For listening to tracks, scroll down.
Black Box comes from my long standing interest in oral history. It is centered around a ‘case’: the multidisciplinary improvisation series, Crash Landing, a significant event in the performing arts scene of the mid-1990s and renowned for its bold readdressing of improvisation as a performance format, the collaboration between clashing disciplines, aesthetics and ideologies, and the embracing gesture towards sampler musicians, turntablists and electronic musicians, many of whom were just emerging around that time. Far from aiming for an orthodox historiography on Crash Landing, I address in this work the issue of what lives on after the event itself has expired, using only sonic archival material as the building stones, extracted from interviews, radio emissions, sound tracks of video registrations of Crash Landing and field recordings that are placed in resonance with these materials. The resulting sound composition is an expanded radiophonic ‘broken’ epic of some sort with ‘an ear’ for the labor of memory, its failure and censorship, anecdotes, petty crimes and gossip as much as that it offers snippets of a performance history rarely told.
A deeply polyphonic work, Black Box thwarts the single-authored account and resounds a diverse array of poetical stances on improvisation and interdisciplinarity, creating room for associations and further spin-offs in the trail of sonic memory. As is clear for example in the track ‘Remembering’, authenticity is not the point. Electronic musicians Hahn Rowe and David Linton recall specific moments from Crash Landing, but it’s only during the 3 minutes long edit that we realize that their conversation was entirely reduced to those instances of the interview where the word ‘remember’ (or a variant thereof) was used. In other fragments the speech of artists is intensified by enhancing certain characteristic features, or mixing it with ‘couleur locale’ and ‘couleur mentale’.
Three artists collaborated on Black Box. I conceptualized and directed the work, inviting writer Kristien Van den Brande and composer Ayméric de Tapol, known for his compositions on the basis of field recordings, to work closely together when making small compositions of maximum 3 minutes and 30 seconds long. According to the background of each, the approach to the archival material would be either more musical or conceptual, with shifting focuses on content. This way of working reflected the desire not to come to one polished aesthetic. Finally, all compositions were pressed on 45 rpm dub plates and presented in a old jukebox. The sound installation was first exhibited in Playground 2009 in Leuven and once again, two years later, in the arts venue Recyclart in Brussels. The visitors to the sound installation could choose the records and listened in a social situation, negotiating their choices and listening modes. In a review An Mertens (2011) describes her experiences as a viewer/listener/and actor in what she describes as a performative set-up.
On this page one can find a small selection of compositions that featured in the jukebox. Not all of them need to function by themselves as sound work, as they were also splinters of a larger epic. The name of the artist who took the lead in composing is mentioned first in the credits, although it’s difficult to reduce a collective undertaking to merely one authorial stance. Black Box balances on the border of sound art, archival work and oral history, with extensions in more than one domain of application or interest. After visits to visual art contexts and performing arts contexts, it’s ready to circulate in other conduits too.
3A Remembering – Hahn Rowe & David Linton Recall D1
Side A: HAHN ROWE AND DAVID LINTON RECALL (E, 3’06”)
Featuring voices by: electronic musicians Hahn Rowe and David Linton, extracted from an interview conducted by Myriam Van Imschoot in New York, August 30th 2007, with background noises of street traffic. Credits: Myriam Van Imschoot/Kristien Van den Brande/Ayméric de Tapol
11A Nadia Lauro – Part 1 E7
Side A: PART 1 (F, 3’12’’). Fragments from the interview with visual artist and set designer Nadia Lauro. Voices: Lauro, Kristien Van den Brande, Myriam Van Imschoot; sounds of restaurant in the background, layered with sounds from field recordings in Antwerp port by Aymérick De Tapol. Credits: Ayméric de Tapol & Myriam Van Imschoot
THE TABOO OF DANCING
13B The Taboo of Dancing – In the New Millenium (by Olga de Soto) F6
Side B: IN THE NEW MILLENIUM (BY OLGA DE SOTO) (F, 2’46’’). Excerpt from the interview with dancer and x-factor Olga De Soto. Credits: Myriam Van Imschoot
ON ELECTRONIC MUSIC
16A On Electronic Music – David Linto G3
Side A: DAVID LINTON (E, 3’29’’): Extracts from interview with electronic musician David Linton on sample dub aesthetics, turntablists and virtuality. Credits: Myriam Van Imschoot
16B On Electronic Music – Music from Crash Landing G4
Side B: MUSIC FROM CRASH LANDING (2’21’’): Music from Crash Landing, extracted from VHS-tape; the drum ‘n’ bass is ‘redone’ by Ayméric De Tapol. Credits: Myriam Van Imschoot & Ayméric de Tapol
THE ECONOMY OF SPEED PRODUCTION
19A The Economy of Speed Production – Xavier Le Roy mixed with reenactment Christine De Smedt G9
Side A: XAVIER LE ROY AKA CHRISTINE DE SMEDT (E, 2’29’’): Edit using extracts from interview with Xavier Le Roy mixed with a reenactment of the same speech-parts of this interview by Christine De Smedt as it was recorded from the performance Pick up Voices (by Myriam Van Imschoot in collaboration with De Smedt). The two echoing voices are scrambled within a molecular cloud of phonemes and words. Credits: Ayméric de Tapol & Myriam Van Imschoot
20B Endings – Clap Clap, Clap your Hands H2
Side B: CLAP CLAP, CLAP YOUR HANDS (3’18’’): Medley of various applauses at the end of a set or performance in Crash Landing Leuven, extracted from VHS-registrations. The announcement of the intermission break is by the then Klapstuk director Johan Reyniers. Credits: Myriam Van Imschoot/Ayméric de Tapol/Kristien Van den Brande
Complete collection of dub plates: info sheet