Tadej Droljc: Spectrum

Tadej Droljc’s work is an experiment in the most literal sense of the word. Droljc is generally known as an intermedia artist who works at the intersection of sound, image and light. As a winner of numerous awards, contemporary music composer and video artist, Droljc consciously places his work in the inter-space between the two domains, and in this sense intermediality describes his work in the most literal way. One can find evidence of this in Droljc’s own formative journey, which led him from studying computer music to audiovisual composing, and finally to his sailing into the uncharted waters of audiovisual experimentation. It sometimes seems like Tadej’s works intentionally seek to cut off the established ways in which we generate our perceptions about the world around us and create meaning, as his experiment interjects itself exactly at the point where the process of our cognitive conversion of sound and image into our perception of the world should run seamlessly and automatically. In this sense, the intermediality of his work can be read in two ways, as it aims at both the intervening space existing between the different phenomena of our reality, as well as at those enigmatic points of contact between different creative fields.

The same can be said of his latest project Spectrum, which is being created as part of the R.o.R. residency, as part of BridA art collective’s efforts paving the way to new artistic practices in the broader Gorica region. Spectrum is an immersive audiovisual experience, a performative intervention projected onto the frontal façade of the Nova Gorica Municipal Hall building, manipulating the color, audio and light spectrum with the use of moving particles. Droljc turns to the exploration of the sonic potential of 3D mesh computer graphics in real time, combining for the first time 3D mapping with laser projections. He wants to explore the “sound” of various particle fluctuations and morphologies, study the rhythms they create and observe how their interplay affects our visual perception. As the base, he takes generative AV material, a living basis of the composition forming its emerging substance, but at the same time he subjects it to pre-defined principles of composition. This collision between the auditory and the visual, “freedom” and rules, with all the variants and combinations created along the way, opens up extraordinary opportunities for exploration of composition processes, as well as their different interpretations.

Particles, the unique visual spiritus movens of the Spectrum project, “generate” sound in real time based on their respective speeds mapped in a custom-made granular synthesizer depending on different parameters. At the same time, these speeds determine the particles’ colors, creative a mesmerizing spectacle of colors and sound, where individual elements fuse together to form an otherworldly audiovisual experience. This synesthesia is a crucial element of the work, as it reflects that composition is built on the gestural qualities of the underlying audiovisual material. In other words, at the center of the Spectrum is exploration into how this audiovisual material can perform in a free-form audiovisual paradigm and how it can be appropriately framed within harmony and metric rhythm. The material in the work creates fluid cuts into the rhythmic elements created under the influence of dub-tech, as well as spectral swirls emerging from the fusion of the original noisy and erratic sound source with pitch-based material. In his work, Droljc likes to exchange furtive glances with the nostalgic implications of dub-based and similar musical genres. Perhaps one would not be wrong in seeing this as an autobiographic element, seeing how the author’s year of birth puts him right in the middle of the techno music revolution period during his formative years. One can, however, also look for other, more consistent interpretations: we could ascribe the uncontrived, organic quality of Droljc's audiovisual works to the leisurely, atmospheric ambient and calming sounds of dub tech and its sense of spaciousness, created by its non-chalant delays...

It is this unique, uncontrived, organic fusion of sound and image that stands out as the most stimulating element in Droljc’s projects, a testament to his commitment to the audiovisual paradigm, where most of the composition decisions come as a result of the cross-pollination between these two modalities. Spectrum, the title of this project, is suggestive on two levels: first, it points to the broad scope of compositional variants occurring from such encounters; and at the same time, it points out the chromatic and auditory spectrum in Droljc’s works, which moves us from our cognitive comfort zones and compel us to re-examine our interpretation of reality.

The abstract lexicon of his audiovisual installations, which are both immersive and extraordinarily persuasive in terms of production, makes one feel as if transported into a parallel reality, or as if one has perhaps put on a pair of spectacles allowing them to see beneath the outer shell of the mundane and uncover its true forms and dynamics. I think that this suggestiveness in Droljc’s works is not mere coincidence, as the perfect concurrence of sound and visual forms, without even the slightest trace of mimetics to be found in either, pulls the rug from under our feet and makes us seriously wonder about the nature of what we are experiencing. Unsure as to whether we are looking at the sound or listening to the visual forms, we slowly become aware of the fragile nature of our cognitive apparatus, or of how uncertain the construction of the world around us really is. In Droljc’s works, nothing fits into the familiar template, experience simply cannot be rationalized with any positive balancing principle. Conversely, it seems that Droljc instead bets all his chips on magic, that opulent surrender to the unexplainable which helps us turn off the familiar well-trodden paths of positivistic understanding. And this is how we can interpret his persistent insistence on that interspace between the sound and the image, which we cannot fully associate with either one or the other: the failure of our lust for categorization, which is what is happening here, opens one up to new, more intuitive experiences of the world. And of oneself.
Text: Vladimir Vidmar

Photo: BridA & Matej Vidmar

Tadej Droljc (1981) is a Slovenian artist and creative coder who works at the intersection of sound, image, and light.

For his work, Tadej received the Lumen Prize Student Award, Dennis Smalley scholarship in electroacoustic music, and he won the most promising Video Artist prize at Madatac. His practice-based doctoral research was awarded the Vice Chancellor’s Award for an outstanding thesis at the Center for Research in New Music. Work from his collaborative project Synspecies won the Edigma Semibreve award and was shortlisted for the Lumen Prize in the moving image category.

Tadej performed and exhibited at festivals such as Ars Electronica, Paris Biennale NEMO, L.E.V., Brighton Digital Festival, Semibreve, Sonica Glasgow, Lunchmeat, Node, etc. As part of his collaboration with Ars Electronica’s Future Lab on the project Immersify, his work presented at events like Inter BEE Tokyo, IBC Amsterdam, or Marché du Film – Festival de Cannes is permanently exhibited at the Ars Electronica’s Deep Space 8K.

The project is co-financed by the public institute GO! 2025 – European Capital of Culture, Nova Gorica.