Musical object theatre, feat. Johannes Bergmark from piak. Music, object menagerie & action by Johannes Bergmark. Visual concept, video capture, editing & production by piak, 2013. Recorded at Fylkingen, Stockholm, July 31st, 2012.

I find that the hidden sound potentials of discarded objects, toys and tools, found materials and weird flea market finds are just as fascinating as the surprising visual (and for me, tactile) appearance they have when they end up on the same little stage. In lucky cases it can be a poetic effect on many levels. However, in concerts (and in many concert documentations) it can be difficult for the audience to get the visual aspect very much, so I asked my friend piak, since I admire the high quality of his film work, to make a special little film with me focusing on the details. To my delight he accepted. piak's curious eye wanders its own way and it's wonderful to see that the music becomes at times a soundtrack to the other drama of the viewer.

The Platforms.

The history of an evolutionary meta-instrument in pictures and sound. Reverse chronological order. Introduction.

The Platforms were constructed in the summer of 2008. The reasons were:

1) to develop the way of playing that emerged after many years of having the Whalefish as major instrument. From having been thought out as an instrument, increasingly it became the platform for objects that its sound board amplifies. To make an instrument that has this as its main function then seemed necessary.
2) To make it into different parts amplified separately, in order to have the possibility to diffuse the sounds in different directions,
3) to be able to play together with another musician, or possibly more people (there are four platforms at present)
4) to be able to connect separate sources of amplified object sounds to electronic treatment, especially Micro Modulars. This last part is still to be developed, however when I play with other electronic musicians, the combination of amplified objects and electronics that I like works very satisfyingly.

The materials for the soundboards of the Platforms are small doors for cupboards, found at a big store for building materials. To keep them free to vibrate and at the same time stable for acoustic reflection and playing with stability, they're clamped to the table with something between the table and the instruments to keep them slightly above the table surface.

An intermediate version between the Whalefish and the Platforms is the Stranded Whale, left unfinished and only used in one concert.

During the years I've used this system, it has developed very much from its original intentions:

1) The Platforms first seemed to be a hybrid between instrument and an extended contact microphone, able to become a new instrument every time I use it, with attaching objects through screws and rubber bands (which are also used as sound sources of course). But I realized that for me as a musician, it was necessary to have a certain level of conservatism of speed and structure during the development in order to balance between control and safety on one hand, and surprise and chance on the other, so the two Platforms I was using actually became two specific instruments with a slow evolutionary development from concert to concert. You can track some of the changes in the pictures on this page.
2) On my trip to southeast Asia 2012, which combined my work as a piano technician (on a cruise) with the one as a musician (in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore), I had to limit my luggage and decided to bring only one Platform along. It turned out to work perfectly well. Later, I started visiting Berlin so often that I decided to park one Platform in Stockholm and one in Berlin, to make the travels lighter and cheaper (not having to pay for checked-in luggage).
3) I almost never actually played the Platform with others, except in a few instances when I have shared it with other musicians: Kristian Bredin and David Bremer. The two extra Platforms haven't been used yet, they are still waiting.
4) I skipped the idea of plugging in the sounds of amplified objects into electronics – I only made one piece with that idea: using a drone from the Micro Moog, see Beware of Aesthetic Ethics below. I realized that the sounds of amplified objects are so rich and varied that they are perfectly fine as they are. I like to combine them with electronics (and voice, and classical acoustic instruments), however, but since there are so many good musicians specializing in electronics more than I am, it's more interesting to play together with them than doing it myself, although I still like to use the Micro Moog very much.
5) It has often been a problem for me to call myself a “musician” with complete honesty. One is the economic and professional implications of that term, another is the limitation of expressive forms. The work with the Platforms has emphasized this more clearly, and in 2012 I started applying the term “Surrealist Musical Object Theatre” as the most correct descriptive term for it.

Platforms by Johannes Bergmark at Tou Scene, 2012. Photo © by Johannes Bergmark.

Platforms played by Johannes Bergmark at Tou Scene, 2012. Photo © by Karina W. Gytre.

Platforms played by Johannes Bergmark at Tou Scene, 2012. Photo © by Karina W. Gytre.

Platforms played by Johannes Bergmark at Tou Scene, 2012. Photo © by Karina W. Gytre.

Platforms played by Johannes Bergmark at Tou Scene, 2012. Photo © by Karina W. Gytre.
Setup and a concert at Tou Scene, Stavanger, December 2012. Photos © by Johannes Bergmark (pre-concert) and Karina W. Gytre (concert photos). (Larger available if requested.)

Platforms by Johannes Bergmark setup for Headphones Festival, 2012. Photo © by Johannes Bergmark. Platforms by Johannes Bergmark setup for Headphones Festival, 2012. Photo © by Johannes Bergmark. Platforms by Johannes Bergmark setup for Headphones Festival, 2012. Photo © by Johannes Bergmark. Platforms by Johannes Bergmark setup for Headphones Festival, 2012. Photo © by Johannes Bergmark.
Setup of instruments for online participation from a friend's apartment in Berlin, in Headphones - Hörlursfestival by Lab Gallery, July 2012. Photo © by Johannes Bergmark. (Larger available if requested.)



The above are the results from Deep Wireless “Hug the World Translocal Performance”, telematic jam that was part of New Adventures in Sound Art's Deep Wireless May 2012 Festival; 60 artists on 23 locations in 12 countries, organized and directed by Eldad Tsabary and webcast from the Electroacoustic Classroom at Concordia University's Music Department (Montreal), lasting 6h. Can be heard in the above player or here, with more info and pictures (my entries are in parts 7 and 8).


Solo on minimal travel set version of the Platforms at Straits Records, Singapore, April 2012.
Platforms by Johannes Bergmark at Straits Records, Singapore, 2012. Photo © by Yuzuru Maeda.
Platforms by Johannes Bergmark at Straits Records, Singapore, 2012. Photo © by Yuzuru Maeda.
Closeup of the limited travel set, from the concert at Straits Records, Singapore, April 2012. Photo © by Yuzuru Maeda. (Larger available if requested.)


Interviewed in Kuala Lumpur after a concert at Findars, organized by Herbal International, Kuala Lumpur, malaysia, April, 2012, with excerpts from the concert.


A concert in February, 2012 at Musikgemaket på Slottet, Halmstad, the INES series, + Live streaming, solo and short talk (swedish), followed by a concert of Sten Sandell – David Stackenäs duo.

Platforms by Johannes Bergmark at Core, 2012. Photo © by Heiko Purnhagen.
Platforms by Johannes Bergmark at Core, 2012. Photo © by Heiko Purnhagen.
Setup for participation in Core, a suite by Lars Bröndum at Fylkingen, February 2012. Photos © by Heiko Purnhagen.

Johannes Bergmark and David Bremer playing the Platforms at Fylkingen 2011. Photo © by Per ÅhlundJohannes Bergmark and David Bremer playing the Platforms at Fylkingen 2011. Photo © by Per Åhlund
From RÖSTA PÅ FYLKINGEN - liten festival kring rösten (small voice festival) at Fylkingen, November, 2011, one of the very few cases where I have shared the Platforms, in this case together with David Bremer. Photo © by Girilal Baars and Per Åhlund.

Platforms played by Johannes Bergmark at Colour Out Of Space 2011. Photo © by miss e kawasaki.Platforms played by Johannes Bergmark, from Alison Amazed's blog.
At Colour Out Of Space festival, Old Market, Brighton, November 2011. Photos © by miss e kawasaki and from Alison Amazed's blog. (Larger available if requested.)

Platforms played by Johannes Bergmark in Leeds, 2011. Photo © by Kenneth Cox. Platforms played by Johannes Bergmark in Leeds, 2011. Photo © by Kenneth Cox. Platforms played by Johannes Bergmark in Leeds, 2011. Photo © by Kenneth Cox.
From a concert at The Royal Park, Leeds, arranged by the Leeds Surrealist Group, November 2011. Photos © by Kenneth Cox.

Platforms played by Johannes Bergmark, from the Festival Vindöga 11. Photo © by Daniel Palmberg.

Platforms played by Johannes Bergmark, from the Festival Vindöga 11. Photo © by Christina Wannberg.
From the Festival Vindöga 11, Sandvikens konsthall och Folkbibliotek, November 2011. Photos © by Daniel Palmberg and Christina Wannberg from Sandvikens konsthall's Flickr set. (Larger available if requested.)


A live recording October 2011.

Detail of platforms by Johannes Bergmark, from a concert at Fylkingen, October 2011. Photo by Jonas Persson.
From a concert at Fylkingen, October 2011. Concert review and photos © by Jonas Persson.

Platform played by Johannes Bergmark. Ljudletning/noise search at no budget performance, a stockholm odyssey 2011. Photo © by Denis Romanovski. Platform played by Johannes Bergmark. Ljudletning/noise search at no budget performance, a stockholm odyssey 2011. Photo © by Denis Romanovski. Platform played by Johannes Bergmark. Ljudletning/noise search at no budget performance, a stockholm odyssey 2011. Photo © by Denis Romanovski. Platform played by Johannes Bergmark. Ljudletning/noise search at no budget performance, a stockholm odyssey 2011. Photo © by Denis Romanovski. Platform played by Johannes Bergmark. Ljudletning/noise search at no budget performance, a stockholm odyssey 2011. Photo © by Denis Romanovski.
"Ljudletning/Noise search" at No Budget Performance, a Stockholm Odyssey, part of Parabola Artfilmfest, Tensta centrum + foyer Tensta Träff 2011. “Will the people of Tensta give me something to play on? Will I find in the streets? Arriving empty-handed, preparing for a concert with unknown objects in just a couple of hours to create a piece dedicated to the inventiveness of Tensta, the place and the people.” Photos © by Denis Romanovski. (Larger available if requested.)


For this cd, released 2010, I was invited to contribute with a one minute piece. I recorded it at EMS and play a Platform (a single one) with objects. I made lots of versions to choose from. This is one that didn't get onto the cd. No overdubs, no cuts, no treatments except slight compression.

Johannes Bergmark setup for Hej Då Coma, Växjö 2010. Photo © by Hans Parment.

Johannes Bergmark setup for Hej Då Coma, Växjö 2010. Photo © by Hans Parment.
Bergmark at Hej då COMA!, solo in protest festival at Växjö Konsthall in support of the closed-down COMA. 2010. Photos © by Hans Parment. (Larger available if requested.)


In this downloadable/streamable celebration album of suRRism Phonoethics: Peak the Source - 'Volume 1-3' / sPE_0100, I have this piece called Beware of Aesthetic Ethics with a Micro Moog drone which is influenced by sounds from my Platforms of amplified objects, recorded at SAMI studio in Stockholm December 2009. No editing.

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Platforms played by Johannes Bergmark. Before the premiere of Aforism 2 with Quarto Physical Theater at Teater Giljotin. Photo © by Anna af Sillén de Mesquita.
Platforms played by Johannes Bergmark. Before the premiere of Aforism 2 with Quarto Physical Theater at Teater Giljotin. Photo © by Anna af Sillén de Mesquita.
Platforms played by Johannes Bergmark. Before the premiere of Aforism 2 with Quarto Physical Theater at Teater Giljotin. Photo © by Anna af Sillén de Mesquita.
Platforms played by Johannes Bergmark. Before the premiere of Aforism 2 with Quarto Physical Theater at Teater Giljotin. Photo © by Anna af Sillén de Mesquita.
Platforms played by Johannes Bergmark. Before the premiere of Aforism 2 with Quarto Physical Theater at Teater Giljotin. Photo © by Anna af Sillén de Mesquita.
Platforms played by Johannes Bergmark. Before the premiere of Aforism 2 with Quarto Physical Theater at Teater Giljotin. Photo © by Anna af Sillén de Mesquita.
Platforms played by Johannes Bergmark. Before the premiere of Aforism 2 with Quarto Physical Theater at Teater Giljotin. Photo © by Anna af Sillén de Mesquita.
Platforms played by Johannes Bergmark. Before the premiere of Aforism 2 with Quarto Physical Theater at Teater Giljotin. Photo © by Anna af Sillén de Mesquita.
Before the premiere of Aforism 2 with Quarto Physical Theater at Teater Giljotin. Also the Finger Violin, Micro Moog and saws in the pictures. Photos © by Anna af Sillén de Mesquita. (Larger available if requested.)

Platforms played by Johannes Bergmark at Grönt Ljud i Hågelbyparken.
At Grönt Ljud i Hågelbyparken (Ny Musik Stockholm) August 2009. Playing the Brillolin at this moment, and the Finger Violin, Micro Moog and saws in the picture.

Johannes Bergmark and Kristian Bredin playing the Platforms at Norberg Festival 2009. Photo © by Sabine Vogel
First time I shared the Platforms with a colleague: Kristian Bredin, at the Networking Camp concert on Norberg Festival. Photo © by Sabine Vogel.


Playing the Platforms in Turbinhuset at Ljudkonst i Nolhaga Park, Kulturföreningen Tornet, Alingsås, sweden August 30, 2009. Filmed by © Per Åhlund. Also, the Brillolin, Finger Violin, Micro Moog and saws are visible in the picture. Below a still, also by Åhlund. (Larger available if requested.)

Johannes Bergmark playing the Platforms in Turbinhuset at Ljudkonst i Nolhaga Park, Kulturföreningen Tornet, Alingsås, sweden August 30, 2009. Photo by © Per Åhlund.

Johannes Bergmark concert at Tom Duff's 2009
Concert at Tom Duff's, Oakland 2009. Original source here.


Me playing Platforms and Polly Moller (bass flute) play in the California Columbarium at the Chapel of the Chimes, Oakland, CA (21 June, 2009) as part of Garden of Memory 2009, filmed by Gino Robair, who invited us and also, like Tom Duff, participated. Below a detail of the minimal setup, applied to available resources. See part of Gino's score and graves behind. Click on picture for more detail.
Johannes Bergmark setup for Chapel of Chimes

Johannes Bergmark's musical instrument setup June, 2009
Musical instrument setup at Echo Curio (Echo Park, Los Angeles), June 2009

Johannes Bergmark's musical instrument setup January, 2009
Musical instrument setup, Fylkingen, January 2009


Excerpt from a concert in Apart Festival by Platform4 in Aalborg, denmark 2008.

[Platforms by Johannes Bergmark, left]

[Platforms by Johannes Bergmark, right]

[Platforms by Johannes Bergmark, left]
The Platforms in their setting around October 2008, among objects, zither, bass guitar and Micro Modulars.

[Platforms by Johannes Bergmark, left]
The basis of the Platform around October 2008, “naked”.

Game sample no. 1.
Game sample no. 2.
Game sample no. 3.
Here are three short examples of some sounds from this setup, recorded for a surrealist game. [Open in an external window.]


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Updated the 12th of January, 2014.