|:: Annette Vande Gorne at the Acousmonium's master desk. L'Espace du son 2013 ::|
From Thursday 21st November to Sunday the 24th I attended the 20th acousmatic festival, L'Espace du son. Founded by composer Annette Vande Gorne, this event was my last stop on the work and travel funded by the Australian Council's Artstart grant. Having spent the previous three weeks focussing on field recording (including a week intensive with Chris Watson), I was incredibly eager to switch focus from the art of recording, to expressing the sounds via acousmatic diffusion. These two passions are the primary skills that I utilise in my work. They follow on - one from the other - with the designated leader in a constant state of switch.
As an english (only) speaking, unknown artist from (far-away) Australia, I was a little anxious as to how my presence would be received at such an event. Attendees, performers and organises of this occasion include the founders of the acousmonium themselves. The calibre of work within this community is the highest to be found on the international stage and on first night of performance, I must confess it was hard to shake the feeling that I was crashing a private party. I took comfort in the fact that a quick glance around the room revealed a number of solitary individuals sitting alone, tasting their red wine, reading their program and generally observing the community with the same wide eyed look as my own.
Despite my lack of language skills, the striking of a large gong provided me with an internationally recognised sign that now was the time to enter the theatre. Artists who presented work at this years festival included John Young, Flo Menezes, Åke Parmerud and Yves Daoust. Over a course of four evenings, attendees were privy to the world of the acousmonium and the sonic delights that reside there. My social nerves were quickly allayed by the communities friendly nature and obvious interests in connecting with artists world wide to share the mutual passion - the acousmonium.
|:: Francois Bayle and Tessa Elieff, 2013 ::|
The festival itself was excellent. This community of the acousmonium was one of the most accomplished, intimate and welcoming that I have experienced to date and it is hard to write about this without feeling a little sad for the absence of their company. One particular individual is Jean-François Denis. As I sit in all my awkward social glory on the first day of the conference, I am joined by a long limbed fellow whose mischievous demeanour manages to overwhelm even my most coolest reception. We sit side by side - packed into the rows of wooden chairs - unable to escape from each others company and both seeming unwanting to do so.
Me: Do you compose?
Jean-François: I did but not for some years now
Me: Do you miss it?
Jean-François: No - well - I run a label you see - that focuses on acousmatic works so I am still very much, working with my passion
Me: Do you mind if I ask what the label is?
Jean-François: No, I do not mind........ (grin)
Me: ..... Would you tell me what it is?
Jean-François: Yes - I would tell you....... (grin)
Me: Well then - what is it's name?
Jean-François: The label is empreintes DIGITALes
Cue - Tessa (does not) chokes on her pen
Me: I can see why you do not miss composing!
My years of undergraduate studies in sound was spent trawling through compositions as to be discovered on this wonderfully curated and as-yet unknown label, empreintes DIGITALes. As a source of inspiration and a guidance point for developing my own work - I have often looked to the material of artists released on this label - wondering just who the higher beings were that collected such fantastical sounds..... Now I know - it is/was this intriguing and friendly character sitting next to me - enquiring after my own work.
On return to Australia I am still digesting the experiences and piecing together my next developments. Whilst I would love to dive straight into the sounds I collected during my time away - for a new release in 2014 - I find myself holding back and pondering a longer term plan....
To be continued......
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.