Ciné-boucle #1: Tu saresti capace? (2019)

Ciné-boucle #1: Tu saresti capace? is the first short piece I managed to squeeze out of my Octatrack sampler that I got last year. It is a loop of a dialogue snippet from 8 1/2 (Federico Fellini, Italy/France, 1962) by Marcello Mastroianni’s character Guido Anselmi asking Claudia (Claudia Cardinale): “Tu saresti capace di piantare tutto e ricomminciare la vita da capo?”  (“Could you leave everything behind and start from zero again?”). As such the quote captures one of the many instances of existential musing that define the Guido-character in 8 1/2. 

Form-wise, the piece is an attempt to capture a key moment or a glimpse of a film through the form of a short loop (or a ciné-boucle/ciné-loop as I call it), using various effects for processing it and approaching it analytically through repetition. In working with a form that is shorter than the pieces I regularly make, I was inspired by one particular piece by film scholar and video essayist Catherine Grant – Film Tweets from 2013 – that links and juxtaposes two moments from respectively Blackmail (Alfred Hitchcock, UK, 1929) and Carnival of Souls (Herk Harvey, US, 1962) through birdsong. Grant’s piece can be viewed here. The loop I have posted here does not suggest a comparative approach as in Grant’s piece however. That is something I will try out with other loops. In this sense this piece mostly reflects an experiment.

Itinéraire de… #01: Ti lydspor på tre et halvt minut (2007)

Itinéraire de… #01: Ti lydspor på tre et halvt minut – or in English: Ten soundtracks in three and a half minutes – was the first ciné-mix I made. I made it back in 2007 after having long been interested in making sound pieces consisting only of sampled film sounds. The wish to do so was the result of two things in particular. First of all a longstanding interest in musique concrète, sound art and various forms of music involving field recording, tape loops and cut-ups (the early early industrial music of Cabaret Voltaire, Hafler Trio and Throbbing Gristle in particular). Second, at that particular time – 2006-2007 – I was seriously diving into the work of Dziga Vertov. Reading in particular Vlada Petric’s and Georges Sadoul’s monographs on the work of Vertov and the Kinoks and becoming aware of Vertov’s deep engagement with sound as a medium on its own, his “laboratory of hearing” and the role that sound played both in his silent and sound films made a deep impression on me. I wanted to do something similar as a way to reflect on and connect the sound environments of different films (or at least to do something I felt had some sort of kinship with these different practices and which gestured towards them with the means I had available).

In this regard Itinéraire #1 was a first experiment. It consists of samples from ten films I had recently watched or was watching again around that time – mainly Italian horror films and various European classics from the 1960s and 1970s. I made it in a version of Cubase I had available on my laptop back then. Because it is such a long time ago made the piece and because I did not take notes when making it back then I can only remember eight of the titles I sampled from. They are:

1. Entuziazm: Simfoniya Donbassa (Dziga Vertov, USSR 1930)

2. La Frusta e il corpo (Mario Bava, Italy 1963)

3. Sult (Henning Carlsen, Denmark/Norway/Sweden 1966)

4. Don’t Look Now (Nicolas Roeg, UK/Italy 1973)

5. La Notte (Michelangelo Antonioni, Italy 1961)

6. Inferno (Dario Argento, Italy/USA 1980)

7. Satyricon (Federico Fellini, Italy 1969)

8. La Casa dalle finestre che ridono (Pupi Avati, Italy 1976)

There were several sounds – in particular electronic sounds or processed acoustic sounds – I was attracted to in these films and genuinely surprised to realize were such an integral part of their sound design: the processed city sounds in the opening to Antonioni’s La Notte (1961), the electronic sounds of Fellini’s Satyricon (1969) (taken from Tod Dockstader’s works if I am not mistaken), and the cues that synthesizer sounds provide in Dario Argento’s Inferno (1980) and Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now (1973). Vertov’s Entuziazm (1930) found its way to the mix as well. The sounds range from mechanical, synthetic, and sound effects to processed piano and organ sounds. As a first rudimentary, experiment it was meant to explore how I could make a transition from one atmosphere to another, starting with a dream-like horror atmosphere to sounds that suggest sliding back into reality and an everyday atmosphere. The transition from one atmosphere to another is marked by the opening credit sounds from La Notte and a synthesizer sound effect from Inferno in combination around the 1-minute mark.