Reunion2012 by Anders Tveit and Eskil Muan Sæther is a work for electronically modified chess board, chess players, electronic instruments and visual effects. The work bases itself on - but also departs from - John Cage’s Reunion, which premiered at the Sightsoundsystems festival, Toronto, 1968. The original piece consisted of Cage and Marcel Duchamp playing a game of chess on an electronic board constructed by Lowell Cross. The board “conducted” various electronic sound sources played by Cross, Gordon Mumma, David Tudor, and David Behrman, using photoelectric switches fitted under the squares. Like in Cage’s Variations V, this results in a musical situation where the improvising musicians have full control over their own sound, but no control regarding when their sound may be heard.
While Reunion2012 nods to John Cage by seeking to reflect the chess game’s flow and dynamics through sound, it should also be seen and heard as a brand new piece, with a revitalised artistic expression and modern technology that ensures a higher degree of interaction between the chess movements and the sound. The sound design and compositional elements are devised by Tveit and Sæther in Max, with hardware and software support from Notam (Norwegian Center for Technology in Music and the Arts).
The board may be set up in concert or installation form. In concert form, eight electronic sound sources (controlled by musicians) are connected to an audio interface, and diffused over eight loudspeakers surrounding the chess players, musicians, and audience. The moves on the board controls when each sound source is active as well as the spatialisation of the sources. In installation form, the board utilises a bank of miniature compositions activated by the moves, spread over eight loudspeakers surrounding the board.
Reunion2012 has already gained some attention in Norway. It premiered - as its title suggests - in 2012 at Ultima Oslo Contemporary Music Festival. It has been featured on national television, radio, news websites and a few newspapers, has been commissioned as an artistic contribution at a leadership congress, and also turned out to be a popular interactive installation at Oslo Maker Faire 2013 at Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology.