Music And Sound Through The Landscape

If one thinks of the geographical area comprising Trento to Rovereto, from Lake Garda to the Alps, a multitude of images pre-determined by visual conventions inevitably come to mind; commonplace ways of seeing flattened into a postcard effect that compress the depth of a landscape into visual forms that are near clichés. Such dynamics of standardisation and rapid visual distribution pigeonhole visual and cultural conditions that are far greater and more meaningful, calling for disengagement from the institutional conventions of looking and perceiving.

How does one go beyond this picture postcard effect, pierce, scratch and dismantle it in order to reassemble the rigid images and restore – indeed reveal – a more vivid sense to them, not only allowing movements and hidden currents to re-emerge but restoring feeling and depth? How does one transcend conventional systems of representation, shatter two-dimensional ways of thinking and seeing and combine modes of looking at with those of looking through?
How can one capture the very breath of a landscape?

Sound and music are the media through which Sound Threshold has chosen to confront these questions. Through performances, sound installations and field recordings, Sound Threshold explores the visual, natural, literary and acoustic landscape of the Trentino region in conjunction with the latest research in the fields of ecology, technology and archaeology. Sound Threshold is informed by the multi-faceted relationship between music, sound and landscape beyond gallery and museum contexts – it furthermore outlines possible routes for future cross-disciplinary production in collaboration with the most important scientific research centres in Trentino.

In his essay Line And Surface (1973) (in Writings, edited by Andreas Strohl, University of Minnesota Press; Minneapolis / London, 2002), Vilém Flusser identified in sound an element capable of destabilising the dynamics of screen/surface:
"This third dimension, which drives a wedge into the surface reading, is a challenge to those who think in surfaces; only the future can show what will come of this."
Sound can be understood as an element that tears through images and simultaneously re-assembles and re-constitutes them, not just penetrating them but condensing them, not simply transiting but stopping and absorbing.
We will be gathering, interpreting and disseminating sounds across the region, in an attempt to move beyond a commonplace notion of landscape as a flat and opaque screen that absorbs and fragments to a new sense of landscape that is not simply something to cross but is above all a threshold.
What we are proposing is not following a linear direction (the long celebrated passage from North to South, for example), but rather pausing anxiously at the threshold so as to trigger circular movements and areas of permanence; inhabiting the edge and wandering over the tenuous screen that both discriminates and allows for communication. As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: "We live amid surfaces, and the true art of life is to skate well on them." (Nature [1836] in Selected Essays, Penguin Classics; London, 1985).

Sound as a sense of belonging and becoming in perpetual refraction. Objective, immobile soundscapes do not exist, only the countless fluctuations a sound source can assume as it assimilates the stories, earthly configurations and light qualities inherent of a place.

Daniela Cascella and Lucia Farinati, April 2008