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Seth Ayyaz
Visiting Artist (Salim's Salon)

Seth Ayyaz is a composer and a performer. His works involve live-electronic, free improvisation and noise music, electro acoustics and instrumental music with Nay(end-blown flute), Ghaita (rohrflute), as well as with Darbuka and Daf (hand percussion).
Ayyaz was studying in the department for acousmatics at the City University London. His works have been presented internationally, among others at: World Forum for Acoustic Ecology (Finland), Café Oto (London), Kunsthalle Luzern (Switzerland), Irtijal Festival (Beirut) as well as MaerzMusik (Berlin).
Seth Ayyaz was a curator of MazaJ Festival (London 2010) for experimental music from the Middle East.

What makes artistic collaboration work?

A tricky and rather saturated question – what work does artistic collaboration do? With the turn towards ‘sonic art’ (as opposed to ‘music’) we have a trend emphasising the conceptual over the perceptual, for example as discussed by Kim-Cohen who locates sonic practices within the purview of art through a Duchampian position. However, the historic origins of art might be considered as a kind of ‘hustle’ taking place in the Renaissance that elevated and reified practices, allowing artisans to access status and resource. This might be balanced by the non-institutional framing of art (pre-art as autonomous practice) recapturing that aesthetically constructed objects exert force and agency as theorized by the anthropologist Alfred Gell in 1998.

For me, the work that artistic collaborations are concerned with is to produce the sonic/music that might be understood as exerting accumulated activity with the purpose of doing something, rather than as an aesthetic regimen focusing on Kantian ‘disinterested’ subjectivity. Sonic arts might capture and trap the force of objects, structuring environments and constructing a fixity that can be used, quite literally, for leverage. Rather than distilling (fictitious) Platonic ideals, this invokes a Socratic method where the success of a work or a collaboration rests on the degree to which it exerts agency in its vicinity, creating sonic assemblages that take an activist and activating stance.

How important is the context, in which you perform, to you?

Essential. I am interested in work that is some sort of critical tension with the contexts from which it arises. But these contexts are very general and generative (think of Bruno Latours’ actor-networks or the agency of things discussed by object-oriented philosophy). Any performance will lay on a spectrum between permeability to its immediate contexts through to stark discontinuity.


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