Requiem between a barrel and a heart
Additive sound installation and radio broadcast
(instrumental samples and voice recordings on fixed media, FM radio transmitters and transistor radios, yarn, and empty bullets)
infinite duration, 2022
Marco Buongiorno Nardelli
June 17-26, 2022, CURRENTS FESTIVAL 2022: CIRCUITS, Santa Fe, NM
Requiem between a Barrel and a Heart is a testament to the countless lives that are lost every day to weapons, in war zones or in random acts of violence, and recognizes them not through their names, but through the counting of their numbers, as it always happens in times of great catastrophe. The project is based on a process of artistic appropriation and repurposing of guns that are transformed from an instrument of death to an instrument of compassion and healing. Through a gun buy-back program, we acquired 12 guns decommissioned by the Minneapolis Police Department and converted their barrels into wind instruments. These instruments provide the fabric of the installation, giving a sonic gestural background to voices that count these infinite series of numbers. The installation combines the evocative power of the sound of the gun barrel wind instruments within a complex performance framework: it comprises of a multichannel audio system generated and controlled by a python score running on a Raspberry Pi, four active speakers for the performance of the wind instruments background, four FM radio transmitter and 12 battery-powered transistor radios for the broadcast of the voices and other instrumental interludes.
The radios are suspended with 12–14-gauge instrument wire (piano strings or similar) using eye bolts in the ceiling or any ceiling infrastructure that allows suspension of 200g of weight. The strings are then wrapped around the radios like a net and then at the end of the string there is a single high caliber bullet that is attached with an eye hook. The bullets point to the floor as plumb bobs. These are empty bullets with no ammo or explosive materials attached to or embedded in them.
This installation will allow ear level/eye level interaction with the sound sources of the radios, and it will generate a sense of intimacy and intensity due to how they are suspended and how they meet the floor of the exhibition space. This will allow the work to be more cohesive in both the visual form and the auditory content throughout the installation space and time.
The same audio material is simultaneously broadcasted as a radio work: in this, the choice of the radio transmission is both a medium and a metaphor, envisioning a flexible yet resistant and mobile engagement that extends well beyond the walls of the performance hall or broadcasting studio.
Moreover, the installation, and thus the broadcast, is additive, in that visitors to the installation will be invited to contribute to the performance by adding their voices to the mix: by following the QR code below on their mobile phones, participants are directed to a webpage where they will find both text (a count out of an ever-increasing series of numbers) and the performance directions (in simple, non-musical terms). They will then be asked to record their interpretation using any of their audio recorders on their phones and send it to a specific email address. To avoid “contamination” from spurious or faulty recordings, the files will be curated before being added to the general pool. These contributions will be played through the radios and will complement the performance broadcasted through the active speakers, creating a multi-layered, immersive, and ever-changing sound environment that develops as an experiment in cooperative, complexity-motivated musical creation.