Hunting a Snark? | Rudi Knoops


exploring uncharted terrain on the New Media map (after Lewis Carroll)

Speculum Musurgica

My new installation Speculum Musurgica had its première a few days ago, August 18 2015, and is exhibited in Antwerp Cathedral till November 22, 2015.

Speculum Musurgica, 2015 - detail

I made this new installation for an exhibition on Petrus Alamire, with as content two seven-voice compositions from Petrus Alamire’s sixteenth century music manuscripts: the motet Memorare Mater Christi of Matthaeus Pipelare, and the anonymous chanson Proch Dolor, an elegy on the death of Emperor Maximilian, performed by Paul Van Nevel and the Huelgas Ensemble.

The heptagonal media installation Speculum Musurgica consists of ingenious mirror structures and sound projections that invite visitors to take a physical walk through the rich polyphonic texture of the music.
In a spatialized setting, each of the seven singers is projected individually, for both sound and vision. In the centre of the installation the multiple auditory layers coalesce into a surround sound. On the other hand a more analytic listening mode is possible by physically approaching one of the performers. For the visual layers I use the technique of cylindrical anamorphosis: a distorted image can be observed in its reconstituted form through reflection in a cylindrical mirror. Observing one single anamorphosis brings the visitor closer to the projected image (and sound) of one individual musical performer and amplifies the analytical listening mode. The multiple use of anamorphosis however forces the visitor to make choices and invites to spatially and physically explore and experience the polyphonic texture of the music. In this multi-layered universe, visitors choose for themselves which individual musical lines to emphasize. They go in search of interesting perspectives – whether auditory, visual or a combination of the two – and create their own individual experience of the polyphonic music performed.

Speculum Musurgica is part of my practice-based PhD in media arts, wherein I focus on the appropriation of cylindrical anamorphosis. Using a media archaeology inspired methodology of short-circuiting past and present, I gauge the affordances of this seemingly obsolete seventeenth century media technology and its significance for how we engage with the techno aesthetics of contemporary society.

To wet your appetite: Belgian television had a newsitem on the exhibition & the Laus Polophoniae music festival – also with Petrus Alamire as theme this year – in which my new installation Speculum Musurgica features prominently:


MULTIPLE voice/vision @ Bach Academie 2014

Concertgebouw Brugge has a tradition of a yearly Bach-festival;  BACH ACADEMIE BRUGGE. My installation MULTIPLE voice/vision is part of this year’s edition, that runs from thursday January 30 till sunday February 2. I decided to limit the audiovisual materials to only the Ricercar a 6 from Johann Sebastian Bach’s  Musikalisches Opfer (BWV 1079), performed by Roel Dieltiens and Ensemble Explorations.

MULTIPLE voice/vision is permanently on display during the mini festival, so don’t miss this opportunity to spatially experience Bach’s Ricercar a 6 between the series of live concerts.

At a previous exhibition of MULTIPLE voice/vision I made a time-lapse recording of people spatially exploring the installation, to give you an idea:

MULTIPLE voice/vision @ Opening AWAKENING WOODS friday 20 / 07 / 2012 from Rudi Knoops on Vimeo.


Text from the BACH ACADEMIE BRUGGE brochure (in Dutch)

MULTIPLE voice/vision

De media-installatie MULTIPLE voice/vision van Rudi Knoops nodigt de bezoeker uit tot een fysieke wandeling doorheen het rijke contrapuntische weefsel van Bachs Musikalisches Opfer, uitgevoerd door Roel Dieltiens en Ensemble Explorations. In een ruimtelijke opstelling wordt elke musicus apart geprojecteerd, beeld en klank samen. De spatialisatie van de verschillende klanklagen maakt naast een meer immersieve luisterervaring vanuit het midden van de installatie, waar de verschillende sonore lagen samensmelten tot een surround klank, ook een meer analystische beluistering, dicht bij één van de musici, mogelijk. Voor het visuele luik gebruikt Rudi Knoops de barokke techniek van anamorfose; een vervormde weergave die met behulp van een spiegel in de juiste proporties kan worden waargenomen. Het observeren van een enkele anamorfose brengt de bezoeker dicht bij de projectie van één individuele musicus en versterkt de analytische luisterervaring. Het meervoudig gebruik van anamorfose dwingt de bezoeker echter keuzes te maken en zet aan tot een ruimtelijke exploratie van de polyfone gelaagdheid van Bachs muziek. In een universum van barokke beeld- en klankstructuren legt de kijker/luisteraar zelf accenten op individuele muzikale lijnen, zoekt naar interessante perspectieven – auditief, visueel, of een combinatie van beide – en creëert zo zijn eigen perspectief op de uitgevoerde muziek.

English text from a previous exhibition of MULTIPLE voice/vision:

In Rudi Knoops’ media-installation MULTIPLE voice/vision ingenious mirror structures and sound projections create a tension that encourages the visitor to explore music spatially. The installation invites visitors to take a physical walk through the rich counterpoint texture of Brackx’ Ricercari and Bach’s Musikalisches Opfer. In this universe of baroque and contemporary sound structures, viewer/listeners choose for themselves which individual musical lines to emphasise. They go in search of interesting perspectives – whether auditory, visual or a combination of the two – to create their own perspective on the music performed.

ISEA2013 – June 2013

I really looked forward to going to the 2013 ISEA edition.  My abstract was accepted, and this event in Sydney June 2013 would probably be another milestone in my current PhD trajectory.
Alas, I had to – last minute – cancel my trip and my participation in the conference.

ISEA2013 logo

Well, anyway the work and time invested in preparing my presentation is not lost and an important step in the evolution of my PhD.

My abstract, accepted for the topic or subtheme Histories and Futures of Electronic Art:

Anamorphosis. A mystery in two acts or a strategy for embodied perception?

Keywords: anamorphosis, embodied perception, phenomenology, media archaeology

In this paper I will discuss how anamorphosis can be deployed as a contemporary strategy for triggering embodied perception. I will illustrate this with examples from my own work. Anamorphosis  is intricately linked to linear perspective, the origins of which can be traced back to the Renaissance. Linear perspective is a construction following a set of rules. It implies a reduction of human vision in two aspects: that we see with a single eye, and that the eye is immobile (Panofsky, 1927) (Friedberg, 2006). Anamorphosis is a corruption of the rules of linear perspective and I will argue that in contrast to linear perspective, the act of viewing an anamorphosis implies a ‘lesser reduction’ of human vision, a ‘lesser reduction’ that is different for the two main categories of anamorphosis: perspectival anamorphosis – where the distorted image can be viewed correctly from a particular vantagepoint – and catoptrical anamorphosis – where the reconstituted image can be seen in the reflection from a suitable mirror. Jurgis Baltrušaitis describes perspectival anamorphosis as “a mystery in two acts” (Baltrušaitis, 1977) where the search for the correct vantagepoint re-inserts mobility into the process of perception. I will argue that cylindrical anamorphosis – as one possible form of catoptrical anamophosis – even goes one step further in restoring human vision to its full capacity, as also binocularity becomes a pre-requisite to fully and in an embodied way experience the three-dimensional illusion of cylindrical anamorphosis. Finally, I will use Mark Hansen’s  phenomenological lens of affective or bodily perception (Hansen, 2004) to analyse the effect of cylindrical anamorphosis’ inherent friction between the digital and the analogue, and how such an injection of the analogue into a contemporary electronic media setting can be a trigger for embodied perception.



August 2018
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I currently have a PhD fellowship at KU Leuven, Associated Faculty of the Arts. This blog documents my PhD research, where I explore the workings of cylindrical anamorphosis in audiovisual media. My practice based arts research shows an evolution towards installation-based works.