agata Militello (ME), and continued her studies at the Conservatories V. Bellini of Palermo with M ° Gaetano Costa and “G. Verdi” in Milan where she graduated with full marks under the guidance of Maestro Daniele Comoglio. She attained a II level specialist degree with 110 cum laude presenting the experimental project "In_Search" for saxophones and electronics, which won a European scholarship and was selected for a performance within the Spazju Kreattiv season (Valletta-Malta).
Notaro has participated in numerous master classes with internationally renowned Masters such as Jean-Marie Londeix, Vincent David, Mario Marzi, Claude Delangle, Pascal Bonnet, Fabrizio Mancuso, Arno Bornkamp, Christian Wirth, Jean-Yves Fourmeau, Gerard McCrystal, Lars Mleckush, Thymoty Roberts and Antonio Felipe Belijar. She performs an intense concert activity as a soloist and with various formations performing with esteemed orchestras such as the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Scala, the Orchestra I Pomeriggi Musicali, the Sicilian Symphonic Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Vittorio Emanuele Theater of Messina, in prestigious theatres such as Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Theater degli Arcimboldi, Teatro dal Verme, Teatro di Verdura, Teatro Litta, MUDEC, LAC of Lugano, Teatro di Bastia (Corsica), Spazju Kreattiv (Malta), Palazzina Liberty and the Royal Palace of Milan.
In 2014 with the concert of A. Glazunov she performs as a soloist with the orchestra "I Pomeriggi Musicali" at the prestigious Sala Verdi of the G. Verdi Conservatory in Milan. She collaborated with the "Filarmonica della Scala" orchestra for the "Discovery '900" concert series under the direction of Daniele Gatti and for the first world performance of Peter Eotvos' "Alle Vittime Senza Nome." In 2017 she performed the concert of J. Ibert with the Campana Philharmonic Orchestra at the S. Alfonso di Pagani auditorium and at Villa Guariglia in Vietri sul Mare (Salerno). Since 2017 he has collaborated regularly with the I Pomeriggi Musicali Orchestra of Milan. In August 2017 she was invited for a tour in China where she performed solo in prestigious theaters such as Harbin Grand Theater, Tianjin Grand Theater and Yangzhou Concert Hall. In 2018, she obtained the suitability for saxophone at the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and was hired for the production of West Side Story.
Marina supports her performance practice with a didactic-pedagogical one, and in June 2017 she obtains the Master of Arts Music Pedagogy with honors from the prestigious Conservatory of Italian- speaking Switzerland in Lugano. Since 2014 she has been teaching saxophone at middle schools with a musical address and at various Masterclasses of musical improvement.
Matteo Castiglioni [Electronics, Video, Structure]
Matteo graduated in electronic music and sound design at the Milan Conservatory obtaining the Bachelor and Master degree cum laude. With the “t.e.s.o." duo, the group "Studio Murena,” “Bo!led” and the laptop orchestra "1h20nein" he has published six studio albums since 2014, in parallel with the recording activity and numerous audiovisual concerts including a project for the Birmingham Conservatory, the museum of the 1900s, the Triennale, the San Fedele Auditorium, Fabbrica del Vapore in Milan and the LAC in Lugano. He has performed at numerous music festivals, such as Jazzmi, MiTo Festival, both as a musician and video artist.
Matteo designs audiovisual and interactive installations as well as site specific works (among others) for the Palazzo Reale and Palazzo Litta in Milan, the Michigan Technological University and the Palazzo Ducale in Genoa. In addition to this, he works as freelance sound and video designer, including video-scenography for Operas, such as "Elisir D'amore" (2017), "Alfred Alfred" (in collaboration with the Brera Academy) (2016), "Amor y odio" (2016), "Cantor Caffè" (2016), "Shakespeare '900" (2017), "Suor Angelica/ Billy Budd" (2018).
His portfolio can be seen here: https://matteocastiglioni.com/work
Maurizio Gazzola [Electronics, Electric bass]
Born in 1995 in the province of Cuneo, Maurizio is a musician, composer and performer. He graduated from Ego Bianchi High School of Music in Cuneo in piano, and then completed his studies in Electronic Composition, Audio and Multimedia address at the G. Verdi Conservatory in Milan. Currently he is studying video and audio at the cinema academy of the Scuola Civica of Milano. He also produces for the collective "Studio Murena," with whom he is working on the second studio album.