Sonntsg, 7. August 2011, 23:03 - 23:59, Ö1


„The Empire of the Butterflies“

by Jocelyn Robert and Laetitia Sonami


Laetitia Sonami and Jocelyn Robert have matched up for the finalisation of their trilogy of sound pieces dealing with silhouettes, borders and the outside. Started in 1999 with the piece Le Crachecophage, the series continued with Les Scaphandres (both released on CD) and is now completed with a new radio piece produced in Vienna in collaboration with Kunstradio.
The trilogy deals with silhouettes, and in the third part the two artists have undertaken the difficult task of acoustically analysing the silhouettes of a city, ie. Vienna.

“All 3 projects have grown from our reflections on the idea of a silhouette: if one can trace the silhouette of an object, what is the contour of a time-based piece? The first two works were produced by Radio-Canada, under the guidance of Mario Gauthier, and co-produced by Avatar Quebec. The third one was produced by ORF Kunstradio.

For Le Crachecophage, we first chose a movie and then generated, each on our own, a series of audio proposals that would trace the movie's silhouette. While one of us traced the silhouette from the images, the other traced it from the soundtrack. We then got together in the studio and combined both proposals.

For Les Scaphandres, we worked from a text.  While also a time-based object, a text's relation to time is more ambiguous than a movie. We first treated the text as a picture, then as data which would allow for various approaches to the text. We then got together in the studio and rebuilt the silhouette of the text from the files that came out of this process.

For the third and last phase of the project, we wanted to trace the sonic silhouette of a place, of a site. Choosing Vienna as a place to work from, we discovered that here the reference to time – and the silhouette that can be drawn from it – is a double-sided concept: there is the time scale offered by the city, and interwoven with it, the personal time scale of its wanderers.


Le Crachecophage / Les Scaphandres / The Empire of Butterflies – Statement by Jocelyn Robert and Laetitia Sonami

“We were very quick in saying: let's just be honest about it. We cannot pretend we know the city, we cannot pretend we are not tourists nor that we are tourists, because we are not doing tourist activities. We are just using the same land and spaces. But we have this particular position, that we are in, so let's just assume that we are what we are and try not to look at this as the museum or the church but as the potential for another way of listening to the city. So, that was our starting point, I think.
It was interesting to work with the idea of representing city from a sonic point of view, and when you look at all this work that has been done about acoustic environment from Schaeffer on, you have to question, do you use key sounds or signal sounds? etc.
When you move from a smaller city to a larger city, the sonic identity of the city is lost as itself. When you ask people they say, well, the bells. Yes, that's true, the bells, but this is very limited. When you go to a small city, people are able to exactly tell you how things sound at six in the morning. Here, in the city, it is more a personal experience, depending on where you live or what happens.
Somehow, It made it easier to be a stranger, because we could say that we are not here to make a documentary on the city. We are here to build something that is our experience of what different threads we could find in the city, so it is a different position you're in.”


Teil 1: Le Crachecophage
Teil 2: Les Scaphandres