happy new ears

a day out to the Happy new ears festival in Kortrijk with Michael, Femke and Lena, what more could you wish for !

just wrote a small report of a few things that stood out / caught the eye

we saw a few installations in the city (klinkende stad) ,
unfortunately did not have time to attend all the pieces, and in the evening went to see the concert of the THE FREQ_OUT ORCHESTRA
program and complete info about the works, to be found at:

first impressions:
– small incrowd of aquintented people ( we immediately ran into Els van Riel, Pieter Paul Mortier … 🙂
– very well publicised: posters, flyers everywhere, extremely well communicated through media, email, posted invites etcetera.
– venue hard to find for people who do not know Kortrijk: difficult to read road + city maps
– great and generous gesture to give free cd with highpoints of the program whith entree tickets
– open source = absent, it is a macintosh world

In the mainbuilding (Budascoop) some items from the auditive playground at the Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam were installed: interactive pieces that allowed for making simple collective compositions:
intended for children, these Duplo would be-artpieces were out of place in a festival for New music, especially because there were no kids in the audience.

The first location we visited was the Budatoren, a 6 storey cultural location hard to imagine in Brussels: all, some
consists of a parcours of pie-shaped cut vinyl records, that are layed out in a parcours resembling a model highway. On this drove 2 toy cars equiped with pick up needles and speakers: they played a broken all, somefragmented sound collage while following the grooves of the records. Quite beautiful, although slightly shallow contentwise.
-> Slightly reminiscent of the work Evelina Deicmane showed in Manifesta: vinyls cut in half and glued tgether with halves of other vinyls, One half plays the favorite Latvian folk song of the grandmother of the artist, later forbidden by soviet authorities, the other half plays official russian music, together the record jumps between two moments of ‘identity’ of one person: they were shown in conjunction with looped video’s in which the woman repeats the same gesture endlessly; a moving metaphor for cultural training of the body.
anyway, although fun, the Coudsy and Herbin piece did not reach that intensity.

In the Begijnhof in the city center, there were two pieces, by Steve Roden and SOFIA BUSTORFF, both not too convincing, or at least .. they were a bit outshadowed by the context in which they were presented.
In the mainbuilding of the hof (sint anna zaal) There was a coincedental sideshow, not at all connected to Happy new ears, about the last inhabitant of the Begijnhof. Marciella, a 85 year old woman who was in 2001 the world’s last ‘begijn’, she moved out of the hof and to honuor her a statue was raised; a real size bronze, which is now in the inner courtyard. Displyed was a small overview of newspaper cut outs, showing the ceremonies of the installation of the sculpture: an incredibly beautiful non-pretentious set of photos, clippings … memorising a dying out phenomenum of care-taking at the moment it’s end could be predicted, but was not history yet.
To me this told something about the importance of daring to install artpieces in a social context; you run the risk that the artworks matter less, but visiting the expo allows for tying relations, associations with neighbouring value sets which are equally important for understanding art.

The evening performance was by Freq-out, a loose collective performing electronic music, including Jim Thirlwell, Brandon LaBelle, Carl Michael von Hausswolff, and many others
see description: http://www.happynewears.be/2008/nl/1309.php
and for more: http://www.freq-out.org/participants/

first half consisted of mini solo-performances, second half was a collective ‘orchestra’ piece.
some remarks:
– a great ‘classroom’ set up with twelve small schooltabels equiped withall, some audiodevices and laptops facing the audience
– intense because of a diversity within the collective: from true ‘laptop performance’ contemporary music, to post 50’s electronic modern claasics. a journey through related auditive styleforms —
– seeing so many people perform one after the other behind their laptop evoked thoughts about the laptop as instrument: while a classic ‘orchestra’ is interesting to look at because performer, body, gesture, facial expression, treatment of the instrument all add to the legibilty of the produced sound, the laptop can sometimes be a black screen shutting audience off from what the musician is actually doing: could there be another way of showing the process of soundproduction? Why not: project all the screens of the orchestra members so the audience can follow the way they work with software? is software not the equivalent to instrument?

although much could be done to improve the festival atmosphere, inspiring eveening and event to go to, lots of firy sparks received