Dínamo - Festival de música exploratoria - Barcelos

Saturday the 26th, July.

Municipal Library.

Mattin / Taku Unami / Jean-Luc Guionnet

Published in I HATE MUSIC

At Dinamo festival's second night and after a performance by Anette Krebs, the festival organisation ask us to leave the auditorium. After some minutes they tell us that we can enter the room "one at a time" leaving an interval between each. I enter second, the auditorium is almost dark, only illuminated by a little lamp on the stage right at Taku Unami's feet. Mattin (who waits after the door) tells me "to participate in this concert, you have to walk in cirles around Taku".

I go down stairs and I see a static body sitting on the right side of the stage. I begun to realize my part and after little time more audience is entering: a girl begins to sing a song at the back of the stage, another one laughs intermittently from the stairs, somebody clap his hands, I see an extended arm with a hand making the sign of the horns. Taku, with his right arm on a sling begins to play his guitar very fast, like a heavy metal guitarist. When he's resting, a girl has to give him a massage on the back, somebody begins to knock on a door while a fake vomit sound is heard from the amphitheater. Jean-Luc Guionnet begins to play from the backstage with his saxophone and somebody calls him shouting, a man on stage with his fist raised, someone is taking pictures of the chair that Mattin should be occupying; there his laptop is amplified and quietened. After a while of circular adherence to this orders we hear somebody saying "What are you doing?" without reply. Later on the question was asked again and it was answered: "Music!!!".

After a while some people neglected their orders, they sat down on the stools and observed the spectacle. The event organizer says, turning his back to the stage, "This concert will only finish when everyone agrees, otherwise it will go on". I feel satisfied with the concert and left the stage, I see Mattin observing from the center of the stall seats. After some time the people that continues to participate decides to manifest saying "I agree". When it was unanimous the concert was considered ended.

What was it that we participated on that period of time?
A routine was broken, a ritual constructed through the use of a new one created for the occasion. While the first is part of the social archetypes that we have to live: everyone waiting for the concert to begin, remaining attentive to what is happening or interacting with the adequate context to that space and when it's our turn, clapping our hands to the interpreters. The second is configured as a revulsive, we observe that there is an order, a command that we can obey or not, but only accepting it we become part of the show. I was curious to see that, mostly, we fulfilled our objective in the most precise manner that we knew; it's possible that we wanted to become part of it, after all it was funny and interesting; the people seem to enjoy themselves. We were part of a different idea of culture and spectacle. A reinterpretation of W. Benjamin by Mattin: "A culture naked from practical utilization and destroyer of law. A culture that can't be defined in terms of intellectual property, because it's intrinsically collective. A culture that is constantly tearing apart any individualistic notion. A culture that tears egos apart, egos that can never recompose themselves to be alone again"(1). And I think that it's interesting to think about our individualistic notion in that moments. There's an identity (in this case Mattin) that gives us some instructions, that command we can understand as "dictatorial", because we couldn't decide our action... After a while we can think in our individual freedoms while we realize our function, our freedoms at the time of improvising over that function... It's possible that an analogy with the freedoms of an improviser exists here. What degree of freedom and directness have the action of the improvisers? Today, certain currents among improvisation had had time to to create an orthodoxy, a series of formal constraints, that don't separate much the role of the spectator walking in circles from the music that loses that great field of action on the caricature of style.

I don't pretend to understand this spectacle as definitive "total art", quite the contrary (quoting Mattin again) I want to understand it as a "unconstituted praxis". I think that the limits of the instructions that Mattin gave us weren't absolute and totally defined, moreover certain internal rules were the ones that compelled us to be careful with our function. The reflection of what happened there makes our comprehension fragile, tends to debate and doubt; that's the wonderful thing for me. The unanimous "agree", keeps the freedom that allows us to finish the game when we want to.

"The cultural industry has the tendency to transform itself in a set of protocols and because of that in irrefutable prophet of what exists. Among the reefs of the fake individualizing news and the manifest truth the cultural industry moves aptly repeating the phenomenon as is, opposing its opacity to knowledge and erecting as an ideal the own phenomenon in its omnipresent continuity"

Max Horkheimer & Theodor Adorno
Dialectic of Enlightenment

Miguel Prado

September 08


(1) Mattin - Anti-CCopyright: hacia una cultura desnuda (http://www.mattin.org/essays/Anti-CCopyright.html, in spanish)

Thanks to Roberto Mallo for the traslation