For well over a decade, Erkki Veltheim has been involved in some of the most critical contemporary sound works performed in Australia. Celebrated widely for his performance approach, that orbits outward from his extended violin practice, Erkki Veltheim’s recorded works are grossly under represented. With Ganzfeld Experiment, his first published solo recording, he lays out his methodology for creating music that is intense and provocatively extrasensory.
Veltheim’s Ganzfeld experiment is an audiovisual work for electric violin, video and signal processing. In parapsychology, a Ganzfeld experiment is a test for evidence of extrasensory perception, particularly telepathic communication. It is based on the Ganzfeld (German for 'total field') effect, which describes the tendency of our central nervous system to invent patterns in random, uniform sensory data, for instance hearing voices in white noise or seeing images in visual static.
In a Ganzfeld experiment, a test subject is exposed to such a continuous uniform stimulus field, while another person attempts to send them telepathic messages. Using this premise as a starting point, this edition replicates elements of this experiment in order to explore synaesthetic hallucinations. The electric violin’s signal acts as a tool for gradually manipulating and transforming static noise in both the audio and visual domains.
Drawing influence from esoteric and occult numerology, Tony Conrad and Brion Gysin’s experiments with flicker and the Dreamachine, and Terry Riley's ‘Persian Surgery Dervishes’, which fuses composition with improvisation in a long-form ecstatic and trance-like work, Ganzfeld Experiment resides in a tradition of transcendental minimalism.
“I’m always interested in how structure interacts with randomness, form with formlessness, and ways in which sound can be used to transform a listener’s perception and sense of time and place. I’m also often looking for ways to expand my musical ideas to other media, through ritual, installation, or visual elements. An important motive in my work is the idea that through sound (and these other elements) we can enter different realms of experience: the mystical, the magical, the shamanistic. In ‘Ganzfeld experiment’, as in many other of my works, I’m particularly searching for an ecstatic experience, one that transports the audience outside of their rational, everyday selves. The constantly panning white noise and visual flicker are intended to induce a hallucinatory state where one’s sense of time and perception are disoriented, becoming prone to suggestibility by the repetitive but subtly morphing sounds and images.”