Songs for an Airless Room

Research output: Non-textual formComposition

Abstract / Description of output

Somewhere between documentary, theatre and opera, Songs for an Airless Room is a piece of music to be performed in cinemas. As a trio, the piece features improvised vocals by Phil Minton, percussion performed by Joby Burgess, with computer processing, live visuals and surround sound performed by the composer, the piece touches on themes of isolation and obsession that might be linked to forms of digital media. 

Songs for an airless room evolved from reports of the Japanese Hikikomori, a form of loner or ’shut-in’. While particularities of the Hikikomori are unique to Japan’s youth, the theme of deliberate personal isolation is more universal, accelerated, perhaps, by the relentless presence of digital media and technology. 

This complex situation is hinted at, rather than explained in nine short songs. Live sounds from the performers are processed by computer and diffused in real-time around the cinema surround system. Live sound also animates a series of images on screen, forcing an immersive counterpart to the music.

The performance is preceded by a screening of “Hikikomori” a 22 minute documentary by Francesco Jodice and Kal Karman.

Original languageEnglish
Media of outputOnline
Publication statusPublished - 19 Feb 2010

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Composition
  • Improvisation
  • Audiovision
  • Performance
  • Live electronics


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