Permutations is an interactive artwork and a synthesis of architecture and music. It invites listeners to explore a new work of music through playing the acoustic of six adjustable chambers. Audience members can treat the space itself as a musical instrument: the listener becomes the performer.
In Permutations, a new musical work by Freya Waley-Cohen – performed by Tamsin Waley-Cohen – and an architectural installation by Finbarr O’Dempsey and Andrew Skilina come together to create a touring performance artwork and an exploration of the social capacity of architecture and music. The music and its architectural setting were developed simultaneously and in close collaboration, each acting as a muse for the other.
The composition is written for six equal recorded violin parts. Te architectural intervention is a set of six movable chambers that spatially distribute the recorded violin parts in Permutations. Each chamber has an adaptable lining of doors, giving the audience member the chance to adjust and transform the levels of acoustic enclosure. A central space is shared by these chambers, in which all of the violin parts experience as equally balanced and combined as a complete ensemble.
In navigating the performance, the listener is presented with the opportunity to experience the solo, duet or full ensemble in counterpoint through interaction with the chambers, listeners are able to explore the different textures and counterpoints that emerge within the music. Each audience member can create their own piece by the path they choose to take through the space.
The piece is designed to be structurally autonomous, and is constructed out of a robust system of prefabricated parts that it can be erect and dismantled with ease in order to enable it to tour multiple venues.
“Open Space has given me the chance to make a dream project come to life. It has given our team the time to explore and develop our ideas deeply and thoroughly, as well as the support we needed to make it a reality. Despite the large scale and totally improbable nature of the project, the Open Space team thought it was an exciting experiment and gave us the chance – I don’t think Permutations would have been possible in any other situation. It has also given me opportunities I wouldn’t have foreseen when we started out, including meeting inspiring people along the way and having my music performed in the Aldeburgh Festival.”
– Freya Waley-Cohen