STEIM (STudio for Electro Instrumental Music) is a center for research and development of new musical instruments in the electronic performing arts, located in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Electronic music in STEIM's context is always strongly related to the physical and direct actions of a musician. In this tradition, STEIM supports artists in residence such as composers and performers, but also multimedia and video artists to develop setups which allow for improvisation and performance with individually designed technology.
STEIM has existed since 1969. It was founded by Misha Mengelberg, Louis Andriessen, Peter Schat, Dick Raaymakers, Jan van Vlijmen, Reinbert de Leeuw, and Konrad Boehmer. This group of Dutch composers had fought for the reformation of Amsterdam's feudal music structures; they insisted on Bruno Maderna's appointment as musical director of the Concertgebouw Orchestra and enforced the first public fundings for experimental and improvised electronic music in the Netherlands. They were offered a budget for their collective multimedia opera "Reconstruction" which was premiered in the Holland Festival in 1969. The technology used in this opera was then taken to Amsterdam's Prinseneiland which was STEIM's first location. Soon, in 1971, the studio moved to the Groenburgwal in the city center, where there was more space for workshops and concerts. Since 1986, STEIM has been at the Achtergracht in the city center's southern area. Its premises include three studios, a concert hall, hard and software workshops, offices, and a guesthouse for artists in residence.
Selected STEIM instruments
- Black Box System (Zwarte Dozen), by Rob van de Poel (1972)
- Eemnes Machines, by Victor Wentink (1975–79)
- Crackle Box (Kraakdoos), Crackle Synth, by Michel Waisvisz, Geert Hamelberg, Peter Beyls and Nico Bes (1975)
- The Hands, by Michel Waisvisz (since 1984). One of the world's first gestural MIDI controllers. Two wooden frames for the hands with switches, potentiometers, tilt sensors, and ultrasound.
- Hyperstring Project, by Jon Rose. Extending a Violin Bow with Sensors. (since 1985)
- STEIM Sensor-Lab. Portable Mini-Computer which translates analogue Sensor data into MIDI Code. (1989)
- The Web, by Michel Waisvisz (1990)
- The Sweatstick, by Ray Edgar (1990)
- The Lady's Glove, by Laetitia Sonami (1991)
- Nic Collins: Midi Concertina (1992)
- Chromasome, by Walter Fabeck (1994)
- Mutantrumpet, by Ben Neill (2008)
- Lick Machine, by Frank Baldé (1989-1995). MIDI Macro-Controlling Software
- LiSa, by Michel Waisvisz and Frank Baldé. Realtime software instrument for live sampling and realtime audio manipulation (since 1995) LiSa info
- Big Eye, by Tom Demeyer. Video to MIDI converter (1995-2001)
- Image/ine, by Steina Vasulka and Tom Demeyer. Software instrument for realtime video manipulation (1996-2001)
- MIDI Joy, by Frank Baldé. Mapping game controllers to MIDI Code (1997-2002)
- JunXion, by Michel Waisvisz and Frank Baldé. Mapping game controllers, audio, video and sensor data to MIDI and OSC (since 2003) junXion info
STEIM touch philosophy
As a headline for most of STEIM's instrumental developments it can apply that "Touch is crucial in communicating with the new electronic performance art technologies". As in traditional musical instruments, it is believed here that also in contemporary developments the physical touch of a musician contains essential aesthetic factors. These qualities tend to get lost in the non-realtime use of studio technology, in which the process of music production gets rather rational but bodily involved. The Touch philosophy — which can be considered as STEIM's interpretation of the widely used term interactivity — theoretically subsumes several stages of STEIM's developments, from the analogue touchable "Crackle" surfaces in the 1970s to today's experimental Gestural MIDI Interfaces.
Structure and people
STEIM is a foundation, financially supported by the Dutch ministry of Culture. It invites international artists in residence of different musical and artistic styles and scenes. Aside from offering support in theoretic and practical development of contemporary musical instruments, STEIM also hosts in-house concerts, exhibitions and workshops. The work in progress of supported artists is presented in open studio events.
- Peter Schat, 1971-1973
- Michel Waisvisz, 1981-2008
- Takuro Mizuta Lippit; 2008-2013
- Dick Rijken, since 2009
Artistic guest directors
- George Lewis; Joel Ryan; Clarence Barlow, 1985 - ca. 1990
- Nicolas Collins, 1992-1995;
- Steina Vasulka, 1996-1997;
- Sally Jane Norman, 1998-2000;
- Daniel Schorno; Netochka Nezvanova, 2001-2003
- Daniel Schorno, 2003-2004;
- Jan St. Werner, 2004-2006;
- Takuro Mizuta Lippit; Mazen Kerbaj; Atau Tanaka, 2006-2008
- Tarek Atoui; Tina Blaine, 2008.
- Kasia Glowicka (2011)
- Mark Trayle (2010)
- Henry Vega (2009/10)
- John Richards (2007)
- Benton C Bainbridge (1999)
- Peter Cusack (1996)
- Tom Cora (1992)
- Dominic Alldis (1988)
- Elektronmusikstudion (EMS), somewhat similar organisation in Stockholm, Sweden
- Netochka Nezvanova - artistic guest director at STEIM, 2001-2003
- V2 Institute for the Unstable Media
- WORM, organisation in Rotterdam
- Whitehead, Kevin (1998). New Dutch Swing. An in-depth examination of Amsterdam’s vital and distinctive Jazz Scene. New York.
- Davies, Hugh (Positionen 1996). Elektroakustische Live-Performance. Zur Geschichte und Gegenwart des STEIM. Check date values in:
- Bes, Nico (1986). STEIM. A summary of important facts and developments. Den Haag. pp. 8–17.
- Krefeld, Volker (CMJ Summer 1990). A Hand in the Web: An Interview with Michel Waisvisz. pp. 28–33. Check date values in:
- Anderton, Craig (Keyboard Magazine 1994). STEIM. In the Land of Alternative Controllers. pp. 54–62. Check date values in:
- Collins, Nicolas (2006). Collins, Nicolas: Handmade Electronic Music. The Art of Hardware Hacking. New York.
- Official website
- crackle.org — Archive Site of Michel Waisvisz’ works
- Spekle, Roland and Michel Waisvisz. “STEIM — A Reconstruction.” STEIM Writings.
Artist projects realised at STEIM
- Golden, Barbara. “Conversation with Laetitia Sonami.” eContact! 12.2 — Interviews (2) (April 2010). Montréal: CEC.
- Nowitz, Alex. “Voice and Live-Electronics using Remotes as Gestural Controllers.” eContact! 10.4 — Temps réel, improvisation et interactivité en électroacoustique / Live-electronics — Improvisation — Interactivity in Electroacoustics (October 2008). Montréal: CEC.
- Scott, Richard. “Getting WiGi with It: Performing and Programming with an Infrared Gestural Instrument: A Case Study.” eContact! 12.3 — Instrument—Interface (June 2010). Montréal: CEC.