Circus News

CirK2.2: Breakthrough Research Melds Circus with Sound

CirK 2.2 is a sound/movement based project I’ve been working on for almost 5 years now. The origin of this project came from a desire to communicate my emotions and my creativity through circus arts but with a particular desire to compose, by myself, the music and sound environment with the only instrument I have, my body. This project was made possible thanks to the financial support of the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec.

The intention with this project is to question the circus arts and new technologies, using the movements, acrobatics of the artist and circus props to generate a sound atmosphere.

With the technologies, each movement is translated into a specific sound wave, adjusting to the individual characteristics of each artist and circus discipline. Just like a dancer’s brain generates movement in response to various incoming information such as music, I am using the technologies to reproduce auditory-motor integration but in the opposite direction, so that movements and proprioception will represent the incoming information that will generate sounds, timbres and music.

The intention behind this project is to create a universe where the artist and the circus discipline are an integral part of musical creation. In service of the music, the artist is both the initiator and the creator, through his movements. This innovative approach offers a different treatment of the use of music in the circus arts.

Man wearing a mask juggles clubs while man at a table is surrounded by computer equipment
Santiago Rivera discovering for the first time the research and having fun with the juggling club. Studio provided by The 7 Fingers

This project establishes a connection, a direct relationship between movement, acrobatics and sounds. With wireless sensors, we are using powerful softwares and algorithms that receive and analyse the sensor’s data which goes through different processes that turn them into sounds. Thanks to a real-time “Feedback”, the music and the artist interact with each other. CirK 2.2 aims to enhance all of the artist’s movements so that each of them can be perceptible by “making” different circus bodily dynamics sing, to the most subtle movements, by giving them “a voice” through sound.

The movements but also the circus accessories “express themselves” using high-performance and interactive technology. With this technology, circus and music are one.

As far as the artist’s experience, Bobby Cookson, Cyr wheel artist who was part of the research, expressed his experience in these words : “My brain shifted from being a circus artist to a musician. In addition to creating with the techniques of Cyr wheel, I found myself just trying to make sounds that flowed from one to another. As far as the feeling while performing goes, it became like playing with a live orchestra, always at your own tempo.”

The idea is to establish a framework where the audience can have a whole new experience and approach to circus. In addition to observing it, they will also be able to hear it, feel it and interact in a completely new way where music is viewed and movement is listened to.

This project creates artistic proposals that go beyond simple circus acts and offers an experience in its own right, bordering on a concert and a circus show with a multi-sensory dimension at the heart of the artistic intention.

Man on Cyr Wheel and computer equipment in the foreground
Bobby Cookson on the Cyr wheel and Peter Van Haaften tuning and making sure the sound follows the movement perfectly. Studio provided by The 7 Fingers

Ruth Wikler, as a spectator, shares her feelings with us “As department head for Circus Arts Programming at TOHU, I have the distinct privilege (even, and especially, during the pandemic!) of experiencing Montréal’s contemporary circus artists and companies’ freshest ideas as they emerge from our creation residencies. No exception is Naël Jammal, a circus artist whose curiosity and imagination are propelling him in fascinating directions. Naël ’s engineering experiment, is not simply a nifty trick. Because Naël ’s sensors can attach to just about any type of sound, this mechanism opens up a new scenic language. Watching his experiment, I thought of the dance world’s Isadora, which was also created by artists, for artists—both projects use technology to expand the realm of what is possible.” 

Now that the research has been done for two circus disciplines, there are now two axes of approaches for the next steps. One is to emphasize the work done with a more artistic approach, by working on different sounds, textures and effects to suit the needs of creating proper artitic propostions. On the other end, the research needs to be continued on other circus disciplines and see the potential of this research on them. I’m currently looking for differentspotential partners such as creation residency, funding, collaborators  etc… to be able to continue this journey. 

I would be more than happy to discuss with you, if you are curious to know more about  this project. You can contact me by visiting my profile here.

 
Project director: Naël JAMMAL 

Artists:
Bobby Cookson - Cyr Wheel 
Santiago Riviera - Juggling 
Naël JAMMAL -Juggling 

Research Team
 
Sonic Interaction Design and Gestural Sound Technology: Navid Navab
Sound Design: Navid Navab + Peter van Haaften
Technical Design: Navid Navab + Evan Montpellier
Programming and software: Navid Navab + Evan Montpellier + Peter van Haaften
Fabrication, 3d models, 3d prints, and digital fabrication: Garnet Willis
Electronics and gesture acquisition: Navid Navab

Design and prototyping designed in collaboration with: Center for Circus Arts Research, Innovation and Knowledge Transfer (CRITAC) - National Circus School 
With the contribution of: The 7 Fingers
 
Feature photo: Bobby Cookson on the Cyr wheel and Peter Van Haaften tuning and making sure the sound follows the movement perfectly.
Naël Jammal
Naël Jammal started circus at the age of 11. He trained at l'Ecole Nationale de Cirque de Châtellerault (France) from 2001 to 2004 and at the world renowned National Circus School of Montreal from 2004 to 2008. After seven years of intense training in circus art, his artistic qualities allow him to create a touching, poetic universe at the frontier of dance, theater and contemporary circus. He was soon noticed by the Montreal company The 7 Fingers for which he performed for many years in shows like Traces, La Vie, PSY and the Tony Awards® winning Pippin the Musicalon Broadway. During his career, Naël had the opportunity to work for the world-leading circus companies such as Cirque Éloize, Cirque du Soleil and most recently for the French company Cirque Le Roux. As an active artist and creator, in parallel to performing on stage, he began a research project in 2016 integrating new technology in Circus Arts, called CirK 2.2. This research, which was made possible thanks to the financial support of the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, is a sound/movement-based project with the intention of creating a universe where the artist and the circus discipline are an integral part of the musical creation.

Naël Jammal

Naël Jammal started circus at the age of 11. He trained at l'Ecole Nationale de Cirque de Châtellerault (France) from 2001 to 2004 and at the world renowned National Circus School of Montreal from 2004 to 2008. After seven years of intense training in circus art, his artistic qualities allow him to create a touching, poetic universe at the frontier of dance, theater and contemporary circus. He was soon noticed by the Montreal company The 7 Fingers for which he performed for many years in shows like Traces, La Vie, PSY and the Tony Awards® winning Pippin the Musicalon Broadway. During his career, Naël had the opportunity to work for the world-leading circus companies such as Cirque Éloize, Cirque du Soleil and most recently for the French company Cirque Le Roux. As an active artist and creator, in parallel to performing on stage, he began a research project in 2016 integrating new technology in Circus Arts, called CirK 2.2. This research, which was made possible thanks to the financial support of the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, is a sound/movement-based project with the intention of creating a universe where the artist and the circus discipline are an integral part of the musical creation.