Australian Sound Artist

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Day Four at Pollinaria

Thursday 19th June.

Todays tasks to conquer included visiting the small, locally run flour mill - where I will have the opportunity to record the machines and chat (via Daniella's translation) to the owners/operators and - to meet the shepherd who watches over the sheep that roam over the land of Pollinaria. These two elements are some of the most key connections I have (self) discovered during this short stay and I am very lucky that A) The flour mill is active during this week as it not the typical milling time and B) that Gaetano has been able to contact the shepherd and arrange a simpatico of time and place. 

As the focus of this collaboration between Interferenze and Pollinaria is on the two areas of cultivation - Wheat and Honey - I was a little unsure as to why I was so bent on collecting the sounds and speaking with the shepherd… Perhaps I shouldn't be chasing this element? I keep asking myself 'why is it relevant' and 'why do I feel it's so important?' This would be the moment my peripheral vision opens up and the view converts from mono to stereo. After much pondering I reached the conclusion that the shepherd is a quintessential example of the work-traditions of the people of Abruzzo's parents, grand parents great-grand parents etc, being carried on over to the 'NOW'. These practices' profits are not the highest - their purpose is based on the act of participating in life and contributing to the community - not on exploiting all opportunities to make the most amount of cash possible. The rewards from this work are not always monies - sometimes it's trade or barter - for 'favours' like borrowing equipment or lending a helping hand. These trades are more often than not - not an official agreement - just a friendly conversation and subsequent agreement between  neighbours.

The role of the shepherd (as per the wheat farmers and bee keepers in Abruzzo) is - in my opinion - in the middle of transition - from a working role within a community - purely a position to be filled (so-to-speak), to an act not unlike a ritual…… Perhaps not as formal - definitely not as formal but just as revered and with similar complex worth that supersedes a  superficial currency evaluation.. Hmmm .. More thoughts to come on this I'm sure....

The visit to the flour mill was quite an eye opener… Partly owned by the World Wildlife Fund, it is found within the Natural Reserve of Lago di Penne. Sounds terrible doesn't it - a flour mill in a national park… Well it was absolutely beautiful. The 'factory' part of the mill was housed in a small cylindrical building which contained the noise of the machines remarkably well. I experienced no general 'sky drone' you usually associate with factories and the modest size of it meant it was not overbearing in its surroundings. Once again - the purpose of the mill goes well beyond the act of mass production for high profit. All of the produce they handle is organic and comes from the local farmers and cultivators. To begin to understand the people of these regions you really need to look at the efforts they make to sustain a healthy and balanced lifestyle both physically and mentally - with themselves, each other and their surrounding environments.

To read more on the WWF's involvement please have a look HERE 

:: The flour mill - exterior::

:: The flour mill - interior ::

I spent about an hour recording the machines. Using contact and general room microphones I captured their various drones and mechanisms… I only wish I had more time…. I was able to exercise one favourite method of mine that rarely gets used. The process involves using microphones to capture the sounds of the machine and its various tones as heard in the room - but all in one take. The simplest way to explain it is to say that you are moving the microphone across/around/within the machines as they function - changing the resonances, tones and frequencies that are captured, live - as you are recording. Shifting the microphones as you hear the tones shift - waving them around and moving them over the body of a motor - composing live in a sense… It's a liberating way to record… Very meditative and instinctual. It encourages you to listen intently to the sounds as they shift through the changing positions of the microphone - and then react automatically, moving the mic to sculpt the recording as per a composition… It's by no means - a method used by 'the professionals' but it's one that demands you to be in tune with exactly - what you are capturing sonically...  An excellent way to hone your skills and explore a microphones capabilities...