Previously my work has been fascinated by psychology and disability, observing the similarities and differences in people. I do not answer these questions in my work, but rather bring our awareness to how we behave and respond- Either as a spectator or as a performer.
This work is inspired by autism. My brother is autistic so I have been raised close to the source of my inspiration.
In terms of the title, The ‘Squeeze machine’ was invented for autistic people who often have a fear of physical contact. This machine puts pressure on the body, releasing endorphins, is soothing and makes one happy. Like an artificial hug. It’s alternative name is a ‘hug machine’.
This work is not necessarily inspired by the mechanism itself, apart from at times working with a metallic timbre in the instrumentation. We seek comfort in a variety of ways but where an autistic person feels comfort in tight spaces and pressure on the body, a person without autism may find that distressing. Someone without autism may seek a hug, and though we would think of this as a basic human need, someone with autism may find this is distressing.
With or without autism, we all share similar sensations as human beings. How we view and hear the world and what triggers us to be affected by it can be, however, very individual.
To me, music is another example of connecting externally to a person emotionally and physically, however, sound is also something very sensitive to a person with autism. My brother is very musical, this is something we have in common, so it feels appropriate for Artuur’s surrounding to be musical and sonically descriptive. Artuur, is from Germany and is the boy we follow through this composition.
My brother and other people with autism seem to vision the world differently, it can be very scary, confusing, overwhelming, yet incredible, beautiful and is extremely visual and detailed. He bursts out laughing or sees something we (at least, my family) don’t. But I understand that underneath it all, we are isolated from one another when it comes to viewing our own individual perspectives upon the same reality.
Recording of Squeeze Machine – performed by Nieuw Ensemble- in Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ, Amsterdam Netherlands. October 2017
IEMA (International Ensemble Modern Akademie). World premiere at Gaudeamus Muziekweek, Utrecht, Netherlands and repeat performance in Frankfurt at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Frankfurt am Main. September 2017.
Performed by Nieuw Ensemble- in Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ, Amsterdam Netherlands. October 2017