The Giga-Hertz Award for Electronic Music has been awarded since 2007 by ZKM | Karlsruhe and SWR Experimentalstudio. This year’s artists and composers will be honored during a two-day festival.
This year, the Giga-Hertz Production Prizes will be awarded to prize winners with a focus on immersive, audiovisual works. In addition to the festive awards ceremony, the winning compositions will be performed. The award ceremony will take place on the evening of November 28, 2020 in the digital presence of all prize winners. Due to the conditions of this year, the event will be held exclusively online and broadcasted entirely and free via live stream on the ZKM Website.
The Giga-Hertz Award is dedicated to the world-famous physicist Heinrich Hertz (1857–1894). At the end of the 19th century he taught at the Karlsruhe Technical University (now the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology), and it was there that he discovered the Electromagnetic Waves. The purpose of the Award is to promote electronic music and to give incentives through new tonal and compositional possibilities.
The event will be held in English.
Saturday, November 28, 2020 (time zone: CET)
|7 pm||Giga-Hertz Award Ceremony and Presentation of the Laureates 2020|
|8.30 pm||Giga-Hertz Award Concert I|
Sunday, November 29, 2020
|4 pm||Film Screening | »No Ideas But in Things«|
Prof. Ludger Brümmer, Prof. Dr. Rudolf Frisius, Prof. Dr. habil. Sabine Sanio and Julia Gerlach in conversation.
Works by the winner of the Main Award
Jury Statements on the Award Winners
- François J. Bonnet on Main Winner Alvin Lucier
Alvin Lucier is a key figure for anyone who would like to fully understand the unfolding of music during the second half of the 20th century until today. Along with Robert Ashley, David Behrman and Gordon Mumma with the »Sonic Arts Union« (active from 1966 to 1976), Alvin Lucier managed to pursue and renew the path traced by the American avant garde, in particular John Cage, by extending the compositional techniques towards devices and acoustic phenomena, thereby reshaping the process of composition itself. »Music for Solo Performer« (1965), using alpha brain waves as instrumental triggers, »I Am Sitting in a Room« (1969), focusing on the process itself as revelatory engine of the composition, or »Music on a Long Thin Wire« (1977), challenging the boundaries between musical composition and sound installation, are just a few examples of the constant search and exploration that characterizes Alvin Lucier’s music. His impact on the musical field is also fundamental in his teaching activities, notably at Wesleyan University (1968-2011) and in some of his writings, for example »Reflections: Interviews, Scores, Writings« (Köln, MusikTexte, 1995) or »Music 109: Notes on Experimental Music« (Middletown, CT, Wesleyan University Press, 2012). Also inspirational is his ability to perpetuate this curiosity about the sound phenomenon and the way we can experience it as humans - that is to say to extend, musically, the disarming experience of being human, facing a phenomenal world that you can’t decipher. This poetic curiosity has not only brought us Alvin Lucier over the years with an admirable freshness, longevity and consistency, but also more recently with fascinating works such as »Criss-Cross« (2013), »Hanover« (2015) or »V« (2018). It is by virtue of all these considerations that the jury is happy to award the Giga Hertz main prize to Alvin Lucier.
- Detlef Heusinger on Production Prize Winner h0nh1m (Chris Cheung)
h0nh1m belongs to a new generation of artists who are working to abolish the separation of installation, audiovisual performance and technical realisation. In doing so, he pursues a virtuoso and independent path, especially in the visual field, as he uses sounding sign systems – such as waveforms – to set ciphers that refer to acoustic phenomena like an optical locating system. It was precisely this interaction between image and music that convinced the jury, as the animated images in combination with the music creates a fascinating pull that immerses recipients in an art world that, despite all its aestheticisation, also creates anxiety. This is certainly also to be seen as a political statement, as the sky over his home Hong Kong is threatening to darken. It is also significant that in one part of »RadianceScape« he has embarked on a journey through Fukushima, during which one believes to hear the Geiger counter. The Geiger counter as an acoustic sign of threat or of the passing of time reminds us of our own finitude or even that of humanity.
In the submitted part of the cycle, h0nh1m refers decidedly to Chernobyl and finds a higher degree of abstraction for it, as well as for the interaction of image and sound. Visually, it looks like a modernized reactor control station with its display panels. But acoustically there are references to Stockhausen's »Gesang der Jünglinge im Feuerofen« that expand the synthetic material with vocal voices. In this work, too, we are presented an aestheticized »Brave New World«, even if animated camera movements are omitted here. Instead, small flashes of light refer to the short circuits in the system, which should definitely be perceived in a figurative sense. For this musicalization of »Murphy's Law« and its sociological connection, h0nh1m is awarded the production prize.
- Palle Dahlstedt on Production Prize Winner Mark Pilkington
The relationship between the visual and the aural has fascinated musicians and artists for a long time. The neural phenomenon of synesthesia gives a direct sensory connection for some, and has served as a quasi-mythical inspiration for others. The list of synesthetic composers is long, and from the other side, many painters have approached musical thinking, with Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky as notable examples.
The medium of film introduced time to visuals, and allowed for visual experimentation with musical form and gesture in the evolving genre of visual music, pioneered by, for example, Oskar Fischinger, Len Lye, Norman McLaren, Mary Ellen Bute, and the brothers James and John Whitney.
In parallel, there was a dream of playing visuals like a musician. Already Georg Philipp Telemann - and later Alexander Scriabin – composed for color organs, and pioneering inventor and musician Mary Hallock-Greenewalt built a fully functioning visual instrument in the 1910s. In the 1960s, analog video provided further ground for real-time experimentation – pioneered by Nam June Paik and the Vasulkas – with analog video synthesizers allowing for gestural control of abstract and processed visuals. With today’s computers, live interaction with graphics and audio is generally available, and for the programming artist-musician they provide an ideal platform for synesthetic explorations.
Being engineer, visual artist and electronic musician, Mark Pilkington combines all these strands in a natural way, clearly aware of the history of audio-visual expressions. His work »Hidden Forest«, implemented as a live computer algorithm or a fixed media work, is centered around the idea of natural and artificial ecosystems, and the concept of movement as manifesting living presence and time. Sound and light evolve in tight synchrony, applying the composer’s own drawings, photographs and film mapped as graphic scores, and using models of ecosystemic interactions as further processual input.
»Hidden Forest« shows inspiration from the visual music tradition, and from composers such as Iannis Xenakis, linking mathematics, science, geometry and musical structure. With the added component of gestural control combined with analog modular synthesis, the composer is able to interactively perform on and with the work.
»Hidden Forest« calls attention to the burning environmental issues of combining the natural and the artificial, and while being deceptively simple and elegantly implemented, the piece unveils the complexity of the underlying matter, and the unpredictability of complex systems in nature, in code, and in analog synthesis.
- Björn Gottstein on Honorary Mention Anni Rüfenacht & Sandra Schmid
The jury of the Giga-Hertz-Award 2020 awards the Swiss artist duo Annie Rüfenacht and Sandra Schmid an honorary mention. The jury was impressed by their work »Kataklasit«, with which Rüfenacht and Schmid explore visual and acoustic aspects of stones. Their meticulous approach, bordering on scientificity, uses a microscopic eye and ear to achieve a highly abstract dissolution of the recrystallisation processes. The result is a visual surface that traces changes in the structure of the stones which is reflected in multiple, finely graduated and dissected shades of grey, as well as an acoustic surface that illustrates the subliminal nature of the processes by oscillating between field recordings and coloured noise. In its overall effect, however, »Kataklasit« stands out especially for its fine, harmonious and atmospheric overall impression. The double character of the work, between scientificity and abstraction, impressed the jury to a great extent.
- Ludger Brümmer on Honorary Mention Siamak Anvari
The almost 17-minute composition »Hafthasht« contains unusual, seemingly sparsely processed sounds that give the audience plenty of room for its own world of thoughts. No golden thread leads the listener along a calculated, expectable compositional course. Instead of this, situations appear, archaic sound types that evoke a virtual action or simply situations. In terms of interpretation, the sounds leave behind riddles and open spots, although they are fascinating and have a clear material affiliation at the same time.
Compositionally, Anvari follows the idea of sound reflection, which repeats the material but changes its tonal components by more or less damping trebles. He also makes the time between the original and its reflection a compositional observation element. This narrative thread, so important for the construction, is not absolutely necessary for the reception of the work, but as a meta-level it can enrich the decoding of the compositional strategy.
Beginning with simple, permissive, almost featureless tones and sequences of notes, he changes the tonal vocabulary almost unexpectedly to recumbent sounds like those of unreal but enchanting wind instruments. Repeating this change, he arrives at more and more remote levels of reality.
Siamak Anvari composed the work in a 24-channel surround sound version, which allows the nebulous, abstract and yet expressive character of the composition to be experienced immersively. The jury was impressed by the immediate effect of the sounds in Siamak Anvari's composition, by the immediacy and freshness of the sounds, as well as by the appeal it is able to unfold.
- The event via live stream
- Project team
Ludger Brümmer (Artistic Director)
Dominik Kautz (Project Management & Production Organization, Program Brochure)
Sophie Caecilia Hesse (Project Organization)
Sebastian Schottke (Sound Engineer & Sound Direction)
Hans Gass (Light and Event Technician)
Jakob Schreiber (Assistant Sound Direction & Light/Event Technician)
Gil Monteverde (Intern)
Video Studio Team
Christina Zartmann (Broadcast Manager, Camera)
Moritz Büchner (Technical Director)
Andy Koch (Visual Director)
Xenia Leidig (Graphic Art, Camera)
Jule Heinzmann (Camera)
Tim Wenz (Live Stream Support)
Communication & Marketing
Dominika Szope (Head of ZKM | Communication & Marketing)
Lena Becker, Sabine Jäger, Lena Schneider (Website and Communication)
Adrian Koop (Marketing)
Musicians Concert II
Núria Cunillera Salas
- Organization / Institution
- ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe