TodaysArt 2009 featured a conflict-inspired programme with artists from a multitude of genres who presented many unique productions and exclusive performances and projects.



September 25th & 26th, 2009


Cafe de Vinger
City Hall – Atrium
Club Conflict (Asta + Supermarkt)
Filmhuis Den Haag
Lutherse Kerk
Nieuwe Kerk
Theater aan het Spui


Invasive Sound (curator: Jan Rohlf)
Artificiel [QC/CA] - POWEr | Christof Migone [QC/CA] - Evasion / Crackers / Poker / South Winds | Daito Manabe [JP] - Face Stimuli | Jacob Kirkegaard [DK] - Labyrinthitis | Jamie Drouin & Karl Kliem [CA/DE] - MRI|RMX | Justice Yeldham (Luca Abela) [AU] | Kurt Hentschläger [AT] - Feed | Lucky Dragons [US] | Lynn Pook [DE] & Julien Clauss [FR] - Pause | Mark Bain [US/NL] | Mattin [ES] | Rudolfo Quintas & André Gonçalves [PT] - Burning The Sound | TERMINALBEACH (Pure & Berger) [AT/DE/FI] - Heart Chamber Orchestra

Arno Schuitemaker [NL] - EXIT | Capitol K [UK] | Catherine Baÿ [FR] - Blanche Neige | Collectif Eboy [FR] - Tecktonik | Dis-Patch - A State Of Conflict: DJ Ahmaad [BA], Every Kid On Speed [MK], Felony Flats [RS], LP Duo (Sonja Loncar + Andrija Pavlovic) [RS], Lukatoyboy [RS], Nenad Popov & Mirko Lazovic [RS] - mPnL, Shazalakazoo [RS], Vladimir Arsenijevic [RS], WoO & Incredible Bob [RS] | Fernando Hernando Magadan + Harmen Straatman [ES/NL] - Naked Ape | Freerunners [INT] | Gaston Arévalo [UY] | Guillamino + Band [ES] | Hiroaki Umeda [JP] - Adapting For Distortion | Joeri Dubbe [NL] - Prospect Future | Lukas Timulak & Peter Bilak [SK/NL] | Mastermundo + Itay Talgam [NL/IT] - World's First Flashmob Open Air Rock Orchestra Spectacle | STEIM: Byungjun Kwon [SK], Emile Zile [AU] - Post-it Kino, Mario De Vega [MX], Blippoo Extravaganza (Joker Nies + Kassen Oud + Rob Hordijk) [NL], DJ Sniff [JP] | Stonephace (feat. Portishead’s Adrian Utley) [UK] | Tarek Atoui [LB] - Un-drum / Strategies of Surviving Noise | Touch Live: Biosphere [NO], Hildur Gudnadottir [IS], Jana Winderen [NO] - Sub-Pelagic Voices, Mike Harding [UK] - The Eternal Chord, Philip Jeck [UK] | Yoshimitsu Ichiraku [JP] - DoraVideo

Aaron Carl [US] | Farley ‘Jackmaster’ Funk [US] | Jesse Saunders [US] | Nuno Dos Santos [NL] | Agoria [FR] | Aril Brikha (IR/SE) | Deetron [CH] | Edwin Oosterwal [NL] | Joris Voorn [NL] | Rejected (Joris Voorn + Edwin Oosterwal) [NL] | Ripperton [CH] | Sebastian Mullaert (Minilogue) + Ljudbilden & Piloten [SE] | DJ Duct [JP] | Guilty Simpson [US] | Hank Shocklee (Bomb Squad) [US] | Pursuit Grooves [US] | West Coast Sound of Holland: Bangkok Impact [FI], Baz Reznik [NL], Guy Tavares [NL], Legowelt & Orgue Electronique [NL], Syncom Data [NL], DJ TLR [NL] | Acid Washed [FR] | DJ Dame + DJ Michiel [NL] | Desade (DJ YobKiss + Jacques de la Disque) | DJ TV DiSKO [CA/NZ]

- CRASH-CRUSH: 1646 [NL] - Vast-Forward, Arthur Zmijewski [PL], Erik van der Weijde [NL] - Obersalzberg, Folke Köbberling + Martin Kaltwasser [DE/US] - Crushed Cayenne, Johannes Gees [CH] - Salat, Lena von Lapschina [RU] - Once Around the Block, Matthijs Kiel [NL], Rafael Rozendaal [NL], Richard Barbrook [UK] - Class Wargames, Vincent Elka [FR], Xavier Van Wersch [NL] - Adult Survivors of Satanism | //////////FUR//// [DE] - Moshpit Amp | Antistrot [NL] - The Ponball | Coen Hoogstraten [NL] - E-Tree | Jonathan Schipper [US] - Slow Inevitable Death Of American Muscle / Measuring Angst | Pierre Derks [NL] - Miniscule Blue Helmets on a Massive Quest | Martijn van Boven + Charlie Berendsen + Joost de Nooy + Sander Sturing + Thomas te Braake + Tiemen Rapati + Marie-Anne Huiskamp [NL] - The Typographic Gun | Nathalie Bruys + Katja van Stiphout [NL] - Soundmuseum | Niklas Roy & Adad Hannah [DE/QC/CA] - International Dance Party | Olaf Nicolai [DE] - Samani | Peter Zuiderwijk & Karin Mientjes [NL] - Conflict - ID | Teletekst Is Dood [NL] - Allweknow

Lukatoyboy [RS] - Electronic Music Workshop For Kids

LhGWR: Onomatopee Projectspace - Dick Raaijmakers - Method / Henri van Nuenen - De zager en de Jager | Filmhuis Den Haag: Marieke Verbiesen + Neeltje Sprengers [NL] - Moviestar | Intergalactic FM | Langweiligkeit: Frikk, Chipmonks On Acid, Budneet, DJ Wreedvaag, Numtek [NL] | State-X New Forms: X-Vector - Rioteer, Machinist, Firetime, Piaz [NL] | The Hague Moves [NL]

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Artistic Statement

“Welcome to TodaysArt 2009. We are very proud to present our conflict-inspired program, the culmination of many months’ hard work and dedication, and honored to welcome the artists, partners, allies, guests and visitors who make this event possible.

For us, no one captures the essence of our theme better than M. Esther Harding, a Jungian psychoanalyst, who said “conflict is the beginning of consciousness” and it was around this broad idea that our program was built. We invited artists from a multitude of genres and we are proud to be able to present many unique productions and exclusive performances as well as projects that celebrate the conflicts within us all.

Conflict became a reality for us, even leading to forced imprisonment and interrogations. We were unexpectedly and rudely forced into consciousness regarding our own theme. We are interested in the fact that any expression surrounding the theme Conflict is subject to many interpretations in our current society, especially considering our turbulent and open media landscape. It turns out the parameters determining what is acceptable and what is not are at best vague, and perhaps questionable. TodaysArt 2009 was never about inciting conflict, but always about simply drawing attention to the subject. The fact that our campaign was interpreted as a serious threat underlines the necessity for a debate, and productive input. We are inviting you to an open discussion about this subject at TodaysArt 2009.

On behalf of our crew and allies, I wish you a great festival and hope that this year’s program offers you new insights, experiences and inspiration.”

Olof van Winden – Director

Conflict is the beginning of consciousness

We can't escape it. Being human, we are all responsible. All actions have consequences and at every stage, there is conflict. Every action provokes reaction; even the smallest butterfly wing flap can trigger a tornado according to popular culture, chaos theory and Spinoza, the quintessential determinist. Our mere existence generates conflict, he tells us: "Nothing exists from whose nature some effect does not follow." Whether external, internal, moral, physical, ideal, abstract, concrete, constructive or destructive, the red thread of conflict stitches TodaysArt together this year as we put friction, opposition and ambivalence under the gun. From our serendipitous location in The Hague, international city of peace and justice, heart of international conflict management, we look at when, how and why conflict is woven through our lives in positive and less positive ways. We look at - in a world struggling to cope with tragic, violent clashes and destructive environmental disasters - the inevitability of conflict and wonder if there is an 'evitability'.

"Be not astonished at new ideas; for it is well known to you that a thing does not therefore cease to be true because it is not accepted by many" Spinoza

Diving into the archives of The Hague history, we find abundant historical context for an examination of strife and discord in the so-called 'City of Peace'. Firstly, it's the final resting place of Benedict Spinoza, the philosopher who laid the foundations for enlightenment. Spinoza was often in conflict with the ideas of his day, and despite the relatively liberal atmosphere of 17th century Netherlands, he was excommunicated from the synagogue by the Jewish community for his ideas. His most important works were published after his death and were even then listed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (List of Prohibited Books) by the Roman Catholic Church. Our program proudly presents works that challenge and provoke; works that present ideas and concepts that may not be easily understood or quickly digested. The best ideas are dangerous; they confront the established order and conflict with the status quo.

"For peace is not mere absence of war, but is a virtue that springs from, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice" Spinoza

There's more. Digging only slightly deeper into The Hague history, we find that this is a quadricentenary year for the Mare Liberum (The Freedom of the Sea). Mare Liberum is a great tomb of a book that is considered to be the founding text of international law. The territory defining treatise was used as part of a debate on free shipping during the First World War and it was written in The Hague by the Dutch jurist and

philosopher Hugo Grotius in 1609. A 'Mare Liberum' commemoration program is planned by the city for September 16th. Flawed International law and human rights are explosive issues in the TodaysArt 09 program as artists seek to expose the weaknesses inherent to the system. The perceived powerlessness of The Hague's International Court of Justice - despite the major international human rights instruments having been widely signed and ratified, serious human rights violations cannot be eliminated - is a primary concern for several artists invited to this year's festival edition.

"If facts conflict with a theory, either the theory must be changed or the facts" Spinoza

Near contemporary of Spinoza and Grotius, and second son of The Hague was mathematician, astronomer and physicist Christian Huygens. Huygens was concerned with time and gravity. With a telescope of his own design, he was the first to determine that Saturn was surrounded by rings, and the first of Saturn's moons, Titan. He was the leading proponent of the wave theory of light, which became instrumental in the understanding of seemingly conflicted wave-particle duality - central concept in quantum mechanics - and his invention of the pendulum clock was a timekeeping breakthrough. TodaysArt channels a little of the Huygens spirit with works that are a direct challenge to our everyday experience of time. Conflicts with time are a very human problem - we measure it and compete with it, we race against it, we try to kill it. We look into the future and peer into the past; we try to comprehend time scales that are incomprehensible - the instantaneous tragedy of a head on car collision is normally beyond our awareness, the speeds involved mean we are barely conscious of the event until it - already too late. The arguably greater tragedy of climate change unfolds at a pace too slow for humans to notice until it's, again, too late. These are problems of scale and comprehension that are likely to lead to violent conflict on a scale the world has never seen.

"The destruction of this planet would have no significance on a cosmic scale" Kubrick

TodaysArt expanded to many times its original size over the years since its inception. But since reaching its mature form in 2005, we've spent successive years reducing its footprint on the city centre. In 2009, we implode the entire festival into just one high-density point on the Spuiplein. Drawn together in close proximity in and around the square, across the road from where Spinoza is buried in the churchyard of the Nieuwe Kerk, the events and installations jostle for attention. Open air performances compete with the boom boxes of the nearby skaters; our fragile glasshouses, last year dotted along the Turfmarkt, are gathered into a crystalline heart of activity; visitors come together in a critical mass of intensity in the normally dysfunctional public centre of The Hague's downtown district.

"Truth springs from argument amongst friends" David Hume

Burdened by the idea of existence as a cause of conflict and faced with the logical impasse of inaction, non-agency and stagnation, we confront the complexities of action directly by highlighting different forms of conflict and inviting artists whose work addresses the issue head on to be part of our 09 program. We accept the truth that conflict is, in fact, essential to everything we do - inherent to the human condition. Being organizers of an international festival, we also have to accept that we are implicated in environmental conflicts on a global scale. We are unsustainable. To counter, we need to embrace the idea that not every action has equal consequences; that as humans we are capable not just of agency, but of moral agency, and that conflict can be, must be, the catalyst for new insights and solutions.

TodaysArt Team

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Everyday we consume numerous texts and images that represent ongoing conflicts and disputes. Although not too consciously, most of us are completely accustomed to the rhetorical vocabulary that is often used. What do these textual and visual messages actually tell us? Do they give us an objective insight or do they merely tell us something about the representation of conflict in general?

The problem is rooted in the actual consumption of these messages. The independence of a western recipient is always questionable. In one way or another we are influenced by our roots. And so it is that for the Western world, most representations of western power have a trustworthy connotation. One might not support certain political or social convictions, but the basic vocabulary that represents Western power is common ground. Consciously or subconsciously we simply know how to interpret most signs and symbols. We only ask questions about sincerity when unconventional components enter these preconceived messages. Simple common sense or generalizations take over; leaders become despots, the good cause turns into a questionable form of corruption and the message is interpreted as propaganda. This is even more imminent when we are confronted with representations of non-Western power. Every exotic adjective or unconventional variation colors our perception. A portrait that is a bit too polished is taken as an indication for a totalitarian regime and a display of power that is a little bit too obnoxious for our taste is interpreted as a sign of an unstable situation. What is the actual situation and what other messages do we contract from our cultural perspective? The known and unknown in any given situation define how we interpret most representations of conflict.

The same goes for the images and texts that directly represent aggression, violence and despair. Graphic depictions of conflicts are hard to ignore. But do we truly understand them? Most Western societies do not know what actual violence means. Our closest reference might be an argument, an accident or an exceptional eruption of aggression. The impact of real destruction, actual life-threatening situations and the unbearable insecurity that goes with it cannot be understood in a metaphorical representation. However, we cannot deny the compulsive thrill we sometimes experience when a violent message is consumed. The entertainment industry has been exploiting this feeling for years. With the introduction of modern communication tools this compulsive urge has found a new platform. The representation of conflict is democratized by popular demand. Within this context a journalist or press-agency no longer defines what the image of a conflict is. Everyone reports and not a single graphic detail is left out. Yes, you might get a better insight, but inaccuracy and hype become more important. Eventually only the incomprehensive thrills remain.

TodaysArt has invited the theme 'conflict' to the city of peace and justice. Again one could ask him or herself what these adjectives actually stand for. One wonders why The Hague is actively marketing itself this way. For the average Western person, the fact that the city claims this part of conflict for itself is probably a positive thing and interpreted as The Hague wanting to promote peace and justice. Others might interpret it as simply a matter of marketing. "Peace and Justice" is the marketing equivalent of "Conflict" and the message it sends out has a Western connotation and morality. One could feel that it is dubious for a city to claim the name 'city of peace and justice' instead of having others claim it for them. Again, the vocabulary can be lost in translation. There is no right or wrong. Only the obnoxious game of interpretation truly says something about the identity of conflict.

Peter Zuiderwijk - Graphic Designer

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Bursting Balloons

The present era is rife with input. Internet, the mobile phone, our newspapers, television, radio; information is always at hand. The abundance of information that is available can have many different effects on us. For every question we have, we can find thousands of answers, if you know where to look. But what is it doing to us, to humanity? What is the impact of all that information on us personally? What does it lead to in the grand scheme of things?

In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), a famous book by the great intellectual Thomas Kuhn, the term 'paradigm shift' was first used. Kuhn explained how science tends to create structures, a collection of theories that explains most of what is happening around us. However, over time, anomalies start to appear in these theories. Some things cannot be explained and increasingly, matters seem to fall outside of the theories used by the scientists. The anomalies appear to become more numerous. This eventually leads to an upheaval or an insight that radically changes all the theories. As soon as new theories are created that seem to explain everything again, we have entered a new paradigm. The question-filled and chaotic period prior to the new paradigm is called the paradigm shift.

History is filled with paradigm shifts, small and large. Examples are the French Revolution, quantum mechanics, the shift from Ptolemaic to Copernican cosmology, the theory of evolution by Darwin, and so on. Most shifts however tend to go hand in hand with conflict; intellectual, ideological or even actual physical conflict. In the here and now there are signs of multiple paradigm shifts happening at once, some accompanied by conflict. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, environmental conflicts, religious conflicts, information freedom vs. information filtering, stem cell research proponents vs. medical conservatism, mass discussions on forums about every conceivable subject, individual criticism on millions of blogs... Is a critical mass building up, like a balloon filling up with water, to a point when all it takes is just a tiny pinprick to burst apart?

In the past, many paradigm shifts have gone hand in hand with a cultural shift. Not surprisingly, artists have always been drawn to anomalies and conflicts of ideas, using them as a source of inspiration. Artists in turn inspire us to think differently, to look at confusing matters from a different perspective. Challenging our ideals, they inevitably stimulate us to ask questions. In addition to acts in the festival program that have been around for a while, to remind us of the roots of the art we know today and thus provide context, the main part of the program at TodaysArt 09 aims to show you what a selection of artists think about the conflicts at work in our world today. Not all of the artists will provide solutions. But many of them will encourage you to think and to feel, and, maybe, to help you burst your own personal balloon.

Björn Remmerswaal - Copywriter TodaysArt

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A state of Conflict

Belgrade's Dis-patch festival is proud to be collaborating once more with the TodaysArt Festival in its 2009 edition on presenting a very special program showcase of artists coming from the realms of South-East Europe and the Balkan Peninsula. This region has, unfortunately, witnessed many different conflicts over the course of the previous decade - political, cultural, religious, social and ultimately military ones. Offering a glance at the emerging music and art scenes of this region seems a much-needed step in the context of this year's main topic of Conflict. There is probably no other European territory so deeply marked and shaped by recent conflicts of political, social and cultural nature. Although one would initially think of images of wars that took place in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo, it is important to draw the attention to the fact that in addition to the horrible military conflicts and brutality of the 1990s, numerous other conflicts of a different nature are still ongoing, resulting in an environment of constant struggle for freedom of expression, for modernity, for common-sense, for perspective or, ultimately, for European integration and freedom of travel/movement. At the same time, this is the common context that all of the featured artists are sharing and have struggled with, which led them to develop their selected artistic paths and foster different cultural values from the ones which prevail in their daily existence.

Following the last year's "Dispatches from the art of today" program which had established an exchange of artists between Belgrade and The Hague performing at the respective festivals, this year's collaboration has a more specific aim. By reacting to the festival's theme, we are presenting the diversity of local and regional artistic output, offering a different view of the area, which has nurtured exceptional talent and forward-thinking artists parallel to the better-known populist, alcohol-flavored brass frenzy. In line with the scope of both festivals, we will be presenting musicians, DJ's, and video artists that have been on the forefront of their local scenes of contemporary music and related arts, keeping the audience in touch with the progressive expressions and adventurous approaches of today.

Finally, being in The Netherlands - and specifically The Hague - is a peculiar context, bearing in mind the presence and the much-disputed role of the ICTY (The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia), as well as the recent EU-integration issues and tensions between Serbia and The Netherlands which have, inevitably, shaped into a conflict in their own right. Needless to say, all of the participants needed to acquire a visa in order to perform at TodaysArt. Culture and art sadly cannot overcome the political frictions which are far beyond their reach, but they are instrumental in opening and nurturing communication channels between the societies, between the artistic milieus and finally between people who are in need of direct, first-hand experiences and an open dialogue between cultures.

Following the last year's "Dispatches from the art of today" program which had established an exchange of artists between Belgrade and The Hague performing at the respective festivals, this year's collaboration has a more specific aim. By reacting to the festival's theme, we are presenting the diversity of local and regional artistic output, offering a different view of the area, which has nurtured exceptional talent and forward-thinking artists parallel to the better-known populist, alcohol-flavored brass frenzy. In line with the scope of both festivals, we will be presenting musicians, DJ's, and video artists that have been on the forefront of their local scenes of contemporary music and related arts, keeping the audience in touch with the progressive expressions and adventurous approaches of today.

Finally, being in The Netherlands - and specifically The Hague - is a peculiar context, bearing in mind the presence and the much-disputed role of the ICTY (The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia), as well as the recent EU-integration issues and tensions between Serbia and The Netherlands which have, inevitably, shaped into a conflict in their own right. Needless to say, all of the participants needed to acquire a visa in order to perform at TodaysArt. Culture and art sadly cannot overcome the political frictions which are far beyond their reach, but they are instrumental in opening and nurturing communication channels between the societies, between the artistic milieus and finally between people who are in need of direct, first-hand experiences and an open dialogue between cultures.

Relja Bobić - Dis-patch

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Conflict is the end of indifference

The main reason to establish the European Union was to end conflict. The EU owes its existence to the memory of the terrible wars that ravaged the European continent during the first half of the 20th century. Out of the rubble of World War Two, a new kind of hope emerged. People who had resisted totalitarianism during the war were determined to put an end to international hatred and rivalry in Europe and create the conditions for lasting peace. Between 1945 and 1950, a handful of courageous statesmen set about persuading their people to enter a new era. New political structures were created in Western Europe, based on shared interests and founded upon treaties guaranteeing the rule of law and equality between all countries. These structures have so far been successful. What we have today, is a unique economic and political partnership between 27 democratic European countries with the aim of providing peace, prosperity and freedom for its 498 million citizens. But is the EU as it is now a political arena without conflict? Europe’s post-industrial societies are becoming increasingly complex. Standards of living have risen steadily, but often at the cost of an increasing gap between rich and poor, between and within EU Member States. Terrorism and organised crime have become an issue of internal and external security. Ensuring equal wealth and security for all, has become the real challenge for the EU; a challenge that can not be dealt with without facing conflicting views and interests.

When the Soviet empire crumbled in 1991, the former communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe decided that their future lies within the family of democratic European nations. In 2004, the EU underwent a historic enlargement to incorporate 10 countries from Central and Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean: Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia. The enlargement process continues to this day. Several countries from the Western Balkan are aspiring to become a member of the EU. Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are already formal candidate countries; Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia enjoy a European perspective. For people from the Balkan countries, war and conflict is not something from an older generation, such as the Second World War is for people from Western Europe. Instead, a large part of the younger generation has living memories of war as part of daily life. Becoming part of the EU is often a logical step for these countries, who consider themselves part of Europe in terms of culture, history and aspirations. European integration is open to all European countries when and if they are prepared to take up all the obligations of EU membership.

As part of the enlargement criteria, the European Union asks future candidate countries to speed up their economic reconstruction, improve their mutual relations, which in the case of the Balkan have been scarred by ethnic and religious wars, and consolidate their democratic institutions. These discussions are often a frustrating process during which conflict can not always be avoided. And why should it? Conflict is the end of indifference and the start of getting to know each other. That is why we, the European Commission, are extremely proud to offer you the opportunity to explore a part of the diverse culture of Southeast Europe in The Hague at the TodaysArt festival, by funding a program with artists from this region.

Let’s embrace the conflict and maybe even forget it while we enjoy each other’s creative expressions.

European Commission

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Invasive sound

Sonic events -noises, sounds, music - are not perceived by the ear alone. Their effect on the human body goes beyond even the stimulation of the other sensory organs. Acoustic vibrations transmit impulses that obtrude and invade the body and its tissues; they are not only processed on a conscious level, but can also provoke unconscious psychological and uncontrollable physiological reactions. 'Invasive Sound' presents artists who make use of all these aspects in order to get close to the human body in disquieting ways. Their work is aimed directly at both physiological and culturally encoded perceptions of the body. The experiences they offer audiences engender both conflict and corporeal pleasure.

The hearing and understanding of sounds and music is a complex aesthetic-semiotic process. The interpretation of what we hear is, on one level, a culturally moulded, notional activity: we evaluate sounds and music based upon origins, orchestration, characteristics and organizational principles - the rhythm, the order of the tones, harmonies and melodies as well as dissonances, pauses and jumps - and can accordingly understand the intentions of the composer or musician. On another level it is a physical experience, a bodily encounter based upon affective response, sensory reception and involuntary reactions beyond the realm of consciousness. Consciousness springs back into play, however, when it comes to whether the experience is pleasurable or objectionable - consider the dramatically different responses to bone-rattling vibrations in the low bass frequencies of drone music or the beats of contemporary club music - immensely pleasurable to some, unbearable for others. The physical reaction to sonic events such as alarm signals, construction site noises or the soothing burbling of running water is commonly experienced in everyday life. As such, the close affinity between sound and the human body seems at first banal. Like all physical things in this world, our bodies themselves produce noises and sounds when they are made to vibrate or when setting other things into vibration. And equipped with the voice, we have, like every other higher-order organism, a sophisticated, built-in sound-making apparatus. Conversely, everything that we perceive is first transmitted through the body's sensory system. And so for a long time, noises and sounds seemed to be inextricably linked to the presence of bodies and the interaction of matter. For thousands of years, the notional activity of the musician was inseparable from the tangible articulations of his body and their interplay with the acoustically resonant body of an instrument.

All that changed with the discovery of electricity. With the invention of sound recording and electroacoustics, the old affiliation was no longer inevitable. The complete decoupling of sound and the sounding body was achieved between the early 18th and mid 20th centuries. Sound became independent from the objects of the material world, and has since resided not only in the parts of the physical world accessible to the sensory organs, but also within electromagnetic fields that can only be perceived with the aid of technology. In the digital flow of information within the computer, sound has finally become truly autonomous: As pure information, it is subject to any kind of analysis, synthesis or transformation. These days sounds can be freely programmed or generated from unmusical data and be played back on technical systems - without any need for a musician to perform it or even any sounding body in the conventional sense.

The Canadian artist duo Artificiel refers to this development in their current project, 'POWEr' - performance for which the only visual and sound source is a Tesla coil. Named after its inventor, the coil generates a very high-voltage alternating current that discharges in the form of visible arcs of electricity. The duo controls and modulates the voltage frequency using electrical signals. The arcs ionize the surrounding air at the same frequency as the signal, setting it into a plasmic state. This creates oscillations in the air pressure, which can be heard as sound waves. The coil becomes a musical instrument. At the same time, the artists convert the sound and light events generated by the coil into digital signals. They then use computers to create an intricate, real time audiovisual composition. 'POWEr' impressively demonstrates that sound is first and foremost physical energy, energy that can be conveyed by different media and transformed into other forms of energy. Simultaneously, the performance becomes a theatrical demonstration of energy tamed by its conversion into pure information, which, detached from its original source and potential, can be manipulated in any way. The destructive force of electricity bolts in 'POWEr' however, points to the relationship between sound and body: if one comes too close to the sound source, it will literally enter the body, delivering massive shocks and internal burns - with potentially fatal consequences.

In reaction to the decoupling of sound and body accomplished by digitalization, today's artists are increasingly searching for ways to bring their own bodies (and those of others) back into electronic music. In part, this practice aims at the rehabilitation of a sensually affective means of performance in electronic art, but it is also based upon the individual's interest in introspection and the millennia-old practice of manipulating consciousness, which since Huxley has been known as psychedelics. Interestingly, it is the very same technologies that initially decoupled sound and body that are now enabling a renewed convergence. The sensitivity of technical devices and the universal transformability of electronic data is allowing artists to analyze the invisible and process-based aggregate states of the body, to manipulate them, and to ultimately intertwine them with technology to create innovative instruments in the form of hybrid human-machine systems. In the process, borders are increasingly dissolving between inner and outer, between biology and technology, and between individual and collective, mirroring our altering perception of the body.

The current forms of such systems make use of interfaces that read the movements of a performer by means of sensors and use these for the generation and modulation of sounds and images. Likewise the signals from the nervous and circulatory systems are applied to the generation of scores and the synthesis of sounds in brain wave music, biomusic or regenerative music. As early as 1965, Alvin Lucier used brain waves to generate sounds in his piece "Music for Solo Performer" Electrodes attached to his head picked up signals, which he amplified and sent to speakers, causing the membranes of percussion instruments to resonate. Performances by the US artist duo Lucky Dragons are similar, but more complex: Voltage impulses are passed through the audience and modulated by means of "body-contact relays" and skin resistance. Music is created by the spontaneous and collective process of interconnectivity. After overcoming social and bodily distances, the participants transform their bodies into components of an electronic instrument.

Similar principles of biofeedback and interconnection are used by the artist duo TERMINALBEACH (Peter Votava and Erich Berger) in their project 'Heart Chamber Orchestra'. Via algorithms, the signals from electrocardiographic (ECG) sensors attached to the musicians are used to create scores, which are played by the musicians in real time. This biofeedback allows the influence of usually unconscious physiological processes. The musicians play the technical apparatus, and the apparatus plays the musicians: together they form an instrument.

A closeness to the natural sciences is also apparent with the Japanese artist Daito Manabe. His project 'Face Visualizer' refers to discoveries of Jean Jallabert (1747), Luigi Galvani (around 1780) and, above all, Duchenne de Boulogne (1862), scientists who discovered the electrical system of the body. They found that the brain, muscles and senses communicate through control signals transmitted by the nervous system in the form of tiny electrical impulses, and that these impulses can be stimulated artificially. Applying electronic stimulation controlled by sound to the facial muscles, Manabe visualizes music, thereby giving sound physiological control over parts of the body.

In these and other works, the artists draw both practically and aesthetically upon forms of scientific research and self-experimentation. This is also the case with the Canadian artist Christof Migone, who uses sensitive microphones and cameras to conduct sometimes painful self-observation, exploring the most intimate areas of the human body. He has composed, for example, pieces of music using the cracking noises of the joints or sounds of the passing of bowel gasses, has explored the faces and body cavities of his subjects with the tactile use of microphones, and amplified the noises made by eye movements. In doing so, he is not only following the traditions of early video art. He is also drawing from the discipline of bioacoustics and the development of modern medical diagnosis that came with the invention of the stethoscope by Ren� Th�ophile Hyacinthe La�nnec in 1816.

The musical instrument literally cuts into the body during performances by Justice Yeldham (Australian artist Lucas Abela). Pressing a sharp-edged piece of glass with contact microphones attached to it against his mouth, he creates aggressive layers of noise until the performance ends abruptly with the glass shattering onto his face. The observer is unavoidably confronted with the precarious vulnerability of his own body in vicarious anticipation of pain. Confrontation by forcing the audience into self-perception is also the theme of the Spanish-Basque artist Mattin. Shock tactics and the surprising circumvention of customary forms of performance make the audience conscious of their own physical, fragile presence as Mattin assaults them with flashes of blinding light, maximum volume white noise and sudden interludes of complete silence.

The direct physiological effects of sound and other frequencies form the focus of other artistic strategies that attempt to make music physically perceptible. American Mark Bain describes his installations and performances as a mixture of sound and vibrational events. Using seismic sensors and mechanical activators, he vibrates structures at their resonant frequencies at and below the limits of human hearing. Entire buildings become instruments, and listeners viscerally experience the sonic event as a strong vibration through the body. Bain refers to the pulsating infrasonic compression waves as a 'sonic wind' which has a peculiar effect upon the psyche and physiology of those present. Not least, he refers to effects commonly observed with constant winds such as the Mistral or Foehn. Infrasound can trigger sensations from nausea and breathlessness to a feeling of relaxation. It's not by chance that in drone doom - an extreme, low-pitched sub-genre of heavy metal - a fetish has developed for the mysterious 'brown note' which is reputed to induce the spontaneous evacuation of the bowels.

The perception of space and the body is also the theme for Lynn Pook and Julien Clauss with their tactile audio installations. Here, sound is transferred to the inner ear directly through flesh and bone by means of an interface of emitters attached to listeners. Acoustic and tactile sensations are perceived in synchrony and move choreographically across the surface of the body.

Other examples utilize the principle of the brain's tendency to synchronize its frequencies to corresponding external stimuli (brain entrainment) to create audiovisual stimulation for the purpose of altering consciousness. Such gadgets such as the Dream Machines designed in the 1960s by Brion Gysin or the project 'Feed' by the Austrian Kurt Hentschl�ger's provoke physiological reactions beyond the control of the subject and exploit the peculiarities of the human perceptual apparatus as a constituent element of the compositions and their effects. During the second half of 'Feed' the room is filled with an artificial fog illuminated by coloured stroboscopic light. A physical sensation of immersion is increased by sub-bass and pulsating sounds, which are synchronized with the light, dissolving all spatial coordinates. Participants see kaleidoscopic two and three dimensional patterns and movements, which are not in fact generated by the artist, but are created by the brain's efforts to synchronize its frequencies with the external stimuli. It is only the 'tactile' perception induced through the synaesthetic interaction of the individual senses within an immersive set-up that renders the artwork complete. This form of perception drives the consciousness inwards and so actively brings about experiential qualities inseparable from real-life experience. Acoustic space naturally has a similar, inherent 'tactile' quality that envelopes the listener. We experience sound without distance, as if in direct contact with the body, and thus the perception of sound feels unmediated. This is demonstrated by Jacob Kirkegaard's project 'Labyrinthitis' which, as in 'Feed' is based on the inclusion of the 'tactile' perception of the audience, but using only audio: Two frequencies of a particular ratio create internal vibrations in the listener's inner ear. This leads to the creation of a third frequency, the so-called Tartini tone, which is solely perceived by each respective subject.

The process-based nature of these works and their performance practice is obviously inspired by performance art, by happening, fluxus, expanded cinema and the closed-circuit installations of video art. Yet their roots extend beyond the art history of the 20th century and into the history of scientific technical innovation and the theatrical demonstrations thereof, which were popular during the 18th and 19th centuries. It is primarily the biological body - rather than the symbolic one - which serves as raw material.

However, because the body can never be dissociated from either its metaphors or the emotions, utopias and dystopias which these generate, the works provoke a multiplicity of associations and ambivalences. One issue is the problematization of the separation of the 'lived body' (Leib in German) as a place of direct phenomenological experience, and 'the body' as the objectified subject of social conditioning.
The instrumentalization and medialization of 'the body' confronts the reality of the Leib. Yet it is by virtue of its permeability that the Leib can assert itself over technology, when the effect of 'technology' is experienced as exposure to external stimuli and consequently perceived as difference.

Conversely, these external stimuli can be internalized by triggering physiological
reactions experienced as originating from within the body. Then, the clear division between body and machine no longer seems possible. The overwhelming dynamism of undergoing involuntary physiological responses is consequently experienced as an incursion by something formless and unknown, both in the rigid control architecture of the technical apparatus and in the integrity of the subject. This incursion is made possible only through the correlation of technology and physiology. In the process, organic attributes are assigned to technology, while technology closes in on the body in multiple ways. The body becomes concurrently a sender and receiver, interface, network node, data source, resonating cavity and output medium. As a final consequence, it becomes unclear when the body is the object and when it is the subject. In various ways, these works of art conceive notions of a cybernetically linked, hybrid physicality that is less and less a fixed form but is instead a dynamic plurality of communicating streams of information, technological zones and organic concentrations.

Jan Rohlf - CTM-festival (club transmediale), guest curator TodaysArt 2009

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The Resistance

The music industry is nothing if not conflict. From the early days of the industry, when debates on recorded music versus live performance highlighted the risks of taking music out of the clubs, to the current debates over downloads and performance rights, these conflicts have been more than just opinions being expressed. These conflicts are historical and emotional marking points, places where we can see the shifts from one generation, culture, mentality, to another. And the conflicts speak to the fact that the music occupies a place beyond mere entertainment. The song you first danced to, the song you share with a loved one, the tune a parent would sing to you as a child, these sounds have meaning, so when we come into contact with someone with an opposing take on the music, that conflict with the other is also a defense of our first love, our childhood, growing up and more. So the conflict isn't really a bad thing; it's an affirmation of who we are.

Some of the most powerful music on the planet has come from the effects of conflict. The trans-Atlantic slave trade itself was an incredibly orderly process, much to the detriment of those being transported to the Americas. But the conflict with that orderly system, the combative nature of those circumstances, led to sounds as diverse as jazz, gospel, blues, rock, soul, funk, disco, hip-hop, reggae, techno, and more. From the moment that African drums were outlawed on plantations, conflict was a key dimension to those genres. But conflict is key in today's music as well.

On the side of necessary conflict, it is no secret that large corporations have been steadily growing larger over the past 20 years. The recording and broadcast industries (record labels and radio, respectively) are dominated by fewer than 10 corporations controlling (financially) almost 90% of the world's music business. When it comes to labels, we're talking about only 4 companies dominating more than 80% of the market in the US, and over 70% globally. Together, Sony/BMG and Universal control more than 50% of the US, and they are swiftly reaching that same percentage globally. In the name of streamlining operations, making marketing easier, etc, there are many artists who will never fit their mold, never sell to the mass market needed to sustain such a huge corporate entity. There are many radio stations and venues that will not support anything not fitting into the formats of these corporations. And this is one of the places positive conflict comes into play.

People are fighting back. Not by burning down the offices of these conglomerates, but by simply turning off their radios. By going online to buy directly from independent artists. By supporting the smaller stores that carry more independent music. By going out to clubs and venues that feature something other than the standard dictated by these larger organizations. By supporting festivals such as TodaysArt in the Hague.
One of the most intriguing aspects of TodaysArt is that it flies in the face of all that the mainstream tells you what it should be. A blend of popular independent artists with more unknown and/or underground artists, it doesn't rely on those major corporations for its support; there are no million selling major label acts on the bill. And in doing that, it conflicts with the standard definition of what a festival is. It brings people together who would never meet under any other circumstance, connecting music with dance, video with physical art, digital technology with analog sensibilities. It brings together conflicting ideologies and concepts, yet the outcome is often awe inspiring.

Cornelius Harris - Underground Resistance / Alter Ego

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The Hague city of conflict

The Hague is known as the International City of Peace and Justice. Conflict, one could say, is the opposite of peace, so why would TodaysArt choose conflict this year to characterize the city and as a theme for its festival? It could perhaps be because of the obvious reason that there is no peace without there first having been conflict. We tend to see conflict as a negative, yet it can also be seen as something positive. In the art world for instance a period of conflict is usually a period of artistic growth in which new genres and styles emerge. If Mondriaan hadn't been in conflict with the artistic conventions of his time he may not have developed his own unique neo-plastic "De Stijl" style. Seen in this light conflict is the perfect theme for a contemporary art and music festival such as TodaysArt. Perhaps the conflicting expressions during the festival will also give birth to a new genre or, dare we think it, even a new Mondriaan?

Can we also characterize the city of The Hague as a city of conflict? There is a dichotomy in our population that could perhaps fuel the idea. The Hague is traditionally known as a city of "top hats and caps" in Dutch 'hoeden en petten'. The city's neighbourhoods are built on either sandy ground or on peat-soil, in Dutch "zand en veen" so it seems that even on a subterranean level we see the same distinction. These two distinctive groups of people and neighbourhoods might just prove to be fertile grounds for the creation of art if we think of conflict as something positive. Who knows what exciting things could happen if we brought these two sides of The Hague closer together? Artists from both sides could collaborate on interesting new art collectives with a whole new, distinctive style.

The Hague is aiming to be the Cultural Capital of Europe in 2018. To achieve this, the best strategy would perhaps be to embrace the conflict in our city, encourage it and give free reign to the creation of art. This year, 2009, the TodaysArt festival will be five years old. I congratulate the director Olof van Winden and his team on this accomplishment: it hasn't always been easy and I admire their perseverance. This 5th edition of TodaysArt can serve as a wonderful experiment to see how our city functions when conflict is given center stage and can stand in the spotlight. I sincerely hope you will enjoy the festival and who knows what 'conflict' might bring you?

Marieke Bolle - Alderman Culture & Finance in The Hague

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Do you engage or avoid?

I did not like conflict. For years, I tried to avoid any type of conflict as much as I could. I didn't see any advantage in engaging into conflict. I believed that conflict could only result in loss. Also, weren't humans the only species gifted with the ability to reason and make choices? So, in theory, why shouldn't we approach every possible conflict situation with reason, in order to choose the obvious peaceful solution?

I felt strengthened in my views by the sheer endless news stream regarding conflict around the world, mostly pictures and footage of the saddening results of conflicts: destruction, decay and destitution. Clearly, if given the choice, everybody would choose - at least for himself - to avoid such a result.

I have learnt it is impossible to avoid conflict. And not only that, it is also counterproductive. "Zonder wrijving geen glans" is a Dutch saying which roughly translates to "without friction there is no gloss", and I have come to respect the meaning of it. Conflict can result in horrible things, but avoiding it can even be worse. Of course I am not calling out for heavy conflicts that have a terrible outcome such as described above. But surely a battle of ideas can be as tough of a fight as any conflict.

Up until now, there is not much conflict in The Hague. I think it is safe to say that at this moment we have reached a status quo on many levels. So, TodaysArt central theme for this year came to me as a surprise. A surprise that is true, nonetheless: a conflict is in the air. A type of formalized conflict which most of us are familiar with: elections. The local elections in March next year promise to be the most impetuous in the history of The Hague. And although we know that this conflict will be resolved peacefully - guided by the formal rules of elections - the result will be a new paradigm. I don't think I should prelude to the contents of this new paradigm, but it is safe to say that the role of arts will be a crucial part of the upcoming debate.

I still don't like conflict. Not in the way you like ice-cream or peanut butter. It seems strange to engage in conflict to preserve kindness. Or to go to battle for peace. But sometimes you have to. TodaysArt takes the lead and asks us to think ahead: what are your core values? What are they worth? Do you engage or avoid?

David Rietveld - Councilman in The Hague for political party GroenLinks

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Main Partners

Gemeente Den Haag, Cultural Foundations, VSB, NFPK+, Casema Cultuurfonds, Gravin van Bylandt, Stichting, Fonds 1818, SNS Reaal Fonds, Bureau Export de la Musique Française, Arts Council Quebec, European Commission, Offices of Contempory Art Norway, United States Embassy The Hague, Finland, Denmark