Andrius Arutiunian – Deserted steps

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In 2007, Dutch composer and artist Sedje Hémon launched a virtual museum of her work. It was built inside of the early-virtual reality platform Active Worlds. This platform allowed its users to freely navigate and build near-infinite space, while socializing with each other. In Hémon’s virtual museum, one could enter her paintings and explore them in a three-dimensional way. Though the museum went offline in 2011, composer Andrius Arutiunian recovered it to be used as part of the live score in this piece…   

Discovering the Active Worlds platform, Andrius Arutiunian was struck by its early-internet aesthetics as well as the vastness of its digital landscapes. Strolling through endless digital worlds in Active Worlds that were once filled people and voices (and now are abandoned digital deserts), he couldn’t help to wonder what happens to the forgotten virtual spaces. He also noticed that all the worlds (of which there are many) are filled with digital graffiti – short inscriptions left by people on the walls of the sites they built and took care of. These traces in their simplicity and poetics, reminded him of the cave drawings, especially in their function – to leave a mark in a new and uninhabited world.

Parts 1&3 of his piece use the video and graffiti material from various two-decade-old worlds at the Active Worlds, reimagining this abandoned space still being roamed by its decaying AI and the last remaining users. The second part of the piece opens up with the conductor entering the VR museum of Sedje Hémon and exploring its spaces live on stage. The musicians follow an intricate system of cues and signs, and sonify the VR museum as the conductors navigates its quiet chambers.

More info at the Gaudeamus website