Composed at a time when individual and communal acts reverberate with deafening force across great distances, “Através” follows sound as it traverses bodies and matter, mapping the web of vibrating interconnections that hold and sustain us all. The work is crafted as a sequence of acts centered on a series of site-specific assemblages, which I created to extend the expressive capabilities of their performers beyond human limits. I hope that by amplifying the often invisible currents that flow from our actions, these systems can help us reflect on the reach and impact of our decisions, and on our vital need to listen.
Opening the piece, artist and performer Miriam Parker communicates with the space of St. Elisabeth-Kirche through live processed feedback, via the wearable instrument we developed together as a proxy for exploring our influence on, and responsibilities toward, the ecosystems we inhabit. Biliana Voutchkova and Clara Levy, on violins, perform an intimacy which was negated during the pandemic, and upon which we depend for connection when words and logic break down. Weston Olencki and Matthias Müller, playing the trombone, sound directly through each other’s bodies, the breath of one vibrating the flesh and bones of the other as they negotiate their configurations in space. In each exchange, the performers’ interactions and the sounds they generate serve both as expressions of interconnection and as an invitation to consider how the design of our technologies, on which we increasingly rely, shapes relationships among all the various entities in conversation. 
The final section of “Através” features the voices of Anna Clementi, Alessandra Eramo, Lorena Izquierdo, and Ute Wassermann. Conceived as a diptych, the first half of the section confronts the disappearance of the human body in the design of standardized, button-heavy audio technologies. Four voices unite to perform as a polyphonic synthesizer, physical bodies merging into a unitary entity with the power to influence elements beyond its tactile reach. The second half of the diptych features the problematic reappearance of female bodies in the audio ecosystem of ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) – the sensory phenomenon of a tingling sensation in response to specific audio and visual stimuli. With its overwhelming presence of attractive young women performing acts of care (beauty treatments, auscultation sessions, sleeping aids), online ASMR channels signal how capitalist society – while promoting individualism and eliminating investment in social welfare – offloads the weight of care onto women’s shoulders.

Full credits:

Merche Blasco – concept, composition, live electronics, custom-instruments

Miriam Parker – movement, wearable instrument

Clara Levy, Biliana Voutchkova – violin

Matthias Müller, Weston Olencki – trombone

Anna Clementi, Alessandra Eramo, Lorena Izquierdo, Ute Wassermann – voice

Don Aretino & Muyao Zhang, threeASFOUR – costume design

Quirin Obermaier – live sound engineer

Domenik Engemann – light design

Através was commissioned by and developed with the support of the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Programme and MaerzMusik. An early part of the project premiered at Heroines of Sound Festival in Berlin in July 2023.

Photos by Fabian Schellhorn and Michael Sugarman