Viktoria Modesta and Media Lab Students at the Music Tech Fest, Berlin

A project by Viktoria Modesta
Viktoria Modesta and Media Lab Students at the Music Tech Fest, Berlin

Just a few weeks ago I had the absolute pleasure to take part in the Performance Lab at the Music Tech Fest’s 10th anniversary event, held at the historical Funkhaus, Berlin. It was a five day preparation process where some of the most creative minds in the music innovation world were able to come together and work on spontaneous collaboration, merge they skills, and explore new ideas.

Coming from the entertainment world, I definitely was keen to go as grand as possible in terms of ambition. The biggest challenge was to see how realistic it is to use experimental tech in a performance, seamlessly, that did not look like a demonstration but something more meaningful: a tool to express another range of emotions. On the third day, a natural formation of around 12 artists became clear, where everyone was interested in exploring how they could enhance a performance around my new release titled ‘Counterflow’. It was a brilliant community of people ranging from neuroscientists to musicians, to projection mapping and fashion designers. It was an orchestra of mediums, and with all the collaborative excitement surrounding us, we had to push it to the max. It was an even bigger surprise to have Katia and Xin from the Media Lab come all the way across the pond with their 3D printed nails and LED skin interface project.

For the final day of the collaboration, we had three scheduled performances throughout the afternoon. The first one was almost a soundcheck/rehearsal, were we tried some of the recent technical creations. My costume was still under construction, and we experienced some issues with the power and internet sources at the venue. The second performance was a little more successful with almost all elements working in order. Finally, the third and most successful performance became a narrative of ‘ Enlightenment through Technology’. The opening, a discovery of consciousness, was an introduction section with me in a meditative state controlling the color and sound of the room using sensors attach to my head (neatly tucked away in the hairdo), created by ‘Muarts,' which changed from blue (breathing) to white (ambience) music. This was followed by dthe iscovery of my limbs, wired up with sensors created by ‘Gird,’ which triggered sounds and light columns, to a background of remix music of Prototype by Arielle Esther. Finally, my nails triggered the lights attached to my skin through "Skrin," the skin interface created and developed by Katia and Xin, from the Media Lab. The dramatic intro flowed into the new track ‘Counterflow,’ where guys from ‘Hand Coded’ brought the room alive with their projection mapping technology, which really enhanced and activated the costume designed by Winde Rienstra and Joanna Hir.

I can't remember the last time I worked with such a large group of talent, and having worked so hard. Every day, we were at the Funkhaus Sound Chamber untill early hours of the morning. As I await for the video footage of the event, creatively filmed and carefully curated by Sheila Hayman, I can say that this was, in all honesty, the first glance at how magical human expressions can be in the future, as we continue to collaborate with technology as a possible enhancer of our capabilities. I don’t see robots taking over the world. I see technological philosophy extending us into the superhuman sphere.

Viktoria