Egwutronica (2015) is an interactive sound installation by Nigerian sound and installation artist Emeka Ogboh, commissioned by the Seattle Art Museum for their Disguise: Masks and Global African Art exhibition in 2015. I was asked by Ogboh to create the musical composition for the installation, a sort of electronic ambient soundtrack based on two 30-minute studio recordings of Igbo musicians performing together which Ogboh had recorded in Enugu, Nigeria. The idea was to transform these recordings, and the traditional masquerade music they represented, into more contemporary and atmospheric electronic soundscapes that would then be looped and projected into different areas throughout the exhibition. The result is two 30-minute pieces that consist of electronically treated and transformed layers of the original Igbo recordings and of some additional synthesizer layers by me. In the exhibition some of the instruments of the original recordings were played only when triggered by audience members moving by few carefully placed sensors.
This electronic transformation mirrors the aesthetic threads running through the exhibition: those of disguise and ancient/futuristic (or ‘future primitive’).
“Mesmerizing mix of synthesized music and sampled traditional music. It’s one of my favourite aspects of a show full of profound moments.” – Gayle Clemans, The Seattle Times
“I was certainly captivated enough to linger, although the success of the ritual is owed in part to an entrancing segment of Emeka Ogboh’s Egwutronica soundtrack (2014–2015) […] Integrated throughout the exhibition, Egwutronica is a nonintrusive but immersive sound installation of synthesized beats and sampled African instruments that responds in part to the works on view. Shifting the silent sanctity of the museum to a different register, the soundscapes reinforce the notion of the masquerade as existing in a kind of paraspace, which is described on a text panel by Sondra Perry as a realm that exists parallel to or outside of ordinary life.” – Kenta Murakami, Hyperallergic