Hide and Seek

for geographically-displaced cello & guitar

+ live-electronics & stereoscopic-video


Computers, internet and video games are offering children nowadays a digital childhood. Besides the obvious benefits, there are also many dangers implied. The border between real and virtual becomes more and more transparent. Even the traditional outdoor entertainment is being replaced by immersive online games.
A guitarist plays “Hide and seek” with a cellist. However, the rules are a little bit changed: the Internet is the playground and they cannot see each other, because one is in Hamburg, while the other one is in Bucharest. You are invited to watch the game and try to find out, who is where.


Cello: Gabriela Petre

Guitar: Victor Colțea


In Hide and Seek I wanted to give the audience the feeling of a virtual game, except not as characters in it, but as spectators. They watch and hear how the narrative actually unfolds around them: the video requires anaglyph-glasses12 to be viewed and gives the impression of a 3D space, while sounds travel around the concert hall between 16 individually controlled loudspeakers13 (4 in the corners, 4 on stage and 8 spread in the public, under the seats). Being able to experience the game very closely, but not to actually play it, symbolizes the remoteness in online multiplayer gaming, where people feel like they interact with each other, even if it is an illusion. This isolation is also expressed by the fact that one of the players is performing live in a remote location. In Daily Choices, the cellist was playing in Bucharest, broadcasted over the Internet and consequently heard in Hamburg. The guitarist was also hidden behind the curtain and the sound from both instruments was audible only through the loudspeakers.


There were several reasons for hiding the musicians during the entire piece:

•  as a parallel to the game of "Hide and seek", in which the players do not see each other almost until the end of the game;

•  to give the spectators the impression that they are involved in the game (although not directly) by inviting them to deduce the location of the players;

•  for an immersive experience, in which only the images and the sounds are important, not the physical presence of the performers;

•  as a metaphor for the absence of human-to-human interaction in the world of computer games, where people are replaced by avatars.

To support this metaphor, the two players/instruments are depicted in the video as distinct shape-based entities, in accordance to their sounds and not to their real appearances.


The game of “Hide and seek” becomes in this piece the actual story itself. The stages of the game are rigorously represented as events in the composition and illustrated by the video, while the two players (in both musical and non-musical senses) embody the two types of characters: the one who seeks and the ones who hide. The cello (the seeker) – audible in the front-right part of the stage – starts counting by repeating the same note for almost 40 seconds, in a gradual acceleration. In precise synchronization, its avatar grows bigger and bigger. At the end of the countdown, it stops for a second and then metaphorically yells “Ready or not, here I come!”, translated in a musical gesture (an imploding chromatic scale) that is also portrayed in the video: the object comes towards the public until it disappears from the screen. Immediately, a dense fog fills the screen, symbolizing the uncertainty of the seeker. For the next section, the focus turns on the guitar (the hiders), while the cello is still audible, moving on the stage, but not visible. The guitar characterizes the hiders by making soft noises (opposed to the chromatic interrupted melody of the cello), in different places far from the cello. The video avatar of the guitar is made of small particles (numerous hiders) that are gravitationally attracted and resemble a flock of birds. At some point, after searching on the stage, the cello sound moves towards the public, where the noises of the guitar are hiding, and simultaneously reappears on the screen. Eventually, the cello finds the guitar in a hidden spot behind the public (the rear-left loudspeaker) and, afterwards, each player runs to the starting point (the front-right loudspeaker) in a visible and audible opposite circular motion. As they approach the base, the cello reaches it first and hence wins. But the game is not over, because there are still more to be found. The guitar continues to represent the other players hiding all around in the concert hall: plucked chords jump from one loudspeaker to another. After a little time, the cello is again perceptible somewhere in the distance, while the focus in the video goes towards the starting point. Here, suddenly, one of the hiders succeeds to make its way without being noticed and touches the base, rescuing all other players and ending both the game and the piece.


Hide and Seek was performed again a month later at the next_generation Festival of the Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie in Karlsruhe. For this second performance, under the advice of my professor, I mixed a video live-stream from Bucharest and a local one into the 3D-video. The instruments and the hands of the musicians could occasionally be seen as ghosts under the moving object-entities. Not only did this make the piece more self-explanatory, it also strengthened the idea that humans are somewhat overwhelmed by technology and it becomes harder to maintain an equilibrium between real and virtual.


12 Anaglyph-glasses have two different lenses (usually red-cyan or red-green) for creating the effect of depth (3D) when watching specially rendered images or videos.

13 The sound spatialization was achieved with the help of Ambisonics (Max-external), as well as own algorithms.


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