Controlled / Uncontrolled: when dancing to chaos

Can you dance uncontrollably to electronic music? And can you follow the rhythm after a while to bring yourself back under control? un ctrl knows!

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The un ctrl team worked extensively with Ableton and Instruments of Things to find answers to these questions. On the one hand, un ctrl presents an inner experience that starts with a person recalibrating their inner perception, and on the other hand, Ableton creates a space for society to engage with the perception of music: the Open Lab Ableton.

To tell you more about un ctrl, a performance that connects body, music and space, and the Open Lab Ableton, we met with the teams who told us more about the genesis of the collaboration between Ars Electronica and Ableton. Create your world director Hans Christian Merten and DACH Brand Manager und Ableton Certified Trainer Christian Schwanz gave us the lowdown on the collaboration between Ableton and Ars Electronica. And the un ctrl team, consisting of Daniel, Cat and Martin, clarified their basic idea of un ctrl for us.

How did the collaboration with Ars Electronica begin?

Hans Christian Merten: Since 2014, exclusive projects have been implemented again and again as part of the create your world festival, always with the fundamental goal of bringing electronic music production closer to as many people as possible, but also beyond that to an experimental and artistically new level. Ableton contacted Ars Electronica at that time and also became interested in formats of the create your world TOUR, which they have now been supporting for two years with workshops for various schools. Since 2015, the Ars Electronica Center’s Soundlab has also been equipped with Ableton Live. Many international art projects presented at Ars Electronica use the Ableton Live software.

What does the project “un ctrl” primarily convey?

un ctrl team:  Daniel, Cat and Martin describe their project with these words: An invisible diagram is laid like a soft cloth over a room which allows three artists to play and interact live with each other: Daniel, a musician, Cat, a dancer and Martin, a visual artist. From play to jam to competition for control — and suddenly to surrender to algorithms, a tilt into arbitrariness and an acceleration of chances. A state of un ctrl? What comes next? Do we see the threshold? And can we resist the urge to hold on?

New tools are giving artists more and more ways to control and direct artistic output — but does more control really contribute to expanded artistic expression? And how do we organize the flow of unforeseen coincidences into a grid of rules? Where does the subliminal desire for control come from?

un ctrl allows music, body and space to interact in a live improvisation, playing with hierarchies through collaborative devices (SOMI-1) provided by Instruments of Things and Ableton. An inner experience that begins with one person recalibrating their inner perception and transitions into a collective experience of a pulsating club in the Deep Space, while questioning deep-seated desires of our society.

Who is the Open Lab Ableton for, and what does it offer?

Christian Schwanz: With the Open Lab we address interested people who have perhaps already started making music and are looking for new approaches. Here it is possible to make useful connections, to pick up new ways of working and to gather inspiration. Together with Instruments of Things we also want to shed light on the technical context of unctrl. Visitors can take a look behind the scenes, so to say.

Are there any other projects planned with Ars Electronica and Ableton in the future?

Christian Schwanz: The collaboration with Ars Electronica now since 2015 is a fixed part of our annual planning. But we don’t have any exact plans yet. It’s nice to let this year’s ARS Edition take effect on us first, and then we can reach for the stars together again. Personally, I am already excited for what the future will bring.

You can see un ctrl on 7.9 at 17:00, on 9.9 at 18:00 and on 10.9 at 17:30 in Deep Space 8K. The Ableton Open Lab will be open to visitors during the Ars Electronica Festival on the JKU Linz campus. More information about the festival program here.