„Their story begins on ground level, with footsteps. They are myriad, but do not compose a series. They cannot be counted because each unit has a qualitative character: a style of tactile apprehension and kinesthetic appropriation. Their swarming mass is an innumerable collection of singularities. Their intertwined paths give their shape to spaces. They weave places together. In that respect, pedestrian movements form one of these ‚real systems whose existence in fact makes up the city.”
Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life (1984)
Acts of Listening is a co production project between Tsonami Festival in Valparaiso 2017 and the 4th edition of Tuned City, taking place entirely in the ancient town Messenia/Greece 2018.
A group of artists from Europe and South America will start to work in Valparaiso for two weeks. They are invited to reflect on sound as a contextual phenomenon of urban space, a battlefield of territorial disputes involving a number of cultural, political and economic interests, Valparaíso being a critical example of speculation in the city’s symbolic and physical territory.
The starting point of our trajectory are the Ideas of Michel de Certeau’s The Practice of Everyday Life – in which city is becoming a city only in the moment it is used – in the moment of ‚acting‘ within. Like we change furniture in spaces against the will of the designer, or walk pathways across green-fields (because they are shorter) – the planned city/environment is just a highly constructed abstract.
We want to analyse those codes of the city, transpose, amplify and re-apply them in a certain environment directly and probe the vital role of artistic production which has the ability to occupy spaces, provoke new and different models of using/playing the city beyond the ‘official intended‘ use – or just walk a new line of score in the green.
Listening looks passive, but it is an activity, a ‘silent production’, involving translation, decoding, abstraction, improvisation, the use of memory to recognize and connect elements from other things heard, subconscious filtering… The acoustic world surrounds us like the fabric of architecture in an urban city environment. Listening is a constant interaction.
With the Acts of Listening project we are aiming to develop a new format of artistic production, emerging from – and imbedded in – the social dynamics of both places. Instead of the preparation of a common project during the residence and one presentation of the results in the end – we will focus on a direct interaction with the environment and a processual build up. Different methods of analysis and the developed responses will be carried out in situationist approach, evaluated in direct public feedback. This will be exemplified by a variety of activations of carefully chosen places. The interests and the operational toolkit of the group draw from poetics of listening, text scores and sound poetry, sound ethnography and aural histories, embodiment, materiality and metaphysics of sound to field recording and soundscape composition, classical instrumentation and site specific performance, instrument building and sound installation art, walking practice, sound intervention and radio art. As this project is based on an experimental methodological approach, the way in which the formats and activations will finally emerge will be defined during the joint curatorial process, which constantly documents and reflects the trajectory and catalyse new questions. We aim to come to a collection of rules/task, a scorebook of actions and methods to probe and understand the public space of a city through sound. A production of a final spatial choreography of several interlinked activities in the city would show that approach in a concentrated form.
The same group will travel to Greece. Based on the research and results of the working process in Valparaiso, the methods, ideas and choreographies will be applied, adjusted and proofed towards the context of a complete different idea of a city. Coming from the experiences in a lively urban environment into the remains of a so called ‘ideal city’, from a grown city structure with typical South American flavour to the culturally overload birthplace of city planning in Hippodamian sense, but now just an empty place – the contrast could not be bigger. But especially that makes the challenge. Underneath the well preserved city structure of the ancient place it becomes very clear that it was Hippodamus greatest achievement: recognizing that urban planning was about more than engineering a functional city. It was about creating an environment that expressed and nurtured the ideals of its citizens.
The various artistic approaches collected in the scorebook from Valparaiso would serve as basis and are written further towards a new choreography, which should bring the city of Messenia alive in a different way and proof the relevance of de Certeau’s ideas about ‘the art of acting’.
The research group will be Cristian Espinoza (CL), Barbara Gonzalez (CL), Nicolas Spencer (CL), Franziska Windisch (DE), Florian Tuercke (DE) and Rene Rissland (DE). AOL is initiated and moderated by Fernando Godoy (CH) and Carsten Stabenow (DE).