VOXLabYrinth represents an ensemble of seven internationally known vocalists from Swiss and Germany. The ensemble was founded in Berne in fall 2005.

Bruno Amstad, Luzern – Franziska Baumann, Bern – Monika Lilleike, Berlin – Ate Schell, Berlin – Andreas Stahel, Winterthur – Saadet Türköz, Zürich – Franziska Welti, Winterthur, Voices & Improvisationen

Franziska Baumann, Bern, Concept
Claudia Brieske, Berlin, Visual Art and Interaction

The goal of VOXLabYrinth is to extend the artistic parameters of vocal art beyond established conventions in the field of music theatre and new opera. By means of collaborative work the ensemble seeks to explore and to invent new forms of vocal expression and interaction balancing between the unique expression of the individual vocalist in performance and choreographed patterns of collective sound creation.

The richness of stile and vocal expression of VOXLabYrinth is based on the wide scope of musical and artistic background that each ensemble member brings to the group: “folklore imaginaire”, jazz, rock, opera, modern classics and performance art. This variety of musical modes are the foundation for the vocalists creating and unfolding a multitude of vocal universes in performance: songs, rhythmic patterning and pulsation, fleeting clusters and cascades of vocal sound and resounding atmospheres lead by means of a multi-faceted and colourful play to the core of the human voice. The safety of convention is left behind in order to develop a new experimental vocabulary. The artistic aim of VOXLabYrinth is to shape the vocal sound-scape visually as well as audibly by combining stage design, video installation, through-composed vocal scores and choreographed settings, which initiate and frame improvisation.

Topic and Strategy of the artistic work

The ensemble’s first production is based on the idea of the labyrinth which has inspired the production’s title “Voxlayrinth”. The artistic work of the ensemble is thematically based on the writing of the Swizz poet Dürrenmatt who rewrites the ancient Cretan story of the Minotaur being caught in a labyrinth of mirrors. Dürrenmatt composes his writing according to the experience of the Minotaur being confronted by the labyrinth – the relentless grounds of his own existence. The rich poetic texture of Dürrenmatt’s writing offers much inspiration for the collective’s artistic search for new ways vocal creation: myriad reflections of mirrors, kaleidoscopic images and the absurd joint together with an apocalyptic surge triggered by questioning ones own existence, all of which serve as leading motives for improvisation. Dürrenmatt perceives himself as a “Drauflosdenker”, a straight-away-thinker, or but as a “Gedankenschlosser”, a locksmith of thought. As stylistic means in his writing he uses grotesque and exaggerated word plays to voice his critical perspective. The way he renders the flow of words is more like staging a drama of words in action.

The audio-visual dimension

Designed as a multi-media event VOXLabYrinth unfolds at the intersection/convergence of vocal life-performance and an assembly of video-projections. A core aspect of the project’s objective is to create an open space where two radically different media – the human voice and the digital world of video projection - and two modes of production – conceptualization/composition and improvisation – meet. In performance space is primarily created by means of vocal sound textures. Mobile projection screens used as visual points of orientation intersect with the fleeting vocal sound scapes. The dimension of acoustics is enhanced, counteracted or but extended by the images of multiple video projections which in turn appear as rhythmical mirror images and vexing reflections of the sound. “Darkness and visible image” correspond as counterpoint to “silence and voiced sound”. The audio-visual impact on the senses triggers unexpected ways of imagination opening up new spheres of experience.

Process of performance creation and artistic aimss

Artistic strategies and guiding principles that set up the outline of the final stage performance are developed according to an open process of creation:
1) Guided by the idea of the labyrinth the ensemble implements improvisation as a means to research and to uncover spheres of the human voice.
2) A series of acoustic and visual experiments lead to new ways to apply and to perceive the capacity of the human voice in terms of spacial arrangements, textures and rhythms. Conceptually I as the artistic director of VOXlabYrinth aim to consciously develop various forms of improvisation, to explore space as an important key-idea of labyrinth as the leading motive of the project and to work on the artistic principle of visual as well as rhythmical fragmentation.

Franziska Baumann