Violencia Virtual:
Oda a Abu Ghraib
Emilio Mendoza

Concierto-Instalación, 2004  14'
para guitarra amplificada, metrónomo, voz femenina, niño con video-juego, monitor de TV, ambiente casero

Pertenece a la serie de instalaciones "Aprisionamientos"

Video del Estreno:
XIV Festival Latinoamericano de Música, 22/05/2006, Sala Corp Group, La Castellana, Caracas
Lennys Astorga: voz
Benjamín Mendoza: videojuego
Emilio Mendoza: guitarra con metrónomo & laptop


Virtual Violence: Ode to Abu Ghraib is a live concert-installation and a music concert at the same time, which expresses in a theatretical way, as well as through music symbology, the state of violence fed to us by the media and the imprisonment of failed communication and isolation in our global  incommunicated existence. It wants to convey that the violence present in our society and the use of it in different forms is now being insistently brought into the society’s smaller social cell, the family in its living room. This violence is virtual and focused to us through the screens of our present life.

The composition presents and criticizes the three most common ways of media violence: comics and videogames, films and the news. However, it concentrates on the war on terror that is being waged since 9/11 through the media, where each individual viewer is the potential victim and recipient of the terror originating from each side, where war is being waged thrugh the media by achieve=ing a victory the side that gets more coverage, in seconds (TV, radio), millimeters. (printed press) or clicks (internet). Abu Ghraib was a media battle which hit very hard the USA, the same way but in a smaller scale, as the 9/11 did. Each side wins or looses depending on the hierarchy achieved in the news ranking and exposure time, lessened by repetitious fatigue, theme displacement or oblivion. If no news appear, then the war is virtually over since there will be no attention paid to it by anyone. The viewer is the ultmimate victim absorbing the rage from each side, the violence and the terror to which he/she has been exposed to.

The composition represents on stage the common habitat of our urban century: the evening of every day, the homely family around the TV set, father musician practicing his scales, the mother watching TV and the child isolated in his world of carnage in videogames. The television, teh eye to the global world, shows three customary events of media aggression: TV comics with heavy beatings, a “normal” film of violence with death and brutality, and the daily news of war and hostility, developing towards an emphasis on Iraq and the prison Abu Ghraib. The soprano, the symbol of the woman, bearer and creator of life, initiates a  prayer in fast tempo (in any language), next to the sound of the metronome and the guitar scales, the videogame and the TV, her chant for peace.

The work is constituted of a live accumulation of “chained” sound sources,  a symbolic music prison and hence its name, in the form of three performances of fast diatonic scales for the guitar in increasing tempi locked in time to the metronome to which the woman orator tries to break up rhythmically through her simultaneous fast-chanting or rapping. The whole performance is tied to the running TV video in three stages (showing the comics, the film and the news), and the young boy, although isolated from the rest, is tied to the videogame from the beginning until the end, until the mother succeeds in untying the “tempo prison”. The interaction between the guitar and the soprano is musically challenging because the player cannot fall out of the metronome, when the singer is trying to pull him/her out of time or sometimes coinciding. The resultant mixed-sound environment of scales, metronome, chanting, TV and videogames, is also a sound-object of our customary acoustic surroundings, where we usually find a TV monitor anywhere we go. The performance should start exactly seven minutes before the hour so that the third part, the news, should actually come from CNN on its 8:00, 9:00 or 10:00pm news broadcast. Once the “real” news starts, it will be changed to the video news recorded where the Abu Ghraib photos appear. This means in terms of time that the whole concert, public and musicians are tied to the world media clock, which contributes to the notion of our time-imprisonment.

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Additional information
The equipment necessary  for the concert is:

•    TV-monitor hooked to a videogame machine with a violent game
•    Video-beam or large monitor display hooked to the laptop which has the video of the three parts.
•    Sound amplification and mixer for the soprano microphone (optional) and for the sound output from videogame monitor, laptop through which the guitar, metronome and the videos of the comics, film and news come out. Sound balance must be rehearsed before the concert takes place.
•    A chair, a table for the TV, a table for the laptop, a lamp or plant or any symbol for “home living-room” ambience.

•    The guitar scales to be played are all written by the author with details of tempo, fingering and right-hand technique.
•    It must be announced before the concert or written in the program notes for the concert, that unpleasant photographs of the Abu Ghraib case will be shown, but that these are the same photographs that appeared in the public news.