Chaos ~ Magic
In changing, unstable – one would almost say, chaotic – times of information overload and impending collapse, it is easy to be swept by a feeling of loss of control. And although, despite apparent haphazardness, chaotic systems do obey a certain inner order, it is often concealed by a higher degree of complexity than we humans are capable of grasping through intuition. If there is too much disorder, the ensuing defensive reaction may be the proliferation of insanity we see burgeon around us. So-called magical thinking feeds into desperate attempts to find non-existent patterns amidst the noise of information, to a search for improbable explanations for a world we are losing our grip on. In his book Hearing the Cloud, composer Emile Franke notes that a pervasive uncertainty that engenders a feeling of helplessness is a state that, first and foremost, suits the objectives of capitalism. A disoriented public is stripped of the power of social and political action, visionary ambition gives way to resignation and a decline in mutual trust. We therefore think it is high time to begin looking for a way out – what sort of change would we welcome and what kind of role can art and music play in its coming about?
A stronger tilt toward irrationality can open unto passivity, impeding progress that strives for a better future. More than the occult practice of ‘chaos magic’ known from the history of esotericism, we are drawn by imaginative and creative connections (~) that can arise between the chaotic and the magical in the most positive sense: the transformative power of music, and most of all its ability to generate spaces for collectively experienced discovery. The label magical might in a sense be also applied to the musical ritual itself, in which apparent sonic chaos can break through to a transcendental moment that suddenly makes sense. According to philosopher Byung-Chul Han, one of the current civilization’s problems is precisely a loss of ritual, resulting in mutual alienation and an absence of a sense of belonging. Can music be the Western stand–in for its lost spirituality? If so, what kind of music would it be?
We know music as a powerful medium that can aid meditation and induce trance, rouse intense emotion and connect people. But besides all this, we must not forget something just as important: the power of sonic art, which can become so much as a means of philosophical reflection about the world. The work of many artists who think along these lines has an additional activist and mobilizing aspect, and is equally attentive to the value of solidarity and community.
A notable field related to musical as much as social development is the human relationship to technology. Our lives are increasingly dominated by algorithms, hardly transparent but remarkably adept at beguiling us. Advanced technology, including ubiquitous artificial intelligence, is quite literally becoming magic, as foretold by sci-fi guru Arthur C. Clarke. And with Frankel, we do sometimes sense a certain risk in succumbing to the ‘chaos magic’ in new exciting music: mysterious algorithms, spectacular generative processes, which according to some threaten to replace human creativity altogether. Instead of surrendering to technology’s spell and relinquishing control in its favor, we propose rather to disenchant it, explore its possibilities critically and with detachment.
At this year’s festival, we want to join artists – and you – to try and impart new meaning to the randomness and uncertainty we are thoroughly steeped in. When do chaotic sounds become communication? Can intuitive or collective improvisation, error or accident lead to unexpected but magical moments, to meaningful structure? Can we be open and sensitive enough to hear music where first there was only sound? Let us continue together in adventurous exploration, without giving up curiosity and playfulness, vision and creative experiment.
A4 – Space for Contemporary Culture
Karpatská 2, Bratislava
A4 – Space for Contemporary Culture is an independent cultural centre focusing on innovative forms of theatre, dance, experimental music, film, visual art and new media art. It has been the main venue of the NEXT Festival since 2004.
Majestic Music Club
Karpatská 2, Bratislava
Big Lutheran Church
Panenská 28, Bratislava
18–22 Ashwin st, London
Andrej Chudý, Daniel Kordík
Promotion & Co-Curation
Beáta Seberíniová, Ľudovít Nápoký
Chief Production Manager
Lucia Brngalová, Bielka Belošovičová, Alena Kapinajová, Tereza Michalová
Visual Concept & Design
Web Content Editor
Social Media Manager
Vlad Bacila, Ľubomír Panák
NEXT 3D World Developers
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The festival takes place with the support from public sources from the Slovak Arts Council (Main Partner), City of Bratislava and the Foundation of Bratislava City, City District of Bratislava-Stare Mesto, Regional Grant Programme of the Bratislava Self-Governing Region / Tatra Banka Foundation, and Goethe-Institute Bratislava.
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