benjamin thigpen

  paths 2011
  turn 2010
  still 2009
  shift 2009
  head transplant experiment 2008
  malfunction30931 2007
  undertow 2006
  brief candle 2005
  0.95652173913 2005
  incandescence 2003
  espoir 2003
  balagan 2001
  not even the rain 2000
  step,under 1998
  dust 1997
  ashes,ashes 1996
  h 1995
  appel 1995
  dédale 1994
  études au mouvant, 2e livre 1994
for 8-channel electromagnetic media
duration : 15'34

(excerpt 0'00-4'45)

... but I let you fall back into chaos,
like diving bells.

– Lautréamont

balagan is a study in disintegration. In Hebrew, the title means “mess.” As I composed the piece, the principle problematics for me revolved around the issues raised by this title: disintegration, chaos, disorder. But disorder is not just the absence of order; nor is order the simple exclusion of disorder. The two opposites do not exclude each other; they are folded into and founded on each other. The question (or one of them) is how things fall apart, and how in falling apart they take on orderly, coherent shapes.

I like to think that the form of balagan resembles that of the “constructures” my daughter used to make when she was 2 or 3 years old. There are many small objects arranged on the floor. Seen from a distance – as you enter the room, say – they give you the impression of a big mess; but if you look more closely, you become aware of a strong coherence in the juxtapositions and successions of objects. If you follow these links, you discover a changing, evolving logic; you get the feeling that it could lead almost anywhere, but never arbitrarily – that each step, however unforseeable, would display an inner necessity. In the end, if you continue, you are drawn into a kind of labyrinth, filled with interconnections and relations.

The sounds, all of acoustic origin, were transformed primarily by fragmentation – the extraction and superimposition of small bits of sound – and hybridization – the combination of the spectral energies of two different sounds. This processing was done by programs I wrote in Max/MSP; for the octophonic spatialization, I prepared a streamlined version of Ircam's Spatialisateur, to which I added numerous modules for automation and control.

Commissioned by Ina-GRM, 2001, and composed in their studios [Paris].

balagan was a finalist in the contest CIMESP 2003.