Resounding with Caponata. Intervista con Francisco Lòpez

a cura di Mario Calderaro

Crepuscoli dottorali, n. 4 (pdf integrale)

Nei primi giorni di ottobre 2012 Francisco Lòpez ha trascorso una breve permanenza nella città di Palermo per concretizzare una collaborazione col musicista/insegnante/ organizzatore di eventi culturali Domenico Sciajno, avendo modo nel frattempo di eseguire una performance immersiva nelle sale di Palazzo dei Normanni, sede dell’Assemblea Regionale Siciliana (ARS), e di incontrare il pubblico presso la sede dell’Istituto Cervantes di Palermo, situato nell’antica chiesa di Sant’Eulalia dei Catalani nello storico quartiere della Vuccirìa, uno dei più antichi mercati della città. In questa occasione Francisco Lòpez ha avuto modo di presentare il proprio lavoro e, insieme a Domenico Sciajno, discutere del progetto di collaborazione incentrato sulla manipolazione estrema di una serie di registrazioni effettuate nel territorio Siciliano, il cui trattamento, come spiegato dai due artisti, richiama il criterio generativo, la tassonomia e la tecnica di nomenclatura degli studi di biologia, ambito di provenienza dello stesso Lòpez. Sul finire dell’incontro Francisco Lòpez si è reso disponibile per rispondere ad una serie di domande inerenti il mio progetto di ricerca sull’immagine-suono e l’antropologia del suono. La conversazione che ne è seguita, di seguito riportata, scaturisce da una domanda rivolta sul finire dell’incontro ad entrambi i musicisti riguardante il potenziale conoscitivo della composizione sonora e le sue possibilità didattiche. Si è preferito introdurre tale conversazione riportando quanto risposto in sede collettiva, cioè di fronte al pubblico, per passare subito dopo al testo della conversazione riportato senza interventi di traduzione se non della formulazione delle domande dell’intervistatore, il sottoscritto.

M.Calderaro: Come questo lavoro di composizione sonora può essere considerato un processo di conoscenza dell’ambiente, e come di conseguenza può essere applicato alla didattica?

F.Lòpez [in un italiano misto a spagnolo che lui stesso chiama “itagnolo”]: Possibilmente, la conseguenza principale, per me, di cosa può cambiare la mia relazione con l’ambiente, con la realtà, è la sensazione di aver scelto…“desperto” [sveglio], …nella situazione. L’attenzione è massima quando la mia attitudine è un’attitudine creativa, e conseguenza dell’attitude creativa è un’attenzione massima al dettaglio, la diversità degli elementi, della realtà, tutte le manifestazioni percettive e ricettive della realtà guidate da un’ipersensibilità […] durante la registrazione, e anche prima della registrazione.

M.C.: Però prima tu hai un [pre-]concetto sonoro?

F.L.:No, prima io ho il mio gusto personale. Non posso specificare come registrerò…

M.C.: Parlo di La Selva, o Patagonia,… Tu non avevi un preconcetto di quello che sarebbe stato lì il paesaggio sonoro [una volta sul posto, in fase di registrazione, o in post-produzione]?

F.L.: Posso avere un’idea delle informazioni che troverò ma questo non è un concetto creativo, perché immagino ma non impiego molto tempo a pensare cosa troverò esattamente. Nella mia esperienza, quando devo fare un’esplorazione aperta ho sempre sorprese – sempre – e le sorprese sono le cose che non ho immaginato. Dalla foresta selvaggia a Palermo questa apertura iniziale, per me, è molto importante.

M.C.: Ma il lavoro svolto, anche con le registrazioni in Sicilia, contaminava la dinamica, non era solo di equalizzazione, quindi in qualche modo il materiale perde la referenzialità originaria. Anche l’estensione temporale viene modificata.

D.S.: Sì, assolutamente con la massima libertà.

F.L.:La composizione musicale è “sintetica” – quasi tutta la musica strumentale è sintetica – sintetica nel senso che deriva da strumenti. Qui abbiamo una struttura vera della realtà, dei frammenti della realtà, questa struttura ti porta a modificare, ti consente di cambiare, modificare – sicuro – ma sempre una parte della manifestazione originale è là. Sempre. Solo una forma [compositiva] è in grado di distruggere questa struttura: quella dell’aleatorietà assoluta. Se no, parte della materia, parte della struttura originale è sempre là, geneticamente è sempre presente.

D.S.: Passando velocemente alla questione della didattica, uno dei primi esercizi di composizione che faccio fare agli studenti parte proprio da una registrazione ambientale, o addirittura da un singolo evento sonoro. Durante il corso, questo elemento sonoro diventa il materiale di un’opera sinfonica, proprio per mettere in rilievo quest’idea che ogni suono, in sé contiene quasi tutta la gamma dello spettro udibile, ovviamente in diverso dosaggio. Quindi, didatticamente la registrazione ambientale è uno strumento poderoso, che riesce a crearsi immediatamente un collegamento con il mondo della composizione musicale strumentale anche per chi non ha un background accademico elettronico. […]

Sciajno continua e conclude insistendo sul valore “divulgativo” delle proposte di ascolto, sull“irreale” sonoro che lascia al fruitore la possibilità di trarre per stesso i significati di quanto ascolta, sottolineando il potenziale di cambiamento che le nuove musiche detengono nei confronti del sistema culturale. A questo punto, dopo un breve rinfresco, comincia la vera conversazione con Francisco Lòpez. Sono le 19 30 circa di lunedì ottobre 2012.

Fig. 1. Francisco Lòpez, La selva (reg. 1997, pubblicato 1998)

M.C.:My thesis speaks of how we can study soundscapes. Because there are many limitations, given also what is written in your site, with the WorldSoundscapeProject. Because this project took the only representational level of reality…

F.L.:…I think predominan-tly… predominantly.

M.C.:I think your work, especially the Trilogy, or works of specific contexts – specific places – could be considered something like a process of understanding places based on the laws of listening. In everyday life there are drastic reactions to what we listen in a place. What is important for me of your work is the process of reconstructing the place, which aim is not representative, so do you think that your work could be considered something like a process of knowledge of places?

F.L.: My impression it’s close in a direction of different connections with places and the reality in general. With places, specifically, but I would say with reality in general. And, in that sense, I discovered after many years that I’m sort of connected with other people who had similar intuitions, because my work from the beginning was more an intuition than lot of thinking outsidely what I’m doing and how I’m doing it. But intuitively, for example, I do remember when I started to do recordings, I remember, comparing those recordings to my memory experience of the real places, the normal reaction is that “it is different”, of course, but also the reaction it’s like “it’s deficient”. What we have in a recording, or what we have in a video, or in a photograph, is sort of like reality, even when it’s very straightforward direct, but it’s different, it’s not as good. This is a discourse…

M.C.:Do you think there is a gap beetween memory and the “expression” of the place?

F.L.: I think it has to do with our report with machines. This is an ethical question. The ethical question is: machines are not as good as we are within the reality, because we are humans, and in this sense we have created machines. This is a very large thing to discuss. In general the common opinion about machines is that: “okay, they can do these things” – I’m talking now about machines grasp structures from reality (videocameras, photocameras, recorders and the like) – so the common discourse is “they get something, but this “something” is not like real, and this something is deficient, it’s not as good as real. If we are in the place, that’s better. Always. This is the discourse. When relook at a recording people tend to think that the recording is deficient somehow. This is only possible if you’re judging the machines according to the representational qualities. If you look at other qualities of the machines, or what these machines are doing, they are far superior to us. One of them, for example – this is the main quality in my view – is that they do not think when they perceive reality, and this is something we cannot do: we cannot think when we are perceiving reality. The all perception of reality that we have is based on models, is based on symbols, it’s not placed on perceiving every single aspect of reality, every single second, because we cannot do this. It’s impossible. Machines do that. Within the range of possibilities. Within their range of the perception. For example, a microphone within the sensitivity of the microphone, the spectrum, or the sensibility of whatever is the range of the microphone; or a camera, within the range of luminosity of the lens or whatever it is, within thatrange of perception. They do perceive reality without thinking. And because they do this, this to me is a huge advantage – I’m not saying machines are better than we are, I’m saying that this particular aspect is an advantage that we don’t have. Now, why I’m talking about this, because when you do something like these pieces we were talking about, these were made through the cooperations with machines like that – a recording in this case – and considering what they can do and we cannot do, like the further front of experience. Which means that when you do that… – of course I do my selections, I select fragments to edit… I’m not claiming I’m objective. This is not about beeing objective. This is about a cooperation with the machines and do not thinking when they perceive reality. And because I do that, they can quest things of reality that we can’t: in fact we need to re-look to an image, or video, or re-listen to a recording because we cannot listen to everything in one time. And this is one of the thing you can brew by repetition, with repetition of a sound recording, or repetition of an image that is fixed you can look at, like forever, one aspect of reality. You get all the different lectures, all these different readings. Every single reading of this image, or this single listening of a recording, is different depending on many thing: analogy, culture, attention, and million other things.

M.C.:And, for example, when you edit a recording is like a second perception of the original one…

F.L.: Yes, of course, but it is based on what is contained in that. That is the world of instruction. Whatever it is reality – and I’m not sure what is reality, but anyway whatever it is that outside-thing that we call “reality” – I’m not going to the question of whether or not we can know that. My point is: there is that outside thing, and these machines perceive something of that, and they get it. When they get it, what they get – my focus is always been and it’s been since the beginning – has an entity by itself, it’s an entity in that world. So, if you ask me when you do editing how that connects with you, the most correct way for me to answer would be that it is based on that world of the instruction. The instruction itself becomes a world and then I work in that world. And this is not because I don’t want to connect with reality. I don’t have any problem with connecting with reality, this is not an ethical position, it’s more that I realize that my world of possibilities, editing, creation or whatever interpretation, and whatever it is my reactions, it’s within the instruction world, it’s not anymore in the real world, my connection with the real world may be my memory…

M.C.: And don’t you think that your attitude toward the recording may be contamined by your memory?

F.L.:Probably it is. I’m not claiming that they are absolutely independent. If I have been to a place and have taken the recorder, I do not have absolute independence from that reality original, I cannot only look at this world of traction, my point is not beeing objective or “absolute” about those things, my point is simply let’s bring the focus of attention to the world that has been created by the instruction. This happens in photography sistematically, and also socially. It’s specifically a question of representation wich has been historically the major question in photography: very soon in the history of photography – I’m talking about mid-nineteenth century – already there was this question socially discussed of whether or not photography is an art. And if it is, why it is an art. And if it is, why is different from painting, in terms of representation. This has to do with the machines. There were claims at the beginning of the history of photography because the machines were doing… The process of creation of an image was made by light, it was independent, it was like nature was creating those representations not human interpretation. This discussion was there from the beginning, and because of that most people are aware today – even non-photographers – that some photographs are considered to be “artistic”, anybody can do a photograph…

Fig. 2. Francisco Lòpez, Buildings [New York] (2001)

M.C.: They don’t do one of the main aspect of your work, they don’t recon-struct another reality…

F.L.: Exactly, this situation today has no historical precedents in the history of humankind. So many people take instructions of the reality and use these instructions as representa-tions, like tourists in general, and because of this rapresention replaces reali-ty, as the most relevant thing, this is the question of Jean Baudrillard – how simulation replaces reality in terms of importance – I think this is true, and this is not a question of sofisticated simulation, that for most people it is most important…

M.C.: But why sound contains something that is more “spiritual” than photography in Western culture?

F.L.: More “spiritual”? I don’t know if I would say that… I have a personality more sensitive to sound than images but this is a very personal thing, I don’t think I would say in general it is more spiritual, for lot of people an image is more spiritual than sound.

M.C.: But Western culture is completely unbalanced on view…

F.L.: Relatively speaking,… Relatively speaking because sound modulates what we see. Unconsciously. And lot of the things that we see, and lot of the things that we put direct attention, visually, the direction of attention changes according to sound. So sounds modulate attention in many cases, and particularly in daily experience it modulates focus attention for visual elements. But it is more unconscious than the visual perception.

M.C.: And don’t you think that your work could have something of the unconscious part of experience of everyday places? I think that we can study [this matter] with audiovisual language: if you take, for example, a picture of a place and add a sound composition of this place, not a recording, a sound composition – like yours – of this place, that is not “real”, that is not what happens in this place but is a representation of the listening, of the cognitive process…

F.L.: Yes, I guess many things…composition is many things. There are many different levels in the listening that you can approach. This is relative to representation, in order to discuss these things, you need to measure these things in relation to what you’re doing: when you say “non-trasformed”, I suppose it is non-trasformed in terms of representation…

M.C.: If I work, for example, only with equalization, I choose a frequency range and take only the Bass [frequencies] – only filtering – this could be considered as data as your instruction?

F.L.: Yes, but all the sound record is “data” already… In my understanding of it when we are talking about transformation for example, information is critical. Information means a measure for most recordings. For most recorded things you can do in reality if you don’t give the information of what it is you are trasforming the listening, because the listening cannot recall what it is.

M.C.: But if you listen, for example, to a chorus of insects for ten minutes, after a while you start to listen other things, and if you filter this kind of material, cutting the frequency range of insects and take the rest, maybe there will be [in your listening] something that in the place is “unheard”. In the place you don’t put attention to other things, your attention is approached only to insect, in that example.

F.L.: This is what you do when you bring out one thing…

M.C.: Yes, for this reason I speak about “data”. For example when you did LaSelva

F.L.: …I didn’t focus on anything in particular.

M.C.: You didn’t edit anything?

F.L.: No,…edit of course, but there’s no mixing. Editing means selecting fragment.

M.C.: Only selecting?

F.L.: I selected this fragment that starts here and finishes there.

M.C.: Some recordings seems to be filtered…

F.L.: No, no, no… there’s no filtering.

M.C.: Like the wolf, there’s an “ululation” at one point…

F.L.: Well, that’s like howler monkeys, and that’s like pigeons, that do something like that… that are frogs that do something like that, I’m not sure which one is that…

M.C.: And in Buildings is the same?

F.L.: Yes, there’s no mixing at all. There’s a little bit of a “cleaning” some of the recordings, little things… Editing in the sense of selecting fragments, which fragment and where, this the same for Patagonia, for Buildings, and for LaSelva, there’s no mixing of anything. And there is no processing in that sense, but the thing is that depend on the type of microphone that you use. Because there’s no single objective microphone, there’s no such a thing. Selecting one microphone or another is equivalent to doing equalization of one type or another, it’s the same. So, in principle, there’s no basic difference between that and doing equalization unless you do “extreme” equalization, but within the “normal” range this is exactly the same when you choose a microphone or another microphone.

M.C.: When I’ve read about your assesments on density I was thinking that another way to represent “reality”, the imaginary – the sound-image that you have in your mind – could be to juxtapose “levels” of density, like the bass, the middle, and the higher frequencies of different recordings making a “wall”…

F.L.: Well, this is a creative possibility…

M.C.: In this way you don’t give attention to the repraesentative level, but to the frequency domain that absorbs you when you are in the place…

F.L.: …It depends. It depends what is the resulting combination. With some combinations of different recordings doing something like that would give the result of something very strange. In my view it depends on what you’ve recorded, for example if you do that with the recordings from a city, streets of a city, you will get extreme density of things and you will have immediately the feeling that is a super-busy street, not the feeling that you’re listening to many things in different times, or that you’re listening to all the elements. The reaction that we have to those things is strongly cultural as well, and it has to do with reaction to representation of things. Your first reaction may be that you may not be able to decode, that it has been “manipulated”. In my experience there is a vast, huge, number of possible manipulations that cannot be identified as manipulation unless you say it, unless you specify “this has been manipulated” – it is very common. And you can do the experiment, you take different recordings from different places, imagine for example you take the recording of the ocean, ocean waves, and take the recording of a marching band, and the recording of something else… you put all these things together… and it makes sense! You listen to it and it sounds like “there’s a marching band somewhere, close to the sea, and there’s also traffic, and also birds, and it makes sense! It doesn’t sounds unreal, unless you specify “this is unreal”, actually. This is what happens with cinema, not because it is fiction, but because most of the things that we see in cinema in terms of sounds are not the original sounds. So this question is a complicate question because it has to do with our ability to decode what we hear in those things as combinations, or in those as filtering. And a lot of filters also can be impossible to detect: when it’s extreme is clear, but before getting to extreme you can do incredible things with filtering that are undetectable, impossible to detect even by people who actually live in those places. And I’ve done experiments many times. So you can do things in a way that is completely unidentifiable, unless you say it, you reveal that you’ve done this and that or whatever. And viceversa, the lot of things you have listened – straight recordings – nothing it’s been done. For example, in the concert [5 ottobre – Palazzo dei Normanni] I used that sound that some people thought was like a motorcycle, that was made with a small piece of paper, without processing, the only thing I did it’s record with several microphones, and very close miking of this, a piece of paper, and there was no trasformation of the sound, absolutely nothing. The question is we don’t hear those things with such detail, and we don’t hear those things amplified in big spaces, we don’t have that experience, so when you hear that it is completely unreal, you cannot identify it, and this without any processing. So, coming back to the original question of information – information meaning specifically – it reveals what has happened to those sounds, where they’re coming from, or if you did something or not. If it doesn’t provide that, you are sort of helpless, trying to get what’s going on there, in terms of identification. So you need to tell whether or not something has been done to the sound. I’m telling all of this because of your suggestion of putting together…

Fig. 3. Francisco Lòpez, Wind [Patagonia] (reg. 2005, pubblicato 2007)

M.C.: I need to confront myself with problems of acoustical ecology…

F.L.:My recommendation would be: do some experiments. This is the best way.

M.C: But I need to find something like a methodology to feel what there is of “problematic” in a place, like the traffic [noise] in Palermo…

F.L.: In what sense “problematic”?

M.C.: [in the sense of] What is relevant to acoustical ecology problems.

F.L.: I don’t think you will find an answer.

M.C.:[rido]

F.L.:I think you will find answers that have to do with noise relation. [Or] A phylosophical answer? I don’t think there’s neither a phylosophical answer.

M.C.: But the answer could also come from other persons like people that I invite to do the same thing I’ve done in that place…

F.L.: If you ask this question to most people, the answer to that question would be that there is a lot of noise in Palermo, [that Palermo] is very noisy. There’s a lot traffic and it is very noisy…

M.C.: So ask them what is noise…

F.L.: If you do that the conclusion to that question with most people is that “noise is something that is annoying”, most of the answers converge on this in the end. But why are you interested in it, I would ask you.

M.C.: Because, for example in Palermo, there are so many layers of noise that are problematic for the nervous system…

F.L.: But this is a question of noise pollution. No?

M.C.: Yes. But for example in that place in the country I’ve recorded the whole month of August, humans are the only sound-source that doesn’t fit in with what happens in this place.

F.L.: It sounds like an opinion…

M.C.: Of course, but you can listen, when there are specific noises like cars or something like that…

F.L.: Yes, but it is problematic in terms of noise pollution, noise levels.

M.C.: Not only for us, also for the system-place itself, and the organic feeling of the “whole”…

F.L.: I don’t believe in this…

M.C.: For example, for animals…

F.L.: Oh, immediate effects, of course! Of course there are immediate effect of noise on humans, and animals, and the eco-system from the point of view of sound. But there’s also habituation: most animals who live in the cities, like birds, like pigeons, and many birds who live in the cities, who stay in the cities and do not leave, they all are used to the noise in brutal levels and they sings louder – there are many studies about this – they sing louder because of that competition withnoise. So…

Commento.

Francisco Lòpez, senza timore, può essere considerato uno dei più grandi compositori di musica concreta, sicuramente tra quelli ancora in vita che fanno uso di strumentazione elettronica. Il suo lavoro non ha bisogno di presentazione, e così è stato in questa sede, ma può essere opportuno richiamare, prima di concludere, alcuni elementi della sua estetica impliciti già nelle parole riportate più sopra, che possano fare maggiore chiarezza su termini quali instruction, information, o la forte suggestione della competition with noise con cui si chiude questa intervista. Le domande che sono state poste muovono da un ambito chiaramente diverso da quello della pura creatività. Da un ambito in cui la stessa ricerca condotta con le tecnologie di registrazione è vittima ancora di pregiudizi quali l’inevitabile accusa di soggettività che viene mossa alla cosiddetta “ispirazione”. Il lavoro di Francisco Lòpez è attraversato da un integralismo che non può non avere connessioni con lo spirito della ricerca scientifica, innanzitutto per questa relativizzazione del dato sonoro ad un’entità a sé stante, entità il cui valore sostanziale accresce col complicarsi della manipolazione. L’istruzione infatti contempla tutto il potenziale di operazioni che possono venir compiute sul dato, come nel campione da laboratorio. Sembra quasi che il musicista, per il suo stesso universo di discorso, sia costretto a seguire un protocollo esecutivo che di fatto è il processo compositivo, tuttavia in questo modo si finisce per enfatizzare quella che può essere definita una «metafisica» del suono. Nonostante l’aperta “diffida” dello spirituale sonoro, Lòpez sembra indicare l’oggetto-registrazione, il mondo dell’istruzione, quale sede della propria ispirazione mantenendo invece un distacco laico e formale nei confronti delle suggestioni dirette che possono provenirgli dai posti da lui stesso incontrati. E non sarebbe scorretto neanche dire “documentati” stando alle rivelazioni riscontrate in questa sede. Il motivo per cui ci si è voluti concentrare sulla trilogia composta da La Selva, Buildings (New York), e Patagonia, è proprio quello che porta a citare le parole che lo stesso Lòpez antepone come prefazione di questi lavori, e che riguardano l’universo dell’informazione: «The different levels of accessibility of information about this work are intentional. And the challenge is how to deal with them. You might want to know about the background philosophy behind this work, about its specific spatial-temporal “reality”. I didn’t want to omit these referential levels, because they inevitably exist and I have indeed dealt with them, but I also wanted to emphatically give you the opportunity to skip them, to have them in your hands and decide purposefully not to access to them. My recommendation is – having the knowledge of their existence – to keep them closed. This is not a game or a trick; it is a confrontation with the relational frameworks that blur our experience of the essential.» Quindi, di fatto, non ci si ritrova di fronte ad un vicolo cieco nel volere accreditare la composizione sonora fatta di materiali provenienti da paesaggi sonori tra gli strumenti ermeneutici a disposizione dell’antropologia del suono. Quello che sembra un preconcetto diffuso della comunità artistica nei confronti dell’istituzione universitaria di fatto è un malinteso, conseguente ad una tradizionale presunzione che circoscrive all’operato di quest’ultima la cosiddetta ricerca della «verità». Lo spirito che muove questa intervista e queste riflessioni è proprio quello che intende negare tale prerogativa all’universo di discorso del Potere – uso questo termine perchè è lo stesso Lòpez a citare uno degli pensatori più conosciuti di tale problematica – al cui interno ricade il discorso universitario. A mio avviso si può tentare di diffondere una pratica audiovisiva che, una volta giunta al suo perfezionamento, può essere promulgata per promuovere la tutela dei luoghi. I problemi che Lòpez relativizza alla questione dell’inquinamento sonoro di fatto sono problemi di ecologia acustica, di cui effettivamente esistono svariate formulazioni. Manca però, a mio avviso, un approccio culturale che è già insito nel suo tipo di lavoro, e cioè una rielaborazione del vissuto drastico di un luogo, attraverso gli strumenti che consentono di concretizzare la propria sensibilità. Sensibilità che, in linea di principio, è il caso di attribuire ad ogni essere umano e che, attenendosi ad un imperativo etico, è solo in attesa di essere sollecitata.

Ringrazio Francisco Lòpez per avermi dato l’opportunità di condividere queste riflessioni.

Riferimenti Bibliografici:

Feld, Steven, Sound and sentiment. Birds, Weepings, Poetics, and Songs in Kaluli expression, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982 (ed.it. Suono e sentimento, Il Saggiatore, Milano 2009).

Lòpez, Francisco, Cagean Philosophy: devious version of the classical procedural paradigm.

–                         , Environmental sound matter.

Annunci
Questa voce è stata pubblicata in Musica e contrassegnata con , , , , . Contrassegna il permalink.