29. Niek Hilkmann


Niek Hilkmann is a Rotterdam based artist, musician and researcher with a background in art history, media design and musicology. He has a particular interest in the abstruse technological condition we are living in and the insufficient intellectual methodologies that seek to justify, or explain it. During the presentation of Pushing Scores he will utilize the spatial dimensions of Varia and recontextualize the scores created by the archive. In an ongoing performance unexpected correlations will be produced between the items in the archive and the physical surroundings in which they are represented.


During an evening at the Varia collective, where Valentia Vuksic and Ana Guedes also played a live set and explained their work and backgrounds, Niek Hilkmann, who is part of the Varia team, presented his Universal Notation Ideal (UNI) – a Pay2Print research into the simultaneous production and distribution of standardised graphic scores by means of an automatic machine. The UNI was developed by Niek Hilkmann and Joseph Knierzinger, and it is a machine into which a coin is inserted and from which a printed score is then delivered. It is based on a new notation system designed to help conceptual composers develop and exchange conceptual music in one uniform language. The actual printing of the thermal paper is a stochastic performance in itself. By emphasising this aspect of the machine as a musical entrepreneur earning his own income, the conditions of mechanised labour within the cultural industry, and its associated ethics, are investigated within this project. His presentation was a crossover between a lecture and a demonstration. On the spot, the audience could activate the UNI.


We know Varia as a community based initiative which combines several knowledge bases in the interdisciplinary filed of music, programming, publishing, hacking, social interventions and critical positions, among others. It is based in Rotterdam in the same area that we operate in. We already knew some of its members and thought it would be nice and effective to approach them with a question of doing something with the archive of 'Pushing Scores'. Instead of making a paintwork publication, we wanted it to be more adventurous and in line with the concept of the project. Varia has developed a context and technical environment as a web-based archival publication. The idea is that this material will be embodied by a dynamic, accessible and therefore active archive, which creates new relations, new perspectives and, at its best, new concepts for the production and/or processes of making scores.

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