6 Nov 2007

Iannis Xenakis

"Art has something in the nature of an inferential mechanism which constitutes the platforms on which all theories of the mathematical, physical and human sciences move about. Indeed, games of proportion - reducible to number games and metrics in architecture, literature, music, painting, theatre, dance, etc., games of continuity, of proximity, in or outside of time, topological essence - all occur on the terrain of inference, in the strict, logical sense of the word. Situated next to this terrain and operating in reciprocal activity is the experimental mode which challenges or confirms theories created by the sciences, including mathematics. […] It is experimentation that makes or breaks theories, pitilessly and without any particular consideration for the theories themselves. Yet the arts are governed in a manner even richer and more complex by this experimental mode. Certainly there is not nor will there ever be an objective criterion for determining absolute truth or eternal validity even within one work of art, just as no scientific "truth" is ever definitive. But in addition to these two modes - inferential and experimental - art exists in a third mode, one of immediate revelation, which is neither inferential nor experimental. The revelation of beauty occurs immediately, directly, to someone ignorant of art as well as to the connoisseur. This is the strength of art and, so it seems, its superiority over the sciences. Art, while living the two dimensions of inference and experimentation, possesses this third and most mysterious dimension which permits art objects to escape any aesthetic science while still enjoying the caresses of inference and experimentation."
I.X. Art/Science. Alliances
Iannis Xenakis (1922-2001) is Greek/Romanian composer and architect (he often worked together with Le Corbusier), known for his highly intellectual approach to music. Experimenting with mathematical algorithms, the relation between sound and space, and the manipulation of sound, he became one of the pioneers of electro-acoustic music. Some of his later electronic music is even surpringsly noisy, in a way you wouldn't expect from a modernist composer. Bohor, a work from 1968 is probably the heaviest piece of Avant-garde music I've ever heard (think of Sunn O))) plays John Zorn's Kristallnacht). In contrast also to the work of some of his contemporaries in Avant-garde music, most of his work is very dense, calling to mind the saturated universe of orthodox spirituality (although his language and imagery isn't religious at all).

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