Field recordings available for free download here –
The accompanying text:
“In May 2011, I assisted with projection at the Media City Film Festival, a very tight-knit, mostly avant-garde festival taking place in cozy downtown Windsor (just across the river from Detroit’s techno festival occurring on the same weekend). The programming was stellar and was augmented by several filmmakers accompanying their work from Europe and North America.
But there was another component to the festival that was slightly separate from the rest – an installation by the French filmmaker and sculptor Silvi Simon. Set up in a darkened corner of the art museum a few blocks from the theatre, the reputation of Silvi’s piece grew as, one by one, patrons made the pilgrimage and came back in awe. Due to the busy screening schedule, it wasn’t until the day of our departure that I was able to make the trip myself.
It was worth the wait. Silvi had two separate rooms projecting what she calls “filmatrucs,” roughly translating to “film things.” The word “thing” is surprisingly useful in this case. It connotes the physical object of the installation, and also its dual film and sculpture components, which may be difficult to describe, somehow separate and overlapping at the same time.
But when I arrived, it seemed obvious to me that the filmatrucs fit quite gracefully in this unexplored territory between film and sculpture. In the middle of each darkened room was a pedestal with a 16mm projector, a row or cluster of suspended pieces of glass, and a small fan. Each room played a 16mm film on a loop lasting a few minutes, projected through the few-dozen pieces of glass, each suspended by wire and waving slowly in the breeze created by the fan.
The effect was as if dozens of mirrors were reflecting the projected image all over the room, each one waving back and forth at different angles and sizes, backwards and forwards, in addition to the original blurred image that reached the far wall. In room one, black-and-white found footage created ghostly human portraits, and in the second room birds massed and dispersed, periodically exploding throughout the room in a breathtaking light display. The whole idea was incredibly simple and elegant in concept and execution.
I noticed immediately that, in this darkened room, the sound of the installation was also striking. The projectors chugged continuously, shuddering periodically as the splice slid through the gate. The fan whirred, and the glass pieces tinkled magically against each other. It was absorbing and beguiling, especially along with the mysterious nature of the images.
So with Silvi’s blessing, I returned just before leaving town armed with my field recorder. After surreptitiously tripping the motion sensor so the projectors would run continuously, I set up the recorder and sat with each room for thirty minutes. The sound environment was mechanically steady, precise, and yet very organic and uninterrupted by man, giving the impression of reaching the heart of a cinema forest.
Both recordings are unaltered save for beginning and end edits, and although they reflect the limitations of my built-in Edirol mic setup, to some degree they still capture a very unique sound environment.
-Travis Bird, New Orleans, 4 May 2012”