Wave Forms and Tunnel Visions III

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Wave Forms and Tunnel Visions III: is a series of sound essays based on the interviews and recordings executed during a residency in Cagliari, Sardinia in 2015. Robert Revisited is the first work in the serie and is created for the Drive In Sound Art project.

Wave Forms and Tunnel Visions III: Robert Revisited

There are certain precautions that an artist who record sound as a major part of one´s practice takes. No hocus pocus, just basic stuff like taking extra batteries, SIM card, cables. If you are doubting whether or not to bring a microphone, just do it, it is written in the stars that if you choose not to, you will regret.

In the autumn of 2015, I spent some weeks recording in Sardinia. Cagliari had been appointed as the culture city of Italy and the curator Maria Paula Zedda had envisioned a program focusing on the city of sounds. I was one of the artists in residence and had set fore to explore the relationships of property and ownership between the subterranean and the city above ground.

I spent weeks listening to the changing echoes while descending down into the dark and recording the city filtered through it´s cavities. I think of field recording as a conversation with place, but have also sought co-listeners, fellow bodies, thinkers, experts to join the conversation.

All went well, I encountered great people and places and was very happy about the recordings. A month had passed and it was getting closer to the final exhibition. One morning on the way to the Antico Palazzo di Citta where my performance was going to take place, I stopped by an excavation site next to the busy square Piazza Jenne. Enrico worked there, the archaeologist with whom that I had visited several of the city´s cavities. I recorded him and his crew uncovering mosaics, a window fragment and a part of a vase under layers of earth and asphalt. I had not plan to record that day but there were something raw and rhythmic about that sound of digging; the metal tools meeting sand and stones, the worker´s comments, the traffic.

It started raining, so I but my binaural microphones inside a hole in the fence surrounding the excavation site. Soon after, I heard a voice, it was Robert´s but at that moment he was still a stranger. I remember he made me laugh although I cannot recall his joke. After explaining what I was doing, I asked if I could record our conversation. He answered “You want me to talk about property and ownership? How can I even talk about ownership when I have no legal body here, literally speaking, I barely exist.” Increasingly troubled I asked if, from the perspective of barely existence, he had a place he could call his and he answered without doubting: “the Horizon”. Then the SD card was full and of course that day very day, I had no extra. “Whatever”, I thought and packed my equipment. Robert and I spent that day together visiting crypts, cisterns and caves. He was a poet, a joker, a griot and I tried to memorise his stories and readings of places.

My performances took place a few days after and I had hoped he would show up but I never saw him again.

Memories of fragments of his stories has often popped up during the three years that has passed but I did not manage to catch his words on paper. Recently I read Robert Smithson´s text Incidents of mirror-travel in the Yucatan from his Collected Writings, and while reading the opening lines, I heard an echo of the other Robert´s voice. So I borrowed Robert Smithson´s words and placed them in the mouth of a reimagined, reenacted Robert.

Many thanks to Robert, Remo and Robert.