Walls Stijn Demeulenaere 2017
Walls is a new site-specific installation by Stijn Demeulenaere, commissioned by Art.ur for La Castiglia Di Saluzzo, an old castle on top of a hill in Saluzzo. From the end of the 19th century till 1992 the castle functioned as a prison. Walls is an audiowalk on top of the prison wall. There you find a walkway that has a very characteristic, subtle, reverb. The reverb is reminiscent of the sounds of the small streets with high walls in the medieval city of Saluzzo itself. For the audiowalk, the audience wears open backed headphones, these headphones allow for the outside sound – the sound of the live environment – to be heard just as well as the sound collages coming through the headphones. I intend to play my piece at a volume that perfectly blends in with the surrounding sound level and atmosphere, so you hear both the resonant spaces at the same time. Thus creating an ever-changing soundscape, confronting the recorded spaces in the city with the live sound around the Castiglia.
The soundscapes heard through headphones will be based on field recordings from in and around Saluzzo. In the field recordings I want to focus on small sounds that happen around the edge of the soundscape, a bird, somebody passing, a shard of conversation two stories up, somebody moving some furniture around behind heavy doors, … not only sonically full of mystery, these sounds are also referencing the ‘square culture’ of Italy, where a lot of daily life happens outside. The confrontation of these two listening spaces researches the question how cities sound, how we listen to cities and how the memories of the street noises we grew up in connects to our own identities. More than a simple acoustic ecology question, Walls wants to research if the shapes of the streets and squares can impress us with a sonic fingerprint, a sonic mind map. The presence of all the small sounds in the back and foreground, some unfamiliar or even uncanny, fire up the imagination, of what a space could be. Together with the hearing both the live soundscape and the recorded soundscape at the same time, this results in a tiny disentanglement of reality, fuzzy round the edges.