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Hong Kong, Seoul
NeuroKnitting Beethoven - Interactive concert installation

NeuroKnitting Beethoven
NeuroKnitting Beethoven | Photo (detail): © Courtesy Varvara & Mar.creative studio visual artists

A Beethoven sonata as a knitted scarf? Commissioned by the Goethe-Institut Hong Kong, the artist duo Varvara Guljajewa and Mar Canet created an original classical music experience at the interface between neurology, music and media art.

In Hong Kong, pianist Linda Yim played Beethoven's sonata "The Tempest" while wearing an EEG headband that recorded her brain waves. These frequencies were relayed to a computer program that converted them into electrical impulses. The computer was connected to a knitting machine that was set in motion with the received data and impulses: During the concert, a knitted scarf was created, by a quiet steady action of the machine. At the same time, images of the graphic implementation of the brain frequencies and recordings from inside the knitting machine were projected onto a large screen in a live mix. This created an amusing, complex concert installation for the audience: NeuroKnitting Beethoven.

In Seoul, another dimension was developed and the EEG hood was worn during the concert not by the pianist Park Jong-Hwa, but by a Buddhist monk. This made it possible to determine that clear differences could be read in the brain waves of a practiced meditator and a "normal" brain, which added another exciting level of reflection to the subsequent artist and audience discussion.

A first version of the installation was created during a residency of the artist duo in Berlin, curated by the Public Art Lab in Berlin. The originally planned tour of East Asia with NeuroKnitting Beethoven had to be changed into an intercontinental online project due to the pandemic: Artist and knitting machine were in Tallinn, Estonia, while the concerts with the media installations took place in Hong Kong and in Seoul. The brain impulses and the images were sent back and forth online, and in the subsequent online audience discussion the artists explained artistic and media aspects of their work.

NeuroKnitting Beethoven was a contribution to the anniversary program of Goethe-Instituts around the world, "The other Beethoven(s)".

Installation dates:

  • November 2020: Hong Kong, Seoul, Beijing, Shanghai

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