Nicolas Collins & Hans W. Koch | Lampo | Experimental | Chicago Reader

Nicolas Collins & Hans W. Koch All Ages Critic's Choice Recommended Soundboard

When: 2009

A hundred years ago, in his short story “The Machine Stops,” E.M. Forster envisioned a world in which humans have become so dependent upon an omnipotent technological network that they perish when it breaks down—and we’re already well on our way there, as anyone who’s found himself paralyzed by the failure of his broadband connection knows. Chicagoan Nicolas Collins and German Hans W. Koch have both embraced technological failure and discarded gadgets, repurposing them as tools to make art that proposes a less teat-sucking relationship to the machinery around us. In Collins’s 1991 composition “Broken Light,” a string quartet works with and against the skipping, sputtering output of a hot-wired CD player. For “Bandoneonbook,” Koch exploits a design flaw of the Apple Titanium Powerbook—its microphone is right next to one of the speakers, and he can manipulate the resulting feedback by “playing” the computer like an old-fashioned squeezebox. Tonight’s show, which is Koch’s Chicago debut and Collins’s first local appearance in several years, will feature performances involving one or both men and assorted unconventional implements, including Collins’s signature trombone-propelled electronics and what he’s calling “candle-powered oscillators.” There will also be several group pieces: “Waggle Dance,” for an unplugged laptop marching band; “Salvage,” in which seven performers attempt to revive circuit boards from cast-off appliances; and “The Benchmark Consort,” for an orchestra of crashing laptops (bring your own to participate). —Bill Meyer

Price: $12

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