The voice of the UPIC: Technology and virtual agency

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

I have previously situated the UPIC of Iannis Xenakis, a computer music instrument of legendary intransigence, as set apart from the mainstream of electroacoustic technologies, developing its own “voice” as the utterance of “prophetic” traces: ancient, not modern. Here, I will approach the sound of the UPIC from the perspective of Robert Hatten’s recent theory of “virtual agency.” The sounds of the UPIC confound traditional notions of meaning in music as expressive – in a human sense, and reconfigure what Brian Kane calls the “audile techniques” of a “community of listeners.” Yet the works made with this technology remain engaging and meaningful to us as music. In this paper, I will explore the idea of ‘virtual agency’ as extended to non-human agents, as figured by the events and appearances of the natural world, and consider the ways in which Xenakis allows us, as listeners, to engage with these “virtual agents” through their traces, evident in the graphism of the UPIC’s interface.
Original languageEnglish
JournalStudia Musica
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 6 Mar 2024

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • UPIC
  • Xenakis
  • virtual agency
  • Hatten
  • vitality
  • energy

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