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Einar Torfi Einarsson - research

In my current research I focus on elaborating something I call decontextualized notation and notational experimentation. My approach is experimental in the sense that it aims to decontextualize notation, i.e. to place it in an unusual and unfamiliar setting, in order to see what happens or could potentially happen to notation both functionally, philosophically, relationally, and artistically or aesthetically. Notation as such is therefore abstracted and considered as a certain relationship-tool with undefined function. Through this approach, notation is not simply a communication tool between composer and performer but potentially a relationship-tool between any two agents. This relies on a very basic definition of notation, namely that notation is a connective force with mapping capabilities which thrives on the in-between, meaning it always comes betwixt. Therefore, notation has great potential to alter perceptions, give new perspectives, stir up thoughts, and alienate and defamiliarize. Unquestionably, this artistic research does not confine itself to music -- although musical notation is in a sense the basic model on which it relies and deconstructs -- and is therefore more concerned with generating art objects and theoretical texts. The theoretical or conceptual background to all this comes from the concept 'deterritorialization', which is here explored as a process that decontextualizes a set of relations, rendering them virtual or abstract and prepares them for more distant actualizations. My approach is also experimental in the sense that the outcome is not always foreseen, or what the work becomes when notational acts are put into different contexts, or differently decontextualized, is sometimes unpredictable.
I sometimes use 'biopsy' (or autopsy) as a metaphor (with or without the pathology connotation) for my research: a medical removal of tissue (or organs in the case of autopsy) from a body for further examination and analysis. In my case, notation has then been extracted from the body of music for further examination and experimentation.

My previous (as well as ongoing) research can be divided into three projects, trajectories or focal areas:
        1. Performance Composition
        2. Theoretical Composition
        3. Non-Music Composition

Although these three research areas/interests might influence each other I consider them as separated activities as they have very different materials, objectives and outputs. However, they are all compositional activities in the sense that the composer's orientation is the initial approach. What follows is a further delineation of each area.

1. Performance Composition - outline
This trajectory is concerned with the conventional setup of music, namely performed concert music. However, the focus here is an experimental one and a certain emphasis or priority is put on the performer's physicality, physical data of the instrument and the performer's encounter with notation. With these factors fully prioritized sound becomes a contingent element or a by-product. These priority factors are understood as potential areas for effort and challenge in the sense of being capable of 'pressurizing' the performer into unknown domains. Furthermore, the structure investigated within this trajectory is the structure of instability, nonlinearity, non-identity, non-teleology, non-fixity and contingency, which often places the activities in-between precision and imprecision or as liquid relations/connections. Form is therefore conceived of as a structure that embraces instability, ceaseless connections, indefinity, incompleteness, unpredictability, and above all non-fixity and non-identity understood as generators of unique outcomes, i.e. each performance renders a different possible instance of the score, globally as well as locally. To fulfil this radically the score per se is heavily criticized both in its conventional layout (left to right order of events) and as an indicator of moments (the vertical line that represents a synchronous moment).

examples: Negative Dynamics I(a/b)    ,    Non-vanishing vacuum state   ,     Desiring-Machines  

2. Theoretical Composition - outline
This trajectory is concerned with a nonconventional composition practice, namely non-performed scores, pure notation (notation pieces), imagined music or music that occurs only in the imagination. It is a conceptual practice. Its materials are therefore often (or even stipulated as) quantities and qualities that cannot exist except conceptually. Thus, impossibilities gain the properties of the possible since within this domain the impossible is the only possibility. Here the fundamentals of music (such as tempo, dynamics, note-values, structure, magnitude, etc.) are investigated, but those elements are treated in isolation or separation from real actual performance. This activity of theoretical composition takes place within a space defined by the thresholds of unimaginability. That being said, performance opportunity or possibility might potentially emerge but only as a side-effect. Furthermore, theoretical composition explores the 'thinking' of music or what music-in-itself, as a part of the Real, can think.

   examples: unilateral duality (i) Tempo(r(e)al[ity])-lab(oratory/yrinth) (i)

3. Non-Music Composition -
This trajectory redirects the compositional orientation and points it at anything outside music (with exceptions). Consequently, pieces or compositions are made not (only) for instruments but for buildings, writers, scientific instruments, spaces, objects, robots, people of any kind and activity of any order. This practice is instruction-based, meaning it separates the instructive aspect of composing from music; thus the 'scores' are usually constituted by an instruction text or performance notes only. However, graphical instructions are also experimented with although they are usually diagrammatic. These works are potentially realizable, that is, they ideally could be realized but not necessarily, and often cannot because of financial reasons, scope of the work or other organisational factors. It is therefore a semi-conceptual practice.

                    examples:  The Vacuum Cycle  ,  Nanoguitar Bagatelle