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Robert Cahen

Chopinpinano. Hommage à Chopin, 2010, is an installation commissioned for Robert Cahen’s individual exhibition at the WRO Art Center. The exhibition addressing relations between classical music and the 20th century avant—garde traditions in visual art was prepared in honour of 180th anniversary of Frederic Chopin’s concert played in Wrocław in November 1830. In works by avant—garde artists in the 1950s, `60s and `70s, the grand piano became a standard prop serving the needs of new—art proclamations.  More  

That noble instrument — Chopin’s instrument — and symbol of high culture has been prepared in various ways by artists like John Cage, Joseph Beuys and Nam June Paik to appear in concerts, performances and happenings, demonstrating a rebellious new approach to music and to artistic events, explorations and experiments.

In his installation Cahen alludes both to Chopin’s continuosly fresh and inspiring work and to the tradition of this already classic rebellion.

A historical 19th—century grand piano, made by the Małecki Piano Factory in Warsaw, is suspended from the ceiling in the upside—down position. Video image from the projector, attached to the piano, shows piano keys and hands of young musicians playing Chopin’s music. The keys of real piano move themselves in synchronization with sound and video projected on the floor beneath, as if they were touched by the players. Each key was manually equipped with mechanical and electronic devices and controlled with software by Paweł Janicki, who designed the interaction strategy for Chopinpinano.

The pianists who took part in the recording were students of Professor Waldemar Wachalowicz at the Conservatoire de Musique, Danse et Art Dramatique in Mulhouse. They performed following works:

Alexandre Cahen (age 16),

Grande Valse Brillante in E-flat Major, opus 18

Joseph Muré (age 17),

Polonaise in A-flat Major, opus 53

Florence Bansept (age 17),

Ballade No. 3 in A-flat Major, opus 47

Sara Ghanbary (age 17),

Nocturne in E-flat Major, opus 9

Video: Robert Cahen

Editing: Thierry Maury – Pixea Studio

Sound, mastering: Nicolas Risser

Interaction design, software, preparation

of the piano: Paweł Janicki

Collaboration: Jacek Kozłowski

The work was produced with the support of Ministry for Culture and National Heritage, wthin the Frederic Chopin Anniversary Year 2010.

Place and date of documentation: Chopinpiano Apparitions/Disparitions exhibition, WRO Art Center, Wrocław, 8.11.2010 – 19.01.2011


artist's bio
Robert Cahen (FR), b. 1945 r., studied with Pierre Schaeffer at Conservatoire National Superieur Musique de Paris. Internationally renowned audiovisual artist. His experiences as composer of Musique Concrete, Cahen applied in video by treating time as a multilayered variable structure. In his works, he uses narrative elements and electronic signal manipulations to often employ the motif of journey, as well as the documentary aesthetics to create highly subjective, metaphoric images.
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