Recommended by us on 2nd March 2012.
Shevia Limmen, organizer of the StreetCanvas festival, invited me to do an installation for the festival. I had to come up with something that somehow had to do with (the history of) the square where the festival took place, the Oude Groenmarkt in Haarlem (The Netherlands). I didn't have too much experience with doing installation work, but was keen to explore this field, so I accepted.
In that period, I was listening a lot to Steve Roden's installation work. His music as well as his working methods were a big inspiration. Although his ideas might be quite spiritual, the way he makes his installations is very down to earth. Nothing hi-tech about it, but simple means with a great effect. Super efficient. That's something I wanted too. Or better said: that's how I could see this sound installation business work for me too.
My installation is called 'Ontrafelde Tonen', which means 'unraveled tones'. The idea was to have sounds as if they were dug up from ancient times, like archeological finds, and preserved in a small boxes, placed at ear height on trees at the square. Finding these sounds also had to feel like you found a small hidden treasure. An intimate listening experience, like these sounds of old times are talking to you personally.
The small (9 x 9 x 9 cm) 'birdhouses' I created were made from prefab wooden boxes. I drilled a hole in each lid, painted the interiors black, and mounted a small battery powered speaker and mp3-player inside. The boxes were attached to the trees using straps (to not damage the trees).
There were three boxes, so three music pieces. Each of these loops was inspired by a specific element in the (sometimes fictional) history of theOude Groenmarkt. The piece that is not present on the 7-inch (but included with the digital version) is made with sounds of water, referring to the little brook that was flowing through the square ages ago. One of the two pieces on the vinyl has choral samples, referring to the huge St-Bavo church at the square, the influence of the church in history, and giving a voice to the people burried in the graves that literally pave the church floor. And there's a sound piece with strange metallic clanks and scrapes. This is based on a fictional history that was part of a guided tour that Jetske de Boer gave during the StreetCanvas festival. It's the sound of metal walls, moving to create divisions and new spaces on the square. Well, it's a longer and more complicated story then that, but let's save that for another time...
I'm not so much into big gestures. Maybe I'm getting old, but I prefer a quite, gentle, subtle approach. And this is also the approach I tried for StreetCanvas. Looking back, this was not the best choice. My work got totally overblown by all the other (loud) sounds and visuals on the square. I tried to make an intimate work, with the sounds coming from small speakers, only audible when standing really close, as discovering something hidden. But it wasn't really discovered I guess. An error of judgment from my side. But luckily the music (well, most of it) is now released on this 7-inch. To be listened to in a quiet environment.
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