Researching the MIDIfied pipe organ in Guérande

Jocelyn Robert

Research / Publication

In the spring of 2022, Jocelyn Robert had been in residency with Plein Jeu in Guérande (France), at times accompanied by Christophe Gauche (organist in Guérande) and Christophe Havard (composer and sound artist).

Jocelyn Robert carried out research on the MIDIfied organ in the Collégiale Saint-Aubin and its relationship to the soundscape of the town and peninsula, creating works in which the sounds of the instrument combine with those of its near or distant environment. The residency included discussions, site-specific performances, and concerts: opportunities for the artist to share his sound and musical research with the inhabitants.

Constellation Guérande — Christophe Havard and Jocelyn Robert

The work takes into account certain characteristics of the church itself: due to its location in the centre of a fortified town, its surroundings—composed of pedestrian lanes, medieval buildings, and cobblestone squares—already offer a large diversity of acoustic spaces, which, on certain days of the week, welcome large crowds of people and vendors. Through the thin stained glass windows on the east side, one can easily distinguish the sound of the organ, even when it’s being played in its most delicate registers. At the opposite end, when the large doors of the church are open, the most powerful registers can be heard across the square, up to a distance of thirty metres.

Our work will take into account the acoustics and porosity of the spaces as well as the sounds of the town, which change constantly depending on the time of day.

Depending on the sweet spot and time of the score, the music being played on the organ will stand out from the soundscape or become mere suggestion.

To appreciate the interaction between the instrument, the architecture, and the urban sounds, audiences will be invited to experience the work by walking carefully timed and pre-determined paths, starting outside and going inside, being sometimes far from the church and sometimes close to the pipe organ.

L’orgue à lumière — Jocelyn Robert, project started with Nataliya Petkova

The project translates fluctuations of light passing through the leaves of a tree into the main movement of a sound work for the pipe organ. A few dozen photocells will be placed in a tree’s shadow, and the light that will manage to pass through the leaves will play the instrument. The project is in an experimental phase at four levels: in terms of the sensitivity of the photocells, the wireless transfer of data between the photocell system and the organ, the type of code needed so that the visual system is translated by the sound medium, and the resulting composition.

L’océante — Jocelyn Robert

This residency will focus on a series of works that are already partly composed. During the residency, Robert will finish writing the works and finalize the right register for playing them.


A co-production of Avatar and Athénor Scène Nomade — CNCM.

Avatar thanks its partners for their financial support: the Canada Council for the Arts, the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, and the City of Québec. This project was also made possible thanks to the support of the Entente de développement culturel reached between the Government of Québec and City of Québec.

Jocelyn Robert

Jocelyn Robert is a multidisciplinary artist from Quebec. He works in music, audio art, computer art, performance, installation, video and writing. His visual and video work has been shown internationally and his sound works have been published on more than 30 cds. His texts can be found in books at Le Quartanier (Montréal), Ohm Éditions (Québec), Errant Bodies Press (Los Angeles), Semiotext(e) (New York), and in a number of art catalogues. Many texts have been written on his art, and two solo catalogues have been published, one by Galerie de l’UQAM and one by Centre Vox. He is involved in art activism at different levels. Amongst other undertakings, he founded that audio and electronic arts centre Avatar and took part in the foundation of the Meduse cooperative. He taught at Mills College (Oakland, California), at Université du Québec à Montréal and at École d’arts visuels et médiatiques de l’Université Laval, where he is director since 2012.

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