STRP Festival presents RE: le Poème Electronique: a symposium about a contemporary muse

STRP Festival presents RE: le Poème Electronique: a symposium about a contemporary muse

The STRP Festival is a multidisciplinary all-out experience of art, music and technology taking place 2 – 13 April in Eindhoven (the Netherlands). During every edition of STRP, special attention is paid to a theme that focuses on Eindhoven and the relationship between creativity and technology under the “RE:” banner. This year, RE: is dedicated to the 1958 work of art Le Poème Électronique.

In 1956 Philips commissioned the renowned architect Le Corbusier to build a pavilion for the World’s Fair in Brussels. Le Corbusier wished to avoid designing yet another industrial exhibit and told Philips that he would create an “electronic poem” about the technological development of mankind. Together with composer Edgar Varèse, architect Iannis Xenakis and cinematographer Philippe Agostini, Le Corbusier developed a spectacular work of art in which light, sound, film and architecture merge to form a revolutionary multimedia spectacle. STRP will host a symposium on this remarkable cultural legacy, which was created in Eindhoven’s NatLab.

Five hundred visitors gather inside the futuristic pavilion at the World’s Fair. The excitement is palpable. While an introductory text is projected on the wall, oscillating sounds issue from the left and right from hidden speakers. A nude female mannequin at the top of the ceiling lights up as ultraviolet lights flashed across the diagonal side walls. The audience is startled by the weird electronic sounds cascading over them from somewhere far off in the distance in the pavilion. A series of abstract light patterns and graphic images and photographs of monkeys, birds, skeletons, explosions and babies alternate as the soundscape seems to continue moving along the walls of the tent-like structure. After eight minutes, the lights go out and everything is quiet. The dazzled spectators stumble out through the exit doors, making way for the next group of curious World’s Fair visitors.

Le Poème Électronique tells the story of mankind and the quest for harmony in an ever-increasingly technological society. In the mid-1950s, technology is a source of hope, inspiration and optimism. At home, families gather around the radio or the black and white TV set. In the streets, the first affordable cars cruise around. In space, the Russians launch Sputnik, the first satellite. At Philips’ Natuurkundig Laboratorium (Natlab) in Eindhoven, in addition to developing new electronic appliances, which include an honest to goodness colour TV, the future of music is taking shape, too. Using huge tape recorders, reels, mixing boards and homemade electronic instruments, pioneers such as Dick Raaijmakers, Tom Dissevelt and Henk Badings create new electronic music. This technical playground in Strip-S is where the composer Varèse spent several months working with the Natlab technicians on Le Poème Électronique presented in the mathematically constructed pavilion at the World’s Fair.

Today, Le Poème Électronique is more popular than ever. Books and documentaries are being made, reenactments are being discussed, and the experience is being reproduced with new, virtual technologies. The questions arise what le Poème Électronique means today. What story does the Gesammtkunstwerk tell us? What are the underlying ideals about mankind and technology? How is Le Poème Électronique being used today as source of inspiration? What kind of story should a contemporary Le Poème Électronique tell us about mankind and it’s increasing technological environment? These questions (and more) are being discussed during a diverse programme on Thursday April 9th.

The symposium RE: Le Poème Électronique takes place in the Klokgebouw at Strijp-S, not even a mile away from the spot where Le Poème Électronique originated. In addition to lectures, discussions, and performances, the documentary ‘Kamer 306’ is shown. Kamer 306 is a documentary about the experimental musical practices in the NatLab during 1956 – 1960. The symposium is part of the regular STRP Expo+, and is meant for students, researchers, artists, technologists, and everyone else interested in this unique work of art.

From 2 – 13 April Eindhoven (the Netherlands) will once again embrace electronic music, interactive installations, film, art performances, live cinema and robotics. The STRP Festival is an all-out experience of music, art and technology. On Thursday, 9 April, STRP is hosting a symposium with lectures, discussions, presentations and works of art about Le Poème Électronique and its significance today. For more information about STRP Festival, Le Poème Électronique and the programme, please visit: (

Link to Le Poème Électronique @ Youtube: