During Sons libérés 2015 – Tempo al Tempo (Time to Time), the collective INaudible - together with our guest artists - will bring some of the sounds and images gathered in the city (OUT) into the place where we improvise (IN) and vice versa. The idea, in fact, is to move our thinking on TIME from ourselves, from the city where we live and where will welcome artists and audience for the festival.
To do so, we have launched some 'tracks' for discussion and subsequent action. The discussion among us and with our guests is still open and the list of actions is far from definitive. Only some of them will eventually be chosen, based on their feasibility, their potential meaning and the affinities with the participants. However, we want to give account of all the proposals so far launched, taking over the value of the 'path' then that of the 'finished product': this approach is typical of the improvisation’s practices.
(*) Caution: to participate in each performance IN-house, artists interested should register before the festival. The mode of each performance (IN), based on materials recorded in the city (OUT), will vary depending on the number of registered artists. This is related to the section 'proposed actions'. Of course it is possible to participate freely to the sections related to pure musical improvisation.
Brussels, home of the festival, is not any place. As everyone knows, it is the political center of Europe and, at the same time, the capital of a small state - Belgium - in constant, delicate balance between its two major communities (Flemish and Walloon). The 'linguistic frontier', as they call it here, and its political and administrative complications did not prevent the acceptance of a large part of people of foreign origin. It also has a tradition of land of welcome for all the refugees.
In addition to the many immigrants from the former colony of Congo (but also from other African countries), from half of Europe (since the beginning of 19th century with the start of industrialization), from the Middle East and Asia, what makes up the linguistic Babel and the variety of customs are also the staff of the European institutions and those who gravitate around them (lobbyists, interest groups, NGOs, global corporations, etc.) the NATO and artists coming from the 4 corners of the world.
Just take the subway, close your eyes and listen. As in all big cities, you will say ... Not exactly so. Because here the absence of a UNIQUE reference culture, or the peculiarity of the co-presence of three indigenous communities (there is also a German-speaking minority) because here the transnational vocation is clear, it has deep historical roots and it has many consequences. The city also is highly polycentric, resulting in the agglomeration of 19 municipalities, each with its own character, history, economic and social fabric. A city then perceived from the outside as having an autonomous and coherent personality. With its potential wealth of openness, but also its difficulties and dangers, Brussels has become an international battlefield, a nerve center and laboratory of globalization.
The dynamic IN/OUT
The first track for our reflection on the TIME (and its social implications) starts from here: through Brussels may happen, in fact, to have the feeling of entering into a kind of time machine... If, for example, you get distracted between different bus-line terminals you are thrown into worlds ruled by opposing rhythms, seemingly irreconcilable...
Gare du Midi: a hub for high-speed trains that connect Brussels with Amsterdam, Paris, Lille, Cologne... and, through the tunnel, with London. It is also station of arrival and departure for tens of thousands of commuters who come from the rest of Belgium, or from Luxembourg, France, Germany, and the Netherlands. Outside, on Sunday morning, the district is colored with all colors and scents. People from various origins are here for the big market which takes place under the tracks.
1. Allez-Retour (**)
Proposed action (OUT): field recordings (audio and/or video) to be implemented in October. Purpose: to create a 'soundscape' (and/or a short video), that highlights some of the different ways in which spend time those who attend the station: time of waiting; ‘rush’ time (not to miss the train); time to live (who, for example the homeless, has no other dwelling), etc.
Improvisation (IN): before the festival, the artists interested can sign up to participate to this performance.* Duration: 20/25 minutes. Purpose: using the recorded material as a basis, the performance will try to emphasize the differences in the perception of time in the same place.
(**) 1.b Allez-Retour: Alternatively, we can use the field recording (OUT) of the project Metrolines by Marco Loprieno (MAL) as the basis for improvisation (IN).
Hopital Caesar de Paepe: physiotherapy room for cardiac rehabilitation and patients operated on for breast cancer. Apparently, a gym-room like many others, actually all people who go there had to confront in more or less recent times with their own extreme fragility. The relationship with the physiotherapists, with the machines and with the other patients varies widely from person to person. However, there is a subtle thing in common: the desire to stay alive. To complement this, there is also the need not to waste time. It is a very strong feeling. And it is contagious. Physiotherapists know this and do their best to get it out of all of us.
2. No time to waste
Proposed action (OUT): (1) field recordings (audio). Purpose: to create a 'soundscape', that highlights fatigue, weakness, patience, tenacity of both patients and physiotherapists. Here the time is simultaneously too fast (that of the disease) and too slow (that of healing).
Proposed action (OUT): (2) field recordings (audio) + performance on site with up to 1-2 players (it requires the utmost discretion) + sound-engineer. Purpose: as above. The artists - playing or singing - can stimulate and/or accompany the work of patients. All in accordance with the well-being of patients, who - if they wish - can join us in the improvisation.
Improvisation (IN): before the festival, the artists interested can sign up to participate to its performance.* Duration: 20/25 minutes. Purpose: using the recorded material as a base, the artists will focus on trying to empathize with the plight of people who would get more time and feared not to have, or who by contrast has learned to enjoy every second of their time.
Bio Market ‘Les Tanneurs’: tell me what you eat and I'll tell you who you are. This organic market, I think the oldest in the city, keeps what it says: the food is good, honest, clean and cheap. This means that it satisfies the palate, it is produced with the exploitation of anyone, it doesn’t mine nor our health, neither that of the planet and finally (which is not bad at all), since it does not cost too much, it leaves some money in our pockets for... the music, for example!
3. Slow food, fast music
Proposed action (OUT): (1) field recordings (audio/video) to be implemented in October (the place is also open on Saturdays and Sundays). Purpose: to create a 'soundscape' (or a short video), that allows us to enjoy the food and the environment of the organic market with our ears (and eyes, in case of the video). Here the time is declined by respect: time of production, time of consumption, time of reuse / recycling / waste disposal.
Proposed action (OUT): (2) field recordings (audio/video) + performance (to be realized in the festival week: the place is also open on Saturday and Sunday) Purpose: as above. Dancing, singing, instruments... small ensemble? Artists can 'play' and/or dance with the goods? (We must obtain permission and agreement about the ways of implementing this action). Workers and clients - if they wish - can join us in the improvisation.
Improvisation (IN): before the festival, the artists interested can sign up to participate to this performance.* Duration: 20/25 minutes. Purpose: the recorded material can be used as a base in different modes. For example: action (1), only audio + all kinds of performers on stage (music, dance, instant graphics...); action (2), improvising on video mute (only musicians). The artists will focus on time, accelerating or decelerating, to symbolize the 'slow' time of good food and the fast time of music: in this case, cheerful, fast, bursting with good health (of those who eat well and also have a clear conscience).
Salon Lavoir, Anderlecht: a large, beautiful public laundry where cross local residents, mainly coming from Maghreb. But among the regulars there are also many other Africans of various origins, Polish (like the laundry’s managers), Romanian, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Latin American, and... some Belgian. Here, the only gods are washing machines, dryers and ironing machines. Apart from this, there are only mobile phones: rare to see someone passing the time reading a book or a newspaper. Easier to see them frantically typing on the touch screen of their smart phone. The variety of ringtones and the languages used to answer contrasts curiously with the monotony of the sounds emitted by the machines.
4. The time of the machines
Proposed action (OUT): (1) field recordings (audio/video) to be implemented in October, or early November (the place is open 7 days 7, from h 10 to 22). Purpose: to create a 'soundscape' (or a short video), which emphasizes the relationship between the dead time (waiting time for people) and the live time (when machines are operating). At the end of the cycle, the relationship is inverted: the machines are switched off and silent (until the next client). People gather and fold the laundry. But often, in so doing, they do not stop to talk on the phone. Horror vacui?
Proposed action (OUT): (2) field recordings (audio/video) + performance to be achieved in the week of the festival (the place is open 7 days 7, from 10 to 22). Purpose: as above. A small ensemble (with 'light' acoustic instruments, or only electronic ones) could interact simultaneously with the machines and other ambient sounds (such as voices, ringtones, etc.). We must get the permission and agree, in principle, the implementation’s ways and means. Workers and clients - if they wish - can join us in the improvisation.
Improvisation (IN): before the festival, the artists interested can sign up to participate to its performance.* Duration: 15/20 minutes. Purpose: the recorded material can be used as a base in different modes. For example: action (1), only audio + all kinds of performers on stage (music, dance, etc.); action (2), improvising on video (only musicians). The artists will focus on the time of the machines by exploiting the different rhythm, in contrast to other ambient sounds (like the voices of people) and - on stage –singers’ voices or sweet acoustic instruments (guitars, flutes, clarinets, etc.).
Rue Haute, centre-ville: it is the ultimate shopping promenade. Here young people of all origins are mostly 'rub' on Saturday. Here people of all ages and census flock for shopping. On the occasion of the sales, it is hard to walk. The road has its peculiar rhythm as it combines the quick steps of those who are there in a hurry (shopping as inevitable, tiring necessity); the shuffling and slow walk of young people (‘watching and being watched’ is their commandment); the techno pounding that comes out in bursts from certain stores every opening of automatic doors; the unheard requests of some beggar crouching among the forest of legs on the move...
5. The time consuming
"Time devours me like a tiger, but I am the tiger" Borges
Proposed action: (OUT) field recordings (video). Guy's intention to make late September / early October. Objective: shoot low to the ground the legs of an invisible multitude scrolling purpose and record, not necessarily in the same place or at the same time, the babel of flow of words from the crowd. This time it's not a raw materials broadcasting clip as such, but a short film mounted on a screenplay outline for an impromptu performance of dance and music dialogue with recorded, reworked and pre-mounted materials.
Improvisation: (IN) video + dance + percussion trio. Guy invites three artists (Sofia, Kostas and Marcello) to join him on stage. Duration: 15/20 minutes. Objective: (support) meditation on time imposed by external necessity: labor, pervasive market logic, imposing its measure to our lived time. [To be finalized before between the four participants: a series of sequences chaining various combinations, such soundscape and improvised dance / silent images in B & W and improvised music / color sound images, improvised music and dance / images become B & W, passing blur, dance and speech (each musician simultaneously saying a poem or short text of his choice in his language) relayed by the public who are asked to intervene crescendo-decrescendo parlando (under conduction) from which emerges a final dance and improv only perceived. This is only a hypothesis of combination among others, to choose by mutual agreement between us.]
The dynamic IN/change
To summarize: our look on the city through the audio/video recordings, but also - we hope - the look of the city over us, through the eyes of new festival-goers who could decide to come after having met us working in the city. This, in brief, is the common feature of all the proposals described above.
Some of us, however, feel the need to experiment / innovate, avoiding or reducing the risk of falling into repetitive and boring cliché, even when the approach to improvisation is more traditional.
We called this dynamic IN/change, to designate the strong desire for change, while remaining within the usual places of improvisation. A complementary approach and not opposed to the 'business as usual' (BaU), where the latter is understood as a gym for continuous improvement (through individual and collective work), the intensification of previous human relations, the capitalization of experience.
Sons libérés 2015 and, specifically, the reflection launched on the TIME for the festival, seem to us a wonderful opportunity to begin working on the dynamic IN/change. The following actions are only 'tracks' to stimulate artists to proceed in this direction. Probably, only some will be chosen, others may be suggested later. Deadline: before the end of October, however. If possible.
We remain open. With our brain and our heart. And thanks in advance for the contribution of ideas that you will want to send us.
6. Musical chairs
Proposed action (IN): Key-words: interaction artists/audience, surprise, participation, empathy. Purpose: promote active public. How? Playing at first with the surprise element, and then enhancing the sounds (random or not) produced by those sitting in the hall. These sounds, reprocessed and integrated into the improvisation, form the raw material for the performance. Time here is that of dialogue/interaction, that we will be able (or not) to establish with our public.
Improvisation (IN): White Noise Generator (WNG) + ??? Duration: 15/20 minutes. Modality: we could open the festival with this performance. The WNG guys prepare the room by applying sensors on some chairs in the first 2-3 rows. Captured sounds (random or not) are reprocessed by Marco Ergo Malasomma (MEM). The other musicians on stage improvise on that basis, trying to stimulate/emphasize the dialogue with the 'players' sat on the treated chairs.
Who is listening to us? What kind of people? And what goes through their minds while they listen to us? And what would happen if we bent a slightly 'to swap roles? And what if we were us to listen to them? And if in doing so we break the usual dichotomy us/them, for the benefit of everybody? What if ... We just have to try, right?
7. Take the word (***)
Proposed action (IN): Key-words: interaction artists/audience, surprise, participation, empathy. Purpose: to promote active public. How? Playing on the surprise effect and making tenuous the line between those that are on the scene and who are sitting in the hall. No secondary effect: the time of playing and the time of listening are shaken together. Food for thought for both: the artists and the audience.
Improvisation (IN): Cosmophonics, directed by ??? + Public. Duration: 15/20 minutes. Modality: having to play on the surprise, this performance should be programmed at the beginning of the evening (probably, the second evening). The Cosmophonics, in any case, here are in their first appearance on the scene of the festival as ensemble. The conductor (C) is alone on the stage, or alternatively, is discreetly accompanied by 1-2 instrumentalists (Kostas, MAL?). The Cosmophonics sat within the audience, confused among people. The (C) invites them to enter one by one, by modulating the signs in order to make appear the mechanism invitation/response as totally random. Reached a good rhythm, (C) begins to indicate someone in the audience. If she/he reacts and participates, one of the Cosmophonics gives up and leaves the room discreetly. Probably, we must agree on a protocol like: each artist turns up the nearest (or the most away from him/her) in the audience who took the floor... One by one all Cosmophonics leave the hall, leaving the (C) to direct the public: until the closing of the piece.
(***) CAUTION: this action was proposed by Jean-Michel at the beginning of July, before he decided to get-off from the organization of the festival. We describe his proposal in the manner he suggested, leaving for the moment pending the identity of the conductor. This may be JM himself (if he will decide to change his mind), or Guy that has already gained some experience in the conduction of Cosmophonics.
Improvising has become a practice to build bridges not only between different cultures, but also between different historical periods... So why not try all to experience the disorientation space-time, for example, using only ethnic instruments, or instruments of other eras? And why not trying to imagine and practice rhythms never sought before?
8. Different time
Proposed action (IN): Key-words: experimentation, disorientation, uncertainty, empathy. Purpose: to stimulate the musicians to work on uncertainty and disorientation of a tool that you know little, or not at all. Objective: to seek the pace of a time other than our own.
Improvisation (IN): before the festival, the artists interested can sign up to participate in this performance.* Duration: 20/25 minutes. Modality: in the back, we will set up a kind of store/flea market with many instruments from other cultures or other eras. The way we will install them will suggest and/or emphasize the potential and challenges inherent to the proposed instruments (for example, through unorthodox groupings, or constraints in their combination). The performance starts with the choice of instruments by the musicians. The musicians will have the opportunity to exchange further the chosen instruments on stage, provided that the change is explicit and functional to the performance in progress.
In the frenzy of the day, we do not even notice a leaky faucet. The same tap becomes a nightmare in the silence of the night. And again, we appreciate the silence of a place dedicated to contemplation or study, but we will be surprised (and we would immediately wonder about the causes) whether to remain silent was a large crowd, or a disco in full swing. Silence is powerful, it is precious, and it is rare. We do not get it often, and we do almost never try getting it, accustomed as we are to live in an environment full of sounds...
9. Cage uncaged
Proposed action (IN): Key-words: silence, sound, listening, waiting, suspended time. Purpose: to encourage mutual listening between the musicians and the public. Reflect on how time is able to expand and connotes with new shades during a (too short) period of silence.
Improvisation (IN): before the festival, the artists interested can sign up to participate on stage in this performance.* Other artists and the public are also invited to participate from their seats in the hall. Duration: 5 minutes. Modality: inspired by the famous performance of John Cage, we will try to replicate a similar action in the festival’s hall. The aim is to appreciate silence and at the same time listening to each other in silence. A group of 4-5 musicians carry on the scene, like they are to start a piece of music. They find a position suited and maintain it. They are seeking the public's attention, inviting the audience to silence only with looks and body language. Obtained an acceptable result, other artists go to install, one by one, on the scene at a distance of a handful of seconds. They will try to make as little noise as possible. Since the group of artists (registered to attend the performance on stage) is complete, they will last three more minutes in silence, doing nothing and just listening.
We are always connected, but maybe we risk losing the human touch... Keeping in good balance the enormous potential of ICT devices and the quality of our human relations is not always easy. But it is a great challenge. Here, too, the practice of improvisation can help us, especially if it can enrich its traditional protocols combining them to what happens on the internet.
10. Public time
Proposed action (IN): Key-words: social networks, interaction artists/public, simultaneous/deferred time. Purpose: to encourage musicians and audience listen to one another even when is made with asynchronous mode (as, largely, happens with the social networks). Reflect on the potential of an artistic action that can combine the deferred time of the network with the simultaneous time of a performance live.
Improvisation (IN): before the festival, the artists interested can sign up to participate in this performance.* Duration: 15/20 minutes. Modality: we will collect messages online sent by people following us live and/or via social networking. We could launch, for example, a request for feedback on the theme of the festival, or on improvisation in general. These messages will be red (or projected or pre-recorded in voice and spread) as a basis for improvisation. We could also allow the audience to interact with us: reading the messages previously selected online, or participating ‘live’ with their own new statements.