Warning message

Submissions for this form are closed.
Book Release: From Xenakis’s UPIC to Graphic Notation Today
Book preview »From Xenakis’s UPIC to Graphic Notation Today«
with Electronic Concerts and Talks
Fri, April 17, 2020 7 pm CEST, Talk

Presentation of the book published by the Hertz-Lab and the Centre Iannis Xenakis with moderated discussion by the editors Peter Weibel, Ludger Brümmer and Sharon Kanach, followed by a concert with a piece by Julia Rommel, which was created in the context of the artist's residence »Graphical Notation«, as well as a software presentation. 

Out of the ambition to transform drawings into synthesized sound, an interdisciplinary team led by the composer Iannis Xenakis developed the graphic composition tool UPIC (Unité Polyagogique Informatique de CEMAMu, Centre d'Études de Mathématique et Automatique Musicales) at the end of the 1970s - a custom-made computer that translates graphic notations into sound. The composers can draw waveforms and envelopes straight onto an electronic tablet interface and translate them into sound through the computer. The revolution in graphic composition triggered by Iannis Xenakis and carried forward by other established computer musicians such as Jean-Claude Risset or Curtis Roads continues forty years later in modern computer programs.

In spring 2020, the ZKM will release an extensive volume entitled »From Xenakis's UPIC to Graphic Notation Today«. This volume, with 27 richly illustrated articles, is the first to be dedicated to the genesis of this unique computational instrument and traces its technical, social, institutional and educational significance up to the current practice of contemporary composers who work with the idea of UPIC in current computer programs. The publication has been produced in cooperation with the Centre Iannis Xenakis, contains previously unpublished archive material and is simultaneously made available to the public as a digital version for free download at www.zkm.de/upic.

On the occasion of the book's publication there will be a discussion with editors Peter Weibel, Ludger Brümmer and Sharon Kanach, moderated by Lisa Bensel. This is followed by the premiere of the work »Zwischenraum - Akustische Kartographie« by Julia Jasmin Rommel, which was created between 2018 and 2019 as part of the Artistic Residency »Graphical Notation« at the ZKM | Hertz-Lab. It will be presented in a pandemic video version specially produced to reflect the current situation. This will be followed by a short jamsession demo of the educational software UPIsketch.

From Xenakis’s UPIC to Graphic Notation Today

Here you can download the digital version as PDF.


Julia Jasmin Rommel »Zwischenraum – Akustische Kartographie«, [Interspace - Acoustic Cartography].

Pandemic version of an 8-channel audiovisual installation for the ZKM Sound Dome

  • Bridge and tunnel map / Brücken und Tunnel Karte 03:20
  • Flight booking map / Flugbuchungskarte 03:36
  • Curve map / Kurvenkarte 02:50
  • Oncoming traffic map / Gegenverkehrskarte 02:00

This audiovisual installation is based on several cartographic documents in which Julia Jasmin Rommel has visualized different aspects of the interspace – the mental state we are in during the routine crossing of distance between places A and B. They address, among other things, transitions, restlessness and continuity, sense of orientation and change of direction, and are each documented by experimental but context-related criteria and methods. Space structuring elements such as tunnel and bridge crossings, counter-trains, flight booking data, curve angles of certain railway lines form the parameters of these movement protocols. Using the Graphic Sequencer »IanniX« these protocols are translated into sound. In a sort of sonification the attempt is made to do justice both to the linearity of documented paths and to the map as a medium of overview. Rommel's interest lies in the interface between reading signs and interpreting images, which is made possible by the transformation into sound.


Julian Scordato - Constellations (2015) 7'10'' algorithmic audiovisual composition created with IanniX

Constellations, graphic sequencer and electronics (2014)

This work begins from the exploration of an imaginary celestial space which is translated into sound space. How does each celestial sphere  starting from its manifestation as a unit  interact with the cosmos where it belongs? How does it react to its law? How does it transform itself integrating with the system, until the loss of identity? In contrast with that process, the constellations act underlining the bodies in their uniqueness by means of creation of symbolic links: beyond their meaning, they stand as a classification and articulation device of the individual within the system.


Julian Scordato – Spirography (2020) 3'02'' algorithmic audiovisual composition created with IanniX

Spirography, digital piano and graphic sequencer (2020)

An audiovisual piece based on a dynamic graphic score in IanniX which controls MIDI note generation on a digital piano, following a set of probability rules. A difficult undertaking for a composer to imagine a graphic form which retains a musical value.


UPISketch Jam Session (2020) 3’00’’ 

by Rodolphe Bourotte, Latifa Le Forestier, Jean-Ambroise Vesac

UPISketch Étude n°1 (2020) 1’50’'

by Rodolphe Bourotte

The Event via Livestream
Organization / Institution
ZKM | Center for Art and Media