14 September 2021. Castro Daire, Portugal.
I am sitting on an old bench in front of an old fig tree, an apple tree and a grapevine. The landscape is beautifully intense in shades of green. I try to absorb it a little at a time. I take a deep breath and ask permission to enter this immense space.
Next to me, a bouquet of small flowers resembling «manzanillas» makes its way as if welcoming me.
A thousand thoughts pile up in my head. I try to stop them. I try not to give in to the urge to do things. I dedicate myself to wasting time, or rather to watching time go. Watching comes first.
A curious little bird perches on a branch of the fig tree.
In September/October 2021, I had the opportunity to participate with Franco Falistoco in the Binaural Nodar artist residency in Portugal.
Here I share some of the entries I wrote in my travel diary during the experience.
It’s difficult for me to take a holiday. I almost always carry my work on my back; residencies are a turning point in my daily life.
They allow me to rethink ways of working, to analyse how I adapt to new materials, spaces and contexts.
The experience of the Binaural Nodar residency took place in a very spatial space, between two small rural villages in Portugal; Alva and Castro Daire. In the pandemic context with other artists from different parts of the world: England, Spain, Portugal and Chile.
A month where we shared house, meals, talks, workplaces, materials; at the same time that each one of us discovered a singular region of Portugal where time and space are linked to sowing and harvesting. Where ancient dances and songs are still heard today.
15 September 2021. Alva, Portugal.
We go out for the first time to the village where we are going to work. It is a small place with cobblestone streets where parsley and camomile grow everywhere you look.
Large pumpkin trees rest in the orchards next to kiwi trees, vineyards, olive groves, quince trees, apple trees, the list goes on and on. As far as my eyes can see the colours of the different fruits and vegetables appear.
I am amazed. At the same time, I feel out of place. What can I contribute from what I am researching? How do I connect my work with all this environment?
I find it strange. Just a week ago, I was talking about Artificial Intelligence in a panel about art and technology. About how Artificial Intelligence intervenes in our everyday life.
But now, here I ask myself: How does this small village connect with all that? What is the relationship between the technological environment and these rural environments?
For now, I take pictures. I know it’s all part of a process. For now, the questions appear. I’m just observing.
17 September 2021. Crastro Daire, Portugal.
Yesterday we had dinner among all of us who live together in the house.
It is interesting to hear the different languages mixed with the different accents. We speak half English/Spanish/Portuguese. Always we are asking each other: how do you say…? how do you call this or that?
It is amazing the capacity has the human to try to communicate. Think about of similarities and differences between our cultures.
Conversations revolve around our ways of working, our travels, but most of all, about food and language. Sometimes a bit of politics and history is indispensable.
Lighting the fire for dinner was quite an event.
I think it is necessary to highlight these encounters, especially in these times. When isolation is a part of our daily lives. And the pandemic has become part of our cultures.
Undoubtedly, human beings are storytellers, we go through life disseminating adventures, sharing ideas, mixing languages.
Perhaps this need to tell stories is the hardest thing to explain to machines, to get them to think like us. Storytelling is a human «need». A survival instinct.
6 October 2021. Lisbon, Portugal.
I haven’t written for a long time. All sorts of things have happened and all beautiful things.
After a lot of work on 2/10/2021, we presented the art works in the community of Alva.
I enjoyed the staging of the play, I finally managed to see the connection between my research on machines and a rural village in Portugal. It was much more present than I imagined, I just needed time to listen to the story and its sounds.
The first approach to the work came from the photographs I took while Franco Falistoco was interviewing different women in the community.
At that time I was recording soundscapes, taking photographs and videos. It was instinct, I had nothing in mind. But one morning when I was looking at the photographs I started to find patterns very similar to those of the tiles so typical of Portugal.
I started to make tests with the photographs and then with the videos and curious images appeared that began to tell me stories. Stories that were hidden inside the images.
Then came the sounds and voices and everything began to take shape.
I presented the work in the space of the community museum. A small room that together with the help of Alva Boscà Carrió and Ana Gago we set up the whole space, playing with the old objects used for sowing and harvesting that were used in that area. The night before Felipe Bustos Gutiérrez and Alba put together a beautiful puzzle with the photos that were part of the decoration of the place.
The presentation was on Saturday, it was cloudy as if it was winter. We woke up with a fog that covered everything.
I can’t explain the nerves and excitement that awoke that day.
First, we saw the presentation and the works of Simon Whetham. His work was magical for me, I felt like a child discovering how sound was imprinted on earthenware.
Then we presented the work. The piece was a quadraphonic piece accompanied by a video. It was all very emotional, the hugs, the looks, the returns. It was impossible not to be moved.
Then we went down to see the play presented by Josefina Fuentes who managed to capture the attention of the audience and made them sing and accompany her, the feeling of community was felt.
Finally, Daniel Melim presented a beautiful story accompanied by an extraordinary painting that we watched him paint for several nights.
Franco Falistoco’s work was available for everyone to listen to, everyone put together their own sound story and it was very nice to see the reaction and the surprises when listening to the sounds that intertwined with each other.
That same day Simon had to leave and gave me his beautiful hydrophone. An old story from when we first met 10 years ago and that we reminisced between chats in this reunion.
The next day we travelled to Lisbon. Between hugs, food, wine and stories we said goodbye to the great team of Binaural Nodal that was always attentive to our needs and gave us everything to make our experience a full one.
Now in Lisbon I sit down to write these memories mixed with sensations and emotions. Another journey begins and we are on our way.