old people in the wrong house (dancing with robots)

Nouvel Ensemble Moderne
Lorraine Vaillancourt – conductor

old people in the wrong house (dancing with robots) grew out of my reading of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s haunting short story, ‘The Sandman’ (1816). Late in the eerily meandering story a young man falls in love with a robot girl. Hoffmann’s creation seems prophetic today, two hundred years later, when young men’s capacity to be engulfed by affection for mechanical algorithms is metonymic for masculinity itself. If the male imaginary can become attached to automatized systems, however, at least it is separate from automation. At least imagination—male, female, or whatever—is not always automated. And yet, the musical patterns here, which repeat while absorbing errant sounds, trying to find some sweet spot of meditative oblivion, dance uncomfortably close to mechanized spirits. A border is discovered between the meditative and the mechanical. What is inside and what is outside? And meanwhile, who is that laughing at us?

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