14th of June - Through the Mazes of the Map – Koen Holtkamp, Stephane Leonard, Daily
The man who tried to find the origins of money committed suicide. He was a German who studied in Munich in the seventies. Germany in the seventies was a good place to take your life. But why one should become so desperate on the way to the very beginnings of money has always puzzled me. And it also disappointed me, because he had arrived at some strange places where coins looked like stone wheels, had a hole in the middle and were left outside leaning against the house. They were bigger then a man who would stand on the shoulders of his stronger brother.
I mean he got so close to the solution, or did he? Was he cursed? Money is about organizing a society, or a community. It is also about here and there, and us and them and a sense of geography that stretches beyond the horizons, thus adding past and future to a present that probably never was experienced in such way. But inventing money is about knowing this all, before every one else knows.
It is said, written and printed that scripture was invented in a civilization that was coming to its end. The writer felt like packing his suitcase. Just like Abraham did at one stage in his life. Maybe he was also a writer. He counted the stars.
Everybody is in ispace. The second coming of oneself can only be canceled by an eternal electric fall out. Did you know that the first politician who will be treated as a rock star wants to come to Berlin to talk at the Brandenburger Tor? There are two sides to the Brandenburger Tor. At one side is the Pariser Platz where the new USA embassy has found its home and JFK is the name of a museum. At the other side is a long road that leads up to the pillar with the golden angel. In times of popular demand this stretch of land becomes a zone known as the fan mile. Love parades or the matches of the German football team projected on big screens attract up to one million people. Obama might not talk directly from the Obama main stage on the fan mile, but I am pretty sure that at the other side of the Brandenburger Tor the biggest crowd this place has ever seen will follow his speech. The next day you will find the videos on youtube.*
What is it about this frantic archiving that has invaded our lives? Why should every move be recorded/filmed/stored so that it can be seen or listened to by an invisible audience? Are the number of views or downloads the poor mans substitute to the millions of dollars from the rich? Is someone packing his suitcase? Sure one does so, because he has the tools. But what would a historian write about this phenomenon in a few hundred years from now? “File under gossip”? And will the satellites with all these data be rusted or even disintegrated by then? How futile is it all?
Field recordings are related to a space, even if you record refrigerators. Some of them are site specific. The rain forest sounds different from a rainy day in Berlin. Field recorders have discovered the Humboldt in them. Not the cdr or the hard disk became the storage place for their recordings. Internet has provided them with a visual aid. Futility? It gives the user a possibility to experience one aspect of life outside its physical boundaries. But this visualization is also an important help in the process of convincing curators and politicians to consider field recordings as a groundbreaking discipline. And it defines ‘home’ to the field recorder.
Then they walked out one fine summer day.
Koen Holtkamp’s parents probably took the plane when they emigrated from the Netherlands to the U.S.A. Koen (short for Koenraad, that is the Dutch Conrad, the ‘oe’ is pronounced like ‘ou’ in ‘you’, but short, so more like an ‘ou’ in a James Brown song) arrived in his new homeland at a very young age, and grew up in the American language. He speaks this language like every other American, with a deep round voice that seems to come from somewhere below his knees.
Alessandro Bosetti might still wonder why different languages resonate in different parts of the human body. He might have been flabbergasted if he had heard Koen speak, or rather stumble through a restricted vocabulary of Dutch words. I found myself not listening at what he was saying when talking to him; actually –sorry Koen – I was listening through him, because I couldn’t understand what I heard. Untill I realised the virtual time travel: I had been listening to the Dutch language as it was spoken some thirty years ago. Language is an invisible continent: this one opened up a vision of the Netherlands in the late seventies. Now go and be touched by far away years, and see what happens.
The dkfrf evening turned out to be a meeting of travelers, but geographical distances were not the only ones to be covered. Koen played binaural recordings from a walk through the forest. If there is one thing besides the clouds and the canyons that the first immigrants to the Americas found on their way, it was a forest. So his walk could easily be listened to as a momentum in American History; If then from the crackle of the bushes a most angelic voice arises the momentum becomes monumental in its reference to the enormous almost supra – religious impact this landscape must have made to the stranger who entered this world for the first time; pure bliss!
Dkfrf-veteran Stephane Leonard had freshly arrived from Brooklyn, New York City. ‘Brooklyn’ is not only the name of one of the Beckham kids; it is also an answer to a popular Dutch quiz question. What part of NYC is named after a Dutch city? Breukelen is now a part of the city of Utrecht. Van Breukelen, Hans was for many years the goalkeeper of the Dutch team. I am sure the Beckhams weren’t thinking of him when they made love under the Brooklyn bridge. Their sighs must have gone since a long time.
In Bosetti’s imaginary discourse Manhattan was a small island. It is a strange thing to realize how field recordings can visualize the layers of time. Now imagine a young man from Berlin, born and raised in the last years of a now non-existing country who comes to New York, stays at a friends house in Brooklyn and who is confronted with the bridge almost every day. The bridge has become a symbol of the new world and everything this new world stands for. As a photographic and cinematographic icon it has entered our minds even if we will never be able to see it, touch it, go over it. Stephane found out that it produced noise. And noise he played for thirty minutes, like a kid would play with cars and trains. Or should I say like Woody Allen imagines playing his clarinet alongside Django Reinhardt? Or do you hear Gershwin poke his stick to the ceiling of his coffin? Rhapsodies sound different today. Stephane should return some day to get us the next movement.
When Daily embarked for the first time on the German part of the western hemisphere he spend some time in the regions where volcanoes seem to have fallen asleep eternally, but in fact observe the land of whine and wheat from under half sunken eye-lids. The town that was chosen as the capital to the BRD because one of the greatest composers of all time was born there became his second hometown. Here, walking the streets at daytime Daily got stunned, because he actually saw a fast running animal that resembled a rabbit but is larger, has long ears and legs, and doesn’t burrow. It was not the reason he moved on to Düsseldorf, or maybe it was. At the Art Academy he heard Yannis Kounellis tell long stories. That was then. Now he was in Berlin, because Baruch Gottlieb, an assistant professor at a Seoul university popped up in my mailbox for a short chat. A few weeks later, kindly supported by the Arts Council Korea, Daily arrived in Berlin.
He stayed at my house and we watched some matches from the European Championships together. He amazed me that he never had one favorite country. He laughed and booaad just the same when the Turks scored or when the Germans did so in the same match. An extensive portrait of Daily can be found on Hars’ sound blog. While staying at Berlin he was either out shooting pictures or making recordings, cooking dinner or working and cutting until very late at night. He had to. And guess what? The Arts Council Korea also sponsored the propaganda! Ten nice posters were made, that looked so good in fact that I put up only four of them in public spaces. I am sure the ATK can forgive that move.
Also because more people showed up at our evening, then at Daily’s show in Amsterdam where three guest musicians played the city nightscape turned musical score. On the evening of DKFRF we agreed on showing two of his compositions. The first one was made in Seoul. It would give the general public an impression of what Daily’s work should look like. It looked like a lot of white dots on a black surface that slowly moved from the right to the left. Each dot was a light in the nightly city. To each dot a computerized note was played, a very dry note, as you can expect on short wave radio. It made me think of the art movements in the sixties when intellectualism met good-looking women smoking cigarettes, and men looked like scientist who read poetry.
Those days poetry looked like
Summer in a dry shirt wrinkles over the low cast frowns of your face shuts up in a factory when the sirens call and the trucks drive charcoal in a baby’s mouth in a winter of drug stores worn down petticoats forgotten hillsides and row row row if veronicas drench the shiny part of the birch and beasts come nibbling from your nipples and weasels are fearless in the shadow of America America moon love dairy mothers and olive trees washingshiningshirts come back from next summer
Or maybe it didn’t.
The Seoul composition also looked like a short movie one could encounter on television. It looked good, but it looked good in a world that was not mine anymore. The composition with the field recordings looked good as well… a different good. It was fascinating to see the result of two days hard work. It was also fascinating to see how the images floated with the same speed from the right to the left of the screen, the same slow as Tarkovsky used for his camera shots. His pictures showed Neukölln, the most dangerous area of Berlin. Daily can be lucky he didn’t fall victim to a robbery.
All his pictures and recordings came together in a composition especially made for the festival, an enterprise in which Daily showed more courage then when walking the extremely notorious Rütlistrasse at night. He risked very much to fail. He did not. No way. Watching his composition was like daydreaming behind the window of a bus that after a long day of traveling drives through the streets of a new town. One is too tired to get excited, even a bit anxious because the hostel has still to be found. The bus slowly moves on along shops and bars that somehow look familiar. Daily stated that he would need another two years to perfectionize this concept. Yep. That was to be seen. I guess that is part of the fascination: if you leave enough space for the onlooker, then the story will meet another story. In this invisible space that got created by Koen, Stephane and Daily a lot of stories must have been told. Most of those stories will remain unheard. And unmapped.
*This paragraph shows how much time it took me to finish this report. Barack Obama came. He was not given a stage right under the Brandenburger Tor, where the German football team shared cheers with the most sought after dumbo’s from German television, but he was offered a kind of ‘taxi zum klo.’ He stood right under the Siegessäule, the pillar with the golden angel on top. Not my expected one million people showed up, but with a crowd of two hundred thousand he still could beat a German chancellor who had held the record for more then seventy years. I claimed Obama’s appearance as an imaginary concert at my festival, since no one ever presented the rally as his or her event.