Global Polytope

Reproduction of an unpublished text by Xenakis, translated:

GLOBAL POLYTOPE (intercontinental network of light and sound actions)

It is time today to launch artistic bridges over the oceans between continents, between countries.

Adhering to military pacts or commercial conventions does not directly concern the people who are dragged along by often monstrous determinisms.

On the other hand, to create artistic filaments linking the populations of all countries is to establish a new direct contact, over languages, interests, civilizations, races, local cultures.

This is now possible provided that the form of this art produces the spark of immediate contact.

Now, this art exists, it has already been experimented by Polytopes at the Montreal Exhibition, in Paris, where tens of thousands of people of all ages went to immerse themselves in it. It is an expression of the childish part of the adult, of what remains of his deep creative purity, the wonder before the play of lights, before a music of lights.

This art can, thanks to the advanced technology of electronic flashes, powerful lasers, satellite tracking, computers, as well as to the most advanced methods of light and sound composition (which we have been able to develop after more than 20 years of research and demonstrations), this art, can be realized on a planetary scale in the following way.

In the cities which will want it (or apart from these cities, of the USA, USSR, France, Germany, England, Japan, … will be installed Polytopes (=ensemble of actions and electroacoustic sounds). These actions will be controlled by small computers or by digital tapes from computers following specially designed programs. These shows, installed in the open air, on public squares, or in public shelters, will form receiving centers.

They will be connected over the oceans and intercontinentally to transmitting centers, installed in other countries, by means of a network of visible (or invisible) laser beams, reflected, to cross colossal distances, on mobile or geostatic satellites. The transmitting centers will have for function to modify the show of the receiving centers according to a planning of a superior order. For example, a kind of complex world artistic game, using the previous lights and sounds, could be governed by rules of play established either with the help of the mathematical theory of games, or independently. This game, followed or played by millions of spectators, will be at the same time a dialogue and an interactive show, of creative and immediate communion between peoples.

Thus, thanks to such a project, aspects of the most advanced scientific research, married to the most prophetic artistic aspects, but still remaining in a powerful abstraction similar to cosmic phenomena (therefore of immediate effect on the imagination of the humblest man or child, of any race, or of any belief), will be there to launch a fantastic network of peace-making and optimistic art on a planetary scale.

Never before has such a thing been possible. Today, it is within our reach.

Iannis Xenakis, Paris, March 1974.