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Sacrifice from Zen Zen Zo Subcon Warrior 2.0 @ M. Roberts 2009

Sacrifice from Zen Zen Zo Subcon Warrior 2.0 @ M. Roberts 2009

“The Lamb”
from SubCon Warrior 2.0 – Zen Zen Zo 2008
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The Lamb is an example of my need to build abstracted meaning into my music.  The piece comes from the final few minutes of Zen Zen Zo’s SubCon Warrior 2.0.  The story concerned a newly developed virtual reality game that the audience had been invited to test.  Unfortunately the Game Engine, an artificial intelligence, was using the game’s avatars to lure them into ever more realistic and morally challenging scenarios in order to break the rules and free himself of moral restrictions.  One of the SubCon’s programmers has turned against the company and hacked into the system, inserting her own living avatar into the game, with the intention of saving the Gamers and shutting down the engine.  At this point in the production she has accepted that she cannot win without sacrificing herself. She also realises that the death of her living avatar means death in the real world as well.

The production was highly interactive, as a good game should be, the members of the audience had choices to make that influence the outcomes, or at least the way that outcomes occurred.  It was performed through five performance areas in the Judith Wright Centre in Brisbane, each of which, and the corridors between them, had their own sound, lighting and video systems.

From a musical perspective, the director, Simon Woods and myself agreed that the piece should have the epic, filmic quality that many games aspire to but never quite achieve.  We also wanted to reflect certain game genres, so some of the scenes and spaces did also.  For example we had a warehouse full of boxes for our zombie attack scene complete with teutonic orchestral tracks, creepy lone gunman and Nine Inch Nails inspired chainsaw massacre music and Ninja warriors with koto and shakuhachi.

Early in the piece, as the audience / gamers donned their virtual reality headpieces and entered the game world, the music begins to set the relaxation state required.  A choir is heard, building on the epic and expansive sounds of the large space that the audience is in.  It sings in latin, the words indistinct but contributes to the soothing sounds.

The lyrics however are not soothing at all and in fact indicate the intention of the Game Engine right from the start. In English they are.From the silence to eternal life, I come
From the beginning to the stars
All powerful
A god from the machine
Your death, my life.

This text is repeated in this scene, at the other end of the play, where the Game Engine’s plan comes to fruition.
It was never my intention that the audience should be aware of the meaning of this text. What was important to me was that the actors knew it and would allow themselves to be affected each time they heard it.

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