Michael-Jon Mizra
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Composer
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Research

Composition
Manchester International Festival - Creative Lab (2019)


In collaboration with choreographer / director Sara Green

"Inspired by Atmospheric Memory’s suggestion that empty space as a ‘vast library’, pregnant with the history of itself, choreographer Sara Green and composer Michael-Jon Mizra dip their toes into the field of spacetime to work from the consideration of how a single present moment cannot, in essence, be singular. Rather that if a physical system can be in one of many configurations, then the most general state is a combination of these possibilities.
Working poetically from Quantum Superposition theory, this work is a sketch exploration of the peculiar relationships that exist between states, when reality collapses into one ‘this’ - a present moment.
In the deeply charged historic space of the tunnels under Manchester Victoria station, a recent disruption in the shape of performance architecture causes shifts in matter to take form." - Sara Green

Inaudible Cyclics
Audio-Visual Composition
Manchester International Festival - Creative Lab (2019)


Inaudible Cyclics is an audio-visual piece made as a response to Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities (1972). It is inspired by one of the questions I interpreted from the book, "what is knowable?". In this piece I use an oscilloscope to visualize pure sine tone waves. I visualize the audio to highlight that which cannot be experienced through listening. To go beyond the auditory, I compose with properties of wave mathematics.

Calvino wrote this book structured around mathematics. He belonged to the Oulipo literary movement. Writers constrained their form through mathematics. The book is 55 cities belonging to 11 themes explored over 9 chapters. Calvino lets the narrative unfold through a matrix-table system.

I am drawn to the poetics of mathematics and quantum physics. This idea of superimposed states, like on and off at the same time. The elimination of the binary in place of statistical probabilities. When an infinite wave function collapses it becomes a particle. The infinite amount of choices available to a person collapses into their reality. And underscoring this is the mathematical truth of uncertainty. You can never know anything to the finest detail.

I interpret Invisible Cities as the character Kublai Khan’s quest to understand his empire. This empire is so vast he can no longer rule over it with absolute knowledge. I see this as Calvino's metaphor for the human mind when confronted with the nature of reality. This piece is similarly my attempt to understand the limits of unknowable by visualising the inaudible.

Displacement Native
Max/MSP Audio Application
Peshkar, Out of The Box and the Centre for Inter-Cultural Dialogue - 2019


Displacement Native was commissioned for the project 'Alternarration'. Alternarration is the act of combating youth radicalisation in online spaces. The method is to engage youth in alternative narratives regarding extremism. In particular, a sympathy for 'Otherness'. To explore this theme of Alternarration and Otherness, I wanted to engage with the narrative of migration and right-wing extremism. I created an application that tracks on-going data related to migration as a result of the Syrian Civil War. This data is provided by the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The tracked data is used to effect an open-source recording of the Syrian National Anthem. The effect is that of degradation. I believe nationalism and the nation-state participate in a complex system of belonging and identity. The effect of displacement from a native land is a traumatic event. To reconstruct an identity in the newly settled land requires relinquishing the old in part (if not wholly). There needs to be an active sense of forgetting, and reforging. It is the same task that faces the native. To forget the old national identity, and to build a new one.

Sounds Of A People
Interactive installation
Design Museum , London - 2017

Sounds of A People was commissioned by designer Yinka Danmole for the London Design Museums 'Designers Residency 2017'. The piece is for two recorded voices that have been arranged using digital editing techniques. The composition was a response to Yinka's provocation of representing community in language, whilst dealing with complex social factors that have created divisions. The text of the piece is a translation of the phrase 'Where Two Or Three May Gather, They Will Know Me' from English to Nigerian Pidgin. The text is set in the style of traditional Western choral music.