Catalyst students join forces with TimeLab for their MANIFEST:IO symposium

Our collaboration with TimeLab, the Berlin-based transmedia lab for artistic research, goes back to their first MANIFEST:IO symposium in 2023. We’ve been fostering collaboration and exchanging ideas ever since. 

TimeLab is closely tied to University of Europe’s New Media Design & Media Spaces MA programme, where founder Basel Naouri is a lecturer. Students at both institutions have directly collaborated on or shared projects at “Efflorescence” (the Catalyst end of year party in May 2023), the Catalyst-hosted “TRANSCORPOREAL” in January 2024, and TimeLab’s MANIFEST:IO symposium.

The yearly MANIFEST:IO symposium for new media and electronic art in Berlin is curated and organised by Harshini J. Karunaratne, Basel and TimeLab. At last year’s event, two members of our community – Film Production Certificate Lead Juli Saragosa and Creative Audio Production & Sound Engineering alumnus Alix Wilhelm – delivered presentations of artistic projects. This year’s event featured five performances or screenings by seven of our community members!

Alix, who works closely with our School for Music & Sound, has been helping to facilitate the link between TimeLab and Catalyst. “The connection with University of Europe is exciting. It’s an exchange that brings new avenues of collaboration for our musicians to explore,” he said. “Although some of their students work with sound, it’s a relatively small section of what they offer.”

Representing electronic music in Berlin

Back in January, “TRANSCORPOREAL” exhibited a collection of hybrid performative audio-visual installations made in collaboration between Catalyst musicians and University of Europe artists and designers, curated by Emily Smith, Basel Naouri and the TimeLab team. Some of the performances and installations at this year’s MANIFEST:IO were the outputs of these collaborations.

Electronic Music Production & Performance first year Dmytro Ananiev – aka “Deeply Disturbed” – designed the sound for “I IS AN OTHER”, a performance merging identity, space and the body, by Marta Torres, Irmak Durukan, Yasemin Erguvan, Caro Genoni, Olexi Nykolaiv. Electronic Music Production & Performance second-year Ashley Maurice and Creative Audio Production & Sound Engineering second-year Hari Krishna – aka “..o”– designed the sound for the immersive audiovisual journey “Dis(orient)”, which explored orientation and disorientation through interactive projections and sound design by Ananya Behera, Alessandra Fabris, Taha Gökalp Cakmak and Miraal Habib. It was fantastic to see these projects reaching wider and wider audiences.

“It was special performing here because of the magnitude that MANIFEST:IO has as a collective of forward-thinking artists.”

– Hari Krishna

Also on the MANIFEST:IO lineup was Electronic Music Production & Performance alumnus Samaquias Lorta, with his premiere performance of “Tarnished Biome” – part of his continued exploration of live audio, feedback and ecological thought. The performance, which was built upon the foundation of feedback systems reverberating through water, wooden panels and gravel, was combined with graphic notation and took the audience on a journey while pointing towards a larger context within ecological thought. 

Berlin artists Marco Barotti and Drusnoise also presented on the same stage, whose work investigates the intersections of music, media and the natural world. MANIFEST:IO also featured several screenings, installations and workshops and among them was a screening of "Stardust for R.H." – Creative Production (Music) MA Programme Lead Richard Scott’s collaboration with Sanja Star. Richard’s acousmatic composition using the Hordijk Modular synthesiser was complemented by Sanja’s visual imagery, which directly utilised the composition’s structure to create narrative, conversation and sonic illustrations.

Catalyst rock stars supporting the headline act

Ashley and Hari – aka “..o” – returned to the stage to present their new project “Disintegration”, in collaboration with Creative Production (Music) MA student Connor Oman. Together, they intertwined the concepts of creation and destruction. Balancing Ashley’s soft guitar melodies and Hari’s loud, distorted sonic artefacts, ..o probed the essence of decay and disintegration. Connor’s experimental and microscopic visuals on Alte Münze’s 22-metre LED screen illustrated disintegration and reformation of matter.

For the trio, this performance was all about scale. “I think what we displayed on the screen was the main act and we were just contributing to it” said Hari. In preparation, the duo experimented with giving the performance a more clear structure – a break from their usual approach of pure improvisation. “The day before the gig, we realised we overdid ourselves and decided to go back to the way we always do it – improvisation”, said Ashley. “I trust myself more as an artist now,” Hari reflected.

All three agree the preparation was what made “Disintegration” such a success. “We gathered video material using my microscope and recorded a considerable amount of footage of microbes interacting from samples in a pond in my apartment complex,” said Connor. “Then I created a sequence in which the flow of the videos could be interpreted in a smooth manner by the improvisers of ..o”. For Hari, taking “an active part of creating the visual aspect of the performance” made the process both more enjoyable and informative. “It was fun to watch it go down the way it did… opening for Nicolas Jaar was just an added bonus!” 

The headline act was “Borderlands”. Internationally renowned musician Nicolás Jaar teamed up with anthropologist and activist Masa Nazzal to create a spoken word and field recording performance based on Nazzal’s recent work in the border between Bosnia and Croatia with No Name Kitchen. The intensely political and moving performance presented accounts of violence happening at the EU’s external borders towards people on the move. The programming decision of Basel and Harshini to place this performance directly after “Disintegration” was a stroke of genius. Where “Disintegration” fully immersed the audience’s senses and put them in a meditative state, “Borderlands” cut all additional sensory input, making a very pertinent message of global politics stick.

Learn electronic music production without genre constraints

The spirit of interdisciplinary collaboration is fundamental to what we do. Our genre-less approach within the School for Music & Sound means that our students would feel at home performing in a club, in a band on stage or in a smoky cellar, or working with audiovisual artists. We’re looking forward to seeing what other avenues our collaboration with TimeLab will open.

Keep reading about other ways our musicians turn up in Berlin’s music scene.