Soundsculpture, 1st Biennale of Thessaloniki, 2007
“According to Wikipedia, meatspace is a term originating in science fiction, specifically the cyberpunk genre: it is a word referring to real life, conceived as the opposite of cyberspace. The exhibition Meatspace held in September 2007 in Thessaloniki, attempted to investigate the position of Greek artists today, serving as a cardiogram that records the emotional pulsations of a group of people in a time of hopeless crisis or in “a state of emergency” to use a fashionable phrase.
In fact, however, this exhibition was nothing more than the acknowledgment of a shift, the documentation of a move, and the identification of an unavoidable osmosis: in an era of diffusion and information overload, the (Greek) artist ceaselessly moves between “first” and “second” lives, between the “reality of physical things” and a “mere individual sphere: in his imaginations and dreams, in his passions and emotions”, mapping his own realms, crossing his own Songlines.
The exhibition was housed in a former barracks, within the framework of the festival “Action Field Kodra 07”, and the participating artists were Mandy Albani, Lena Athanasopoulou, Margarita Bofiliou, Maria Chatzinikolaou, Kostas Christopoulos, Manolis Eliakis, Yiannis Grigoriadis, Tina Kotsi, Esthir Lemi, Leonidas Liabeis, Lilian Lykiardopoulou, Nikos Mantzios, OMIO, Rallou Panagiotou, Kostas Polychronou, Despina Stokou and Michalis Zacharias.
The texts included here complete an extend, each in its own way, this group endeavor”
The Echo Boomers, the Analogue Thought and the Tree of choice (E. Lemi)
But we won’t be there anymore. They will find us – a winter night in the open country, beneath a sad shelter, where a monotonous rain will be playing drums. They will see us crouched near our trembling airplanes, while trying to warm our hands in the wretched flame that our books of today will give out and that it will be burning slowly underneath our dropped images- F.T.Marineti (1)
The Song of the Youth was written by Karlheinz Stockhausen in 1956. Three young men on fire, survive and remain unburned, singing prayers dedicated to God. The war in Europe has finished, and those who are born without having lived the war-stories during the first decade of truce and the apnea of peace, are of such a great number, thet they are named “baby boomers”.
The crowds were as many as the changes. The Song of the Youth is written for tape, and beyond Stockhausen, people are now singing with microphones, are listening to the radio, and when later on the tape recorder will attain the wide use that will make it the most common consumer constant along with the t-shirt (2), music will be acquaring so many sub-categories, so that everybody who insists on referring to their musical tastes with the phrase “I listen to everything”, will be easily contradicted.
The reconstruction possesses the sound of the machine. The cars cross the streets, the house appliances growl. The post war generations grow up in a soundscape of a constant remodeling. A lot of quiet midday summer memories, are brought together with the stillness and the buzzing of the cicadas, the sound of radio far away. There is no silence. The eventuality of life in space is represented by the Hollywood industry through the modern sounds produced by the analogue synthesizers. The sound of the machine is the sound of the bizarre, symbolizing the future. In the meantime, the ethnomusicologists gather samples and recordings of music from all over the globe. All these conclude to the enrichment of our sound vocabulary and the aesthetic limits between music and noise end up being defined only by the natural borders of human hearing.
Approaching death, Samuel Beckett’s hero, old Mr. Krapp, opens in theaters at around the same time as The Song of Youth. Silent he sits behind his miserable desk, listening to random abstracts out of past diary recordings, which he pauses, fast forwards and rewinds at will. The unkept promise of happiness is mirrored on this repetition (3). Nowdays, when Mr. Krapp is on stage, the sound is mostly an MP3 playback handled by the sound-engineer.
The history of analogue sound becomes stagnated at the very moment when digital technology solves the problem of providing better quality, thus by simultaneously saving energy. The analogue devices coexist for a short period of time, but soon enough they get off the market and end up being considered retro.
The members of the generation growing up during the time of the predominance of digital technology are numerous, just like the ones of the first post-war period. These members will be named echo boomers by the theoriticians and their basic and substancial influences, responsible for the building of their own musical tastes, constitute the personal computers, cable television, mobile phones and the internet.
The echo boomers possess an open virtual field with limitless, constantly expanding capabilities to be creative, while past generations used actual machines as their own playground. For example, in the age of the cassette culture, inside the ghettos, teenagers recorded their very own, original music “broadening the possibilities in the uses of machinery in such unorthodox ways that. surely, no construction company had ever considered (4)”.
Kids out in the streets or inside studios will continue making their own music. Since the natural limits begin and end in the sense of hearing, that is itself analogue, everyone who interferes with virtual reality will try to produce soundscapes that look plausible, like once the advocates of analogue technology were trying to achieve artificially perfect results. Real and unreal will fight for a little while inside the heads of those who spent their whole lives alongside black and white movies, grain photographs and vinyl record players…
(1) F.T. Marineti, Futurist Manifesto 1909.
(2) Andre Millard, Tape Recording and Music Making, in Music and Technology in the 20th Century, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002.
(3) T.W.Adorno, Aesthetische Theorie, Suhrkamp Verlag, 2002.
(4) Andre Milard, 2002.