Photo: Xavier Voirol

16th Art Division Grand Prize

Pendulum Choir

Music performance

Cod.Act (Michel DÉCOSTERD / André DÉCOSTERD) [Switzerland]


Pendulum Choir is an original choral piece for 9 a cappella voices and 18 hydraulic jacks. The choir stands on tilting platforms, constituting a living, sonorous body. That body expresses itself through various physical states. Its plasticity varies at the mercy of its sonority. It varies between abstract sounds, repet i t ive sounds, and lyr ical or narrative sounds. The bodies of the singers and their voices play with and against gravity. They brush and avoid each other, creating subtle vocal polyphonies. Or, supported by electronic sounds, they break their cohesion and burst into lyrical flight or fold up into an obsessional and dark ritual. The organ travels from life to death in a robotic allegory where the technological complexity and the lyricism of the moving bodies combine into a work with Promethean accents.

Reason for Award

This work starts with a simple premise that even looks like a form of entertainment – using computer-controlled machinery to arbitrarily swing the bodies of several vocalists around while having them sing as a chorus. But it compels us to seriously contemplate the nature of human expression in the midst of a mechanical (i.e. technological) society. The members of the choir sing with great expressiveness – yet their movements are not of human volition. Their bodies are locked into mechanical devices that keep them erect and immobile. The sublime appeal of this work lies in the discomfiting yet inseparable relationship between singing humans who join their voices according to traditional musical practices and the mechanical system that controls and regiments their individual movements. It inspires premonitions of a future of art created not only by humans, but by humans working in concert with advanced technologies. The work is further enhanced by the high degree of technical prowess required to make this idea a reality, and by an excellent composition for voices accompanied by electronic music.