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Punkt Festival 2015

Henning Bolte By

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Punkt Festival
Kristiansand, Norway
September, 3-5, 2015

Kristiansand, home of the Annual Punkt Festival for the past decade, is a municipality situated on the southernmost point of Norway on the Skagerrak strait. It has a population of 86,000 (the greater urban area 155,000) and is the county capital of Vest-Agder.

Crystallization of new concepts and development often take place and are given a push from the periphery, and Punkt is a good and prominent example. The festival is organized by Jan Bang and Erik Honore, two musicians who know each other very well and have done since their adolescent days in Kristiansand. The festival saw the light in 2005 and this year has reached its 11th edition.

Prelude

This 11th edition offered its audience several newly developed features. The festival relocated to Kristiansand's Kino that has a multitude of differently sized halls in one building (1); it offered three parallel remixing sessions (2a); it organized an active artistic participation of students of the regional Agder University (2b); it presented an aggrandized program of documentary films and video works by electronic arts pioneer Peer Bode who attended the festival with a seminar and live performances (2c), and it had a strong Asian focus (3).

As usual the visual arts activities and exposition could be experienced at the Kunsthal. The Kunsthal presented an exposition of Belgian artist Arnoudt Jacobs, Once also this was a mutation, curated by Kjell Bjørgeengen, Norway's most prominent video artist. Special spoken word and musical performances by Nils Christian Moe-Repstad, saxophonist Espen Reinertsen of Streifenjunko and Marcus Schmickler highlighted the exposition.

Aernoudt Jacob's work has its origins in acoustic and technological research and investigates how sounds can trigger sonic processes that affect the listener's scope of perception. His installations focus on a central question: how can the complexity, richness and stratification of our direct, daily environment be translated into something that can clearly be experienced. Jacobs co-directs Overtoon, a platform and production facility for sound art based in Brussels.

The Punkt Film program included the premiere of Adrien Le Gall's Punkt documentary which features interviews with Laurie Anderson and other artists, in addition to concert excerpts from Punkt events in Kristiansand, Prague and Paris. German director Ingo Biermann's documentary about Maja S.K. Ratkje premiered and several full concerts from earlier festivals, including David Sylvian's "Plight & Premonition" (Punkt 2011) and Three Trapped Tigers (2012) were screened. The musical program offered 18 remixes of six original performances plus five freestanding performances. More than 20 student musicians from Agder University were involved in the remixes.

There is a strong association between the term 'remix' and the dj culture that emerged from advanced studio techniques, digitalization, turntablism, sampling, plunderphonics and genre-crossing three decades ago. 'Remix' at Punkt always is a live-remix: musicians create a new piece of music based on elements from a freshly performed piece of music, in real time, a l'improviste. Remixing R- musicians do not only have the musical piece in mind (like jazz musicians decades ago, transforming popular standards), they manage to manipulate it in its recorded form, extending, transforming, reducing, crumbling etc.. Compared to the direct (re)action of an old-school acoustic jam session with digital means/sampling the process can be stretched and rewound. From that perspective, Punkt is very much about all facets of listening.

A key technique in this real time thing is sampling and using sampled parts of music just performed before. It can be music from the original performance or the performance instantly going on. These parts can be manipulated and re- entered into the performance. Considering music is organizing/organized sound in time, sampling and remixing entails that musicians and listeners operate with(in) multiple layers of time. In this process assumed or asserted boundaries are blurred, become liquid and have to be redefined dynamically again and again.

Even with respect to practice, every piece of music has been a 'remix' (and reflection) of pre-existing pieces of music in the past. The live-remix makes this explicit with all its consequences. Live remixing opens up a whole new scale of possibilities. The R-musicians (re)act to a whole piece of music, on the spot. They have to choose suitable parts, aspects or features of the original performance to work on in the remix—alone or together, with electronics, acoustic instruments or voice.

Opening

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