Megas Diakosmos by Stelios Manousakis Performed at the San Francisco Tape Music Festival

The San Francisco Tape Music Festival
January 20-22, 2012
ODC Theater
3153 17th
San Francisco

America's only festival devoted to the performance of audio works projected in three-dimensional space, with three distinct evenings of classic audio art and new fixed media compositions by 25 local and international composers. Hear members of the SF Tape Music Collective, along with guest composers, shape the sound live over a pristine surround system consisting of 16+ high-end loudspeakers while the audience is seated in complete darkness. It's a unique opportunity to experience music forming - literally - around you.

More information about the festival here.

Megas Diakosmos ('Μέγας Διάκοσμος', roughly translating to ‘The Great Order of the Universe') takes its name from a lost cosmological treatise written by Leukippos, an ancient Greek natural philosopher of the 5th century BCE. In this treatise, Leukippos introduced for the first time an Atomic Theory of cosmology, surprisingly comparable to contemporary cosmological theories. Very little is known about the work, but according to remarks of other ancient writers, Leukippos postulated that the universe consists of tiny, invisible, indestructible, unchangeable and indivisible 'Atoms' (the 'Being') differing only in size and shape, and of 'Void' (the 'Non-being'), that exists in-between atoms and has also material properties, although different (anti-matter?). This infinitely expanding and contracting void allows atoms to move and collide eternally, creating and destroying matter, new bodies, and our world, but also a vast number of other worlds in the universe, some inhabited some not.
Leukippos' atomic theory and turbulent cosmogonic vision form the conceptual and experiential starting points for the composition, its sonorities and their development throughout the piece, as well as for the system and sound synthesis methods used. The system is a cybernetic model based on digital feedback and implemented as a sonic complex dynamical system – mathematically similar to a cosmological entity or universe in motion. This sonic universe is defined by the sample-by-sample interactions of a single binary digit (One, or ‘Being’) moving incessantly within a world of Void (Zeros, or ‘Non-being’). This digit floats and collides, is fused and split from delayed copies of itself, thus creating countless sonic bodies in states of equilibrium, oscillation, chaotic behavior, noise and silence.
Although Megas Diakosmos is a fixed medium piece, all the different ‘worlds’ (layers and sections) were performed in real-time using a hands-on, live electronics version of the system to maintain an aspect of ‘in-time’ timelessness, and to accentuate the primal and visceral character of the composition.