Diogo Alvim1, Matilde Meireles2
1CESEM / FCSH – NOVA University, Portugal
2University of Oxford, UK
“Campo Próximo” (Near Field) is a collaborative project that explores musical making from the perception of soundscapes and the construction of places, interconnecting remote locations with the space where it is presented.
In this presentation we will discuss the various iterations of the project, and how each one suggested new ways of thinking about sound and place, as well as making and listening to music.
Each iteration of “Campo Próximo” includes field recordings (sound and image) of particular locations. These locations are selected based on a strategic relationship with the territory informed by the architecture of the presentation space.
These materials are presented through video and sound projection for a period of time proportional to the distance between the original place and the place of listening. This duration corresponds to the time sound takes to travel that distance in a straight line – like the flight of the bee, or the crow.
Simultaneously, a microphone positioned in the concert space captures the recordings and reproduces this result. This process is repeated, modulating the properties of the sound, which merges with the auditorium’s acoustics, based on the system used in “I Am Sitting in a Room” by Alvin Lucier (1969). The dialogue between the different soundscapes and the auditorium is shortened as we listen to progressively closer locations. This process develops until reaching a point of total convergence in which architecture, and sometimes the very presence of the audience, become the protagonists of the resulting musical proposal.
With a first version in 2015 in “Escola da Gaivotas” in Lisbon, integrated in the curatorial project “Old School” by Susana Pomba, the project was revisited in 2019 in an installation version with a concert in the São Francisco Convent in Coimbra. The specific context and the different characteristics of this presentation space led to the development of a specific composition and performance strategy. This helped us implement a methodology that confers the work a dynamic balance between invariable procedures and variable elements. In September 2020, a new version for the National Pantheon integrated in the Lisboa Soa Festival consolidated this methodology. This reinforced “Campo Próximo” as an fluid work that feeds on specific presentation contexts to reflect, not only on the relations of place and situated soundscape, but also on the compositional practice and collaborative musical improvisation supported by this same situation.
Thus, “Campo Próximo” is presented here as a collaborative research project in progress, with various simultaneous layers. It sustains a constant reconstruction of its device in dialogue with different places and architectures. This device, as a mutable organic system, constitutes the basis of a prolific and regenerative collaborative composition process, which opens up new conditions for listening articulated with the present place and moment.
Diogo Alvim composes instrumental and electroacoustic music and develops sound art projects. His PhD research (SARC, Belfast) focused on the relations between music and architecture. His work has been presented in several events, such as: Gulbenkian Orchestra’s composers’ workshop (2008, 2009); Festival Synthèse 2009 (Bourges); Ibrasotope#60, (São Paulo, Brazil); Belfast Festival (with Matilde Meireles, 2014), Sonorities Festival (with the Royal String Quartet, 2015); Music for S, by Tânia Carvalho, with the Portuguese Symphony Orchestra (2018) and Campo Próximo (Near Field) at Convento São Francisco, Coimbra and Lisboa Soa Festival (with Matilde Meireles, 2020). He teaches Sound Arts at ESAD Caldas da Rainha, and electronic and is an integrated researcher at CESEM (FCSH-NOVA). He also makes music for dance and theatre and develops collaborations with other artists/performers.
Matilde Meireles is a recordist, sound artist, and researcher who makes use of field recordings to compose site-oriented projects. Her projects often have a multi-sensorial approach to ‘site’ which draws from her studies and experience in areas such as field-recording, site-specific visual arts and design. She is currently a Postdoctoral researcher at University of Oxford. She holds a PhD in Sonic Arts from the Sonic Arts Research Centre, Queen’s University Belfast, where she has also been appointed as a Research Fellow. Matilde is part of the research groups Recomposing the City (Queen’s University Belfast, University of Oxford), Translating Improvisation (Queen’s University Belfast), Street Space (Queen’s University Belfast); Sounds of Tourism (Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas – FCSH/NOVA).