MADE BY is the Institute’s series of interviews that allows artists, designers, thinkers and doers to unfold their creative process in their own words.
Composer Miika Hyytiäinen’s piece Aikainen is a 3D opera and belongs to the field of experimental musical theatre. It premiered in Berlin in April 2014 and will be performed in London at the Grimeborn Festival on 1, 2, and 3 September. The Finnish artist Annika Furman will also perform in the opera.
The opera Aikainen (‘early’/’about time’) presents seven perspectives on time. I’ve used multiple new techniques from 3D video to 3D printed instruments and three-dimensional graphic notation, which make for a hectic performance. Still, the opera is playful and fun and I believe every audience member will gain something from it both emotionally and intellectually.
The roots of Aikainen are in my childhood. I would listen to a certain childrens’ story tape which became a kind of a mantra for me. This mantra helped me concentrate so well that time and sounds seemed to slow down and eventually stop. Those games were the reason why I began to research time and compose in general. I believe all artists are interested in time. In my opinion everything that organizes and shapes time is composition. Time is such an abstract theme that it will never be depleted. I could create several works on the same theme just by using the ideas that didn’t end up in Aikainen.
Aikainen is experimental technically and my background as a mathematician is clearly visible in its background work and shape. I have for example used prime numbers as an important building block of the piece and its shape can be seen as a fractal. On the other hand, it strongly represents experimental musical theatre in which play, experiments, insecurity and different free borrowing have an important part. The entire team from the classical opera singers performing on video to the director, video artist, instrumentalists, and vocal artists has participated in creating the final soundscape. On the other hand, I myself have also had an influence on several of the work’s sections.
I have used pendulum motion in the opera in the music and the movement. I wanted to find new ways of depicting pendulum motion and experiment with the three-dimensional shapes it creates. Creating instruments that produce sound out of these shapes is possible using 3D printers. In a way the tone quality of an instrument is a product of its shape, in this case its pendulum motion. I would describe the music of the printed ocarinas used in this piece as atmospheric.
The best feedback is the audience living the experience laughing and crying. I also hope that the work will trigger thought processes, even later on. A good work of art can intrigue the mind for years. For me art is always communication, but what is being communicated depends on the person. That’s why it’s important that there are humorous as well as impressive and beautiful parts in the piece.
The conceptualism that Aikainen represents might be better known in Berlin than in London. The audience in London will undoubtedly be used to many things, but I believe Aikainen will offer a new perspective on opera. London will also see the debut of Jaakko Nousiainen’s direction. In October the Glyndebourne Opera House and the University of Sussex will together perform the mobile opera “You are here”, created by myself and Jaakko Nousiainen.