Music’s Incited ‘Augmented Reality’ in Xenakis’s Polytopes, Scriabin’s Mysterium and Polymediality

Published: 05. June 2023
Category: Arts
Author: Marios Joannou ELIA

Music’s incited ‘augmented reality’ in Xenakis’s Polytopes, Scriabin’s Mysterium and Polymediality

The  Polytopes  by  Iannis  Xenakis  is  the  collective name  of  a  series  of  spatial multimedia installations and musical land art pieces realised on the second half of the 20thcentury, which take part in the tradition that links Richard Wagner’s conception of the total art work, the Gesamtkunstwerk. In the first decade of the same century, Alexander Scriabin envisioned his interpretation of a total art work, the utopian multimedia and multisensorial symphony  Mysterium.  By  providing  a  brief  description  of  the  Concept  of  Polymediality (2003)  and  representative  compositions  associated  with  its  two  dimensions,  this  paper forms the hypothesis that all aforementioned works come under the contemporary notion of ‘augmented reality’. This is understood within a hybrid and polyaesthetic context, in which the composer defines a spatial unity of all media elements interacting with the music.Key-words:polytope, polymediality, music and multimedia, Gesamtkunstwerk, aesthetics of contemporary music 1.Xenakis’s Polytopes and Scriabin’s MysteriumAccording  to  Iannis  Xenakis’s  own  words in  an  interview  on  the  occasion  of  the production of the Polytope de Mycènes in 1978: a poly-tope is a superimposition of spaces  (cf.  Solomos  2015);  the  coexistence  of  many places,  the  convergence  of several topoi. The word “place”, used in its general sense, denotes the abstract and the physical: a geographical place, a place of art such as music, of light, a place of history,  a  place  of  poetry,  etc.  Conceived  between 1967  and  1984,  Xenakis’s Polytopes are the collective name of a series of spatial multimedia installations that mix  together  sound,  light,  colours,  movement  and  architecture  during  live performances. They are tied to a concrete architecture (Polytope de Montréal, de Cluny and de Beaubourg) or to an archaeological site (Polytope de Persépolis and 1  European Academy of Sciences and Arts, 

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