Mastery of technology need not be an end in itself, a showcase for mechanical sophistication. It can mean finding the point at which you push a medium to be its most expressive. And I suppose that’s why so many can admire the ongoing work of musician and media artist Robert Henke.
The lasers in ‘Fragile Territories’ are not the crude, awkward beams you probably know from kitschy planetarium shows. Instead, they form a spidery lace so exquisite, you could imagine them as being part of something crackling with organic life – or the workings of a fanciful undersea electro-luminescent metropolis. Henke’s score, too, crackles at the edge of being, the foreground sound as tightly focused as the lasers, against a dark, warm wash that breathes beneath. That’s a direct analog for the visuals, which cast a slow-moving shadow against these white beams.
It looks brilliant in the documentation, but I know seeing lasers in person is another experience entirely. The work travels from Nantes, France next to EMPAC in New York state.
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Robert Henke is a legend, and has contributed a lot to what is great. He’s involved in Monolake, the legendary Chain Reaction label of Berlin techno sound, DIN, he made Ableton Live etc.