ml> Por


photo: vorfeld, 2019

POR is an installational performance piece by the Berlin-based composer-performer and sound artist Burkhard Beins. Boxes of polystyrene are functioning as acoustic resonators, spread out on the ceiling and/or walls of the performance space. Long pieces of string attached to them are going across the room and run together around one spot on the opposite side. The performer moves between the taught strings. The sounds produced by rubbing, scratching or plugging come from different parts of the room depending on which string or strings are played and which box or boxes are resonating. A completely manual and acoustic way of sound spatialization.

But the strings can also be played by electric motors fixed on the very end of the strings. Short pieces of string attached to the motors are hitting the strings in a continuous way, thus producing constant drones. The pitch can be altered not only by the tuning of the strings, but also by changing the voltage (rpm) of the motors. A motor/propeller-driven string can be then also played by the performer by means of additional smaller pieces of polystyrene. By sliding them up and down the strings multiple ranges of harmonics and overtones can be discovered and explored. Now the sounds are coming from the polystyrene pieces in the hands of the performer. By dividing the vibrating string in this way the performer can let the sound jump down from the resonating box into his hands, so to say.

Another element used in POR is the rubbing and scratching of long strings attached to polystyrene boxes resting on the floor in alternation with the actual dragging of the boxes across the floor. Both kind of sound are produced by means of friction, but each time using a different principle of sound production.

POR - installed and performed by Burkhard Beins:

Berlin (UA 2000, 2003, 2006, 2012, 2013, 2015)
London (2005)
Milano (2005)
Palermo (2006)
Brussels (2008)
at Densités Festival/France (2009)
Muong Studio, Hoa Binh/Vietnam (2015)
in Bologna (2018)
and as 'POR Extended' for 2 performers (with Michael Vorfeld) at Errant Sound, Berlin (2020).


Burkhard Beins performs POR
at Muong Studio, Hoa Binh/Vietnam 2015

Burkhard Beins performs POR
at Quiet Cue, Berlin 2013

photo: steffi weismann, 2020

Review of POR performance at Densités Festival 2009:

Sonic inventiveness extends to a spatial installation, as Berlin's Burkhard Beins demonstrates Sunday afternoon in the foyer of the village's ornate city hall. Plastic string was linked to Styrofoam boxes mounted on the walls at different angles, another box filled with flashlight batteries on the ground. Beins conjures alchemist-like unmistakable percussion and string timbres from the set up. By stroking, plucking, pulling and twisting the strings the contrapuntal results include extended textures along with designated tones. Resembling a marionette when his hands are simultaneously attached to more than one string, Beins is no puppet but in complete control. Highpoint of the performance is when he uses a sanding motion to rub together two Styrofoam boxes, about the size of transistor radios, to create first a low-pitched buzz for a few measures, then by moving them along the strings, cello-like sustained textures.
- Ken Waxman, MusicWorks -