Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Gilles Aubry & Stephane Montavon

les écoutis le caire Gilles Aubry & Stéphane Montavon
Gruen 061 Audio CD

les écoutis le caire’ is a dual work that comprises a sound composition by Gilles Aubry and a poetic text in French by Stéphane Montavon. Materials for both elements were collected during a six-week residency in Cairo in February and March 2007.

The sound piece is based on the principle of ‘indirect listening’ to a busy city soundscape. It features recordings of several enclosed spaces chosen for their resonant properties and predominantly silent contexts : a bathroom, a market hall, a basilica, a courtyard, a refrigerator and a parking house. Throughout the piece the identification of the sound sources remains uncertain, as the distant hubbub of life in the streets diffuses inside the recorded spaces. Such ambiguity – further extended through the editing process – requires that the listener pay closer attention, and at the same time allows for a more intense musical experience.

The textual counterpart to the audio work is presented as a large wordmap that drifts through the various recording locations, as well as other places in Cairo. Rendering the rhythmical confrontations of diverse urban situations, the text focuses on their audiovisual discrepancies. In its fragmentary way, the poem sketches some of the city’s acoustical configurations, also taking aural snapshots of characters and scenes. These singular encounters are woven into a partial word-tapestry of gestures, images and sounds, providing a complementary glimpse into another indirect, though equally voyeuristic, form of listening to the city.

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