Ghisi: ANY ROAD and two gamers

Ghisi: ANY ROAD and two gamers

January 26 at the Philharmonie de Paris, the Ensemble Intercontemporain presents the world premiere of Daniele Ghisi’s Any Road in a version for ensemble, video and electronics. Video created by Boris Labbé, electronics by IRCAM. The conductor is Vimbayi Kaziboni. This concert is on the program of Némo 2017-2018, Biennale internationale des arts numériques. 
The orchestral version of Any Road premiered in Lyon, France on March 4, 2016 at the Biennale Musiques en scène dall’Orchestre National de Lyon. 

We had a chance to talk to Daniele Ghisi, who gave us the low-down on Any Road, where the video opens with a projection of the 1970s video game Pong. 

ANY ROAD - Trailer from Boris Labbé on Vimeo.

Can you tell us how this project came about? 
It all started in 2015, when Damien Pousset, then head of the Lyon Biennale, asked me to work on a project for the 2016 edition. The idea was to develop a video game based on a musical piece, and then come up with a version played live by two gamers, accompanied by orchestra and electronics. If you think about it, a lot of video games are basically scores for actions to be performed at certain precise moments, and if the score is performed faultlessly, you win.       
In terms of practicality, after we’d met up a few times, we realized we couldn’t go that route, since the creation of a video game involves a much more complex process. So we decided to bring on board a video artist I have great esteem for, and with whom I’ve done a lot of work – Boris Labbé – to create animation based on those same principles, with music being the starting point. That’s how the piece was born in its original form, for orchestra, electronics and video. The two gamers remain, only now they are two speaker units engaged in an exchange of sounds and spoken fragments from right to left and vice versa.

How do the music and the animation come together? 
The video was created starting from the music, so it’s aware of the musical structure. At the same time, it provides a new line for the piece – the representation of a passage from the abstract to the concrete. The video also focuses on the role of the two gamers in this ping-pong match between the right and left sides. 

How do you foresee the audience’s reaction? What would you like it to be? 
I’d like the audience to think of this as a travel log, a game, a collage of sight and sound. Actually they can consider it any way they like. 

How much playfulness is involved in Any Road, if that’s one of the key points?
A lot! I think play is a basic component of how I conceive the composition. A kind of Lewis Carroll-type game – he provides us with the text fragments – which I hope gives audiences a glimpse of the possible abysses in each cove along the way. After all, video games are often explorations of space and time, leaving those who play them without any precise knowledge of where they’re actually headed, although any road may take them there. As Alice says, “– so long as I get SOMEWHERE.” 

Which is more prominent, the instrumental part, the electronics or the visuals? 
I hope none of them prevails over the others! There may be times when one stands out, but the general idea is to have a work where all the different parts meld, like in a story. So it would be hard to say that one element is more important than the other constituent parts. 

ANY ROAD for ensemble, video and electronics  
fl. picc. (also afl) 2 (II also cor.i.) 3 (II also cl picc.; III bcl) 2 (II also dbn) / 3 perc. pf.-cel. (= 1 perf.) harp / strings (3vl 2vle 2vc 1 cb 5 strings)
Duration: 11'

Video: Boris Labbé