IT SOUNDS LIKE A CAPITAL, 2008
25 videos, concept, screenplays and editing by intothepill.net
total duration 17min.
[Presented in the Greek Pavilion during the 11th Architectural Biennale of Venice as part of the installation “Athens By Sound”]
Recording the city, we decided to employ the individual narratives as a tool for registering its character.
The knowledge, the experience, a general and consistent recording/ mapping of the sonic and visual indications of the city, does not provide a solid plan that reveals and decodes the urban condition. It only provides information for the construction of a replica.
In contrast, the moment, the detail, the ‘poetic’ event, this unique happening that emerges, or – if you like – that we bring, ourselves, forth as unique, can become revealing, reversing the overall plan, the overall ‘objective’ presentation, which is counterfeiting since we live within a constantly changing field of experience, potential and interpretation.
A narrow weeded building plot and the sound the footsteps of an invisible intruder make, the flags of Mercedes waving accompanied by the sound of a demonstration claiming the rights of the workers, the crowd of travellers on the escalator, moving multiplied by its reflections, confronting the echo of the station.
Each recording presupposes an intrusion to the hard-core of the urban structure, it presupposes the participation and the entanglement with the incident described.This instantaneous intrusion reveals the range of the event of the city.
It brings forth the memory of coexistence, of exchange and of the adventure that constituted the city.
It is basically about a constantly renewed attempt of composing images with sounds, out of which the ‘conundrum of reality’ emerges.
The potentiality that characterises them is a conscious decision. It leaves open a field of hope, of leap away from the imposed readings that we are forced to reproduce.
Each object becomes the conjunctive ring in a chain of invisible connections.
Within each narrative, the object is a magic object. The narrating time can even be immobile, since each piece of work is an act of interference to the duration, an act of ‘charm’ and imposition, which is enacting on the flow of time; constricting and expanding it.
In this framework of a creative process, the ‘knowledge’ means that I have been conscious of the city, I have observed the incident, I have approached its sounds, smells and light, I have got lost and I have been found again within its streets, I devise its boundaries and I redefine them as desired. It also means that I can contemplate its possibilities, I can constantly activate – through my observation – my imagination, so as to wander and understand the city beyond its place and time.
The camera, adapted to the infinite variety of things, becomes the tool for their quest. The ephemeral, the ‘value-less’ element of sounds and images, their lightness and mutation captures the inwardness of the city without forcing it.
If we suppose that all the objective parameters concerning the contemporary city such as: its geographical position, its large-scale interpretation, the palimpsest of its boundaries and foundations, its population and its distribution into social groups, and its multi-culturality, can define the measurable/objective space, then, the wandering in the city defines the subjective/ emotional space. Within this context, architecture is required to re-read not in the sense of an attitude towards space, but as a kind of thinking space – as a plural experience which constitutes another point of criticism towards the individualistic philosophic subject, and it leads to a politics that emerges out of the discourse of the space itself.
If thus, the materiality of a city is being approached through a process of wandering, in Athens due to the lack of urban planning and to the architectonic arbitrariness of the 19 th and 20 th century, the routes are complex and unanticipated, while the materiality is more tangible than the one of the European metropolis. We could end up to a non-typical way of determining materiality, whose value would be reversely proportional to the range of the metro network, to the high-speed motorways, to the built and spatial characteristics of the developed Western city.
The investigation of the urban landscape of Athens has constituted for us a significant experiment, since, anyway, as a process, it is situated in the centre of our interest. In order to record the built space, a precise methodological approach is needed parallel to the narration-elements.
The thorough recording of the details and the – definitely conscious – concealment of the broader architectural space reflects our intention to listen for the city so as to compose a complex of emotion and experience. When you get concentrated you look down or you close down the range of your panoramic glimpse focusing on a detail, and often even closer; when you cannot any more recognise the sonic and visual input, a mechanism of correlations is getting activated and it tends to devise the elements that are missing or are implied.
We have got used to accepting complete modes of thought (selective perception). The relation between the image and the sound of the videos that we created raises these filters, the boundaries and our beliefs, in such a way that allows us to slip through the fissures of perception, into alternative and coexisting realities. This chaotic convergence of information is initially disorientating us, but finally leads us to the source of the information and of the intuition that had been covered, due to the preconceptions that we developed since when we were born, and due to the filters of our perception. The built space is being reformulated and the solid structure of reality seems henceforth unsound and perforated. This constitutes a dramatic change regarding the perception of space.
The de-valorisation of the historic centre in real estate games, the arbitrary privatisation of the public functions and spaces, and the conservation of Athens’ introversion are some of the dominant issues which are not hidden, in contrast they are brought forth by the composition methods that we followed.
In Athens the dominant sound is that of the traffic jam and of the cars circulation. The lack of open spaces, the intolerable homogeneity of the city network, and the human intrusion into the natural landscape create this fused sonic delirium all over it. This phenomenon is certainly valid for almost all the capitals of the world. A trained ear, can figure out variations and it can categorise the noise pollution. The sound of the traffic jam, for example, can bear information about the road behaviour of the drivers (education issues), about the age of the vehicles circulating in the city (standard of living), about the criminality indicators and the promptness of the public mechanism (fire brigade, police alarms, etc) and many other issues that characterise not only the city but whole nations too. What functions as a defence mechanism for the abovementioned perceptual model is to ignore and – finally – not perceiving this devastating noise. This stance constitutes one of our fundamental methodological tactics concerning the manipulation of the sound in our videos. The characteristic sounds of evens and situations create new narrative spaces and with the input of the image, multiple readings are suggested.
The evasion of the objectivity and of the embellishment, the technique of hiding the subject and the emphasis to the elusive adjacent element is also a political stance. What anyone would overtake is brought forth as central, and this transition causes a lack of balance, as if you are not certain anymore about what you saw or heard. It is possibly – structurally and formally – related to movements of the past, such as the Dada, the Fluxus, even Surrealism, in art and in the cinema, which used the object and the rising of the detail as a transcendental psychological mode, and they function referentially, but definitely in new framework within our recording attempt.
Yiannis Grigoriadis |Yiannis Isidorou | Lina Theodorou