18 x 100 sec.: Sound <.best_before.> Letters

february 01, 2010.

"Yesterday's a work in progress"
[ * ]


The image above links to a page that will let you download the free 18 x 100 Sec. Sound Letters CD, with 18 short tracks, each lasting precisely 100 secs, commissioned by the Maastricht based Art2Connect and Stichting Intro/In Situ as part of the Best Before Sound Art focus, on the occasion of their 10th, resp. 25th anniversary.

euregionalThe Best Before klankkunst activities started as part of last year's Kunsttour (see: A sound is a sound that sounds, and its sequels), and was followed in november 2009 by the Best before Euregional Sound Art Tour, a series of performances that began on sunday november 1st in Aachen (Germany), and then led via Heerlen (the Netherlands), Hasselt (Belgium) and Sittard/Geleen (the Netherlands), to a grand finale in Maastricht, on sunday november 29th, and the presentation of the Sound Letters CD.

I kicked off the tour, on sunday november 1st, together with Sjaak Jöbses, in the Atelierhaus in Aachen, where each of us did a brief lunch performance.


Here is what Jan Smeets said about my Aachen performance, in Dutch:

Schellinx ontluikte zich in Aachen als een magiër uit de tijd van het symbolisme. Als een Beuysiaanse sjamaan, met een zwarte muts op zijn hoofd, riep hij geesten en stemmen op vanuit het elektro magnetische veld. Hij deed dat door middel van diverse media, van aantekeningenboek tot synthesizer tot verloren gewaande cassettetapes. Omringd door Boeddha beelden, kaarsen en cassettespelers, werd de tijd door Schellinx, verleden-heden-toekomst, in overeenstemming met de wet der overeenkomsten tussen de macro- en de microkosmos, door de conus van de box vertaalt naar trilling [...]

I quote Jan's words because, you see, the 'evocation of ghosts and voices from within the electro-magnetic field' is an interesting interpretation of the dialogue with Eloise that I engaged in during the performance (which partly was a variation on the Audiotoop I did for Extrapool), and which on my side consisted in the dramatic recitation (in Dutch), with waving arms and grand gestures, of some of the original typewritten notes that as a teenager I made in the early 1970s, on theoretical physics, and science's quest to uncover the secrets of our universe:

"In de oude betekenis is een verenigd veld theorie een theorie, die probeert de zwaartekracht en het elektromagnetisme te beschrijven binnen een enkel 'geraamte'. [...] Men dacht vroeger dat met zo'n theorie het mogelijk was het hele heelal, zowel de macro- als de microkosmos, te beschrijven. [...] Nu is dat echter zeker niet meer het geval. Men zou nu ook de kernkrachten moeten beschrijven in hetzelfde 'geraamte' als zwaartekracht en electromagnetisme om tot een 'allesomvattende' theorie te komen. (Over het insluiten van quantumverschijnselen spreek ik nog niet eens! Hierover straks meer!)"

aachen buddha

It was partly via the use of found tapes, but mainly via this text, that I linked the Aachen performance to my CD-contribution: my 'sound letter' (klankbrief), which unlike all of the other 17 contributions really is a spoken letter. I called it 'Nummer 9'. Referring to Lennon's Revolution 9 (because of the wacky titbit of sound pop art that I intended it to be), but also because both the addresses where I spent my youth in the Maastricht suburbia of the 1960s and early 1970s, were at number nines. The letter's words are three literal extracts from the introduction and summary of (again) a text of mine from the very early 1970s, which was a stocktaking, that I did with a couple of friends from school, of the (illegal) refuse dumps that at the time were to be found in and around the town of Maastricht.

Below you can read the words. In the recording the phrases are interspersed between an enumeration (as read by the examinator's voice on a cassette that I found with solfeggio excercises for the 1987 entrance examination to the Amsterdam Sweelinck Conservatory), and all is set against the cheerful sounds of a popular orchestral classic, taken from another found cassette tape:

Nummer 9

Nummer 3 :
"Van juli tot december 1970 deden Jo, Noël en mijzelf onderzoek naar vuilstortplaatsen in Maastricht en omgeving. Aan onderzoek naar biologisch leven op een vuilstortplaats, plantengroei op een vuilstortplaats, en de temperaturen op een vuilstortplaats, werd vrijwel geen aandacht besteed."

Nummer 5:
"We hebben er 53 door heel Maastricht gevonden, waarvan 31 in Maastricht-West en 22 in Maastricht-Oost. De grootste illegale vuilstortplaatsen troffen wij in Maastricht-Oost aan. Ik kon daarbij niet aan de gedachte ontkomen dat de gemeente inzake deze illegale vuilstortplaatsen meer aandacht besteedt aan Maastricht-West."

Nummer 7 :
"De illegale vuilstortplaatsen bedierven het landschap in zeer hoge mate en bestonden voornamelijk uit het gewone huisvuil, terwijl er in sommige gevallen in Maastricht-Oost zelfs autowrakken aangetroffen werden!"

Nummer 9 :

So, that should explain this entry's motto and secret phrase ... And while I continue the hard and persistent work towards an art built from sole facts & nil fictions ( ** ), here is a (photograph of a) page from my original typewritten 1970 report, with some of the black and white refuse dump pics that I shot around Maastricht back then.



18 x 100 Sec. Sound Letters is a fine and varied collection of tracks. Personally I would have preferred more - literal - letters ... but I like the format a lot: 100 sec is an okay duration for a sound piece.

The CD's presentation, on sunday november 19th last year, at Stichting Intro-In Situ's in Maastricht came with three live sound art acts.
It began with a subdued and thoughtful performance by Mike Kramer, based upon his 'wall recordings', and accompanied by a projection that used Bas van Koolwijk and Gert-Jan Prins' Synchronator device.

best before final best before final
best before final best before final

Pierre Berthet had set up his vacuum cleaners on the first floor. And whereas Pierre's installation in the Hof van Tilly during last year's Kunsttour had been little convincing, his performance that sunday not only was funny (it regularly had the audience burst out laughing), it also was a veritable feast of sweeping rhythmic interaction, and a dynamics that in the end, finally but inevitably, went marvelously awry, ran off and derailed ...

To wrap things up, there was Kaspar König, who not only had brought his bicycle, but also a small magic suitcase that made him look an awful lot like Okkie Trooy, the inventor.
Also Okkie Trooy, as some - though surely few - of you will know, had a suitcase.
It got filled with the most delicious of currant buns every time he opened it himself; it would remain bare and empty though, when not he but somebody else lifted the cover.
To obvious and great distress of all that tried, of course.

And, Lord, did they try!

notes __ ::
(*) best_before
[ ^ ]
(**) Now of course by insisting that all of this is based on facts true-to-life, those viewers that tend to doubt the verisimilitude of the foregoing, will be even more convinced that I'm making all of it up. This footnote is to make them aware of the fact that I am aware of this; my insisting is on purpose and done for that very reason. [ ^ ]

tags: sound art, Maastricht, Aachen

# .345.

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