Recapture of a Chat: 09/10/2020 Davide Tidoni in dialogue with Nicolas Galeazzi

N: Dear Davide, we just had a short chat about your research and questions around the performatie publication addressed in the a.pass Researc Center. I suggested to somehow capture this chat in this pad.

N: To star with, I would like to ask you why you titled this a.pass kitchen document "Battlefield"? D: it came up during our conversation before. i've always been attached to this word. it comes from an existential way of looking at things.

N: That sounds indeed existetial - quite distopian! do you mean it like that? D: i've always thought about listening as a field. a field affording encounter and exchange but also opposition and confrontation, a battlefield where you get the opportunity to know the other and know yourself throught constant interaction

N: I understand this also in relation to what I was associating before to your listening practice in demonstrations: the Police forces have already an elaborate listening and soundig practice - both used in a warfere stile, both used as wappons. The spy wherever they can before, during and after the demonstration and the use sound emissions to scar people away or even to physically heart them. I had the feeling that a sound practice coming for the demonstration side has to cross swarts with the wappons of the police - just how? How to undo their wappons? How to use their energies for your cause (Aikido)? How to respond, echo, feedback on their sound 'pieces'? D: in terms of military equipment it's very difficult to win over the police but at the same time there are situations where protesters' instruments and tactics can make a difference, produce an effect on the police, and bring some result. i might need a bit of time to put together some examples from history and memory but for sure they exist (valsusa examples of people calling and shouting at night from the woods around the construction site; alarms at the hotel where police sleep; ...).

on another hand, it's important not to forget that the battle field is not only the demonstration setting. protesters have their own allies - or at least should have some - people playing their role in other settings. allies can be experts (scientists, academics, ...), recognized cultural figures, artists, the population, and institutions as well (valsusa example: mayors vs. state). of course physical confrontation is still a place of contention, but it would be difficult to see it as the only place where the battle takes place.

N: There is quite a history in using sound in demonstrations. Songwriters, scadning, using instruments. Even the image of instruments is iconically used to show the different stile for fight between demonstraters and police. I have that guitar player with the peace t-sheart in mind that holds his guitare as the soldiar next to him holds his rifel. D: that was counter culture; music as resistance culture spread amongst the youth (beats, hippies, punks); music against the establishment; music charged with specific cultural values concerned with change, social rights, pacifism, an alternative world; values that are not merely limited to music's musical qualities

N: I'm also thinking of the involvement of the body in sond practices. Remembering your piece 'feedback' where somone has to approach an speaker with a hyper sensitive microphone connected to it without creating nasty feedbacc sounds. The physical involvement and concentration becomes very concrete here. What do these practcies mean interms of trainng one's body for the battlefield?

N: Can his be an empowering practice for the activist? D: sure it can be, it depends if they need it or not. it's a matter of proposing it and seeing what happens. first you might need to touch base with some contacts you already have within the movement and then, if necessary, open your proposal up to a bigger group. it also depends from the kind of interaction and reciprocal trust you build up with the militants. depending from the context you are operating in and from its codes, people can be more or less open to your proposal; do not forget that in some context repression is very high and it's not easy to find people available. building up confidence and trust might also take a long time... anyway, i think being together, share risks, and live significant moments together with the people you want to work with is the key if you want to develop something meaningful, otherwise it's gonna be just an art project...

i also think that before approaching the group and propose something, you should be aware of the context, the history of the specific struggle, the creative strategies already adopted, the legal risks as well as the consequences and effects that might fall on the back of the movement (while you leave they stay, you won't be able to see the repercussions of what you did on a longer term)

N: can it be a dyspowering practice directed to the police? D: sure, police might freak out and not understand what's going on. (ex: pink band in prague 200?). police is used to 1vs1 dynamics, it would be interesting to experiment a bit with less straight forward solutions (as the notav movement already did) or at least use a mix of straight and bent.

expanding from what i said above you can see marianella sclavi and her book about the art of listening says that a succesful reaction, most of time, is something that disorientates the interlocutors/enemies

N: I do think this is a phantastic platform to dig into the political questions of the arts. What does it mean to be political with artistic instruments? D: i guess everybody finds his/her own way to answer this question. somebody tries to work in the social, raise a problem and make public opinion talking about it; others find in education and in pedagogy a good answer; others develop projects on a more institutional level, negotiating/lobbying with the power and finance. others decide to make art a treath and usually do not even associate to their projects otherwise they would be arrested.

but it also depends on what you think an artistic instrument is and what you think art is. on a personal level i think there are no artistic instruments per se, art is a cultural frame; there are only instruments and the way we use them make what we do political. there are people who do not even consider what they do as art, they just do it because they think it's the right thing to do, they do not label it as art, wheather because they hate the art scene and want do dissociate from it or simply because they do not aspire to pursue an artistic career; examples of these can be found in rave parties, hacking, and initiatives from below (defense councils, solidarity brigades, free schools, ...); even though these examples may appear alien to the art world, they have influenced it quite a lot in terms of ideas, methods, social and political perspectives and therefore they have to be considered in close relation with it (with (good) art they also share the same urgency and condition of necessity, before art becomes too institutional and looses its connection with the primal expressive need of the artist)

on top of this it's important to emphasize the fact that self organised/autonomous/anonymous projects do not wait for an open call or for a grant in order to start, their motivation and desire is much higher than most of the financed art projects; that's probably why most institutional art projects suck, they stagger in vacuum, capitalise on and exploit practices that originated in the undergound in order to escape death and stay afloat (rejuvenate with a bit of lifting...)

N: how, and under which circumstances does it make sense to use artistic methodes directly on the political 'battle'field? D: circumstances should be 1) real engament with the struggle, 2) urge to contribute, 3) awareness of your position as artist/militant, 4) better if you have personal connections with the field and can brainstorm/exchange with insiders

N: Probably the discourse of the always-political of aesthetics can chalange us here. D: aesthetics is not always political. aesthetics can be political but it is not alway political. sometimes aesthetics looks like political and/or wants to be political but at the end it's not. in certains scenes, politics is one of those things that the more you talk about it, the less you actually do it. i find that in the performing arts and art in general there is an overuse of that word and i find it a bit annoying. it's like i loose the meaning of the word "politcs", it becomes too blurred and ungraspable. it seems like politics takes refuge in the abstract world

N: On the other hand, we also discussed about the relevance of the artistic practice beyond the concrete political battlefield. What do the sound experiences created for a art-sensitive audience mean? D: what i do with listening and sound is very much connected to the discovery of your own sensibility and agency power. when you discover how sound travels in space or when you realise your body can block sound reflections, then for me there's something happening... it's like you realise about your own potential and capacity to interact with the sound propagation, with the sound field... and from a bigger perspective your capacity to interact with what surrounds you, with the world... so in a way what i do with sound and listening is somehow related to the discovery of your own power of relating and being in relation with the others... i truly believe in this and this is my interpretation of what i do, my way of giving sense to what i do (at the same time i'm not sure about how other people perceive what i do...)

i think my focus on perception, touch, silence, presence, absence - both in my listening pieces and in my live actions with microphones and loudspeakers - can be easily picked up and understood by the audience... it's about attention, contemplation, acceptance, observation... these are all important themes for me and i think human beings can relate to them...

N: How can they prepare, charge, empower listeners for their 'battlefield' of life - if we want to call it like that? D: mmm... through empathy... i hope i can generate some with my performances, especially with the action with microphones and loudspeakers, they all consist in the destruction of the sound device which leads to the silencing of sound; i think the audience emphatise for the sound device and reach a certain experience, an understanding. i truly believe in this moment of realisation where the audience get something deep, a profound feeling, an epiphany, maybe compassion for the sound device...

i've always asked myself how you can communicate something with sound/music if you have no words... composer like luigi nono was recurring to poetry to make the content of his work clear, even if the text was destructured and therefore not intelligeble... he used text from poets and used them as material for the choir. un'altro esempio di estensione dell'opera e parafrasi è quando si spiegano i lavori in incontri pubblici, es di abbado 1972*** ma anche i lavori esposti, ormai tutti sono accompagnati da un testo che aiuta lo spettatore a comprenderli***

a tal proposito credo che i should seriously take into account starting writing down some texts and distribute them before/after the performances. this might help the audience to make a clearer connection between the represented and the meaning i want to convey. also the titles of my performances are quite explanatory: when sound ends, as the sound burns, fire from within, my target is your eyes, ...

anyway, i think experience is also very much important for live works; i definitely want to put the audience in a situation of dedicated attention (small number of audience, outdoor unusual locations) so they can concentrate on the action and get into it

concerning my listening pieces, so far i've mainly presented them during workshops so i can communicate about my own interpretation much more easily, i can explain the tensione che si crea ponendosi all'ascolto, lavorare sull'attenzione, il dubbio, il silenzio, e ad un certo punto i partecipanti * si illuinano e buonanotte * o almeno acquisiscono una competenza, ascolano meglio attraveso la pratica, questo per certo

i will present some of my listening pieces live together with 3 dancers in front of an audience. this is the first time i will present them live in a performance frame. i will work with dancers in order to work on the pieces in such a way that they will communicate attention, suspension, hightened state of vigilance and concentration; not sure exactly how this can prepare the audience to their battlefield of life... i nee to think about this * bring the audience to a hightned state of awareness / capture them, rapporto col silenzio e il suono, portare le persone nel silenzio e farle uscire, produrre pochi suoni ma curati significativi intenzionali, creare un bilanciamento tra suono e silenzio che non stufi.... portarli ad uno stato di contemplazione attraveso messa in scena di task semplici come feedback, attraversa lo spazio con mic senza colpire altri corpi; lavorare sull'attesa, la tensione, il silenzio, la sospensione, hightening dei sensi,

also, art is not rational, if you do not use words or symbols, it is not easy to communicate a clear message; i think art talks more on an emotional level; how to move from emotions to consciouness it's tricky... for me what is important in my actions/performances is to reflect on the human condition, sul contatto sulla perdita, sulla vita e la morte, ***

contingecies and conditions under which the work is presented are also factors that might contribute to inform the audience's understanding of the work and help to look at it not as a self-confined thing; i mean the location where you present the work, the price of the ticket, the relation you have with the people working with you, how much you get paied... sometime these factors are much more political than the actual work

la relazione tra lavoro artistico e applicazione in campo + politico non è una traslazione diretta. ciò che hanno in comune è la condivisione di strumenti e sensibilità ovvero: l'acustica, la posizione delle fonti sonore, la propagazione del suono nello spazio, il valore affettivo del suono e il suo potere di azione, l'effetto psicologico e emotivo che crea, il suo utilizzo come strumento ****

N: I would like to share two texts with you from Rancière: Aesthetic Separation, Aesthetic Community: Scenes from the Aesthetic Regime of Art , and (as mentioned before) Le partage du sensible. (see email) D: i've sort of tried to read them and they both sound a bit too difficult to follow for me. it might be the translation... i don't know... or the the fact that i do not get what politics means for ranciere. i kind of need clear examples in order to follow the text and the content

N: Finally I have some questions to the performativity of the publication and the practices of generating the content of such a publication. How do you aim to address the difference of the two 'battelfields' you are working on, the classical concert like presenation of a sound piece in an art context and the activist work with sound in the concrete political and social struggles? For me, thst would be very interesting to read! D: content of the publication can be: 1) a collection/anthology of examples about how sound and listening have been used in demonstration/struggle contexts; 2) a selection of fragments of articles reflecting about the relation between art and politics and about the agencial and affective dimension of sound and music in demonstration/struggle contexts; 3) a physical sound device (amp, loudspeaker, card reader) for the people to use there when is needed; 4) summary and reflections from the days and activities carried out on site in valsusa.

how to address the difference: point out what the differences are; point out what the similarities are; point out what are the personal/collective interestes; think practically about the struggle and not only aesthetically; develop something meaningful for everybody and not just for me; develop something together, proposing/listening/adapting/co-working/understanding the needs

N: Also, I assume that the ways of working, the metodologies of creating content to be pulished for those fields might look very different in both work fields, even though the source material, the departure points might be the same or similar. How could yu describe and tell about your personal experience of these two sides of your artistic practice? D: relation between the individual and the collective; own personal desires vs. need of being in the world and do stuff that relates to something bigger than me; personal achievements and shared knowledge; support something i believe in with my creative inputs; need of being down with the real; politics is not separated from life, i follow what comes to me, i've always felt close to social movements, counter culture, so in a way it feels very natural and organic to include those fields in my practice and think about ways of bringing things together