Pierce Warnecke is a multidisciplinary digital artist working equally in the sonic and visual domains via performances, installations and compositions. His projects, on the border between experimental music, digital arts and video art, are often influenced by the observation of the effects of time on matter and the intensity and limits of sensory experience. In addition to his solo pieces he collaborates regularly with Frank Bretschneider, Matthew Biederman, Keith Fullerton Whitman and more, and was a Master’s professor at Berklee College of Music in Valencia, Spain until 2019.
He has received multiple grants and commissions for his works, including Deutschlandradio Kultur, ORF musicprotokoll, Canadian Arts Council, Culture Program of the European Commission, as well as DICREAM (CNC), Arcadi and Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region in France.
Pierce presents his works in many international festivals and spaces, such as CTM, MUTEK, LEV Festival, Elektra, Scopitone, Semibreve, ZKM, FILE, ISM Hexadome, Sonic Acts, KW Institut Berlin, Martin Gropius Bau, Gray Area, NEMO and more. He has released music on raster and Room40 labels among others, with his video work being curated online through Sedition. He is represented by DISK Agency in Berlin, and currently lives and works in France.
My work stems from interest in the effects of time on matter: modification, deterioration and disappearance. Whether the focus is on digital forms or rough materials, large scales of time or microscopic details, the goal of these pieces is to re-adapt existing sonic, visual or physical objects and materials into parallel contexts where their signified meanings, symbols and cultural connections have become residual ghosts; abstractions with loose connections to reality, like distant memories. This speculative method allows me to approach narratives, concepts, abstractions, fiction and sometimes science, creating a large area of interest in my research.
The possibility of altering the 'real' (or one's perception of it) through the intensity of physical experience lies at the core of how the works are composed. I attempt to achieve this intensity by playing on contrasting scales of activity (from static to frenetic) and the limits of human perception in regards to duration, frequency and amplitude of both visual and sonic material. I am interested in using what we can hear and what we can see in order to develop a personal language combining sound, light, movement, color, shape and structure in works that hopefully challenge the public to reassess how we experience the world through our senses by becoming aware of their limits.
The following are some of the more recent projects, both solo and collaborative, developed by Pierce Warnecke. Many more are available - please contact us for more information.
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Somnifacient Signals was first created at a distance between Montreal and France during the 2020 confinement, and premiered as a single screen stream at Gray Area Foundation in San Francisco. It was subsequently made available as a collection of video works from Sedition online digital art platform. During confinement, social society retreated inward while simultaneously using the internet as a way to remain connected to one another, learn, work, and even ‘travel’. We thought it was important to reflect on these ideas by using freely accessible live camera feeds from around the world and their connected chat rooms through sampling, video collage, field recording and plunderphonics. These techniques, used within a networked interface, addresses our reduced mobility through a single screen, two speakers and an internet connection to explore the world. By exploiting the real-time of the internet, the sources themselves present multiple possible real-time collaborators to respond to in the performance.
In the context of reduced mobility forced by the current pandemic - but also, on a larger scale related to climate change and ecological mindfulness, it is increasingly important that networked artistic performances become an essential component of future festivals and venues. Somnifacient Signals (Live Stream Version) is a networked performative piece which captivates and connects with audiences remotely as much as a shared physical performance does. How can an immersive audiovisual performance, with multiple screens, a specific stage layout and live performances by the artists, be transformed into a virtual networked orientation while still connecting with audiences? The Somnifacient Signals performance explores this question through a truly networked performance which not only expresses the final sonic and visual result, but also transcribes the interaction between performers, source material and audience through interactive feedback.
The live stream performance focuses on transformation (via destructive real time manipulation) of common prosaic sources using noise, moshing, feedback, extensive compositing / overlaying, saturation and glitch to transform the bland material into an intense and epileptic take on experiencing a mediated world via the internet. The promise of the internet as a place to connect is flooded with ads, glitches and trolls combining to make the internet not a democratic utopia, but instead a place fraught with dangers, misinformation and poor connections, while many CEOs continue to increase their wealth through their exploitation of the medium. Some of the sources we use include trains, city centers, wildlife reserves, chat rooms, internet browsing, beaches, cats in rescue shelters, desktop screens, zoom group calls, etc., reflecting the virtual spaces and mediated places which became one of the only shared common experiences accessible to us during the recent confinement situation.
By using sources culled directly from real-time streams, and allowing for audience members to influence which streams get utilized, the work not only is available on the network, but becomes the network in a sense. Somnifacient Signals (Live Stream) shares with the audience, as generously as possible, all of the elements necessary for an AV performance: sources, processing, communication between performers, graphics, data transmission (control signals), and live cameras in each performer's studio.
The performance can exist as multiple contexts: A fully ‘traditional’ AV performance, with both performers present with the audience, partially networked with one of the performers in a shared physical space with the audience and the other performer at a distance, or entirely streamed with the performers not in the physical space of the audience. The fully streamed version will generate 3 physical spaces: performer 1’s location in Montreal, performer 2’s location in Europe, and the final festival venue space with an audience present. There will also be 3 screen spaces: a central final result of processed video, 2 side spaces to the left and right of the main screen (used for the performers’ local camera, chat windows, network and control performance data, etc) and at the front of the stage below the 3 video projections, 6 LCD screens aligned to create a horizontal menu will display all of the available video sources. This can be seen as a kind of visual radio dial, with multiple stations / channels co-existing in real time, with a scanning component between sources that the visual performer will operate.
The public, either in the physical space, or from online can select from these or suggest through a chat interface any other live streams. Multiple screen layouts, or ‘virtual stage scenographies’ can be prepared, and displayed on this 9-screen layout in an improvised way: in this sense the screen space becomes an instrument itself which the artists can play.
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SINN + FORM is a project by Pierce Warnecke and Raster Noton’s Frank Bretschneider. It explores the limits of man’s constant attempts to capture and control the world through description and prediction. Reflecting the fact that mathematical and physical theories and models increasingly incorporate chaos and contingency, SINN + FORM (sense + form) takes shape as a modular synthesizer system that produces a constant flow of randomly generated data that influences the musical parameters of pitch, note length, volume, tone.
Bretschneider’s music, recorded on both Buchla and Serge synthesizers at the prestigious EMS Elektronmusikstudion in Stockholm, is fused with Warnecke’s visuals, mechanically produced through printed stills that are modulated through a custom built machine so as to create movement and variations in lighting. The result is a hybrid analogue-digital system that uses light, machine, image and sound to create an interactive multimedia ensemble.
"SINN + FORM" premiered at CTM 2014 festival in Berlin.
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Pierce Warnecke and Matthew Biederman collaborate on ∆T; an audiovisual exploration that departs from Thomas Hobbes' notion of time as "a phantasm of motion." Delicate textures, snippets of noise, and carefully devised synth fragments coalesce, pulse, and undulate across a multi-channel setup. Envisioned for single-channel video, laser, and 8.2 audio, ∆T premiered at LEV Festival in 2019, and is supported by Berklee College of Music, VYV Montreal / CQAM, LEV, and LABORAL.
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Upon working together on the suggestion of Semibreve Festival, Whitman and Warnecke found much common ground.
In Whitman's own words: "We immediately hit it off, professing a shared love for experimental & direct film, and through this Pierce began architecting a lush real-time video performance solution that utilizes the raw control & timing voltages from the “Redactions” & “Generators” patches to generate a gorgeous, high-frame-rate Op-art assemblage that perfectly encapsulates the structural & formal constructs of Live Electronic Music in a cleverly analogous visual language. Even in our debut performance, it was unclear if I was performing to the video, he was performing to the music, or if we were independently utilizing the same signals to achieve discrete results; the exact sort of grey-area that I love & often strive towards."
Warnecke and Whitman have performed together at Semibreve 2018 and Sonic Acts 2019.
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SEDIMENTS explores the mineral as a material dimension of our universe; it is a means of perceiving and engaging with memories and senses. Through the prism of time and history, and through the design of various scenes and situations, SEDIMENTS offers a considered reading of stones—a material that is paramount and mysterious, more so than one might think.
Territory: worldwide → Remco Schuurbiers