Travels in Hyperreality


Composer's Note

Travels in Hyperreality draws inspiration from an eponymous essay by novelist and semiotician Umberto Eco (1932-2016): there exists a phenomenon in which the boundary between reality and its representation is invisibly blurred, such that it becomes difficult or impossible to distinguish between the two. This state—in which the representation of reality becomes more real than reality itself—Eco called hyperreality, and it penetrates countless facets of our daily lives.

The work you are listening to today explores hyperreality poetically through various manifestations of illusory sound—sounds that sound like a thing they are not—creating “false” hyperrealities that cyclically burgeon, effloresce, and decay across three continuous movements.

The first of these, Holo, is primarily concerned with creating a kind of illusory dimensionality, much like how a hologram encodes three-dimensional information on two-dimensional space. Here, a multidimensional sound-object is transformed in higher virtual dimensions and then projected down through the ensemble and into the hall.

By contrast, impulse//response, the second movement, investigates psychoacoustic phenomena surrounding how sound influences our perception of space in the physical world. Throughout the movement, the listener is immersed in an illusory space, born of false echoes and manufacted reverb.

VHS – [Iridescent Chaconne], the third movement, echolalically closes the work. As the meditative harmonies progress and fold onto themselves, they begin to lose meaning and the false veneer of hyperreality begins to peel away. Like an ancient cassette tape, the embedded reality degrades entirely into dust, allowing the listener to hear it for what it truly is.


Travels in Hyperreality Score