Steel becomes silk, gravity recast (2021; 15')
for voice, electronics and live simulated roller coasters
This is a roller coaster. It looms, it arches, it curls and twists…
This is a roller coaster project by multidisciplinary artist Luke Nickel and soprano Juliet Fraser, a 15-minute performance combining voice and simulated roller coasters commissioned by Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival for performance in November 2021. In this collaborative piece, Juliet and Luke transform roller coasters into sound through a process of simulated gravitational witchcraft.
The piece is built through a process of conversation and experimentation. Juliet has created a roller coaster in her mind, and has sung its tracks, its speed, its height and its G-force. Luke has been constructing simulated roller coasters in a digital space, and has collaborated with A.I. to write a witchy spell. Nothing is notated. The emerging piece has a living score, embodied in the mind and the muscle memory.
In performance, Juliet and Luke face each other on stage. Juliet sings an unearthly, timeless music born of crests, hills and loops. From a laptop, Luke creates a mesmerising digital landscape of writhing simulated roller coasters that are projected beyond the performers for all to see. A strange incantation — co-written with an artificial intelligence module (GPT-2) — describes a roller coaster, gives voice to the roller coaster, transforms itself and the listener into a roller coaster.
...Steel becomes hair and fingernails, joining with muscles and tendons, animal and human and metal...
22 November 2021: Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival
25 November 2021: De Bijloke, Ghent
An HCMF Covid-19 Commission. With the generous support of the Manitoba Arts Council.