Play and Performance: The Impact of Digital Gameplay on Musicianship

For five years, I led an artistic research project in which a small team and I explored the aesthetic potential of elements from computer games in experimental audiovisual composition ( 
In addition to questions about composition, the focus was on investigating the effect of game mechanics on performance. We explored questions such as: How does the performer’s approach to the question of ‘interpretation’ change when playing in a dynamic system with – at least partly – indeterminate outcomes? Under what circumstances do game-related and music-related play contradict each other, and when do they instead lead to unique forms of action and interaction that offer distinct musical qualities? Do game elements open up possibilities for creating new forms of chamber music in the sense that musicians play and respond according to the actions of fellow players? 
In my talk, I will present some of the results to which such questions and our artistic explorations have led us.

Marko Ciciliani (1970, Zagreb) is a composer, intermedia artist, performer, and artistic researcher based in Austria. The focus of Ciciliani’s artistic work lies in the composition of performative electronic music, mostly in audiovisual contexts. Interactive video, light design, and laser graphics often play an integral part in his compositions, as well as ergodic or transmedia forms of storytelling. In 2020 the German magazine Neue Zeitschrift für Musik referred to him as ‘one of today’s most interesting composers in the field of electronic music and multimedia’.

Ciciliani’s work has been performed in more than forty-five countries across Eurasia, Oceania, and the Americas. It is available on five full-length CDs and three multimedia books featuring transdisciplinary and audiovisual works. In the field of artistic research, Ciciliani has published several papers and book chapters, mainly in the field of audiovisual composition, a practice that he termed ‘Music in the Expanded Field’; in his widely discussed lecture of the same title, he gave in Darmstadt in 2016.

Ciciliani is a Professor of Computer Music Composition and Sound Design at the Institute for Electronic Music and Acoustics (IEM) of the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz. In 2014, 2016, and 2018 he taught as a tutor at the Summer Courses for Contemporary Music in Darmstadt. He was also artistic director of the interdisciplinary workshop for young creators ChampdAction.LAbO, as well as the festival TimeCanvas@DeSingel in Antwerp.

In 2015 Ciciliani received funding for an artistic research project entitled ‘GAPPP – Gamified Audiovisual Performance and Performance Practice’. It is funded as part of the PEEK program of the Austrian Science Fund and ran from 2016 to 2021.