Closing DTzM

with Esmeralda Conde Ruiz

DTzM Musik 2022/23

24/7: Ein immersives Environment

24/7 is a site-specific audiovisual artwork developed by Esmeralda Conde Ruiz for the 31st Dresden Contemporary Music Days (DTZM) at Festspielhaus Hellerau and supported by Schaufler Lab@TU Dresden.

The installative work reflects on themes such as digital infrastructures, the ecological impact of the server farm industry and the relationship between humans and technology, especially the significant environmental impact of artificial intelligence. 24/7 is a sonic mirror of a world undergoing radical technological change.

By using the orchestra pit as an exhibition space in the Festspielhaus Hellerau, 24/7 creates an atmospheric and immersive environment in which the volume of data and technology in our world today is visualised and made physically tangible. The orchestra pit is rarely used for productions and usually remains hidden from visitors. Opening up this basement part of the building creates a subtle sense of secrecy and regimented access control that mirrors the security measures in the high-tech centres where all our digital data is collected and stored: Buildings that are in no way open to the public, yet contain intimate and personal information. The immersive environment 24/7 creates an acoustic and sonic encounter space of human singers and local Dresden choirs with machine sounds of electronic hardware and recordings from the TU Dresden server centres. These recordings were made during the artist’s Dresden residency in summer 2022.

In addition to the sonic sensations, visitors to the installation are visually overwhelmed by light sensations as they move through apocalyptic light spectra between clean room and inferno. The light installation combines with the cacophonous sounds of human voices and electronic noises synchronised by data and the technologies we all use every day. 

“24/7” aims to literally “bring to light” the invisible and barely tangible world of our digital data and future technologies, recognising the role and influence of humans in this rapidly expanding world. 

This evening will see the closing of the installation “24/7” by the audiovisual artist Esmeralda Conde Ruiz, which will also close the “31st Dresden Contemporary Music Days”.

From April to October 2022 and from March to May 2023, the composer, conductor and artist Esmeralda Conde Ruiz (*1980/Spain, lives in London) will be a guest at the Schaufler Lab@TU Dresden. Here she is working on an artistic research project on the topic of “Artificial Intelligence as a Factor and Consequence of Social and Cultural Change” together with the scholarship holders of the Schaufler Lab@TU Dresden, scientists from TU Dresden (TUD) and other partners such as the Dresden University of Fine Arts, HELLERAU – European Centre for the Arts and the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra.

During her stay at the TUD, she will deepen her research in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) and polyphonic singing with the help of scientists from the departments of musicology and acoustics and language technology. In the acoustics rooms of the Institute of Acoustics and Speech Technology, for example, Conde Ruiz is investigating specific sounds, especially machine noises, which she recorded in the server rooms of the TUD. The sound of server farms forms a central starting point for her artistic research on AI, as these represent the technical infrastructure for artificial intelligence applications. Based on her experiences as a composer and conductor, she traces the following questions, among others, in her project:

“When composing, can we use artificial intelligence not only – as is often the case – as a tool, but rather as an instrument? How can a human being influence AI in this case? Can AI find or develop its own voice and thus an individual sound?”

First insights into Esmeralda Conde Ruiz’s exploration of the sound of AI will be offered by various public event formats starting in summer 2022: At the conference “Digital is better?! – Camp für Digitale Kultur” conference at the Komplexlabor Digitale Kultur at Merseburg University of Applied Sciences, she was present with an experimental performance: the “Larynx Nights”. On 29 September 2022 – to mark the end of her residency – she will present a new work at a symposium at the SLUB – Saxon State and University Library together with her cooperation partners, including Prof. Carsten Nicolai, Dresden University of Fine Arts, Prof. Orit Halpern, Professorship for Digital Cultures, Jun. Prof. Dr. Miriam Akkermann, Junior Professorship for Empirical Musicology, Carsten Tiede, Centre for Information Services and High Performance Computing, Dept. Operative Processes and Systems (OPS), all TU Dresden, the state of their artistic research.