No one escapes: the smartphone dominates a huge part of our lives. In the multimedia piece Elevation of self-validation which she wrote for Kluster5, composer Celia Swart shows how a young woman loses herself in this virtual dimension. Lonely violinist Cecí Gold’s world gradually becomes more complex and layered. The piece will be performed on September 18 at Dag in de Branding x Rewire. We spoke with Celia about the character Cecí Gold, her relationship with social media and the collaboration with Kluster5.
Can you tell us something about your collaboration with Kluster5?
I got to know Kluster5 during a composition project at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague. The first work I made for them was called “Boven Hoge Gebouwen”. That collaboration has been quite important. At the time, I really felt a click between the soundworld I had created and the instrumentation I had written for. The musicians of Kluster5 are so well attuned to each other and always take my notes to a higher level.
About 3 years ago Kluster5 came up with the idea to commission me for a new work, in which I would also make my own visuals. They allowed me to make my first longer work (30 minutes) and I was able to melt all media layers into a work of art (music, performance and visuals).
How did the character Cecí Gold come about?
Although Kluster5 is an ensemble, while writing I created an alter ego for violinist Isa Goldschmeding, who would play the role of the influencer. Isa is hardly involved with social media herself, and it therefore seemed interesting to me to create an alter ego for her in which she could transform, both online and on stage.
What do social media mean to you?
It is primarily a place to connect with others. But as the focus has shifted from connecting with friends to almost networking, my relationship with social media has changed quite a bit. Before the pandemic, I was very busy getting more followers and having a good look and feel on my Instagram feed. It was quite addictive, and that made it feel good and fun, but at the same time it also took a lot of time to complete. Due to the lockdowns I have started to post much less; after all, there was also much less to promote. I think that through those periods I have started to look at social media differently, and feel much less the need to be “on” all the time.
Can you tell us something about the multimedia aspect of the piece?
More and more in my multimedia work I want to be able to connect all media layers with each other. The question is: what relationships do they have to each other? If I can answer that question for myself, I have a solid foundation where I can compose and create everything in detail, both in the audio and in the visual layer. In this work “elevation of self-validation” I recorded Isa in a theatre. During the live performance she stands in front of a screen (there are 3 screens on the stage) and therefore it seems to be her mirror image. But for the later parts I edited her face with Photoshop and animations and turned her into an online avatar, as it were.
Something similar also happens in the music: more and more electronic layers are added, the sound can be recognized from acoustic instruments but is very filtered by, among other things, reverb effects.