Ice installation by Julia Adzuki and Patrick Dallard
the green octave, paintings by Helena Hildur W.
the green octave, projections by Johannes Ferm Winkler
Art’s Birthday 2022: Bilder från Nysund / New Sound Images in Gnesta’s Old Watertower
Finally, let’s celebrate! The doors of the Watertower are open; inside, guests are welcomed by an installation of light and ice, glass and water. The green octave paintings – modest in size – are on display along one of the walls. Upon the next three sides of the tower, the pictures transfigure into light projections, opening up to an imaginary summer day.
the Green Octave, projections by Johannes Ferm Winkler
For myself, this is a process equally wondrous and interesting; from the beginning, years ago, where I take a walk immersed in the light and sounds of the surroundings; next, converting my impressions to a small-sized painting; leading up to this joint venture, where the landscape re-emerges by technical means… or, sprung from the inner nature of human minds. The space floating with light and sound… the landscape transcended.
On Monday, January 17, the Art’s Birthday network* will support a webradio streaming, where 25+ art spaces around the globe – from Tokyo to Vancouver – will share photo and audio streams in an interactive mesh.
Above: Fold a Hat outside the Watertower, Gnesta 2022; photos by Johanna Dahl and HHW. Below: Robert Filliou, Rome 1972; photo by Joaquín Romero
* About Art’s Birthday worldwide: the event was first proposed in 1963 by French artist Robert Filliou, as a public holiday to celebrate the presence of art in our lives. In recent years, the idea has been taken up by a loose network of artists and friends around the world, welcoming new partners working with the ideas of exchange and telecommunications-art. Since 1963, Art’s Birthday has generated parties and gatherings, correspondence and mailart, sound and video art, music composed for telephone lines, radio and (starting in the mid 1990’s) for the Internet – and, following Fillou’s example, the folding of paper hats.
Sunrise at 05.38 on Saturday, August 28th… Over the past week, instruments and gear have been moved into the water tower. Tomas has mounted the mikes and loudspeakers, and we have all brought blankets and sleeping mats to make our personal nests along the inner wall. An installation by Patrick releases water dripping from a container above into glass jars in a plastic tub on the ground floor; drip-drop in irregular intervals, like notes from a piano played slowly… and now, time has come; the SoundWavesLament begins.
Julia’s low, steady heart beats, transmitted via contact microphone, and little sounds of dripping water; mingling with humming voices, floating rhythms strummed and tapped; at times, blending with birdsong from outside; passing on to field recordings from World Listening Day; a gentle Sunrise River Reverberation. Julia’s text On Lament is read and echoed, before the first hour closes with a sonic meditation by Pauline Oliveros – Teach Yourself to Fly.
what is a lament for you? for me, lament is a love song in which no-thing is concealed where the whole of the heart, even the muck at the bottom is revealed released, transformed perhaps through the exhale of sound waves through the mouth, the fingers, the pores of the skin through all the bodies one inhabits and is inhabited by not just the bodies human but the elemental ones lament is the transmutation of water from solid to liquid from flow to effervescence.
A howl in the night, a blood song a discharge and dance where it all comes out a place where there is space for all, even that which is held most tightly as a ball inside – the shame, the grief, the lost and broken stories lament is a vocal seamstress, stitching all parts together again making whole and weaving not just human story stories of places that are part of us, our companion species the whole ghost of our civilization’s environmental grief that so few have been singing for so long that lives in all of us, even when dormant.
There underground where the bones lay in the mulch of years of fallen leaves a fertile ground is woven with threads almost invisible a mycelial weft exchanging life and messages between trees an uprising of fruiting fungal bodies in a wondrous variety of forms a lament to the wind sending spores on the airwaves.
Lament reaches deep into our bloodlines to generations before, through all the veins of life giving and life taking away not just my paternal grandfather, but all the people he killed in war not just the environmental destruction of the land where I was born, the land I live now but the brutal treatment of first nations people on who’s lands we live today though lament we might let our selves feel this not just in historical knowledge but in our bones, under our feet where we walk.
To lament might unravel a small sorrow and with it release the energy of years that that little sorrow held back moving the grief that froze, moving the shame that coagulated moving with flow, into action and compassion for every one another listening with the heart as an organ of perception could it change the way we live?
Julia Adzuki August 4th, 2020
The second hour opens with Anka Draugelates‘ agile, full-toned voice overflowing with love and agony… but as the programme continues, an unexpected problem occurs within the web radio connection: every now and then, sounds of water interrupt the broadcast – sometimes flowing and burbling, sometimes flushing like a loo… How strange! The following performance is paused for troubleshooting. Tomas targets some suspect files and deletes them. Web streaming is taken up again, according to programme, but those ghost sounds keep haunting the broadcast and the source cannot be tracked. Before noon, we have to give in and finish the live stream. Once the decision is taken, confusion turns into focused presence.; the programme is reordered and the SoundWavesLament resumes – for now, enclosed within the tower.
From herding calls to soft singing bells, from poetic readings and instrumental improvisations to Dido’s lament deconstructed, and further; to a sing-along of melodious gratitude, a purging ceremony by violin and an electronic/sonic Northern light experience; a ritual lament pulsates within us, between us; releasing emotions and opening up for what will become… past sunset, all the way into the night.
We – the Ljudtornet/Soundtower team – sincerely apologize to our listeners that the announced live streaming of the SoundWavesLament had to be cancelled. Nevertheless, the mishap eventually came across as an unexpected blessing; enhancing artistic focus within a ritual space.
The recorded event is now permanently available (along with updated programme and further information) at: Ljudtornet / ANTENN 2020
When our planning for ANTENN 2020 began, back in the fall of 2019, we had an urgent feeling that time had come to level up; to set up a collaborative process, with the intent to actually create artwork in situ. Next, a double theme emerged; the element of water as subject matter, and lament as a structural idea and modality. We identified places in the surroundings, embodying certain qualities – the lake, the rivulet, the wellspring, the sewage treatment plant – and we invited eight artists/musicians to a seminar in late August.
Come August 21st, there’s still some groundwork to be done. Tomas is busy checking the technical equipment and mowing the grass, Karin providing maps and drafting a time schedule, Patrick shopping and cooking… In the evening, our guests arrive – bringing their instruments and devices, their artistic experiences, their openness and awareness.
Next morning, Anka Draugelates joins us on zoom from Germany, and Tuomas Rounakari from Finland – sharing his knowledge of lament in ancient Karelian tradition. Katt Hernandez has brought equipment for field recordings along with her fiery violin, Torbjörn Grass his grassophone and Erik Peters his perceptive listening and composer skills. Björn Ola Lind presents his work with indigenous communities in Australia and the Arctic, and with Ljudtornet’s sister initiative Cisternen – the Tank in Härnösand. The seminar proceeds; Julia reads her text On Lament and the concept gradually becomes more familiar to all of us. We once more enjoy Patrick’s French galettes, and find our ways to the water and to each other in fluctuating constellations. Johanna Dahl and John Beck process their impressions in improvised musical dialogue…
Patrick loves all, serves all
Johanna and John
Katt doing field recording
Sunday August 23rd: we gather in the water tower, to try out some first thoughts and impulses. The means of expression vary wildly in this heterogenous group: from voice and instruments to performance and self-built sound installations; from acoustic to electronic, to herding call, jazz, contemporary art music, sacred and classical influences, folk music and indigenous rituals.
The SoundWavesLament is taking shape. Communication flows. Isn’t it marvelous?
left to right: Torbjörn Grass, Katt Hernandez, Björn Ola Lind, Erik Peters, John Beck, Helena Hildur W, John Beck, Patrick Dallard, Tomas Björkdal, Julia Adzuki, Karin Lindström Kolterud
SoundWavesLament time schedule
Afterwards, we all sit down outside the tower… Time for a photo op; time to conclude. Julia presides by the whiteboard, as the seminar comes to a close. We end up with a draft for the week to come – and for the 38 hours’ performance we’re heading for.
Walking with waters, celebrating World Listening Day on July 18th: beginning in a shared moment of stillness, under a circle of birch trees by the grassy shore of lake Frösjön; then following lazy ripples downstream as the lake turns into a rivulet; silently strolling along a row of houses and gardens basking in summer light; soon afterwards passing by the municipal sewage treatment plant (while hiding our noses in little bouquets of fragrant herbs); the wetland broadening into rustling reeds interlaced by the sound of crickets, and islands of clouds floating over our heads…
After a break for small talk and lunch, we proceed – as does the ever-streaming water, now brimming over a threshold, of sorts, and running faster; a rapid; for us, a pause; dipping our feet and our sinkable mics into the cool fresh whirls; we collect some pebbles and stones before taking leave of the riverbank to cross the highway; turning onto a dry dusty dirt road under the sun; the long grasses stirred by a badger, quickly disappearing; a wind in the leaves blending with distant traffic sounds, and the forest closing in on us; finally, we arrive at the hidden cold spring pouring out from under a rock… A woman is already there, to collect her water for the week to come. She offers us to have our waterbottles filled up first. Meanwhile, we play rhythms with the stones we’ve brought.
Who are we? Julia Adzuki, Patrick Dallard and myself represent the Ljudtornet/Soundtower group, and our artist colleague and friend Lisa Jeannin is joining in for a while too. Invited guests and collaborators for World Listening Day are violinist/composer Katt Hernandez, composer/performer Erik Peters and dancer/choreographer Sindri Runudde… This field recording event is also an opener for sound/art festival ANTENN 2020.
All filled to the brim, we return to the old watertower. Together with a kulning/herding call recorded by our absent colleague Karin Lindström Kolterud, the sounds collected from today’s water walk are organized to form a loop for streaming over web radio this very evening. Just like on January 17th, the Art’s Birthday website provides the technical platform, along with a thematical frame: The Collective Field. Ljudtornet is taking part together with a number of art initiatives – scattered over three continents – and the audience will be able to create their live soundscape from all contributors.
Julia checks the settings once more, as Patrick gently plays a water-filled Mexican ocarina and Erik listens attentively. At 7 pm, the Art’s Birthday mesh is up and running, broadcasting from Tblisi, Vienna, Gnesta, Chicago, Vancouver… We’re on air! The loop is streaming and Sindri begins to dance. Katt brings out her violin to improvise a duet with the crickets she recorded in the reeds earlier… It’s dark inside the tower. Suddenly, the camera obscura phenomenon occurs – an image projected upside-down through a tiny hole in the wall: the evening sun, surrounded by flickering leaves, accompanies the performance.