The Human Condition

Hello! This is Sterling with a post for the remix week. This time, I decided to combine 80s music with two abstract theatre concepts: biomechanics and constructivism. Biomechanics was developed by Vsevolod Meyerhold on the 1920s-30s and focused on “forge[ing] the connection between mind and body, to ‘teach the body to think'”. One went through structured physical training to develop this relationship. Constructivism is an art form that revolves around degrading objects to their basic forms, implementing them as modern tools for a modern society. You will see more specific examples in the video below. By employing these themes, I decided to take a more ‘dystopian’ approach and and parallel the negative side of humanity in a way unseen and unheard of.

Like how none of these are supposed to mimic reality, the audio is not perfect either. It is intentionally chaotic, the lack of a matching tempo or key hindering a smooth mashup. The three songs I used are People Are People (1984) by Depeche Mode, Shout (1985) by Tears for Fears, and The War Song (1984) by Culture Club. Even though they are quite different, their lyrics gave me similar thoughts. Why do people do what they do? Why can’t people get along? Why do people fight? By returning to our roots – a more primitive perspective – I think one can divine those answers, as shown by the footage I included.

That is why I chose the title “The Human Condition.” These are all human qualities, people are people, they shout, and they go to war.

All of the footage came from the video below about the Russian Avant-Garde theatre, which featured biomechanics and constructivism. My Theatre History professor actually showed it to us, and ever since then I have been intrigued. I’ve never seen this type of theatre in person before (and for good reason too, it’s rather alarming). When matching it up with the music, I was surprised to find how well the actors’ movements matched up with the irregular beats of the three songs.

Mixing the songs together (on Audacity) remained the hardest part. As mentioned earlier, they didn’t match up in tempo or key. There are some work-arounds that I tried, though I found that I preferred the disjointedness after some time. About 4/5 through the video, I think the music’s cacophony is so chaotic that it actually flows together very well. One effect that I ended up using a lot was Reverb. That, in conjunction with Echo, allowed the melody of a song to play at the same time as another without it being too distracting. The echo-reverb combination dissipated the tempo slightly and made the off-beat a little less noticeable.

An example of my reverb settings.

This assignment did not seem to fall under any certain assignment in the bank, so this was all on my own. Overall, I like the idea of creating some kind of critical analysis by combining an educational material with themed music. Even though it has words in the form of lyrics, it’s fun to try and communicate such feelings without explicit wording. Like many other educational works, it is all up to interpretation. I hope you see it similar to how I do.

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