Past Imperfect / Program


An evening on… Memory

Thursday 23 April 2009, 20:00 (installations & performance Aki Onda start at 18:30), Vooruit Domzaal, Gent.

Program produced by Courtisane as part of the Courtisane Festival 2009 (Gent, 23 – 26 April 2009)

“One need not be a chamber to be haunted;
One need not be a house;
The brain has corridors surpassing
Material place.”
— Emily Dickinson

Aki Onda
Cassette Memories


Musician, composer and visual artist Aki Onda (JP) is always on the lookout, camera and sound recorder at hand, ready to document his travels and encounters. He looks for meaning in the accumulation of those memories, when the specific experiences fade out and the architecture and essence of the memory reveals itself. His ongoing project Cassette Memories consists of a series of performances, or rituals, where he lets memories, recorded on soundtape, wander and collide with the sounds of the site-specific memory.

“For the past two decades, I have been using the cassette Walkman for making field recordings which I keep as a sound diary. I consider these recordings to be personal memories, and not just sounds. I compose my music by physically manipulating Walkmans by hand, re-collecting and re-constructing concrete sounds. What emerges from my sound memories is a sonic collage of ritualistic tape music. I call this project “Cassette Memories.” By documenting fragments of sound from my personal life, something is revealed in the accumulation. The meanings of the original events are stripped of their significance, exposing the architecture of memory. There is a strong reference in my work to French electro-acoustic music that originated with Pierre Schaeffer, one of the pioneers of electro-acoustic music. There is further reference to filmmaking, as evidenced by the integral role that editing plays in my composing. My high regard for avant-garde films of the 20th century can be felt here. With ‘Cassette Memories,’ I create a sonic landscape where music exists in the relationship between sound and visual art.”

Gill Arnò


mpld is Gill Arnò’s mixed media performance project. Its focus is on the relationships that can be established between sound, image, light and space, considered in their phenomenological and conceptual dimensions. Memory, territory, identity and the sense of belonging are recurring themes, approached trough the use of various found materials that are assembled combining analog empiricism with the abstraction of digital hyperreality. The photoacoustic continuum of mpld’s amplified slide projection slowly flows into the performance space carrying fragments from unidentified places and times. Fades and cuts play with memory’s subjective persistence, as light and darkness keep carving out each one from the other. The mechanical sounds of this projection are tapped and processed to become its own soundtrack. Color, density, texture, frequency become simultaneous qualities of the light and the sound, as they are explored in a way somewhat analogue to the distorted enlargement of a magnifying glass.

Gill Arnò (US/IT) was born in Italy, where he studied art and typography before moving to New York in 1997. His current work includes video, photography, print, sound recording and composition, installations and live performance. Arnò often collaborates on- and off-stage with other artists. He publishes books, recordings and other multiples via his own imprint, unframed, and runs Fotofono, a small studio in Brooklyn where sometimes public events are held.

Associazione Home Movies – La camera ottica
Circo Togni

With Andrea Belfi, Stefano Pilia, Benjamin Francart, Xavier Garcia Bardon.


A series of 8mm films shot by the Togni family, the famous dynasty of circus artists, between the 1940s and the 1970s. Darix, a legend, and his family: the men, the women, the children, the animals. Always on the move, because the circus never stops. And when it isn’t in the foreground, it’s in the background. But the movie camera struggles to focus on special moments of a family that should be like so many others: the children growing up, the parties, the games, the seaside.

“The films were found inside a circus wagon in horrible shape. Time and poor conservation had had their effects on them, making it impossible to project them. We found them stuck together, encrusted by humidity, mold, dust, horribly dirty. Thanks to new cleaning techniques we experimented with, we were able to recuperate almost all of them. The images reappeared. This is a first selection we have put to live music. Like Rossellini’s works, they are intimate and, naturally, in progress.”

Associazione Home Movies – Archivio filmico della memoria familiare (IT) is an emerging and innovative organization devoted to collecting and preserving Italian home movies.
Andrea Belfi (IT) and Stefano Pilia (IT) are among the vanguard of a new generation of Italian sound pioneers, exploring the outer limits of the electro-acoustic domain in a wide variety of configurations, moving freely between improvisation and composition. They play solo, together with Giuseppe Ielasi, Dean Roberts or David Grubbs or in bands like 3/4HadBeenEliminated, Black Forest Black Sea, Christa Pfangen, and Rosolina Mar. Their albums have appeared on labels like Time-Lag, Last Visible Dog, Häpna and Die Schachtel.
Xavier Garcia Bardon (BE) and Benjamin Francart (BE) are both members of the Brussels based improv collective Buffle, who have described their music as “Like monkeys trying to play tennis? An experimental playground for snails? Psychedelic pop played by children? We like to play every kind of music: popsy, punki’s, m’n’m’s, bluesy style, reggaes, funx, techno, country & western and typical walloonisch ritornels… but we’re basically just trying to be a rock band.” They released work on labels such as Lal Lal Lal, Ultra Eczema and Breaking World Records. Also check out their solo stuff as Saule and Benjamin Franklin.

Alvin Lucier

(Ghent) Memory Space (1970)
For any number of singers and players of acoustic instruments


“Go to outside environments (urban, rural, hostilc, bcnign) and record by any means (memory, written notations, tape recordings) the sound situations of those environments. Returning to an inside performance space at any later time, re-create, solely bv means of your voices and instruments and with the aid of your memory devices (without additions, deletions, improvisation, interpretation) those outside sound situations. When using tape recorders as memory devices, wear headphones to avoid an audible mix of the recorded sounds with the re-created ones.”

Performed by Thomas Smetryns, Heleen Van Haegenborgh, Kristof Roseeuw & Michael Weilacher

Alvin Lucier

Nothing is real (Strawberry Fields Forever) (1990)
for piano & teapot with miniature sound system


“During this work, fragments of the melody are played and sustained as clusters. The performance is recorded on a cassette tape recorder. After the last fragment has been played, the tape is rewound and played back through a small loudspeaker hidden inside a teapot. During the playback, the lid of the pot is raised and lowered, changing the resonance characteristics of the pot. Twice during the performance the pot itself is lifted off the lid of the piano, causing the resonances to disappear completely.”

Performed by Heleen Van Haegenborgh

Alvin Lucier (VS) is an American composer of experimental music and sound installations that explore acoustic phenomena and auditory perception. Lucier was a member of the influential Sonic Arts Union, which included Robert Ashley, David Behrman, and Gordon Mumma. Much of his work is influenced by science and explores the physical properties of sound itself: resonance of spaces, phase interference between closely-tuned pitches, and the transmission of sound through physical media. He has pioneered in many areas of music composition and performance, including the notation of performers’ physical gestures, the use of brain waves in live performance, the generation of visual imagery by sound in vibrating media, and the evocation of room acoustics for musical purposes.

Jasper Rigole
Paradise Recollected

2008, video, colour, sound, English spoken, 33′


Paradise Recollected is compiled out of archive material from The International Institute for the Conservation, Archiving and Distribution of Other people’s Memories (IICADOM, a fictive institute founded by the artist Jasper Rigole (BE)). This archive consists mainly of found 8mm films, sourced from flea markets and garage sales. These are amateur films, travelogues and family documents whose main purpose is to remember certain occasions. Paradise Recollected takes a Medieval description of ‘the land of Cockaigne’ as a starting point. This anonymous, Middle Dutch text describes a dreamland which is the basis for later descriptions of ‘the land of plenty’. In the film, the internal logic of this fictive country is linked to the typical elements which give the family home movie its own language.