Renato Rinaldi‘s All ‘Esedra consists of the artist’s recording of his installation at the Villa Manin Exedra. The methodology is straightforward enough, with 34 sound-producing units placed throughout the space, some of which vary their phase and amplitude with the passing of an audience member. The recording itself is simply one potential path through that space.
Much has been made here and elsewhere of the arguments over the import of documenting installation works, specifically in regards to whether the curatorial decision to make a single recording or geography of what is otherwise a rather organic environment more widely available is a valid means or consumption or simply a means of marketing. These issues seem particularly relevant here, as the permutations of the installation are dependent on the presence or absence of listeners (in a more structurally-deterministic manner than simply how the room dynamics affect its tonal character). Mulling this over I was reminded of some comments of Agostino Di Scipio in regards to his own so-called ‘audible ecosystems’. He speaks of the fiction of voyeurism (ie. observing without being observed) that is specific to the consumption of sound – the very act of occupying the space of audio production alters the stereo separation, the dynamic range and the characteristics of its reverberation (an relevant interview on his work Private Rooms is available at DigiMag). There is, more poignantly in audio art than in most other media, no independent observer.
All ‘Esedra, then, presents the listener with a particular kind of fictional voyeurism. As the recording is performed by movements of the recorder himself moving through his own installation, we are tied much more consciously and directly to his narrative of the work than we would be through a formal composition. The listener, instead of exploring the installation her- or himself, is taken through the artist’s selection of audible geography – here stopping at a tone generator that some would disregard, and there finding harmony we find ourselves in accordance with. It is simultaneously an intensely personal and ultimately alienating experience. The apparent voyeurism of this sort of ‘second composition’ is broken by its third reproduction in whatever environment the listener happens to consume (and thus alter) it.
All that aside, the source material itself is interesting enough to merit its release on vinyl. Hosts of rhythmic phasing tones and percussive bursts play about the space like small machines conversing. After several listens, landmarks become apparent, with certain sections only every existing on the horizon of the recording, and other either revisited or else mimicking each other. The spatial separation of the recording itself is somewhat limited as is the amplitude and dynamic range, which makes the work more subject than object. This effect is heightened towards the end, when Renato leaves the gallery outright and settles in a quiet urban space nearby, providing some relief from the cacophony inside as well as playing on the act of attendance itself.
An interesting sort of re-performance of the installation released in elegant packaging and worthwhile seeking out at Claudio Rochetti’s imprint Musica Moderna.