The nineteenth century figure of the literary ‘man of leisure’, the wanderer, the observer of urban spaces as described by Charles Baudelaire in ‘The flowers of evil’. The Flaneur was then taken by Walter Benjamin to describe the experience of city dwellers in capitalist societies, Benjamin saw in the Flaneur a ‘researcher’, someone who has an esteem for the ‘insignificant’ and who opens our eyes to ‘the ruins of the burgeorisie’, but also brings an attitude of ‘revolutionary hope’
According Christopher Butler (in Seal) the flaneur’s ‘aim is to derive ‘l’éternel du transitoire’ (‘the eternal from the transitory’) and to see the ‘poétique dans l’historique’(‘the poetic in the historic’). It was the Surrealists who used the notion of ‘encounter’ to describe a situation where a latent ‘surreality’ is made manifest: the confluence of dream and reality, the fantastic and the mundane, the conscious and the unconscious. Benjamin used the term ‘profane illumination’ as the transcending the experience of spiritual impoverishment in urban societies.
These concepts provide a link and a guiding imagery in the pieces I am developing for ‘Procession’. Through engagements with the place, I have been putting together a series of ideas for the performance. Here I discuss three pieces that have ‘Flanerie’ and the ‘encounter’ as their genesis.
A first attempt at exploring the sound possibilities of a garage door in building 3 at ECU Mt Lawley. A recording was done with Zoe Kilbourn, following a structure arrived at by a series of improvisations. A contact mic was attached to the metal door, and run through guitar effects: reverb, overdrive, chorus, and delays. The recording exhibits the following material:
0 - 40’’
Friction of fingers with added delay and interspersed with saxophone squeaks on mouthpiece
A thunderous rumbling with added overdrive
Chorus is added at points of feedback, then different rates are used to ‘quiver’ the feedback
Distortion with delay, delay times are increased or decreased to vary pitch
Thunder-like effects were suggested by Zoe as they bring a sense of awe for natural phenomena, which could add to the procession imagery of transcendence. Dan O’Connor mentioned that the use of the door ‘can serve to frame the performance space’ with its monolith-like appearance. Another possibility would be for it to be played by the audience members, similar to touching the statue of a religious icon in pilgrimage.
A sound design piece I made as a way of pairing the sound of various objects using in procession; in this instance I used a trolley, acoustic guitar, and a piece of wool. The wool elicits friction on the first string, a sound reminiscent of the ‘Cuica’. There will be a section during the performance where the pairing f those twowill be the focus of attention, therefore bringing about an ‘encounter’ between the disparate musical and non- musical.
Flaneur (for trumpet, objects and field recordings)
Call of the ‘ropavejero’: trumpet and harmonica
Trumpet enters noisy sounds, enter field recording of trolleys and bells
Voice and Trumpet
Simple playback device with minimal processing, except for gizmo~
For the vocal section I make use of a delay, flanger and tremolo / ring modulation
Recorded song (pergola)
Pots and ropes (an activity)
Audience formation (an activity)
Emerling, Jae. Theory for Art History. Theory4. New York: Routledge, 2005.
Seal, Bobby "Baudelaire, Benjamin and the Birth of the Flâneur." (2013). http://psychogeographicreview.com/baudelaire-benjamin-and-the-birth-of-the-flaneur/.
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