KM: Ah yes, I first found out about the Rosenbergs in ’92 or ’93. I was in Amsterdam and went into a book shop, and there was this book “The Pink Violin,” filled with articles by music historians from all over the world talking about the legendary Rosenbergs. I eventually realized the articles were all fake, written by our friend Jon [Rose], and that a lot of the Rosenbergs' musical inventions were actually his. He had basically invented an entire mythology around his own work. I read it and thought, “ok, this guy really is bonkers.”
SE: I went to a public exhibition of Rosenberg artifacts in Brno, Czech Republic in 2009, and a bus arrived full of school children whose teachers were bringing them to learn about the Rosenbergs. That was when I really realized how far the line had been blurred between myth and history. And you were asked to perform at the Rosenberg Museum for its grand opening concert.
KM: Yes, I remember Jon and I laid down on the train tracks playing our violins with Aleks Kolkowski and Phil Durrant as trains of people came in from all over to this concert. I think a lot of people were expecting something like a classical music concert, but what they got was Ben Patterson going on stage and making marmalade out of violin cases.
SE: And according to the video footage I saw, you were being seriously harassed by a drunk local.
KM: Oh yeah, he wanted to marry me. Something like that.
SE: Well, I made a short film about the Rosenberg Museum ( https://vimeo.com/33099085) after traveling there with Jon for its 10th anniversary celebration. I was going through Jon's published biography of the fictional Dr. Johannes Rosenberg, and noticed something which I find kind of uncanny: in between winning the Nobel Peace Prize for his book "Yehudi Menuhin Serves Capitalism" and having his 11th Violin Concerto sent by NASA into outer space "in search of concert venues," Dr. Johannes Rosenberg is credited for having created, in 1961, the first piece for violin and interactive hammerhead sharks.
KM: My god, you must be joking. You know, I've worked with NASA astronauts on a music project as well. That's incredible.
SE: Indeed. Jon turned portions of his own musical history into the Rosenberg mythology, but you're turning parts of the Rosenberg mythology into reality. You've been carrying the torch of the Rosenberg legacy since you performed at the opening of their museum, without realizing it. It reminds me of something written at the entrance to the Rosenberg exhibition in Brno: "Today, the Rosenberg Museum is such an organic mixture of reality and fiction that even direct participants in its expansive game are at times unable to discern and separate its individual layers. A critic once wrote that the Rosenbergs were the only virtual dynasty to become a reality. But the uniqueness of the games surrounding the Rosenberg Museum is that the initial virtual concept had already been realized in life itself."
KM: You should talk to Aleks Kolkowski and Phil Durrant, the other violinists I played with at the Rosenberg Museum. They are among the most crack violinists in Europe as far as I'm concerned, and have been up to some really interesting things.
SE: I've been in touch with them. It seems that everyone from the inaugeral concert at the Rosenberg Museum have been taking music in radically different directions. Jon's instrument of choice, as you know, has become barbed wire fences in conflict zones around the world. Aleks seems to be going in the opposite direction as you in terms of technology, finding new ways to make music with 19th century recording technology like Stroh violins, acetate record cutters, and wind-up wax cylinder phonographs, which he uses in his live performances to create music that sounds like electronic music but without any actual electricity involved. It's part of his larger interest in examining our relationship to recorded sound in the age of the digital file by making new music with the earliest sound recording devices. [A great interview with Aleks can be read here: http://jussiparikka.net/2011/04/11/“sonic-alchemy”-an-interview-with-aleks-kolkowski/].
POSTSCRIPT: Kaffe is currently at work on an outdoor project in Galloway Forest, Scotland, in which she is making survival spacesuits that enable the user to lie down anywhere in the forest, regardless of ground condition or temperature, and look up comfortably at one of the only skies in Europe with zero light pollution. She is also engineering sonic furniture for the forest which creates silence for a human, so that the sky can be contemplated without external ambient sonic distraction. And a vinyl LP of space ballads for those who wish to use it. The space suits will be free for public use.