How to tell a better story with technology

The Amsterdam-born, London-based electronic music producer, songwriter, singer and performer Chagall kicked off the Gather festival on Thursday morning with a performance created live on stage with a stupefying gloves-technique.

We are driven by the stories we have been told and want to tell. It does not matter if the story is told by our own voice, by books, films or music. 

Multi artist Chagall tells her stories through electronic music, but not in the usual standing-behind-a technician-stand-pushing-buttons- kind of way. She moves, mostly with her arms and hands. It is like a dance – a dance which creates music.  

The performer Chagall stands on stage dressed in a neon yellow latex suite combined with silver over-the-knee boots. She looks like a star from the 1980s, but produces music from the future with technology from today. To be more specific, she produces electronic music with her gloves. When Chagall stretches her right arm out, a bass sound starts. She pulls the arm up and the bass turns into drum and bass music. All of it just works perfect/right/plays together, thanks to the electronics in her gloves. With her left hand she takes care of the synths. Her songs are made out of a choreography: her movements create her music. She can even control her voice with the technique. By a hand gesture she puts her voice in layers and sings chorales with herself. By bending her finger she controls the drum beats. By gently embracing herself she slowly turns the volume down.

Chagall’s movements seems to be almost robotic, her gestures are big and not fluent. At the same time, she is producing her music without hiding behind a desk. The audience can feel her presence since you can follow her movements and see the effects immediately. The connection between the audience is layered – you move with Chagall and you are moved by her act.

It seems quite logical that movement and music are connected. Moving does not just underline her songs, it creates the music itself. Chagall needs to use her body to produce her music. Everyone needs to move and be moved to tell a story. In that way Chagall’s gloves bring us back to the basics of movement and producing. We constantly produce and communicate through our bodies. Why not connect that with music?

Chagall’s gestures need to be super precise. Because of that, the flow gets lost when the movements become too technical. The technical sight eventually blurs the vision of the story she wants to tell. The body serves the technology for the right result. That makes it less organic, less about the story itself. Should it not be the other way around?

The gloves show the huge creative communication possibilities that technology provides us with. At the same time, they make the discrepancy between the technique and the human body visible.

How much can the human body be connected to technology? Is it possible to create a technique which draws less attention from the story?     


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