The Senses & Society, Vol. 8 – Issue 3, p. 354-358, review of Sonic Somatic book, Errant Bodies Press, by Nathan Heuvingh.
Neural, review of Sonic Somatic book, Errant Bodies Press, 2012.
Musicworks, No. 116 – Summer 2013, p. 62, review of Sonic Somatic book, Errant Bodies Press and Fingering 2xLP, squintfuckerpress 00R, by Chris Kennedy.
Volume: Hear Here , exhibition, Blackwood Gallery and Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, by Jason van Eyk.
C Magazine, No. 118 Summer 2013, review of Volume: Hear Here, exhibition, Blackwood Gallery and Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, by Shannon Anderson.
The National Post, January 6 2013, “Three Metro Toronto unsung art galleries that deserve a hallelujah chorus” on Blackwood Gallery, by Daniel Baird.
Vital Weekly, No. 869 Week 7, review of Fingering by Frans de Waard.
Landscapes Events Reproducted , curated exhibition, Blackwood Gallery, by Amy Gaizauskas.
Landscapes Events Reproducted , curated exhibition, Blackwood Gallery, by Leah Sandals.
No More Potlucks, Issue 22: Record, 2012, “Listening to Ray Bradbury’s Mars: A Conversation with Christof Migone” by Marc Weidenbaum.
The WIRE, August 2012 #342, review of Sonic Somatic: Performances of the Unsound Body , book, Berlin, Errant Bodies Press, by Daniella Cascella.
CBC DNTO, feature on Crackers by Sook Yin-Lee.
Samuel Beckett Today/Aujourd’hui, No. 23, pp. 153-155, on Foursome in “Transpositions de l’œuvre de Beckett dans l’art contemporain au Québec”, by Carla Taban.
Location!Location!Location! , curated exhibition, by Amish Morell.
Globe and Mail, October 2, 2010, M3, “Christof Migone: Nuit Blanche curator” by Micah Toub.
Listening to Noise and Silence: Towards a Philosophy of Sound Art, including section on Quieting , pp. 88-91 (London: Continuum) by Salomé Voegelin.
Performance Research, 15(3) issue: On Listening, “Listening Inside Out: Notes on an embodied analysis” p. 60-65 discussion of Crackers by Stacey Sewell.
Fall OutFall In, by Leah Sandals.
awashawave, by Laura Paolini.
Globe and Mail, June 27, 2009, R4,”Dance to this: A bump. a squeak, a voice”, review of Escape Songs, by Carl Wilson.
Curatorial essay for the Fixation exhibition, “Revealing the everyday” by Mireille Bourgeois.
CCP (cahiers critiques de poésie), review of Tue, book, by Vincent Barras.
Curatorial essay for the C’est arrivé près de chez vous exhibition, pp.148-149, “Shared Belonging and Neighbourly Works,” by Nathalie de Blois.
Inter, no. 101 hiver 2008-2009, review of Tue, book, by André Marceau.
Mercer Union brochure, essay “A Portrait: Christof Migone’s Disco Sec ” by Martin Arnold.
Voir (Montreal), 31 janvier 2008, “Stop ou encore?”, review of the Stop exhibition, by Nicolas Mavrikakis.
Esse, No. 60, feature article “Trou : une esthétique du corps ?” by André-Louis Paré.
Esse No. 59, Bruit issue, cover and artist portfolio.
Vital Weekly, No. 564 Week 7, review of Trou book/DVD by Frans de Waard.
The WIRE, March 2007, p. 69, review of Trou book/DVD by Brian Marley.
C Magazine, No. 88, p.41, review of Disquiet by Risa Horowitz.
New Media Poetics: Contexts, Technotexts, and Theories (eds. Adalaide Morris and Thomas Swiss), Leonardo/MIT Press, 2006, p. 113-114, on Hole in the Head, “Electric Line: The Poetics of Digital Audio Editing” essay by Martin Spinelli.
Artforum, December 2005, on Sound Voice Perform in Best of 2005 by Christoph Cox.
Musicworks, Fall 2005 #93, on Sound Voice Perform book/CD by Deanna Radford.
Queen’s University The Journal Tuesday, Sept. 20, Issue 7, Vol. 133 review of Disquiet at Modern Fuel Gallery.
Ubuweb, full feature (with mp3s, essays, texts).
Vital Weekly, No. 472 week 17, on Sound Voice Perform book/CD by Frans de Waard.
The Wire, June 2005 Issue 256, on Sound Voice Perform book/CD by Will Montgomery.
Le Devoir 19 septembre 2004-F4, review of La première phrase et le dernier mot book by David Cantin.
Globe & Mail July 29 2004 R5, review of Escape Songs CD by Carl Wilson.
Discorder CITR magazine June 2004, review of Escape Songs CD by Chris Walters.
Sands-zine 13-12-2004, review of Escape Songs CD by Sergio Eletto (in italian).
rep.no.sapo.pt, review of South Winds CD by Rui Eduardo Paes (in portuguese).
Le Navire Night, Chaîne Culturelle Radio Canada, feature.
After Hours, No. 18, Tokyo, article on squint fucker press.
Artforum, December 2003 South Winds in Best of 2003 by Christian Marclay.
CBC Brave New Waves Feature.
Vital Weekly, No. 389 week 38, review of South Winds CD by Frans de Waard.
Monthly Art Magazine Bijutsu Techno (BT) magazine, Vol.55 No.831, Tokyo, Japan, feature by Atsushi Sasaki.
Ubu Web, Radio Radio series, interview by Martin Spinelli.
Parachute, No. 107, review of Writing Aloud: The Sonics of Language
eds. Brandon LaBelle and Christof Migone, by Jim Drobnick.
The Tentacle, Summer 2001 pp. 30-31, review of Writing Aloud: The Sonics of Language, review by Christopher DeLaurenti.
Art Action 1958 – 1998, ed. Richard Martel, Édition Intervention, 2001, 302-304. Review of Separate by kim dawn and Christof Migone in “Three Modes of Canadian Performance in the Nineties” by Bruce Barber.
La Voce del Popolo, Winter2001-2002 #2, interview by crys cole.
Lola, Fall 2001 #10, review of Disclosure.
All-Music-Guide, review of Crackers CD by François Couture.
Vital Weekly, Week 40 No. 293, review of Crackers CD by Frans de Waard.
The Wire, Issue 209 July 2001, review of Quieting CD by Edwin Pouncey.
Musicworks, No. 83, review of Quieting CD by Darren Copeland.
All-Music-Guide, review of vex.
New Arts Examiner, November 1999, review of Crackers in Site of Sound: Of Architecture and the Ear by Mark Schwartz.
The Wire, March Issue 181, review of vex.
le stéréophile, #13, review of vex.
Fuse, vol. 21 no.4, review of Separate by Stephen Horne.
Lola, No.3 Winter 1998, review of Separate by Jack Stanley.
Mix Magazine, vol.24.2 Fall 1998, review of Separate by Valérie Lamontagne.
P-Form, No.46.2 Fall 1998, review of Separate by Aaron Pollard.
Parachute, No. 92, review of Separate by Johanne Lamoureux.
Radio Feature on Radio Suisse Romande, producer Jean Nicole.
Radio Feature on Danmarks Radio, producer Peter Kristiansen.
Vital Weekly, 14 Dec 1998, review of vex by Frans de Waard.
The Wire, February 1998, review of participation in Recycling the Future.
The Wire, January 1998, reviews of Hole in the Head, Rappel, Radio Folie Culture.
CMJ, New York, review of Hole in the Head
Revue et Corrigée, June 1998, France, reviews of Hole in the Head, Rappel, Radio Folie Culture.
fader, vol.001 1997, Japan, review of Hole in the Head.
Montréal Mirror, review of Hole in the Head.
Rubberneck, No.26 December 1997, review of Hole in the Head by Chris Atton.
ND Magazine, No. 20 Summer 1997, review of Hole in the Head.
Exclaim!, Toronto, reviews of Hole in the Head, Rappel, Radio Folie Culture.
Radio Feature on Radio Dos, Madrid, producer José Iges.
Sonic Somatic: Performances of the Unsound Body, book, Berlin, Errant Bodies Press, 2012 and Fingering, 2xLP, squintfuckerpress 00R, 2012, Review in Musicworks, No. 116 – Summer 2013, p. 62, by Chris Kennedy
It comes as no surprise that the first word of Sonic Somatic is “Merdre!” Migone has long been a purveyor of bodily functions, putting out recordings of knuckle-cracks (Crackers, 1999), collected bottles of spit (Spit, 1997-1999), and crassly named music projects (Fingering, 2012). However, he is extremely capable of intellectualizing this rudeness into a legitimate body of knowledge, one fully on display in Sonic Somatic. Migone takes the vibrato of the extra “r” in the above Merdre– pronounced as it is by Alfred Jarry’s Ubu– as an entry point into his discussion of the body as a punctuation point for language and sound– the body as both a generator and resonator of many of the variety of sounds, silences and noises discussed in the book. For Migone, the body is key to sound art because it leaks; the purity of sound is always disrupted because of our shuffles, stutters, farts, and coughs. For an art form still trying to define itself, this porosity allows for a multivalent approach to its possible definitions and an allowance for some of the underbelly to seep in. The text manages to balance a strong throughline– from silence, through sound, language, space, and then death (back to silence)– with a densely layered series of art-and-sound historical reference points. At one point, as just one example, Christian Marclay shares a paragraph with Aristophanes, Artaud, and Pujol the Pétomane. Migone carves digressions into interesting arguments, allowing the weight of mounting evidence to create a dense case for the intrusion of bodily functions into the sound-art terrain. Despite its subject matter, it is hard to describe this book as irreverent, because Migone very deftly writes transgression into the history books. For all its excesses, it is very tightly wound.
In contrast, Fingering is live, loose and lurid. It’s a two-LP set culled from Migone’s live solo performances over the last dozen years. His instruments of choice have been gutted-and-reworked reel-to-reel tape recorders, the reproductive equivalent of a prepared piano. He “plays” them with contact mikes, sticking them into the cavities of the machines’ bodies as they run, creating a live collage out of a searching, textured noise and the slips and slurs of the machine. The results are very tactile. The titleFingering implies a certain embodied application; perhaps even a borderline explicit one, and the sound recordings share similar tawdry textures. The recordings are surprisingly intimate, despite the fact that they document live performances. One senses by the audiences’ stillness that they sit rapt in the erotic charge, likely aided by Migone often utilizing a live video-feed in his performances to amplify his actions. The slurpy, tetchy noise of Fingering makes it the perfect audio companion to Migone’s book. Migone is somehow able to make the machine sound fleshy and alive, creating a borderline disturbing listen (a special accomplishment for a noise record that isn’t mastered at the usual extremely high volume). But it is the last side of the two-LP set that connects most directly back to his book. A series of words (fingers and in) are edited down to just the sound of saliva forming on lips and tongue, before and after the word is stated. At each point, a voice is trying to speak, but only the absence of language and the presence of body is heard.
Volume: Hear Here, exhibition, Blackwood Gallery and Justina M. Barnicke Gallery. Review in Musicworks, No. 116 – Summer 2013, pp. 59-60, by Jason van Eyk
Sound artist, theorist, and Blackwood Gallery director Christof Migone has a vexing sense of creative association. The twenty-four very diverse works that he assembled from nineteen Canadian artists for the recent Volume: Hear Here exhibit formed what at first seemed like a confounding collection: drawings and artist’s books; kinetic and static sculpture; multimedia and interactive installation; diffused and head-phone-based audio; screen-based and projected video; and live performance art were barely contained within the Blackwood and Justina M. Barnicke galleries of the University of Toronto.
Migone’s artistic assemblage appeared as perplexing as each work was in itself. John Oswald’s Whisperfields, a nonsynchronous film soundtrack to the DVD Arc d’Apparition was diffused without its video component. Alexis O’Hara’s speaker fort-igloo was equal parts cozy space for communal soundmaking and ear-threatening feedback trap. Dave Dyment’s Untitled (Headset) offered a frustrating set of earphones that would only perform when unworn; his inaudible and barely even noticeable ultrasonic tone-cluster sculpture Nothing (for Robert Barry) was almost as unnervingly inaudible. Ian Skedd’s video piece displayed a choir signing what they should have been singing. Neil Klassen’s tar-encased trumped was rendered forever unplayable. Ryan Park’s silenced copy of John Cage’s Silence rubbed out the whole book from cover to cover in a beautiful buffed graphite; Chiyoko Szlavnics’ three-layered line drawings grew out of a series produced for musical compositions; and John Wynne’s box of his dead father’s old hearing aids played bewildering feedback in accompaniment to an intimately projected photo of the Atlantic Ocean. And that was only the half of it…
What was the attendee to take away from all this slippery sonic territory? The clues lie in the exhibition title, which Migone had very carefully crafted. Pick up a copy of his 2012 book Sonic Somatic: Performances of the Unsound Body and read the following entry about volume, and you get an initial sense of what is theoretically at play here.
Volume: a measure of a space, and volume: amplitude of sound. Consider volume as the variability of that space in sound. Consider volume as something within but wholly separate. Consider volume as the invisible and unmarked presence of sound. Consider volume as the intertwine of the spatial and the sonic. Now, consider sound as lost in space, more intent to illimit that delimit. The volume of sound art is immeasurable, deafening. It can overwhelm with silence just as well as it can blast with noise. By playing with the volume dial here we shall consider the place of sound art. Exhibiting sound art poses challenges to the white cube, sound epitomizes leakage, sound confirms porosity of space. Sound art’s presence in museums is increasingly prevalent but remains problematic for spaces conceived for viewing instead of listening. Wide, open, reverberative galleries are not generally conducive to focused listening. Even prior to an intentional sound entering the equation, every space has its own soundtrack, its room tone. Every space is sonorous, every space has a breath…we shall weigh the propensity for sound to displace, multiply, heterogenize…place, site…
If volume problematizes the “gallerization” of sound art, then the questions of “here” (the essential presence or absence of the listener in the space where sound art is sounding or not) and of “hear” (the nature of reception and presentness of the listener in the space where sound art is) only further complicate the relationship. That is to say, if the very nature of sound-art exhibitions are already problematic, then why shouldn’t the work itself challenge these same notions in its very concept and content? At least that seems to be what Migone might be asking us to consider. Although, like sound itself, the fixity of his curatorial intent slides along the same slick lines between silence, sounding, and sonic interruption- indirect, unframed, oblique paths to meaning; destabilizing resonances that speak to some pluralized truth that takes shape and reverberates as quickly as it escapes and dissipates.
Three Metro Toronto unsung art galleries that deserve a hallelujah chorus, Toronto Star, January 5, 2013, by Daniel Baird
From the point of view of the Queen West, getting out to the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) in the northern wilds of Jane and Finch can seem an onerous chore. Not only are there no hip bars or restaurants there (not known to downtowners, anyway), but you have to schlep on the subway all the way to Downsview and then endure a crowded express bus through suburban and industrial wastelands. But the idea that Toronto’s cultural life takes place entirely a stone’s throw from the Drake Hotel is absurd, limiting, and simply out of touch. Some of our region’s most compelling and cutting edge exhibitions take place away from the city’s core, including at the AGYU, the Blackwood Gallery at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus, and at the MacLaren Art Centre in Barrie. These are, if you will, Metro Toronto’s unsung galleries, and this story is an ode to them:
Artist Camilla Sing with official time keeper Jose Talavera taking her art to the workers as part of the Blackwood Gallery philosophy: if you don’t go to them, they’ll go to you!
The AGYU’s 2013 season, for instance, opens Jan. 16 with a solo exhibition of the work of Toronto based interdisciplinary artist Deanna Bowen, “Invisible Empires,” which focuses on the Ku Klux Klan and its migration into Canada. “It’s just a prejudice that the AGYU is not in Toronto,” says Philip Monk, the gallery’s director and chief curator. “We’re actually closer to the center of where people live in (Metro) Toronto than other institutions — we just have a different demographic. And since we serve different audiences, we have had to create a different kind of institution that serves both social and aesthetic concerns. In the process, we’ve transformed the institution itself so that artists are part of the process at every level, including the marketing of the show, and in that way the institution itself has become part of the art.” One of the ways the AGYU has overcome the problem of getting people downtown to come up to York University is the AGYU Performance Bus. Featured artists turn the old school bus into a mobile art work that ferries people from the Art Gallery of Ontario and back for openings. “We’ve always wanted artists to be our advocates, and for artists to be the hosts of the exhibitions,” says Emelie Chhangur, who works with Monk as assistant director and curator. “The Performance Bus provides the opportunity for an artist to spend 45 minutes in a school bus with his or her community, and what happens in there is always a surprise!”
The Blackwood Gallery
Located on the campus of the University of Toronto Mississauga, the Blackwood Gallery is if anything more geographically challenged than the AGYU, but under the direction of artist and curator Christof Migone, the gallery has thrived, mounting consistently challenging exhibitions and events. “Volume: Hear Here,” an exploration of the experience of sound that includes well-known Canadian artists like John Oswald, Charles Stankievech, Marla Hlady, and Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, will open on January 16. Montreal based Lozano-Hemmer’s contribution will be from his remarkable Lost Breath project, a device that stores a single breath and circulates it over and over some 10,000 times a day. The breath that will be used in “Volume: Hear Here” will be that of renowned American composer and accordionist Pauline Oliveros. “The mandate of the gallery is contemporary Canadian and international art,” says Migone, “but I’m still trying to find ways of engaging with and responding to the community of the city we’re located in. I really think of myself as a populist, and I want the work be accessible, I want the gallery to be a platform equally for artists, students, and the community. We’ve had an ongoing project called Door to Door that started in 2011 in which artists literally go out into the local community. For the first one, Camilla Singh went to local businesses and did a cheerleading routine for the workers!” “Sometimes we don’t have huge audiences,” Migone admitted, “but my attitude is, if you don’t come to us, we’ll come to you!”
The MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie
Both the Art Gallery of York University and the Blackwood Gallery are university galleries, so it should come as no surprise that their programming tends to be edgy, experimental, and often cerebral. Set in a beautiful old Carnegie Library and with an award-winning addition designed by Siamak Hariri of Hariri Pontanini Architects, the MacLaren Art Centre in Barrie has a slightly different mandate: they exhibit artists who work in and around the County of Simcoe, works that are in their extensive permanent collections, and also mount shows by contemporary Canadian artists. Currently on view is “Hue and Cry,” a survey of figurative works by influential Montreal based artist Leopold Plotek, as well as the stunning “Workingman’s Dead: Lives of the Artists,” curated by Plotek and MacLaren curator Ben Portis, which features black and white photographs of often doomed artists during the 1930s, the height of Stalin’s terror, culled from the gallery’s remarkable Sovfoto archive. “There’s a different kind of audience here,” Portis observes. “It’s a very insular community that has not had a longstanding relationship to the arts — many of the families have been here for generations. But that is changing because the community is rapidly growing, with many people now commuting to Toronto for work, and the MacLaren is trying to provide cultural leadership. A lot of what I do is to provide visibility for our holdings in late modern and contemporary Canadian art, but we also do shows with a regional focus, like our recent show about painter John Hartman’s life on Georgian Bay. And we do very cutting edge shows too: at the end of February we will be opening a retrospective of the work of Kristan Horton,” winner of the coveted Grange Prize in 2010.
There is, as Philip Monk points out, a prejudice against galleries not located in downtown Toronto. There might have been some truth in that prejudice 20 or 30 years ago, but both the art world and the greater Toronto area have changed a lot in the meantime. Today some of the finest, most illuminating, and most challenging exhibitions take place up near Jane and Finch or in Mississauga or in Barrie. It’s important to get out and see them. And really, they aren’t all that far.
Fingering, 2xLP, squintfuckerpress, 2012. Review in Vital Weekly by Frans de Waard
A double LP that comes with two inserts with two punched holes in it a ‘tear’ in the paper. You know this has to be the work of Christof Migone, who has provided us with more conceptual weirdness in the past few years, but for now his music is actual less concept based. Here we have Migone as an improviser, like he did with Alexandre St.Onge in the duo undo, but also with Set Fire To Flames, l’oreille a Vincent, Fly Pan Am, Klaxon Guele, Mecha Fixes Clock and with people like Tim Hecker, Martin Tetreault, Sam Shalabi and others. His instrument in all of these occasions is ‘gutted reel-to-reel machines’. This double LP documents his solo performances since 2000. He plays the tapes by using his fingers – or so I assume. Speeding the tape up, slowing it down are the only two I can think of, but then I don’t play this. I am not sure if Migone prepares his tapes in any way, such as recording it with his own sound material, punching holes in it, covers it with dirt (as some people do), but based on these nine pieces it’s safe to say Migone has learned a few tricks over the last fifteen years to play some varied music. Noise is never far away, which is perhaps not odd, but especially when he cuts down in volume, an interesting sonic depth arrises from the music in which electro acoustic music, field recordings and pure electronics melt down in real time sound collages, such as ‘Gignrifen’ and ‘As Smoke’. When the noise hits the van, it hits hard and loud, but it keeps bouncing off in all directions, like the rawest of musique concrete sound collages, which have been buried in gravel for about fifty years. Two heavy slabs of vinyl, a great documentation of a fine craftsmanship. Would be great to see this in concert.
Sonic Somatic: Performances of the Unsound Body, book, Berlin, Errant Bodies Press, 2012, ISBN 978-0-9827439-4-2. Review in The WIRE by Daniella Cascella
On page 75 of Sonic Somatic, a new collection of texts by Toronto based artist, writer and curator Christof Migone, you will find a photograph from the turn of the century depicting a medium with ectoplasm oozing out of her mouth. Is she emitting something, or choking on it? On the book’s cover, you see a detail of Concrete Tape Recorder Piece (1968) by Bruce Nauman: a tape recording of a scream, silenced by the concrete block around it. At the end, the collection sees you off with a photograph taken from the back door of the Maverick Concert Hall, Woodstock, New York, where John Cage’s 4’33” was first performed in 1952 – a view from an uncommon vantage point, gaping in. Sonic Somatic takes shape among these pivotal marks: choking on its own material while oozing it out; where a scream meets a block of concrete, between literal meaning and bodily utterance, between the aural and the unheard.
“Sound art is unsound,” Migone argues. This is the first of many puns and neologisms such as “taciturntablism”, “depth charges”, “sound art for the hard of hearing” and “utter the stutter” through which he articulates his thoughts; his painstaking attention to language and his flair for deadpan word combinations glue the book together and make up a singular reading experience. Migone’s writing defies the long-winded traits of sonic theory by exhausting them, filling up and emptying out any reasoning, again and again. If sound art is unsound, then the discourse around sound is theoretically bulimic, and Migone captures this noxious state, scrutinising all the words devoured and expelled in the process.
Throughout these pages, words are excited or numbed by repetition until there seems to be no more to read or say. Is this book trying to push its readers away from its textual grip? Sonic Somatic is apparently focused on sound art, and yet its strength lies in keeping ‘sound art’ out of focus: the book exists on the edge of performance, installation art, sound works, literature and poetry, pursuing their sounding in absentia and seeking to achieve “a sonic state of silence”. Ultimately, the book operates as a critical prop for Migone the performer, the unseen taciturntablist; rather than trying to encage sound art in core definition, he engages with the peripheries of sound. Likewise it does not prescribe a given set of works in order to define a canon: instead, it is through these that Migone offers his hearing, his silencing, his writing and thinking. From pieces by Alvin Lucier to performances by Adrian Piper, from texts by Antonin Artaud and Samuel Beckett to Herman Melville’s Bartleby, any preconceived ideas of sound art are thwarted by Migone’s words into an anticipation or recollection of their bodily other, into emblematic tropes such as stutters, saliva, bodily emissions, loops and silences.
“Every time, [art] takes a new breath with the same old lungs,” Migone writes, and the circularity inherent in this book prompted me to metaphorically hyperventilate though its pages, hearing inner voices in reading, phantom voices in listening. At first I ignored them and read Sonic Somatic as a linear text: it eluded me. I tried to reason through it and I was stuck at a dead end. Finally I looked again at the photograph of the Maverick Concert Hall on the last page. I looked from the outside at a place I did not belong to; I struggled to figure out the space between the sonic and the bodily; I was fully aware of its transient yet vital substance. This book moved me away from itself and left me in the space of my own listening – I found myself shaping it as I read. It is an uneasy space, constantly under siege by words: a space of conflicted recognition. The moment I stopped trying to sort out Migone’s words in a conclusive manner and experienced them instead as a bodily presence, as a form or as a cut, Sonic Somatic disclosed its inner functioning and finally revealead itself: not as a book on sound art, but a work of sound art – as stuttering, fickle, provoking and unsound as that might be.
Samuel Beckett Today/Aujourd’hui, No. 23, pp. 153-155, on Foursome in “Transpositions de l’œuvre de Beckett dans l’art contemporain au Québec, 2000-2010”, by Carla Taban
L’œuvre d’art audio/radiophonique Foursome que Christof Migone a créée pour le programme Intermedia Art du musée Tate en 2007 (Web) se veut une transposition auditive, en quatre épisodes, de Quad. L’artiste a employé des sons et des bruits de nature différente dont il a altéré les qualités (volume, ton, timbre, durée, rythme, etc.) et qu’il a agencés dans un site sonore ‘dé-centré’ où la pièce télévisuelle de Beckett fonctionne, à l’instar du centre dans Quad, comme principe générateur mais inatteignable de l’œuvre. Migone a demandé à quatre femmes chorégraphes de regarder Quadrat I et II et de décrire, interpréter, voire exprimer, par la suite de mémoire ce qu’elles se rappellent avoir vu, entendu, pensé et/ou ressenti lors du visionnement. Les tuent la composante sonore ‘humaine’ de foursome, composante qui est exploitée non seulement dans sa dimension verbale, en tant que médium de la parole, mais aussi dans sa dimension vocale, en tant que médium de la parole, mais aussi dans sa dimension vocale, en tant que médium de production: i) des sons articulés autrement que linguistiquement (notamment musicalement), d’une part; et ii) des bruits inarticulés, d’autre part. A part les voix, Foursome inclut des composantes générées par des instruments musicaux acoustiques et électroniques, voire des synthétiseurs audio, ainsi que des bruits animés et non animés enregistrés du monde réel. L’œuvre configure ainsi un espace sonore complexe qui confond les habitudes auditives de l’écouteur, en réorientant son attention du verbal vers d’autres dimensions acoustiques, grâce principalement à deux procédés: l’interchangeabilité du verbal et du non verbal comme ‘figure’ et ‘fond’; et la décomposition-modification du verbal au-delà de toute compréhension sémantique possible.
Bien que l’autoréférentialité de Foursome opére le plus explicitement dans la dimension verbale de l’œuvre, elle affecte toutes ses composantes et leur configuration. Verbalement, les chorégraphes non seulement discourent sur Quad, mais elles méta-discourent aussi sur la difficulté de mettre la pièce en mots, autrement dit sur les embarras du processus de discursivisation lui-même. Leurs interjections expriment, à la limite du linguistique, cette même difficulté et assurent la transition vers des éléments vocaux – tels que des bruits inarticulés ou des constrictions respiratoires – qui connotent, dans le contexte établi par Foursome, l’impossibilité de verbaliser Quad. En fait, les dimensions auditives non-verbales et non-vocales de l’œuvre se voient pourvues à leur tour d’une fonction autoréflexive, non seulement parce qu’elles finissent par attirer l’attention sur elles-mêmes en tant que phénoménes sensoriels/ sensations sonores, mais aussi parce que leur soidisant ‘cacophonie phonique’ (donc littérale) pointe simultanément et contradictoirement: i) vers la métaphorique ‘cacophonie discursivisante’ de Quad et ii) vers la possibilité que la pièce de Beckett se laisse transposer auditivement autrement que discursivement. Cette possibilité d’une transposition sonore ‘autre’ de Quad, qui contourne la discursivisation, semble être sérieusement mise en doute par le fait qu’elle est explicitement énoncée, donc méta-discursivisée (autrement dit, circulairement ramenée au discours), par Migone lui-même, à un niveau autoréflexif qui emboîte les précédents. Encore est-il que Foursome continue à connoter la probabilité de la possiblité citée par le fait que ce nouveau niveau autoréflexif non seulement emboîte méta-discursivement les autres mais les miroite aussi performativement (donc par son faire), dans la mesure oú l’artiste traite sa propre voix exactement de la même manière dont il traite tous les phénomènes phoniques de Foursome, c’est-à-dire en en faisant ressortir en tout premier lieu les qualités acoustiques qui, dans le cas de toute voix articulée verbalement, sort d’habitude obscurcies par nos automatismes d’écoute ‘pour le sens.’
En travaillant sur son matériau sonore disposé ‘autour’ de Quad, Foursome fait et défait, autoréférentielles dans un processus théoriquement sans fin, dans une ‘mouvance signifiante’ analogue au mouvement incessant connoté par les quatre figures de Quad. L’œuvre de Migone n’explique point celle de Beckett, mais finit par en souligner encore plus les caractéristiques formelles et médiatiques qu’elle suggére responsables du conditionnement interprétatif du spectateur-écouteur, de sa propension à vouloir discursiviser Quad (même si seulement ou principalement sous le mode interrogatif), done à vouloir spéculer que ce qu’il y voit et entend doit signifier en fait quelque chose d’autre que ce qu’il y voit et entend.
Listening to Noise and Silence: Towards a Philosophy of Sound Art, section on Quieting, pp. 88-91 (London: Continuum) by Salomé Voegelin
Christof Migone’s piece Quieting, created from and around a canon that is fired every day at noon from the Citadel in Halifax, Canada, composes silence. The work starts with utter stillness that bids you into its quiet materiality, 34 tracks thereof, through the sounds of its mediator: the zipzipzip of the CO-player. That is all the proof I have at first that something is actually playing. From there I listen to the tiny sounds soon heard that extend what I hear to all that is present to listen to. This is the fullness of silence that grasps everything as it goes along: the zipzipzip of the CO-player, the humming of the road outside, the faint ticking of a clock, a distant siren, all get embedded in its tracks.
At track 18 the canon is fired. Its shot snaps me into the readiness of listening, and I become aware retrospectively of the intention- ality of the faint hushes, bubbles, voices and crackles that punctuated my soundscape for the last 15 minutes. The canon shot is like the clap of the Zen master readying you to fight. The fight is the phenom- enological focus of listening to the work as a sensory-motor production. The canon brackets the silence and reveals the intention of the work: to make you listen, to quieten yourself and hear your own process and location of engagement. Within this intention the work is not arbitrary but full of rhythmic and purposeful encounters with the material on and off the tracks.
Quieting reduces sound to the core of its experience. It produces a shiny surface of little trickles of tiny sounds and small tactile rhythms that mirror my listening and show me my own expectations. Sound is percolating, bubbling up under this surface of quiet that covers my walls horizontally floor to ceiling. I am bound to the sonic materiality produced in my own listening imagination. The reciprocity is reflec- tive, sharp and fast. Unlike in noise this is not a reactive intersubjec- tivity; the material does not digest and fragment me or make me bear its heavy weight. Instead I hear myself in this quiet soundscape, I am the centre of its weightless sounds: called by its faintness to listen and recognize nothing but myself in the heard.
Silence is at once reflective and encompassing: taking into itself all that is audible to echo back to me my own listening engagement. It provides a thick surface in which I hear myself listening to my sur- roundings, to gain a knowing about these surroundings from myself within them. Silence binds me into its sensorial materiality, and I start to build my own narrative between the heard and the anticipation of what there is to hear next. This next is not transcendental and certain, always already there before hearing it, but experiential and doubtful, produced now in my contingent signifying practice of listening to Migone’s composition.
His work is not slight but bare. He bares sounds in silence to pro- duce the force of anticipation that produces the work. Quieting makes the condition of sound audible by taking away the soundings and quieting the space as well as the listener, inviting him to hear. I am still listening when it is all gone, and my surroundings have become his tracks. In the spell of the canon shot I have attained a sensibility that lasts at least for a little while. There is a silent after-sound that vibrates the room for a moment after it has passed. It is a silence you have to write about with a soft pencil in order not to erase the quiet sounds and come to write about the motion of writing rather than the sounds of listening.
Silence frees the work to embrace the soundscape and make it resonate in its composition. Composing silence is to build an infinite frame around the experience of these sounds. However, this frame is the contingent act of listening rather than a particular instruction to hear. It happens on the composer’s wish but the desire of the audi- ence to hear fulfils it. The composer of silence composes not only auditory materiality but also stages listening as the invention of sound. In this sense silence places the composer and the listener in corresponding locations: he is the composer as producer and I am the composer as listener. This equivalence explains the responsibility of the listener and his centrality in any exchange about the heard. And thus it renders silence critical in respect to aesthetic discourse, since it shifts the focus of writing about the work to writing about its production in perception.
Migone composes his silence that enables mine. The sensorial material however is not the same at all. What we share is the canon shot as a call to listen. It is our moment of understanding in the midst of a much more solitary and personal production. The work is realized as the aesthetic moment of my subjective silence. It is ideal in its contingent ephemerality and becomes material through my fleshly encounter: hooked inside my body its silence tugs on the surface of my skin to hear it as a whisper all over my body. We share listening, not however the heard. Our meeting point is more poetic, fleeting and full of misunderstandings. Our silence is fragile, passing around a canon shot in Halifax. Communicating what we hear in this silence is like talking about thin air. It is to discuss something that is invisible, ephemeral and fleeting, but substantial in its consistency, surround- ing us all the time.
This embedded parity between Migone and me has a more gen- eral application however, since it is at least the conceptual starting point for any composing and listening, even of a noisier piece.
Talking about the silent snowed-in night feels like groping for words in the dark to describe what I hear, and when I am talking the very thing I am describing is erased by my voice. This makes for a very tentative sensibility. I start to speak with the knowledge that I obliter- ate what I talk about with every word, and that my meaning is as fleet- ing and microscopic as the sounds I am trying to discuss. ‘It made a certain faint ticking sound’ I insist, trying to explain my fear and inability to sleep. ‘I definitively heard a quiet creak in the empty house, listen. . . there. . . ‘ My partner in communication despairs. ‘You are mad’ he shouts, chasing away the silence monsters. As it gets quiet again I start again, trying in whispering tones, afraid to chase away the tiny sounds, to narrate what I think I can hear, so he would hear it too.
“Many ways to become airborne”, on Fall Out and Fall In, Saturday Globe and Mail, November 7, 2009, R12, by Leah Sandals
With trees putting on their yearly show of vibrant golds, scarlets and oranges, one might think the ideal point of departure for a seasonally themed exhibition would be colour and hue. Not so at the Blackwood Gallery, a rigorous academic space housed on the leafy campus of the University of Toronto at Mississauga. Its two-part autumn show, Fall Out and Fall In, was sparked not by fall colour but by the tumbling, mulch-ward destiny of that foliage, bringing together works that riff on gravity and downward motion. “I like themes that are somewhat redundant, like falling in the fall,” explains Christof Migone, director and curator of the Blackwood. “Everyone has an image of falling. But how to amplify that and make it more complex, that was the challenge.” The strongest works from the first half of the show,Fall Out , which opened earlier this fall, well exploit those tensions between simple and complex. Torontonian Simone Jones’s film, Perfect Vehicle, shows a futuristic, speedy-looking machine advancing at a funereal pace across desolate salt flats. With observation, it’s revealed that the machine is moved forward by the rise and fall of the passenger’s chest as she breathes. It’s an absurd, yet humane, gesture – sci-fi light-speed fantasy on a slo-mo bio-dynamic timetable. Zilvinas Kempinas’s O Between Fans, like similar works by this Lithuanian-born New York-based artist, is a desligh, with two fans keeping a plastic loop perpetually dancing in the air, seemingly freed from gravity. Kempinas’s installations are as direct and naked as a science-museum set-up, but are also oddly spiritual and poetic. Montrealer Paul Litherland is represented by two remarkable skydiving videos, Force of Attraction and Freefall Fighters – films that marry macho adrenalin with sobering intimations of mortality and fear. Force of Attraction in particular yields this uncanny mix, as the camera focuses on Litherland’s face as it morphs during a few minutes of the free fall. Seeing the artist’s skin and cartilage turn to mere putty in the atmosphere’s hands is by turns amusing and anxiety-provoking – Cindy Sherman-esque self-portraiture meets extreme-sports risk. Interestingly, the second half of the exhibition, Fall In, which opened in late October, courts risk in a different, rather self-reflexive way. For it, nine new artists were matched to respond to the nine original Fall In artists. “A recurring thing in stuff I do is this element of failure,” explains Migone, “not failure in a derogatory way, but more in being vulnerable. I was also thinking of dominoes, of cause and effect, of one thing or fall triggering another.” Indeed, some of the Fall in artists undermine the works they were ostensibly inspired by – albeit in a witty, open-ended fashion. Roula Partheniou brings a slapstick to Kempinas’s science with a well-placed replica of a banana peel, suggesting there’s more than one way to become airborne. More pointedly, Josh Thorpe adds a viewer-activated on-off switch to Don Simmon’s Bachelor Forever, a fascinating verticle-line-tracing robot that Simmons initially argued was completed self-contained. With the flick of a finger, Thorpe’s addition converts Bachelor’s proclaimed solitude into something intrinsically relational. Unfortunately, experiments in failure sometimes turn out to be just that. Some viewers may have been put off, for instance, by the exhibition’s installation procedure, which continued a couple of weeks into each half of the show. The result: ladders and power-drill noise that interrupted and obscured viewer experience. Migone explains that what some might see as poor planning was actually intended as pedagogy, “I wanted to focus on the installation as a process,” he says. “We’re a university, so I also saw it as a way for students who come by the gallery regularly to see how an exhibition goes up, to demystify it.” Migone admits that in the future he might make that choice more clear. Installation quibbles aside, the Blackwood’s current project delivers a stand-up effort – even if it is about falling down. With eclectic program events like astronomy lectures and breakdancing sessions, Fall In and Fall Out rejects autumnal cravings for conceptual comfort food. The result is uncertain yet enjoyable: a walk through a different kind of changing autumn woodland.
“Dance to this: A bump. a squeak, a voice”, on Escape Songs, Saturday Globe and Mail, June 27, 2009, R4, by Carl Wilson
The record is called Escape Songs, and for five years it nearly got clean away. In 2004, Vancouver’s Veda Hille and Christof Migone, then a Montrealer, released an album of bumps and squeaks that for a minute here and there coalesce into pop tunes, then break down again into sputters and mumbles. It’s a stubbornly mysterious record: Listening to it is like peering through a keyhole into a locked 17th-century curiosity cabinet. And so few people heard it that you could ask, like the proverbial tree falling in the proverbial forest, whether it even made a sound. But this week, for the first time, it’s generating a verifiable public din. At the initiative of the month-long Suoni Per Il Popolo music festival in Montreal and the Music Gallery in Toronto, Hille and Migone are giving Escape Songs its live-performance debut. The original project was a departure for both its creators, but particularly for Hille, who for 16 years has been playing and recording songs that, however they meander, never quite break the shackles of music, for a modestly sized but devoted following. Her latest album, This Riot Life, made the long list for last year’s Polaris Music Prize.
After overcoming her intimidation upon meeting Migone at Vancouver’s Western Front artists’ centre in 1998, where he was “the coolest person I’d ever seen – seriously,” she invited him to make tape loops that added some atmospheric accents to her next album. For Escape Songs, she wanted to return the favour by reaching out into Migone’s more habitual sound-art territory. Not that anyone has ever accused Hille of being a conventional songwriter, with her piano- and guitar-based songs that proceed by leaps of faith from philosophical reflection to ecstatic exclamation, from folkie lilt to car-crash violence. In subject matter, they range from cellular regeneration and poisonous plants to lunatic asylums and the life of Emily Carr, not to mention birds, Bertolt Brecht and, as she has put it, “the constant threat of tragedy.” But unlike Migone, Hille has never done a piece that involved pounding a microphone against a wall over and over until it caves in, then playing back the sound from a speaker nestled inside the hole. Neither has she made music by editing together recordings of people cracking their knuckles, knees and toes, or expelling gas, or other semi-voluntary processes on the barely-there bodily plane.
After years of creating one of the world’s only weekly experimental-sound radio shows on a campus-community radio station in Montreal, Migone got his PhD at New York University and is now a lecturer at the University of Toronto and director of the Blackwood Gallery in Mississauga. Yet the gap between their two aesthetic worlds is not as wide as it might seem. After a performance years ago, someone told Migone he could call his approach “tinycore.” “I like that,” he says. “A hardcore of the infinitesimal.”
And Hille’s songs too have always been marked by an attraction to smallness rather than grandeur, a scale of reality underneath the one where everyday things are seen or stated. A Junior Scientist microscope played a prominent role in Hille’s intellectual formation, not to mention a stint in art school. So, in a sense, here were two tinycore artists coming together. The record was created slowly, with each writing on their own at their opposite ends of the country and then arranging yearly get-togethers between 2000 and 2003. “While one might guess that the roles were very distinct given our respective track records, it was quite the opposite,” says Migone. “I played some instruments and contributed some lyrics, Veda provided some sound textures. We recorded raw material together and apart; we manipulated and mixed together and apart. We tried to keep it tenuous and sparse.” “I really don’t consider it to be a music album,” says Hille, “and I wondered whether I would still know what was ‘good.’ I found that I did know what was working and what wasn’t, and Christof and I almost always agreed. Which is kind of amazing, in retrospect.” “It was great for me to break out of my usual form,” she adds, “but we kept a little tiny song element in there so it was a change for him too.”
Migone, for his part, says he’s “always been interested in melody, (dis)harmony, and specifically as they manifest themselves in song. Actually, more ‘singsong’ than song – the strands of musicality that escape the formal realm of songmaking/crafting/writing and permeate everyday speech.” Some artists, such as Montreal’s René Lussier or, more recently, Toronto’s Charles Spearin (of Broken Social Scene) with his “Happiness Project,” have explored that realm by composing music based on the cadences of ordinary conversations, which Migone says he likes. But “for me it was more about getting into a tiny place inside me, a place pre-language, a small nothing below the tongue. … In exploring the sonorities of my voice, I find that a singsong often arises, little moments that could add up to a song if I had such skill or propensity … but then I realized that capturing that pre-song state could be a fruitful avenue.”
Thus, on Escape Songs, there are passages that sound like someone talking to him- or herself, which through repetition begin to free-fall into a hummable tune until they disperse into another set of sighs and smacks, as if stumbling from an exterior social world into some antechamber of disease or dream. While they briefly considered playing the results live at the time, Migone says, “I wasn’t too keen on being on stage with a laptop – I’m still not – plus being in different cities and both of us busy with other projects made this a bit of a ‘sleeper’ release.” That elusiveness was exaggerated by the CD’s distribution (in a beige sleeve dotted with a few drops of varnish) on Migone’s own sound-art record label with a name not even printable in this newspaper.
But since the Montreal festival and the Toronto art-music space made the invitation this year, Hille “twisted Christof’s arm” and they invited some musical guests to help flesh out the ghostly originals. “I think the structure we’ve devised will help mitigate my discomfort,” Migone says, joking that the live show could be titled “Escape Escape Songs.” “The challenge and inevitable awkwardness of trying to translate such an intimate record on stage appeals to me.”
“Revealing the everyday”, curatorial essay to accompany the Fixation exhibition, by Mireille Bourgeois
The quotidian can seem to encapsulate everything that is experienced in a day, when in fact it is the particular redundancies of life, which make up the every day. Things like sweating, salivating, identical words that exist in multiple books in our library, sticking out a tongue, telling our age out loud, and so on and so forth. The everyday in art is not so because it has touched on a subject that is regularly mediated in our day to day. It is more precisely art that has taken a very pointed consideration of the occurrences of life, which happen on such a small scale as to not even attract attention. Why bring awareness to the small gestures of our everyday? This can be seen as non-art, not only turning away from the aesthetics of art objects, but to “indicate”, “intervene”, “document” what is closest to the artist, in hopes of understanding the most basic foundations of life.
Toronto-based multidisciplinary artist Christof Migone has been making artwork since the late 80’s, originally focusing on poetry and radio. He gradually crossed the boundaries of various mediums using electronics, video, audio, performance and text as tools of investigation. Migone’s practice can be difficult to navigate; he is an artist, a curator (at the Blackwood Gallery in Mississauga, Ontario), and an academic (holds a PhD in performance art). What is specific in his work is the concentration on the banal habits of a daily routine — only experienced in the somewhat undocumentable of the individual. The artist’s practice can be broken down into potential concerns with the body, language, and the mundane. However these sensibilities are not mutually exclusive. Each repeats its overarching examination of the obsessive, trying to achieve an understanding of how each artwork gesture endures physically or mentally, translates from one sense to the other, or is reordered through circling in place. Migone challenges the process of translation, and how it can be applied to other forms of communication such as bodily senses or linguistics (for example). He uses microphones and video cameras to document the workings of the body, reformulates language through dissecting text and reordering the words in new configurations, and spends days, weeks, and sometimes months on a single obsession.
A disco ball has lost all its mirrors. It revolves fixed in the CCS Bard gallery space as a marker for the obsession of circling ideas. Piece by piece Migone picked the mirrors from what he calls a “death star” — a Star Wars reference that does make you wonder whether its suspicious silent motion will eventually devastate everything in the space — and after 12 hours (spread over 3 days) of picking at the mirrors the ball was bare. It still has all the parts accessible to register it as a disco ball; its information has simply been reordered.
Here fixation is also connected to the slight shifts between ideas; disco ball turns into Disco Fall (2008). The object is in motion and constant transformation as it turns, building a slow momentum. Is the exhibition revolving around this Disco Fall or is it the other way around? A similar process of deconstruction is used in Migone’s 2008 Single text piece, where he’s gathered the lyrics of 45 “classic” songs in alphabetical order. Repeated words are not allowed and the lyrics are then printed seamlessly on 7″x7″ white record sleeves and hung in a row on the gallery wall. The resulting text is more like a collection than a serenade: gathering words that may constitute the essence of each song.
In Foursome, a 2007 audio piece originally conceived for a Tate Modern Resonance FM radio broadcast, Migone engaged four dance choreographers to view Samuel Beckett’s Quad teleplay. In the teleplay, four hooded individuals enter a mat shape on the ground resembling a boxing ring without its ropes. Each character engaged in a kind of wordless, private dialogue, is assigned a metronome-like tempo, and the choreography advances with the build-up of a drum-circle type beat. The Foursomeparticipants were to recall the teleplay from memory and describe it in their own way, whether it was through the vocal description of emotions, imagery or interpretations of the piece. Will the individuals revert to a descriptive analysis of the video? Will they point out colors or sounds as the foregrounding element? Or will they resort to a complete emotional reading of what they see? Perhaps it is the viewer who will describe Quad through their reading of Foursome.
The 840 razorblades in vex jut out of the gallery wall in a single row and are the remains of a 14-hour (840 minutes) long performance the artist undertook in 1995. The piece was based on Erik Satie’s “Vexations” in which the composer added a note to the score stating “To play this motif 840 times in succession, one would do well to prepare oneself beforehand, in the deepest silence, with serious immobilities.” During his version of the performance, Migone made 840 edits with 840 razor blades of a prior recording of him counting to 840 while a vinyl record with a closed end groove repeated the last note of Satie’s composition 840 times. Two copies of the recordings were put on reel-to-reel tape and the edits were done by taking from one into the other. The resulting 27-minute audio — heard throughout the gallery space emanating from a single bare speaker sitting on the floor aside to the razor blades — combines both tapes and records a meditative passing of time, even the body’s exhaustion over the 14-hour period, and irritation engraved on tape.
Migone abstracts the final stages of his artwork sometimes making it impossible to identify the source material. The work can be read as a kind of trompe l’oreille disguising itself as white noise or a sensical narrative. For example in Migone’s 1998Crackers the artist placed an ad in the newspaper asking volunteers to participate in a series of tapings where their cracking joints would be recorded. Most of the 7 tracks on Crackers record the in-between space using its own materials as the medium of documentation (sound, muscle, fluid, flesh). The final tracks are manipulated, pulled, cut, and only subtly recall documentation of such a personal space, creating a disturbing voyeuristic closeness.
Migone’s interest in the body often leans towards or results in shame or embarrassment. The body presents many opportunities for this: flatulence, secretion, contortion, aggression, immodesty are among a few scenarios that Christof plays with in the exhibition space. He also uses the body as a vehicle to bring the ordinary outside of its comfortable surroundings. Experiencing and marking the progressive effect of this discomfort is part of Migone’s use of endurance in his performances. In Evasionor how to perform a tongue escape in public (2000) the artist has video-taped a close shot of his mouth where he sticks out his tongue “as far as he can, for as long as he can”.
The tongue in Evasion is a visual allegory representing language, communication, sensuality, and is simultaneously a limb of aggression, of necessity, and repulsion. The tongue is also in the process of attempting a kind of impossible rupture – dividing the fleshy muscle from the idea of language – all the while knowing it cannot succeed. At 9:02 minutes, the artist is fixated on enduring the physical exhaustion from forcing a cluster of body parts to pull together and produce a simple action. Migone’s originally strong and straight tongue in Evasion eventually quivers, drips saliva and loses (face) control trying to fight the need to recoil.
It is evident that the artist contributes time and energy that is consuming and at times physically demanding, often using his own body as the measuring tool for the duration of his performances. Microhole are examples of this. Microhole has been reproduced on-site and for the first time in stereo for this exhibition. Holding a microphone and recording the sounds Migone has repetitively hit a wall until a hole broke the surface in two locations at stereo distance. The recording is then attached to two speakers affixed behind the holes and the microphones left impotently on the ground. The repeated gesture of hitting until the wall and microphone both are damaged challenges the endurance of the materials he uses, but also measures the impact between the mic and wall through sound. The duplication of the “performance” extends the damage to the artist’s body, the audio recording the artist’s exhaustion into the track.
As part of an ongoing project titled Pastime that will eventually involve fifty participants, Migone enlisted the help of 14 volunteers between the ages of 10 and 60 to repeat their age out loud in front of a video camera. The participants are then paired in two-channel video projections; Pastime: 27-57 (2008) and Pastime: 20-50 (2008) are shown together in this exhibition.
In the visual component of the videos the youngest participants are slowed-down to the length of the older participants’ age (i.e. twenty seven years old to 57 minutes), and the reverse for the other participant (i.e. fifty-seven years old to 27 minutes), while the audio is played back in real-time causing the two to be off-synched.
In the same room is P (2006) a white animated letter jumping and bobbing on a black background. This study lasted 149 days as the artist recorded his voice at various pitches and tones stating “p” every time he urinated, which we hear to the appearance of the letter “p” in the video. The passing p’s seems like memories passing as quickly in our minds as the actual occurrences of the action. The pairing of Pastime and P observes the mundane within the everyday, and also steps back to look at the banality of passing years made up of such accumulated banalities: from microscopic events meaning nothing in the grand scheme, to the redundancy of life itself.
The two line-drawings printed in this catalogue are logs made for the participants of Pastime; 27-57 each line representing every year of their life as they repeated it in the recording. Migone often creates secondary documentation of his artwork that reappears in other projects, like in Pastime with these drawings, in Microhole where the microphones that have caused the holes in the wall stand as documentation of the action, or with the band wrapping this brochure extracted from his P log adapted for this exhibition text. This secondary material also exists as a kind of specimen, gathered after a study.
How do we come to terms with knowing what these banal representations of our everyday mean to us, if anything? Perhaps there is an unknown, a new, or a different to be found in our quotidian rituals. But how many studies will it take to bring resolution (revolution?) to the everyday? We might not understand what makes every day gestures in art so radical, but we know that it somehow involves all of us, which can be a little unsettling when encountered in the gallery space. The slightest piece of hope is left behind that by looking at the quotidian in art, some artists may have recoiled so deeply into the everyday, so as to be on the verge of some kind of great reveal.
Mercer Union brochure, “A Portrait: Christof Migone’s Disco Sec” by Martin Arnold
Christof Migone told me that he thinks of Disco Sec as a kind of portrait; or, as he’s written: “a structural portrait of a personal history of listening to recordings compacted onto one CD.” Being a portrait, Disco Sec is not a discrete soundwork that happens to use some of Christof’s collection of recordings as its source material; and it’s also not some kind of commentary on or cultural critique gleaned from his listening habits. No, it’s a portrait; and like any portrait it represents just an aspect, just selected parts of the whole of what is being portrayed. Disco Sec “drags forth” (an English translation of the Latin protrahere, the etymological source of “portrait”) particular features, facets (or facets of facets) of his record collection, presenting something that, while new (depicting characteristics profoundly changed by being drawn out and re-experienced through their repositionings), never-the-less remains intrinsic to its source, a re-presented part of it; Christof has created no new material for Disco Sec. It’s a portrait of a “personal history of listening to recordings”; but be careful how you take the word “personal”: Disco Sec is not a self-portrait. Rather, it seems to me that to declare this collection as personal is to celebrate its systematic arbitrariness. In his subtly ambiguous, shady illumination of collecting, “Unpacking My Library”, Walter Benjamin speaks of the radically contingent make-up of any collection: “Every passion borders on the chaotic, but the collector’s passion borders on the chaos of memories. More than that: the chance, the fate, that suffuse the past before my eyes are conspicuously present in the accustomed confusion of these books. For what else is this collection but a disorder to which habit has accommodated itself to such an extent that it can appear as order?” But even if this disorder as a whole is Christof’s, many other listeners will encounter their own personal “chaos of memories” engaging Disco Sec, activated by glimmers of recognition or near-recognition. Christof’s collection embodies the kind of wild, uncalculated eclecticism one would hope for from one pursuing the question “I wonder what that sounds like?” as it presents itself in its myriad of contexts. But a music collection doesn’t embody answering that question just once; one collects music—keeps it near—because how something sounds never stays the same from listening to listening.
I collect recordings, lots and lots of recordings; so, not surprisingly, it’s significant to me that Christof has chosen a record collection to run his processes on. Music is a peculiar thing to think of as a thing; it’s more a complex event than an entity. And I have never been convinced by the pervasive inclination in this culture to talk about music as if it were a kind of language; I’ve always experienced music more as going on a trip than receiving a message. For me, music unfolds (and folds and unfolds) an uncanny psychogeography for my imagination to drift through; and as Merleau-Ponty says: “Music is not in visible space, but it besieges, undermines, and displaces that space.” But the aural space that enacts this displacement is radically ephemeral; as Eric Dolphy says: “When you hear music, after it’s over, it’s gone—in the air; you can never capture it again.” This inability to capture music gives recordings a kind of, well, magic: I know that I’m listening to the same performance, but my experience of it is never the same. I look around my apartment at my shelves of c.d.s, l.p.s and cassettes and I’m not looking at objects that I possess, that I contain within my little room; I’m looking at portals to other spaces that will besiege and blow this little room wide open. I think a book collection can give off a similar sense of unbridled potential; but there’s a speed to music that allows the close spatial proximity of recordings to be transformed into the close temporal proximity of listening at a velocity that reading can never match: I can experience what can happen if I listen to Betty Davis after Alice Coltrane after Judith Weir in a quick sitting—efficiently concise in clock time, immeasurably expansive in lived time. It’s the wonder of these disorderly proximities that Christof drags forth, portrays in Disco Sec.
Disco Sec is the name of a series of projects as well as an audio work. I think there’s something about their relationship to the delirious, transient polyvalency of musical experience that distinguishes the physical, visible accoutrements of recordings: album covers are never just packaging and the imaginary dimensions of discs of various sizes always exceed their actual, physical constitution as the hand moves them to the playback machine; the visible elements of recordings are keys and doors and launching pads inextricably linked to their portals, to the invisible—they’re a part of it. These are the kinds of links that bind the visible parts of the Disco Sec project to the audio work. They are portraits as well as they draw out and transform aspects of these keys/doors/launching pads. Again no new materials have been added. Christof calls them “structural portraits” and I find there’s a weird science at work in the formation of these structures: a record rim becomes a new whole (can it really be played? can it really be the visible gate to some other audible space?); and then there’s the quasi-Kabbalistic invention of new texts from song lyrics in Single—an application of a kind of near-gematria/notarikon/temurah as words are rearranged to create new esoteric meanings, as if the lyrics alone could be as unstable in their potentials as the music that embraces them. Even the denuded disco-ball evinces a kind of alchemy: I can’t see it as a stripping away; rather it exists as a strange transmutation—diamonds into lead.
Christof might be getting uncomfortable with this essay as this point. It was in the context of me blurting out my Kabbalistic associations to his work that he demurely stated something along the lines of: “I’m not really into the mystical. I think of Disco Sec as a portrait.” I’m not really into the mystical either; but the idea of a portrait becomes increasingly mysterious the more I think about it. I think this mystery has something to do with these comments Theodor Adorno made about the earliest representational artworks extant: “It is perhaps not irrelevant that the oldest cave paintings, whose naturalism is always so readily affirmed, demonstrated the greatest fidelity to the portrayal of movement, as if they already aspired to what Valéry ultimately demanded: the painstaking imitation of the indeterminate, of what has not been nailed down. If so, the impulse of these paintings was not naturalistic imitation but, rather, from the beginning a protest against reification.”
“Stop ou encore?”, Voir (Montreal), 31 janvier 2008, by Nicolas Mavrikakis
Christof Migone est artiste, mais aussi commissaire. Dans l’exposition STOP, il réunit des oeuvres où absence, disparition, vide et mort sont des présences.
Le commissaire d’exposition est-il devenu un mauvais metteur en scène? De nos jours, il ne faut pas seulement rassembler des oeuvres de qualité (condition tout de même importante, même si elle n’est pas toujours respectée), il faut savoir créer une ambiance. Ce désir de spectacle peut avoir ses effets pervers, mais n’est pas par essence une mauvaise chose. Il y a différentes façons de faire du théâtre…
Dans cette expo montée par Christof Migone, cette mise en scène est très réussie. Elle est digne d’un film d’horreur ou à suspens. La sonnerie de téléphone (dans la vidéo d’Helen Tak) répond à une scène de meurtre (dans l’installation vidéo de Jones & Winn), qui fait écho à la salle de bois étouffante (de Samuel Roy-Bois) transpercée de trous, comme criblée de balles, qui amplifie l’effet déjà inquiétant de la voie d’un homme répétant les mots “il faut que je sorte d’ici!” (dans un film de Charlemagne Palestine)…
Mais un commissaire est plus qu’un metteur en scène. En France, on parle souvent d'”auteur d’exposition”, même si des artistes, comme Buren, ont dénoncé cela. Disons que le commissaire doit être un interprète qui explique le sens ou (soyons plus réaliste) une partie du sens de l’oeuvre. Il doit élaborer une lecture de l’art et prendre parti dans les débats (artistiques, intellectuels, politiques…) de son époque. Et là encore Migone remplit bien sa mission. Dans une époque où l’art est pimpant et clinquant comme une pub Versace, il montre des oeuvres plus arides, dignes héritières de l’art conceptuel (l’intervention de Mastroiacovo sur la fin de l’art est superbe).
Ces pièces nous parlent d’un paradoxe que nous connaissons tous (en particulier en amour): l’absence est une présence plus présente que la présence. Migone souligne en fait un aspect de l’art conceptuel où ce n’est pas la dévalorisation du savoir-faire qui est si signifiante, mais la dépréciation et la disparition de l’objet. Quant au concept de rythmicité (énoncé dans le texte de présentation), il mérite des explications qui viendront certainement dans le catalogue (à paraître le 1er mars).
Tue, book, Montréal, Le Quartanier, 2007, ISBN 978-2-923400-14-3. Review in CCP (cahiers critiques de poésie) by Vincent Barras
Le point de départ de Migone est chez Brisset : « Le mot tu désigna le sexe. Tu sais que c’est bien. Tu sexe est bien. C’est un terme enfantin : cache ton tu, ton tutu… » : progression par calembours, associations sonores, mouvements réflexes (plutôt que réflexions) hors sujet, mais surtout en dehors du sujet. Migone avance pareil : écriture déterminée par des procédés fondés sur sa pure matérialité, tenant ferme à sa propre condition objective, à distance franche de l’intention subjective. Parmi ceux que l’on voit à l’œuvre dans les neuf textes qui composent Tue, un premier procédé consiste à choisir, dans les œuvres d’écrivains tirés de la bibliothèque de Migone, tous les mots contenant les lettres « t » et « u », puis à en composer un récit : celui qui provient de Homme-Bombe de Michaux va ainsi : « Outils. Autres, peut tuer, tuer, tuer, tuer toujours culbutais tue. Tout tube. » ; un autre, à opposer à une composition constituée de mots, semblablement sélectionnés, dans la traduction anglaise d’Idéologie et appareils idéologiques d’État d’Althusser une version française composée sur un mode identique ; un autre encore, à dresser une liste alphabétique de noms tirés de la liste d’adresses de Migone et déformés par le remplacement systématique de la voyelle par « non » ou « tutu » ou « nonnon », etc. Bref, opérations arbitraires et directes dans la chair textuelle, qui font dériver le texte d’origine (plus précisément : le pré-texte) vers une chose autonome, abstraite, au sens pour ainsi dire chimique : abstraite de son point d’origine, mais qui garde quelque chose de la chair initiale, une déformation violente qui, comme un portrait de Bacon, conserve dans la trace même du geste qui la fait surgir un lien organique avec la figure d’origine (ici, le plus souvent, un texte de « grand » auteur, poète, philosophe ou autre référence culturelle majeure de notre temps). Les stratégies textuelles de Migone sont passionnantes, leur rigueur implacable (dérouler toute une œuvre-source, jusqu’à son épuisement) s’allie à une sorte de nonchalance, un humour finalement très personnel. Retour du sujet ? La réponse est dans le dernier texte : « mig non » : collecte de messages trouvés sur la toile où le mot « mignone » s’est trouvé mal orthographié, amputé de son « n » central).
Curatorial essay for the C’est arrivé près de chez vous exhibition, “Shared Belonging and Neighbourly Works” by Nathalie de Blois, 148-149.
Whether treated as material or as objects, or used as a pretext for an interactive situation designed to create awareness of our experiences of the present moment, the body, in the works by Raymonde April, Louis Fortier, Caroline Gagné, Nicole Jolicoeur, Paul Lacroix, Daine Landry, Christof Migone, Jocelyn Robert, Lucie Robert and Giorgia Volpe presented here, become the subject of a rhtymical beat between presence and absence, materiality and immateriality. In these works. what is at question is the physical and organic body, but also its affective and psychological counterpart. Visitors will thus progress, in the suggested itinerary, from comic and grotesque bodily forms and manifestations to subtle and graceful expressions leading to a poetry of intimate and meditative contemplations. Whether employed for its transformative potential or as a means for reflection upon issues of representaiton, the body is signified by plays of echoes, reflections, splitting and shadows, and even of mimesis, and by the impression, whether indelible or fleeting, it leaves in its wake. […] The grotesque, even the abject, and the expansion and contraction of the body’s trace are also at the heart of Christof Migone’s project. Unilke Foriter, however, Migone does not lead us into the heart of the invisible with his sound works “Anemos” from South Winds (2002) and “Untitled” from Crackers (2000) Although our perception of these two pieces is initially abstract, our curiosity, aroused by the evocative nature of their titles, will no doubt lead us, in amusement or disgust, to the source of these recordings, South Winds and Crackers derive from recordings of sounds the body makes, the first by the infantile pleasure of farting, and the second by cracking one’s joints. Migone’s work, Nicole Gingras remarks, “outline the journey of a practice anchored in performance where the body is essential and sound an inseparable companion”(Nicole Gingras, Christof Migone: Trou (Montreal: Galerie de I’UQAM, 2006), 39). A touch of irreverence, moreover, runs through Migone’s work, which is interested not only in the sounds produced by the body but in particular those which escape it by accident. This mode of expression, which valorises the body as transmitter-as an instrument of resonance-fixes in stylised traces the evanescence of organic matter and its most primary impulses, provoking laughter in some and discomfort or even a degree of repugnance in others. By using sounds from within the body to make them heard outside it, Migone also shows how the commonplace and vulgar can be transcended to give rise to a florilegium of sounds seeming bereft of meaning but with properly musical resonances. These signs of the body, intangible in Migone and quite tactile in Fortier, engaged in an enquiry into form and the deformed.
Tue, book, Montréal, Le Quartanier, 2007. Review in Inter, no. 101 hiver 2008-2009, p. 86, by André Marceau
Connu surtout pour son travail en art audio et en installation, Christof Migone ne s’affaire pas moins à la pratique d’autres disciplines, notamment l’écriture, comme en fait foi cette parution chez les éditions Le Quartanier.
Un recueil de poésie, dans son sens le pus radical (racine grecque du mot poésie : poiein, qui signifie « faire »), de la pure expérimentation. La plupart des propositions reposent sure deux mots : tue et tu, à partir desquels il décline divers jeux à caractère conceptuel, qui ne sont pas sans rapport avec son travail en art audio : appliquer des systèmes à des sources (ready-made, cut-up) qu’il a préalablement sélectionnées pour des raisons subordonnées au projet en cours. Nombre de ces jeux, en outre, entrent en dialogue avec l’œuvre de divers auteurs et poètes puisée à différentes époques et origines. Par exemple, chacun des textes dans « L’entretue », l’une des parties du recueil, repose sur une œuvre précise (de Marguerite Duras, d’Antonin Artaud, de Maurice Blanchot, de Georges Bataille, d’Henri Michaux ou de Jean-Luc Nancy) où l’auteur relève les mots possédant les ettres t et u. Rapporté dans le monde de l’écriture, tout le côté ludique de ce type d’application systématique apparaît avec plus d’évidence encore (que dans le monde de l’art audio). Mais nous pouvons croire qu’il l’a réalisé ici sans l’assistance d’une machine et que les textes et les auteurs « cités », il les a lus. Dans la mesure où le lecteur connaît ces mêmes textes (et qu’il s’en souvient), ce dernier peut partager une complicité avec l’auteur.
Le plaisir de lire peut se trouver au rendez-vous ici, à condition de ne pas considérer la poésie uniquement comme discipline éminemment personnelle, lyrique, « qui éveille des émotions esthétiques », mais bien dans son sens radical… Admettons que ce type de positionnement éditorial, dans le monde officiel des « éditeurs reconnus », on n’y était guère habitué, au Québec, jusqu’à maintenant. Les éditions Le Quartanier sont parvenues en quelques années à s’imposer dans le milieu officiel de l’édition et à pourvoir le lecteur avec cette veine de la poésie.
TROU: une esthétique du corps? feature article on TROU exhibition, Esse No. 60, pp. 50-53, by André-Louis Paré
Une bonne partie de notre vie se passe
à boucher les trous, à remplir les vides,
à réaliser et à fonder symboliquement le plein.
Jean-Paul Sartre (1)
Artiste pluridisciplinaire, s’intéressant autant à la performance, à la vidéo, à l’installation, à l’écriture qu’à l’enregistrement d’œuvres sonores, Christof Migone rejoint, par sa production, plusieurs publics fréquentant diverses scènes artistiques. Mais le fait de rassembler dans un même lieu plus d’une vingtaine de ces œuvres, dont les plus anciennes remontent à 1995, est aussi une excellente occasion d’apprécier la cohésion qui se dégage de l’ensemble de son travail. Intitulée Trou, cette exposition, proposée par la commissaire Nicole Gingras, voulait en effet montrer l’importance de certaines préoccupations de l’artiste qui se situent, principalement, au niveau du corps. Mais quel corps?
Parmi les œuvres, deux installations sonores furent le résultat de performances réalisées dans la galerie en vue de cette exposition. Microfall est composée d’une plaque de carton-mousse de polyuréthane sur laquelle sont déposés les restes d’un micro, conséquence de sa chute répétée, causée par l’artiste juché sur une échelle de quatre mètres. Un haut-parleur suspendu au-dessus des fragments du micro transmet l’enregistrement sonore lors de cette action. Une autre installation intitulée cette fois Microhole laisse voir un trou dans un mur. Ce trou est le résultat de plusieurs coups donnés par l’artiste avec un micro sur une des cimaises de la galerie. Désormais inutile, le micro est étalé sur le sol devant le trou bien visible. Un enregistrement sonore de l’impact du micro sur le mur est diffusé par un haut-parleur installé derrière le mur. Dans la monographie qui accompagne cette exposition, des photographies témoignent, pour chacune de ces actions, des gestes répétés de Migone en vue de parvenir à ces expériences sonores issues de la destruction de ces deux micros.(2)
Certes, toute œuvre requiert de la part de l’artiste une action quelconque, mais chez Migone, grâce aux enregistrements sonores, cette présence au niveau du geste n’est jamais totalement en retrait de l’œuvre. En effet, bien que parfois absent au niveau de la présentation, son corps avec toutes ses ressources est souvent à la base de son travail. Par contre, il arrive aussi qu’il s’agisse de celui de certains collaborateurs. En somme, souvent mis en scène, le corps humain est toujours considéré comme quelque chose d’impersonnel. Il est avant tout une matière vivante à explorer en vue de mettre à profit ses capacités sonores. C’est pourquoi il y a, chez Migone, une fascination pour les instruments d’amplification, notamment le microphone et le haut-parleur, qui sont techniquement des extensions du corps comme source sonore. Or, s’il émet des sons, ce n’est pas uniquement parce qu’il est, comme tout objet, une surface à partir de laquelle on produit des sons, mais plutôt, comme le titre de l’exposition l’indique, parce qu’il est un organisme vivant traversé par les multiples orifices que sont la bouche, les narines, les yeux, les oreilles, l’urètre, le vagin et l’anus.
Ces orifices sont des lieux de passage, des lieux d’absorption et d’excrétion, nécessaires à la survie ou au plaisir, et c’est justement parce qu’ils fonctionnent comme des lieux d’échange entre le corps et le monde ambiant que ces trous sont aussi les points les plus sensibles de notre être corporel. Par contre, soyons clairs, le travail de Migone ne fantasme pas sur le corps libidinal. Dans l’exposition Trou, ces ouvertures sont présentées comme des cavités, certes intimes, mais qui d’un point de vue artistique sont considérées uniquement comme des espaces de création. Autrement dit, comme orifices corporels, les trous anticipent surtout le potentiel créateur du corps. Par exemple, une autre installation sonore intitulée South Winds présente un haut-parleur déposé sur le sol et que l’on a saupoudré de talc. La vibration obtenue par les sons qui y sont diffusés produisait parfois un léger souffle capable de propulser le talc autour du haut-parleur. Mais ce qui peut faire sourire le spectateur, c’est de savoir que les sons entendus sont extraits d’un disque produit en 2003 intitulé également South Winds. Il s’agit en fait d’un hommage au célèbre pétomane, Joseph Pujol (1857-1945) qui s’est rendu célèbre avec ses numéros sonores provenant de ses flatlences. Ainsi, cet enregistrement fait du corps humain un instrument qui émet des sons. Mais on peut dire également que ces gaz expulsés hors du tube digestif par l’anus sont en étroite parenté avec la bouche, cette machine à broyer les aliments. D’ailleurs, parmi tous les trous, la bouche est une ouverture privilégiée. Elle est l’orifice par excellence.
Dans L’être et le néant, Jean-Paul Sartre analyse d’un point de vue phénoménologique notre rapport au trou. Pour lui, tous les trous sont des bouches que l’on peut obstruer, colmater, bloquer. Les trous sont en quelque sorte des néants à combler. Fondamentalement, comme être-au-monde, l’existence humaine a «tendance à remplir».(3) On a eu beau dans la tradition métaphysique occidentale, privilégier la bouche comme organe de l’expression orale et de la pensée, il n’en demeure pas moins, selon Sartre, que c’est avant tout un trou qui, en désirant se remplir de l’autre, nous unit au reste du monde. L’enfant, par exemple, porte tout à sa bouche dès les premiers moments de sa vie. Alors qu’il est, comme être troué, existentiellement ouvert au monde, il tente de devenir un bloc hermétique. Or, même si les trous sont aussi parfois chez Migone des espaces à combler, ce n’est pas pour nier notre ouverture au monde, bien au contraire; c’est surtout pour explorer dans un contexte souvent ludique les diverses ressources du corps.
Dans la courte vidéo Blockers (2004-2006) on voit justement deux visages – celui d’un homme et celui d’une femme – dont les narines sont obstruées par les orteils de l’autre. Autre vidéo, mais cette fois-ci accompagnée d’un enregistrement sonore,Poker (2001) présente un diptyque où apparaissent divers visages de collaborateurs qui se sont prêtés au jeu des effets sonores de différents micros sur leur épiderme, mais aussi sur les yeux, les narines, les sourcils et les lèvres. Toujours sous forme de diptyque, la vidéo Snow Storm (2002) montre sur une première image les mains de Migone frottant vigoureusement sa chevelure, ce qui a pour effet de produire des pellicules que l’on voit dans une deuxième image en train de tomber sur son pantalon, mais aussi sur le sol. Mais bien avant ces vidéos, la bouche comme orifice a eu aussi droit à quelques performances. Dans The Tenor & the Vehicle, une vidéo de 1995, l’artiste se filme en gros plan avec un micro dans la bouche qu’il va mâcher, sucer et mastiquer durant près de cinq minutes. Ce sera encore plus spectaculaire dans The Release into Motion (2000) où Migone garde en bouche une tomate prise dans un bloc de glace durant plus de 39 minutes. Au fur et à mesure que le temps passe, la glace se liquéfie libérant ainsi la tomate qui se mélange et se transforme peu à peu, grâce à la chaleur émise par la bouche, en une masse molle et informe.
Ces performances sont des sortes de rituels bizarres qui à chaque fois impliquent des considérations sur le plan de la durée, mais aussi de l’endurance. Par exemple, la vidéo Evasion or how to perform a tongue escape in public (2001) montre un gros plan d’une langue sortie de sa cavité buccale. Mais en la maintenant à l’extérieur de la bouche pendant plus de neuf minutes, la langue oscille, vibre et déglutine de la salive. Lorsqu’elle est dans la bouche et qu’elle mastique les aliments, la langue est un organe essentiel pour le goût. Dans cette vidéo, elle devient objet d’un pur exercice qui à force d’être regardé peut aussi déranger. C’est que l’aspect grotesque de cette action est loin de ce que l’on entend depuis Kant par goût esthétique. L’esthétique classique n’a pas de goût pour ce genre de langue, ni pour toutes matières liquides ou visqueuses provenant du corps. Autre exemple : P (2006), une vidéo où un fond noir est ponctué de la lettre P qui apparaît de diverses manières. Ces apparitions orchestrées coïncident au son P que l’artiste a prononcé à chaque fois qu’il urinait, et ce pendant 149 jours, ce qui totalise pour la vidéo 1 000 P. Enfin, Spit (1997-2003) est la collection de multiples crachats que Migone a déposés dans une bouteille de verre transparent, laquelle trônait joliment sur le sol au centre de la galerie.
Comme on le voit avec Spit, certaines œuvres sont aussi de l’ordre des objets abjects résultant d’interventions faites au quotidien par l’artiste. Mais, il y a mieux. Par exemple, In Sink (2003) présente une série de boîtiers de disques compacts vides laissés dans un lavabo pour des périodes de temps variables, ce qui leur donne divers degrés d’opacité. Il y a aussi Mille-feuilles (2006), qui correspond à un empilement de 1 000 pages de différents formats extraites de livres appartenant à l’artiste. Sur chacune de ces pages, Migone a inscrit le titre de l’ouvrage et le nom de l’auteur du livre mutilé. Ces mises en scène d’objets s’inspirent du monde de l’artiste, elles symbolisent l’importance des mots quand ils se font littérature et des sons lorsqu’ils deviennent musique. Mais les objets qui occupent une place anodine dans nos vies sont incommensurables. C’est ce monde qui nous entoure que la vidéo Surround (360 objects) (2006) nous fait voir en partie. Elle consiste en la présentation de 360 objets présentés sur un écran divisé en 36 sections. Pendant qu’il les tient dans l’une de ses mains, l’artiste filme ces divers objets en exécutant 360 révolutions sur lui-même. Ces objets ne sont pas détachés de l’univers corporel de l’artiste, ils sont en quelque sorte son monde, celui à partir duquel l’art devient une forme de vie.
Pendant longtemps, dans le geste de la création, le corps réel fut mis entre parenthèses. Constamment représenté en peinture ou en sculpture, le corps vivant devait se soumettre à des critères esthétiques. Nietzsche est sans doute le premier à avoir décrié les contempteurs du corps, ceux qui traditionnellement ont nié son potentiel créateur.(4) Or, ce potentiel s’inscrit dans la chair, dans le corps incarné à partir duquel il est permis de repenser une esthétique du corps. Bien sûr, cette esthétique est à mille lieux de celle que promeut aujourd’hui l’industrie cosmétique. L’esthétique dont il est question rejoue les catégories qui structurent la forme. En ce sens, elle réfère à ce que Nicole Gingras dans son essai appelle, à la suite de Georges Bataille, l’informe.(5) Qu’il s’agisse, en effet, de la salive, des pellicules, des pets, de l’urine ou des diverses cavités du corps capables de produire des sons, tout cela appartient à une mise en œuvre du corps réel, qui dégrade, déforme et transgresse la forme.
Il reste que la forme par excellence est la figure humaine. Celle qui tente de nous distinguer du monde animal. C’est de cette figure humaine dont il s’agit dans la vidéo Agir (25-250) (2006). Mais justement celle-ci nous sera montrée que défigurée grâce à un procédé technique. À partir d’un enregistrement vidéo d’une durée de 25 minutes, Migone en a isolé un extrait de 25 secondes qu’il a par la suite ralenti sur une durée de 250 secondes. Dans le cadre de Trou, c’est cette vidéo d’un peu plus de quatre minutes qui sera présentée. L’effet produit un portrait flou d’une jeune fille de vingt-cinq ans. Un portrait qui bouge constamment, dans lequel ce qui se forme est toujours sous le signe de l’informe, de ce qui excède la forme. L’esthétique du corps chez Migone passe par cette mise en mouvement des formes, et qui dit mouvement des formes, dit aussi passage. Dans la vidéo Agir, celui-ci est visible grâce à des prouesses techniques; mais, par ailleurs, les passages de la forme au difforme, de la forme à l’informe nécessitent souvent la présence d’ouvertures, d’orifices, bref de trous.
1. Jean-Paul Sartre, L’être et le néant, Paris, Gallimard, 1943, p. 705.
2. Trou, catalogue d’exposition, Éd. Galerie de l’Uqam, 2006.
3. Jean-Paul Sartre, op. cit. p. 705.
4. Friedrich Nietzsche, Ainsi parlait Zarathoustra, Paris, Gallimard, 1947, p. 51.
5. Trou, op. cit. p. 47.
Trou book/DVD Vital Weekly No. 564 Week 7 review by Frans de Waard
The work of Christof Migone has been reviewed before in Vital Weekly, but it dealt always with one aspect of that work: the music, released on the compact disc that was reviewed. Migone however is also a visual artist, and much of his work is shown in his home town Montreal, so its likely that you or me didn’t see that work. Until now that is. With ‘Trou’ we don’t get the real thing, but it gives the idea. ‘Trou’ is compiled by Nicole Gringas and is an exhibition of various Migone multimedia works, such as films, installations and sound work. I could try to explain what his work is about, but it would mean I would have to retype Gringas book. In short, many of the works by Migone deal with body, with sound and with language. The body farts, makes the sound of cracking bones (both of these were used to make music), but also produced the installation ‘Spit’, which is a bottle of collected spit. Conceptual work, but it has a great visual and audio power. To make things more complete this hardcover book has DVD of various works. Of these all of them, except ‘P’ and ‘Surround (360 objects)’ deal with the human body. In ‘Poker’ we see two faces at the time and they are being ‘touched’ (‘poked’) for sound, which is kinda poetic. In ‘Snow Storm’ dandruff produces the title and in ‘Evasion’ we are confronted with the human tongue, but no doubt the small screen at home works less effective than the full screen in the gallery space. The films are quite short (ranging from less than a minute to twelve minutes), and open up the fascinating world of Christof Migone. Still not the real thing, as the exhibition is the real thing, but it’s a fine substitute.
Trou book/DVD The WIRE March 2007 p. 69 review by Brian Marley
As Nicole Gigras, writes, in her introduction to the work of Montréal based installation and sound artist Christof Migone, the body is “a text… the raw material that the artist works with, that he cuts into fragments, transforms, manipulates.” In this he bears at least some comparison to Anontin Artaud, though Artaud’s performative expressiveness (a philosophically validated howl of existential pain) has little to do with the invasive procedures to which Migone subject himslef and others. His subjects’ acquiescence does little to ally this troubling aspect, yet there’s nothing in his writings, nor Gingras’s exegesis, that acknowledges it. Trou comprises an overview of this work from 1995-2006. Much of the book – a substantial and elegantly produced catalogue of 22 key works – consists of photographic stills of his installations. In themselves they convey little of what it must feel like to experience his installations in situ, but Gingra’s essay and Migone’s explanatory texts (both presented in English and French) add a uselul layer, and the 30 mintue DVD of five of the installations presents them to better advantage. One of the pieces on the DVD, Poker (2001) – a reference, I assume, to maintaining a ‘poker face’, ie to remain inexpressive – uses a split screen technique. Microphones of various kinds are stroked over and tapped over the faces of volunteers. The faces in each of the dual frames changes at irregular intervals, and the sounds vary according to whether a cheekbone is being tapped or an eyebrow stroked. About halfway through the piece there’s a snatch of field recording of adults and children, low volume, lo-fi and vague, the significance of which is obscure. For P (2006), Migone recorded the sound of himself saying “pee” everytime he urinated. There are 1000 tightly packed, chronologically sequenced utterances in the piece, which took 149 days to record. As well as the 60 second DVD version, there is, apparently, also a 60 minute version. While Migone repeatedly says “pee”, the letter dances around the screen. It’s an amusing piece, but of little consequence. What’s of greater importance, but acknowledged by the artist only in Poker, is how aspects of his work reduces people to the status of things to which things may be done. It hadly matters whether his subjects have agreed to be treated in this way: the result is dehumanising, which I suspect is not what Migone wishes to convey.
New Media Poetics: Contexts, Technotexts, and Theories (eds. Adalaide Morris and Thomas Swiss), Leonardo/MIT Press, 2006, p. 113-114, on Hole in the Head, “Electric Line: The Poetics of Digital Audio Editing” essay by Martin Spinelli.
[…] Christof Migone is the contemporary artist who has done the most to synthesize and extend the digital practices and aesthetics developed by his contemporaries and their modernist predecessors. Migone’s digital trans- lations—or “machinations”—of the writing of the mentally ill in his radio/audio/CD project (1996) Hole in the Head share an attention to the microsonic level of the word-sound or prephoneme with Chopin and Chopin’s predecessor, Dufrêne.[fn 17] Migone, however, works with a broader range: in his vacillation between whole words—indeed whole and semicontextualized con- versations—and prephonetic fragments, we hear in vivid detail a movement from meaning to sound. This electrocution of spoken language is perceptible only in relation to the normative conversation that surrounds it. By vacillat- ing between recognizable narrative or discursive speech and speech fragments, Migone develops a digital poetics for radio language: presenting the same  words and word particles as constituents of traditional meaning-making structures and as something outside of those structures, he produces transi- tions between analog and digital semantics that allow us to hear the shifts in the engagement we are asked to make throughout the piece. In Hole in the Head ‘s companion essay, “Head Hole: Malfunctions and Dys-functions of an FM Exciter,” Migone explains his technological efforts to amplify “the noise of the brain” and demonstrate the aesthetics of a gradually increasing demand for interpretation through different modes of listening (2001, 42–52).[fn 18] After a phonetic translation of some of Artaud’s French glossolalia, which exposes an acculturated mind’s disposition to slip back into analog semantics, he provides a summation that can stand as a definition for a wide range of digital poetic tactics: “They do not pretend to find universal meaning in a hermetic language but rather intrude, corrupt, and disarticulate the original. There is a certain paradoxical faithfulness in this approach, for it does not strive for accuracy, nor does it fabricate a neutral voice toward lit- eraturization of the embodied text” (48). It is not a text or an interpretation or even a shift in modes of listening but a tendency toward meaning that constitutes the material of Migone’s poetry.[…]
Sound Voice Perform book/CD Artforum December 2005 Issue 256 (p.77) in Best of 2005 by Christoph Cox
A splendid survey of audio work by this Canadian artist. In the spirit of Antonin Artaud, Dada, Fluxus, and sound poetry, Migone playfully and insightfully explores the sonics of bodily orifices and surfaces.
Sound Voice Perform book/CD Musicworks Fall 2005 #93 review by Deanna Radford
This combination of commentary, artist interview, and catalogue appropriately collects acclamation for the work of audio and performance artist Christof Migone, dating back to the 1980s. Sound Voice Perform chronicles this important Canadian artist, whose works is always provocative, alive, physical, and occasionally grotesque. The pieces writing Sound Voice Perform, written by Migone and Brandon LaBelle, Martin Spinelli, and Allen S. Weiss, artfully paint the impetus emerging from Migone’s body of work. Some of Migone’s artistic experiments have involved the collection of saliva, the ongoing protrusion of this tongue, and the cracking sounds of warm human bodies. It pretty well goes without saying that the physicality of Migone’s work can make observers uncomfortable. At the same time, Migone is intent of making the level of access to this art—and to the means of sonic production in general—transparent and immediate. Migone’s long tenure at CKUT campus and community radio must contribute to this perspective. Migone’s artwork is truly playful and critical. In an interview with Spinelli, Migone explains his passion for what he calls “the act of transmission itself”: “Alongside playing around with different relationships with the listener I would also play with the equipment circuitry, I would place my hands on the microphone, touch it, scratch it, play with it and the mic-stand… so that people heard spatially and materially the room that I was in. All of these kinds of situations to make apparent and obvious the mechanism, the machinery, the technology that is being used.” In a beautifully written contribution to the compendium S:ON: Sound in Contemporary Art (edited by Nicole Gingras, Editions Artexte), Migone writes: “… sound epitomizes leakage, sound confirms the porosity of space… Every space… has its own soundtrack, its room tone. Every space is sonorous, every space has a breath.” Yes, these things are intertwined and with this summation Migone adroitly spells out how the sounds he imagines in his mind become real. With this in mind, Migone’s practice as an artist becomes the ultimate praxis. With written, photographic, and audio documentation, Sound Voice Perform is an excellent package.
Sound Voice Perform book/CDThe Wire June 2005 Issue 256 review by Will Montgomery
Artist Christof Migone often works with the human body —making audio pieces from the sounds of eyes, the tongue, joints cracking. In an interview in this book, the second in Errant Bodies’ Critical Ear Series, and co-edited by Brandon LaBelle and Achim Wollscheid, he describes his in the body’s ‘mistakes — “saliva sounds, stuttering, mumbling” — glitches abstracted from the digital realm and made corporeal. This model applies across the range of his audio work, which tends to home in on what lies outside or in the way of communicative clarity. He foregrounds incidental matter, sonic by-products and supposedly inconsequential ‘cutting room floor’ audio. It’s a project that, in common with much avant garde artistic practice, wants to tip the balance from signal to noise. Nearly 50 examples of his audio work can be heard on the CD accompanying the book, which compiles material dating back to 1990. Radio is a strong component in Migone’s work — he ran a Montréal phone-in from 1987 to 1994. Some of the most suggestive material presented on the CD are ‘blink and you miss it’ radio miniatures. One of Migone’s projects was to produce little piece of audio punctuation, abstract ‘in-betweens’ of a similar duration to a radio station ident. Another strand of the work is conceptual. In one audio collage, for example, Migone rings his own telephone number but appends different international prefixes in order to stitch together a virtual community of people who definitely don’t want to speak to Christof Migone. Other of the pieces exhibit an ear for the small-scale sound — pops, rustles and clicks that aligns his work with the microsound universe. The book includes photographs of numerous performances, discographical and biographical information, as well as brief texts by Migone and performance theorist Allen S. Weiss. The longest contribution is an essay by co-editor Brandon LaBelle. Sadly, it’s not particular helpful, written in a shopworn, button-pushing theoretical idiom that doesn’t do justice to Migone’s work. With this package, the surprises lie in the audio.|
Sound Voice Perform book/CD VITAL WEEKLY no. 472 week 17, review by Frans de Waard
The work of Christof Migone extends beyond ‘just’ audio and into the world of art, and art with a capital A. Many of his works are conceptual, such as a CD with the sound of farts or people cracking their fingers. Despite the fact that some of the CDs have text dealing with the concept behind it, this book ‘Sound Voice Perform’ is the compendium that explains, shows and lets you hear it all. First of all there is a CD with excerpts of the various previous releases by Migone. It was nice to hear such a selection from his works, but for me, well-acquainted with his work, it didn’t add that much new to what I knew already. Migone’s audio pieces work better when heard in their entirety I guess. The nice thing about the book are the texts and pictures. Especially Brandon Labelle’s text on the use of the body in the work of Migone is especially interesting and tells us a lot more on Migone. If ever you wondered what a conceptual composer and artist is all about, I’d recommend this book to study a good example.
La première phrase et le dernier mot book LE DEVOIR 19 septembre 2004 -page F4, review by David Cantin
[…] Le quartanier désigne un sanglier de quatre ans. à vrai dire, ce n’est pas une bête d’âge adulte, mais il y a un certain temps que ce n’est plus un marcassin. C’est aussi le nom d’une jeune maison d’édition québécoise (www.lequartanier.com) qui impressionne par son dynamisme, de même que pour son goût face à une littérature davantage exploratoire. Avec huit parutions à son actif en moins d’un an (dont deux prix Grafika), cet espace se distingue du lot grâce à ses livres atypiques. Dans La première phrase et le dernier mot, Christof Migone (artiste multidisciplinaire) s’invente un monde où la déroute littéraire provoque un jeu ludique et paradoxal qui sert de miroir à l’écrivain. Aussi savant que curieux, l’objet exige une forme d’abandon de la part du lecteur. On assiste donc à une traversée mentale qui questionne le moi tout comme la finalité du texte dans un désordre prosaïque inclassable.
Escape Songs CD GLOBE & MAILThursday, July 29, 2004-Page R5, review by Carl Wilson
[…] Escape Songs — a cluster of miniatures made by Hille (of Vancouver, though an honorary Torontonian, known for her innovative-pop-poem song-objects) and Migone (from Montreal and New York and a maker of collages of, for instance, the sounds of cracking knuckles and knees) over the past four years. “I am in danger (shut up), I am (shut up) inanimate,” Hille sigh-sings in Narrow into and above Migone’s shuddering computer, each doing its part to destabilize the region. The suite eludes me even as I am immersed (shut up) in it, but I elude its grip too — permitted to enter, leave, breathe between its assemblages, not seduced or sedated into following the same path over again from so-called beginning to so-called end.
Escape Songs CD Discorder CITR magazine June 2004, review by Chris Walters
Imagine escaping from everything. What do you think you would hear? In Migone and Hille’s case, they find music in a natural, organic form, without all of the re-recording. Escape Songs is a progression of sonic experiments. Find the beauty in the mistakes.
Escape Songs CD Sands-zine 13-12-2004 (in italian), review by Sergio Eletto
La semplicità, lo scorrere fluido e rilassato degli eventi, i tratti somatici fuggenti rendono Escape Songs un disco importante e capace di mettere d’accordo un po’ tutti. Cristof Migone e Veda Hille battezzano un lavoro, fin dalla confezione, scarno nelle informazioni e astratto nei contenuti. L’astrazione deve essere intesa come il lato positivo dell’opera, per intero sospesa e contesa tra sensazioni, esteticamente opposte, ma complementari per la piena riuscita finale. Tutto si spiega nella contrapposizione del background dei rispettivi musicisti. Migone, (s)manipolatore elettronico attirato dalle microwave di Steve Roden e Bernhard Günter, con la Hille, differente in un passato accademico maturato, nel corso del tempo, con linguaggi di ricerca. Il titolo, canzoni che fuggono, mostra una spina dorsale fugace e spensierata e, se ciò può indurre ad una certa noncuranza dei due nell’assemblare i vari materiali, il complesso risultato finale mostra l’opposto. Escape Songs è un disco articolato come non pochi, un lavoro tinto allo stesso tempo da tradizioni folk ed elettro-acustica, da disturbi(ni) glitch e da sprazzi di musica contemporanea, dalla ripetizione minimalista dei suoni e dall’uso intimista della voce, dai pacthworks concreti e dall’uso di melodie velatamente pop(peggianti). Un alone domestico racchiude tutto un operato che ha visto i due registrare i vari materiali nelle rispettive camere (l’intimità e la solitudine lasciano una loro personale scia durante tutto il tragitto) e, anche se il termine lo-fi non calza a pennello, mi piace immaginare il mood dei due legato a quella estetica del DIY, dal piglio semplice e artigianale. La voce (in fondo “Escape Songs” è un disco di canzoni, anche quando a mancare è la diretta interessata) della Hille a tratti cammina, ansima: più che cantare, preferisce procedere con andamento recitato (Sympathectomy, una stupenda ballata, si adatta al caso). Quando spetta, più raramente, a Migone fare sfoggio di ciò, lo vediamo cimentarsi nel creare intricati giochi ultra-minimali: loop vocali scarni e sussurrati sorretti dalla ripetizione lenta di uno stesso termine o parola; facile preda durante l’ascolto di Lick. Per quanto riguarda la musica: da sotto si odono echi di pianoforte (la prima traccia senza titolo fa tuffare nelle melodie sognanti dell’universo di Luciano Cilio), suoni grattugiati e granulari, pulsazioni acute fuoriuscite dal basso, voci trattate, alchimie strumentali e strumenti inconsueti e inventati, echi e risonanze di (probabili) corde, tirate e percosse, andamenti tratteggiati, suoni smussati e levigati sezionati in micro particelle, lirismi pianistici surreali, suoni striduli e sghembi, cut up(paggi) radiofonici, scampoli di ambient, paesaggi notturni e riflessivi… La dimestichezza nell’edificare un complesso emozionale, così vasto e compatto nell’intersecazione delle varie forme musicali, nasconde una buona dose d’improvvisazione, almeno questo è il sentore che si percepisce in più di un frangente. Se, di recente, avete apprezzato le minuziose diavolerie di Sawako, le ballate nordiche dei The Iditarod, gli inconsueti assemblaggi percussivi di Un Caddie Reversé Dans L’Herbe, il primo glitch di Oval e Mouse On Mars, i riscoperti stati di coscienza di Luciano Cilio (ancora lui) e le varie textures di Roden e compagnia, Escape Songs, come accennato in partenza, riuscirà a cullarvi con l’ascolto in un unico blocco di tutte queste cose, in meno di un’ora.
South Winds CD http://rep.no.sapo.pt/criticas_C.htm (in portuguese), by Rui Eduardo Paes
Migone é um dos mais curiosos conceptualistas da nova electroacústica/electrónica, graças a álbuns como Crackers, baseado nos sons provocados pelo estalar de dedos, maxilares, tornozelos, omoplatas, etc., ou Quieting, que tem como matéria-prima um “sample” de 26 segundos com o disparo de um canhão, sempre manipulado a um volume muito baixo e com cada pequena peça secundada por outra, absolutamente silenciosa, da mesma duração. Bem diferente é este South Winds, gravado com o recurso ao que o artista sonoro canadiano chama Le Pétomane e que nunca chegamos a saber muito bem do que se trata. O título do disco fala-nos dos ventos do Sul e é inevitável que tracemos paralelos entre o seu interesse pelo sopro do ar e suas anteriores experièncias com a voz humana e a fala como fontes sonoras dos seus processamentos, tal como se ouviu em Hole in the Head e Vex, mas a verdade é que não encontramos quaisquer traços desse procedimento nas nove faixas do presente título. Inserido, mais do que nunca no percurso de Christof Migone, dentro da linha “lower case”, dada a delicadeza e o preciosismo destas composições, o que aqui encontramos é muito menos “mental” do que este criador de “puzzles” sonoros nos habituou, ganhando mesmo uma desconcertante sensualidade. Do melhor que tenho ouvido nesta área.
South Winds CD VITAL WEEKLY no. 389 week 38, review by Frans de Waard
Christof Migone hails from Montreal and has released a great deal of work on various labels, including his own label, Squint Fucker Press. Many of his CDs have a strong conceptual edge to it. For his CD Crackers he recorded the sound of cracking knuckles, knees, wrists etc and made music out of this sound. On his new CD he works with the sounds of farts, a work Migone undertook by using Le Petomane, a creation by Joseph Pujol (1857-1945) – how they meet up is on of this CD’s mysteries. The title of the CD refers to Marseille, birthplace of both Pujol and Antonin Artaud, which is the path of the mistral, the wind coming from the Alpes going to sea, and which is said to be a terrible wind. Terrible wind? Catch my drift? The sound of farts was regarded as something funny, and maybe still is, even when it’s imitated by instruments. Let’s say that Migone recorded a whole bunch of farts and created this CD out of it. Like usually with this sort of things, if you don’t know this, you wouldn’t probably notice it. Maybe it sounds like another bunch of synthesizers. Migone however knows how to create an intelligent set of compositions with such limited sound material. For the better part of this CD are compositions that would appeal to a click and cut crowd (if anyone remembers what clicks and cuts are), but this material takes the whole idea just a few steps further. It works with clicks but Migone is not interested in dance music at all. His rhythms move along lines that are not really symmetrical. That makes this CD into a captivating one, with or without the concept of farts.
THE WIRE March Issue 217, feature by Dave Mandl
The Wire Issue 217 March 2002 Dave Mandl “I enjoy erasing myself–though I retain a kind of presence,” says Swiss-born sound artist Christof Migone, now based in New York. Soft-spoken almost to the point of inaudibility in person, on record he gives the impression of being just barely there even when he’s singing. On Escape Songs, a collaboration-in-progress with Canadian singer Veda Hille that features rare vocal performances by Migone, the duo’s voices hang by less than a thread–hesitant, fragile, afraid or unwilling to make a commitment. With reverbless close micing bringing every lip-smack into relief, the recordings are strikingly pure and almost uncomfortably intimate. Yet Migone and Hille frequently drift out of the frame, innocently unaware that their private voice-games and uncalculated electronic noodlings were even being observed. Fragility is a state that particular interests Migone –specifically the fragility of the human mind, body, and language capability. His recent performance piece Evasion involved him attempting to stick his tongue out for nine minutes. Like going for extended periods without sleep such an act pushes the body into an unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and somewhat precarious state. “Evasion lets the muscles of the tongue and jaw take over,” Migone explains, “or at least come onto the surface, interacting with the message that my conscious is sending me throughout: ‘Get this tongue back inside!'” A video recording of the piece, showing only his tongue, with Migone himself retaining only a shadowy presence, documents his physical struggle to resist his brain’s warnings, saliva dripping involuntarily from his mouth. Much of Migone’s work revolves around issues of control and lack thereof, and the struggle between the two. “In our constant attempts to rein ourselves in, things invariably slip,” he says. “But the slippage is perhaps more an excess than a lack, or paradoxically both, as in a leak.” Among the ‘leaks’ that have long interested Migone are speech disorders and vocal accidents, normally unacknowledged or prettified for public presentations. His 1996 CD Hole in the Head, which contains cut-up and processed voices culled from his long-running phone-in radio show on Montréal’s CKUT, was inspired by écrits bruts (writings of the insane) as well as psycholinguist Roman Jakobson’s studies of aphasia. Replete with all manner of gasps, groans, sputters, and cries of anguish, the disc’s 61 short collages approximate a kind of aural schizophrenia, offering a disQuieting reminder of how thin the dividing line between “normality” and “madness” is. The recently released CD Crackers , which collects recordings of people cracking various parts of their bodies (knuckles, back, knees, etc.), is another study of the control/lack of control dichotomy. To Migone, the tension and release inherent in the decision to crack or not reflects in microcosm the tension between order and chaos in the larger world. Sometimes a joint insists on being cracked, and if ignored it may crack itself anyway; an uncracked joint can also make it painful for you to stand up, thereby forcing you to crack it. Though Crackers seems like a much simpler sound project than the incredibly dense and obsessively cut-and-layered recordings that comprise Hole in the Head, Migone says it’s “just obsessive in a different way.” It took him three years to complete the CD’s basicrecordings. “Paradoxically, the [initial] recordings were too successful,” Migone recalls. “They instantly sounded like digital glitches. Yet retaining the somatic reference was the crucial element.” Without any prior knowledge, it’s still difficult to identify exactly what the flurries of apparently electronic clicks actually are, and finding out can be a shock: “One of the things that interest me in the work,” Migone says, “is that moment where one realizes that these are sounds of joints cracking; sometimes the resulting cringe produces a cognitive dissonance, and that movement against the grain of one’s enjoyment and preconception enriches the work.” Produced during his years living in Montreal, where he collaborated with radio-art luminaries Dan Lander and Gregory Whitehead, Migone’s radio work also went against the grain. Well, the way he heard it, he was attempting to resuscitate what he perceived to be a virtually lifeless medium. “Radio voices are dead on arrival…well-combed and articulated…air-dried and dehydrated.,” he wrote in an article for the recently published collection,Experimental Sound and Radio (edited by Allen S. Weiss for MIT Press). In his own work, Migone sought to banish the antiseptic, hyper-articulate speech that dominates radio. In its place, he positively embraced the imperfections and unpleasantnesses that make up communication in everyday life. He also tried to break down the standard host/caller relationship: “I was really trying to have a total contrast from talk radio and say, ‘I’m not going to play the role of radio host, not going to present a topic of the day, not going to monitor how long you talk as a listener’.” He provided open phone lines, sometimes leaving the studio and letting callers talk among themselves, or calling in from public phones to join the discussion like any other listener. The unmediated and often intensely personal tone of his show even attracted a stalker: “I was so much trying to bypass this mass-communication thing by being very intimate on the radio, and that probably didn’t help matters. Also in some ways my voice, not only its tone but also the bareness in which I presented it, somehow triggered something in her.” Migone may really be flirting with yet more danger with his planned Crackers video, in which he plans to put himself in the frame filming himself recording people cracking their joints–a very close and intimate process. More than the audio version, he concludes, “it’s much more about the relationship. I mean, have you ever seen a chiropractor crack someone’s back? It’s actually very sensual.”
Writing Aloud: The Sonics of Language book/CD eds. Brandon LaBelle and Christof Migone, PARACHUTE No.107, review by Jim Drobnick
Conventionally, the body and language are terms mired in opposition. At one extreme, theorists such as Parveen Adams declare that the body does not exist outside of discourse. At the other, theorists like Elaine Scarry point to how the body, especially when experiencing ecstasy or suffering, obliterates language. Poised between these polarities is the anthology and CD of Writing Aloud. Its engaging series of essays, manifestoes, poetry and audioworks demonstrate that in regard to the absolute belief in the ability of language to define and contain, the corporeal is a radical and continual disruption. Yet, even with its chaotic energies and unpredictable excesses, the body can manifest its own form of communication, forcing a reconsideration of its meaning-bearing potential. It is at this fertile intersection between the semantic, the sonic and the somatic that Writing Aloud stakes out creative and intellectual possibilities. The essays, by media artists, radiomakers, poets, composers, cultural critics and literary theorists alike, analyze aural phenomena typically at the edge of language, especially when it abuts, melds into or erupts from the body. The editors, for instance, investigate microphonic invasions and the sonicity of the body (Brandon LaBelle), and ectoplasm and ventriloquy (Christof Migone). Other chapters feature subjects such as glossolalia (Vincent Barras), death rattles (Lionel Marchetti), and yodeling (Bart Plantenga). Vanguard poetry emerges as a volatile site of activity in Nicholas Zurbrugg’s discussion of concrete poetry, Fred Moten’s inquiry into the avant-garde and difference, and Sean Cubitt’s tracing of the co-evolution between voice and technology. Michel de Certeau once postulated that all experience that is not a cry of pain or pleasure can be institutionally appropriated. The CD accompanying Writing Aloud might have taken this statement as its motto as cries, screams, groans, stuttering, babble and other phatic utterances pervade thirteen experimental audio works by Marina Abramovic, Michael Chion and others. Also featured are works based on ambient drones, microscopic tonalities, overlapping voices and synthesized effects by Gregory Whitehead, John Duncan, and Yasunao Tone, to name just a few. Writing is usually considered a silent activity, but writing requires a body, and the cumulative result of this anthology/CD is a shift not only in the understanding of embodiment as an instrument, but also corporeality as an entire listening device.
Separate performance by kim dawn and Christof Migone, by Bruce Barber
[…] During the late nineties East Coast artists Christof MIGONE and Kim DAWN collaborated to produce a number of complex, technically sophisticated, and frequently abject and/or haptic performances. Working mostly in Montreal, Halifax and now New York MIGONE has produced audio work for CD’s, live audio performances for radio transmission, as well as published theoretical essays and printed matter works. Kim DAWN has singly performed a number of simple but extraordinary works in Halifax and London (Ontario) and collaborated with MIGONE for a period of three years. In one performance in 1996 DAWN walked for several hours around the city of Halifax, dressed to kill in a tight fitting green skirt, high heels, flaming red hair, dragging and spanking her garden rake behind her on the pavement, enacting a kind of latter day Rake’s Progress.
In My Dirty Tongue, a work performed in November 1996 at The Palace at 4:00 a.m. an alternative space in London Ontario, DAWN engaged in several activities wearing a pink see-through nightie/house coat from the sixties. With eyes closed she crawled around a rectangular space filled with white sugar crystals (6 x 40 kg bags) outlining the space with pink crayon. And then sitting in the sugar she clipped the tops off plastic chocolate and honey bear containers releasing their contents on to the floor and several beige nylons stuffed with teabags. (endnote 16) DAWN writes stream of consciousness prose and considers her writing to be performative and (loosely) therapeutic: “through writing I attempt to unleash the knots in m traumatized body.” Echoing ARTAUD’s all writing is shit, she writes that for her “writing is a process of pleasurable defecation on the page.” (endnote 17)
One of MIGONE and DAWN’s most ambitious collaborations was staged as part of the CounterPoses performance programme curated by Jim DROBNIK and Jennifer FISHER for Oboro Gallery in Montreal. In this work titled Separate the artist used their bodies, buckets, pots of honey and stewed plums to engage the topics of sexuality and desire and the continuous relationships between purity and danger, pollution and taboo. A small self-published text documenting the event contains twelve photographs of the artists dressed in disposable white suites wearing panda eye-blacking, seated on a floor area covered with aluminum foil and lit by two casually hanging naked light bulbs. DAWN alternately gorged on and spit up stewed plums, while MIGONE doused himself with honey, immersing his head in a bucket of it and occasionally inflating a balloon/condom. The slow motion performance evoked the erotically charged atmosphere of David LYNCH’s Eraserhead or Guy MADDIN’s extraordinary film Tales of Gimli Hospital. The artists’ accompanying bookwork contains a stream of consciousness text that underlines some of their abject intentions.
lights bare, ready to electrocute, lights
blackout. they breathe, she
from time to time. she started to hate
people watching her
disease. she counted in her head, se-
conds, minutes. she watched
the honey pour down his face, sticken
shimmery. she worried about his eyes,
offered her shit
napkins to wipe his honey eyes.
honeymitts. lights flickered
unpredictably. rose. fell. like
them. fell. fell. fell. swimming in their
shit. their sticky.
motor for the light dimmer hums slightly
in the background.
The rear cover of the book contains a quote, and abject reverie from the book Inner Experience by the renegade surrealist George BATAILLE.”I stick my tongue in the hole…there’s a piece of meat there, a blood clot getting larger, starting to protrude. I spit it out another follows. The clots have the consistency of snot, taste like food gone bad. They’re glugging up my mouth. I decide that by falling asleep I’ll get over my disgust, won’t be tempted to fuss with them or spit them out. I drift off and wake up at the end of an hour.” (endnote 18)
16. Described to the author in a conversation.
17. Artist’s statement, 1998.
18. Georges Batailles, Inner Experience, New York: SUNY Press, 1994.
Writing Aloud: The Sonics of Language book/CD eds. Brandon LaBelle and Christof Migone, THE TENTACLE Summer 2001, pp. 30-31, review by Christopher DeLaurenti
(includes a review of Music, Electronic Media and Culture Edited by Simon Emmerson Ashgate, 2000).
Topical anthologies tend to take one of three paths: encyclopedically encapsulating the subject, or summarizing the state of the art, or curating a complex combination of historical and current work. Writing Aloud ambitiously strives for the latter and veers from the brilliant to the inexplicably pedestrian. The book’s essays, interviews, scores, and photographs sprawl gloriously from Bart Plantenga’s arresting cross-cultural overview of yodeling to David Dunn’s score for Madrigal to Nicholas Zurbrugg’s knotty but ultimately rewarding ruminations on connections between sound poetry and the avant-garde. Apart from some dubious poetry and unremarkable photos, there are many other fine essays as well as intriguing interviews with Robert Ashley and Alvin Lucier. I was thrilled by the CD’s archival tracks (Arthur Petronio: Tellurgie from 1965, Vito Acconci’s Body Building in the Great Northwest, and Marina Abramovic’s Freeing the Voice, both from 1975) and can easily recommend most of the remaining pieces such as the extract of Chion’s Gloria and Whitehead’s Market Share. A few of the tracks, seeming to have nothing to do with language or writing, mystified me, though. For those interested in the long-form intersection of text and music, Randy Hostetler’s Once Upon a Time, Glenn Gould’s Solitude Trilogy, and J.K. Randall’s unnerving intimacy (a polemic) merit investigation. Quibbles aside, this bold anthology is a bargain. By contrast Music, Electronic Media and Culture is more consistent, but takes fewer risks. I was mildly annoyed at the bibliography blithely listing CD release dates instead of those all-important dates of creation. While it’s unlikely that most adventurous musicians will think Stockhausen’s Kontakte and Wishart’s Red Bird were composed in the early 1990s, others might be misled. Nonetheless, despite the occasional ungainly terms such as “problematise” and “paradigmatic”, the essays are well written and teem with marvelous insights, such as “The modern tendency to regard tradition as a series of historical objects and as the antithesis of innovation… fails to acknowledge that traditions, to have continuing social currency, tend to change constantly. A contrasting Japanese attitude towards history and tradition is best exemplified by the case of a national shrine – a fourteenth century Buddhist temple – which is completely rebuilt from new materials every two years, and in which the tradition is regarded as not residing in the object itself but in the continuing knowledge of appropriate materials and building techniques.” (Simon Waters, “Beyond the Acousmatic”). And this jolt from editor Simon Emmerson: “We should not forget that the phrase avant-garde was first used by Henri de Saint-Simon in France (1825) at almost exactly the same time as Mendelssohn’s inauguration of the museum culture in Western concert music with the revival of Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion (1829) – the past and the future at once…” Robert Worby’s “Cacophony ” offers eminently readable pillar-to-post explanations of Fourier analysis, harmonic partials, and guitar pickups as well as good summaries of the Futurists, early Minimalism, and Industrial music, though I wish he had devoted a few more sentences to Japanese Noise. Also included is Chris Cutler’s indispensable “Plunderphonics,” which outlines historical antecedents (Hindemith and Respighi, yikes!) and masterfully explores the swirl of contentious copyright issues. Unlike the recent Arcana essays edited by John Zorn, I suspect neither of these fine anthologies will get much press, but they are both well worth owning.
Crackers CD ALL-MUSIC GUIDE, review by François Couture
Some readers will recoil only at the idea underpinning Christof Migone’s CD Crackers. Through newspaper and radio ads, he recruited people who could make parts of their body crack and pop. He recorded them and created a handful of pieces using only those sounds. So what you hear is a construction (a symphony, if you like) of cracking fingers, jaws, elbows, ankles, backs, etc. This album marks the completion of a project started in 1997. Migone participated in exhibitions and released a few tracks on compilation albums and audio exhibition catalogs, but Crackers represents the complete, definitive work. One must understand the limitations of such a narrow sound palette; the repetitiveness and relative softness of the sounds make for Spartan textures very similar to glitch electronica (paradoxical, isn’t it?), especially in the first track. In track five, it seems the artist tried to mimic the crackling sound of a fire. Track six is the most puzzling piece: The pops are lined so closely one to another that they form a delicate drone. Track four presents an excerpt from one of the recording sessions; a “cracker” casually explains to Migone where to put his microphone to best capture his body music – an example of the composer’s deadpan humor. As music, Crackers doesn’t cut it: it’s limited, linear, eventless, extremely “lower case.” On the other hand, as a listening experience and wacky conceptual art idea, it is genuine Migone.
Crackers CD VITAL WEEKLY Week 40 No. 293, review by Frans de Waard
Christof Migone might not be unknown to the readers of Vital Weekly and here he presents a truly interesting work. Crackers doesn’t deal with crunchy bread or cracks from the laptop, but it deals with the sound of cracking knuckles, knees, wrists, jaws, toes, ankles, backs, necks, elbows and hips. I usually crack my fingers, but don’t see that listed here. I know many people that don’t like that. Christof executed this project partly to record the sound, but also as an art-science project. The resultant sounds act here as the music. Of course these sounds have been electronically treated to a wide extent, so it’s a repeating field of crackling sound. Sometimes high pitched sounds are added, sometimes they are left by themselves. Microsound for sure, and this release wouldn’t have looked bad on Mille Plateaux. An interesting idea to produce from these bodily activities and maybe the future of clicks & cuts?
Quieting CD THE WIRE Issue 209 July 2001, review by Edwin Pouncey
As its title implies, the fourth solo recording from this Canadian conceptual sound artist is minimal in the extreme. Yet, separated by slabs of stony silence, its isolated sound events acquire a quite unnerving dramatic aspect. Turning on the noise of a cannon being fired, its single shot causes one unprepared bystander to shriek with surprise. It is no less shocking when it unexpectedly goes of again like a bomb in your living room, causing a ripple of panic and a rush of adrenalin before it is once again swallowed up in silence. Except now that it is charged with fearful anticipation, that silence no longer feels so comforting.
Quieting CD MUSICWORKS No. 83, review by Darren Copeland
Christof Migone’s Quieting is really quiet. So quiet that the CD becomes entirely dependent on the listener’s active participation in the sounds that not only ooze out of the CD literally every few minutes, but the sounds inhabiting one’s environment at the time. There may in fact exist many more sounds that simply are not audible on this CD with a typical consumer stereo system. Is this a thumbing in the nose to the lack of aural attention in our culture? Or, is it a challenge to our hunger for constant noise, constant amusement whether we are consciously participating or not? I challenge the reader to purchase the CD, listen to it and keep count of the number of times you forget the CD is still playing. You will find that your acceptance of silence and inactivity may not be what you think it is! The notes to the CD indicate that the sounds used throughout the single work on it are derived from a recording of the cannon fired daily at noon hour at the Citadel in Halifax, Nova Scotia. One of the remarkable features of time signals like cannons and guns is the shocking threshold shift that occurs once they are sounded. Although Migone is creating a largely artificial soundscape around the cannon firing, benefiting no doubt from the increased dynamic range offered by digital audio techniques, he is still preserving the possibility of that shock by making excessive use of silence. In fact he is inviting the listener to contribute to the preparation of this shock experience by seducing him or her to turn up the stereo, to sink quietly into reflection, and then…. Bang!
Crackers solo installation, Studio 5 Beekman, New York and performance at Apex Art, New York Press March 1-7 2000 Vol. 13 Number 9, review by Kenneth Goldsmith
The press release for Christof Migone’s recent sound installation at Studio 5 Beekman was irresistible: “Crackers: A continuous multi-media installation featuring bodies cracking their joints. Do you crack your fingers? Your neck? Your back? Your knees? Your elbows? Your ankles? Your hips? Your jaws? Your toes? Your…?” Naturally, I assumed that it’d be just about the creepiest thing I’d ever heard–perhaps something akin to fingernails scraping down a chalkboard–and hoped it would make my skin crawl. Upon walking into the gallery, I was confronted with a small video projection documenting how Migone captured the sounds: strapped to a naked ankle was a contact mic; every time the ankle moved, it cracked. Over and over. The source material was collected from people Migone found by placing radio and newspaper ads that simply asked: “Do you crack?” After an interview and cracking demonstration, eight people were selected and the sounds of their best joints were used. (It turns out that cracking joints have varying acoustical properties: larger ones tend to be heavier on the bass, while smaller ones have more treble.) In a separate darkened room, 10 speakers of various sizes hung from the ceiling, all cracking away simultaneously. Somehow I expected the cracks to have a warm, human quality, but they were icy cold. But not cold like bones rattling; instead, they had a delicate digital, almost glass-like sound. I was perplexed so I cracked my own knuckles. To my surprise, when I disassociated the sound from my warm body, it did indeed have an unexpected coolness to it. I realized that, while the installation was not the sort of knockout I anticipated, Migone’s agenda was something other than what the sensational press release seemed to hint at: he’s a guy who’s primarily concerned with creating digital sounds from analog sources. This was confirmed by Migone’s short performance at Apex Art a few nights later. There, he sat in a chair and stuck a contact mic into his mouth, while on his lap he manipulated an ancient reel-to-reel tape recorder stripped of its tape. Throughout the performance, Migone attached things like paper clips to the tape recorder, which went whirring around, hitting against other small metal objects. The Rube Goldberg-style setup made a small racket: each time Migone swallowed or otherwise moved his mouth, the mic would pick up big, booming bass-like sounds; at the same time, the variety of objects placed on the reel-to-reel acted as a sort of primitive percussion device. As in “Crackers,” the sound emanating both from his body and the analog equipment was unexpectedly cool, digital and abstract. I think Migone’s on to something here. While there have been countless experimental works made using the body as a sound source–Lauren Lesko’s contact-miked vagina and Donald Knaack’s “Body Music” come to mind–historically, the sounds remained true to the source. You always knew that what you were hearing were indeed body sounds. Migone instead is part of a splinter group of glitchwerks and electronica artists (including Steve Roden, who plays midcentury modernist furniture) who use dirty analog sources to create clean digital-sounding works. This is in contrast to most of today’s artists who exclusively employ the crispness of computerderived sounds to make their music (this echoes a split that goes back to the 195Os when the dirty French musique-concrete guys battled the squeaky-clean German electronic musicians over what the future of music should be). Call it process art: the way it was made counts as much as what it sounds like. And while the result may not be as lush as you might imagine, Migone’s rich and intriguing processes through which his music is created more than make up for it.
The Death of Analogies CD and CD by undo The WIRE Issue 199 September 2000, review by Phil England
On his third solo album The Death Of Analogies, Christof Migone updates the fast edit, low tech musique concrete he developed in his works for campus radio CKUT-FM in Montreal. Migone delights in audio detritus–the kind of details others leave on the cutting room floor In its intimacy, his debut Hole In The Head was reminiscent of Adam Bohman’s home dictaphone recordings in the way it featured his own voice or body sounds, the voices of callers to his radio show, and sounds from domestic life. Death uses much the same sources as Hole but strips them of any character that might identify them, somewhat blunting his idiosyncratic edge and pushing him towards the overpopulated area of electroacoustic music. If he has subjected his latest sonic miniatures to greater computer intervention, they nevertheless retain the dirty, visceral quality of his earlier album: glitch done ugly. The slightly longer explorations of a new suite called “Post Mortems” nudge his work closer towards musical forms, despite its patina of vinyl surface noise. Less engaging is Undo, Christof’s duo with Alexandre St Onge. Like St-Onge’s last solo record, un sperme features recordings made entirely from inside the mouth. Though this information is not given on the sleeve, it is crucial in understanding these highly minimal explorations. The duo’s variations on the ‘microphone in the mouth’ theme (tape hiss on max, mumbled voices, sub vocal sounds, etc) are like so many shades of grey. Appropriately enough, the track titles are taken from Samuel Beckett’s The Unnameable. And the grey cover is something Beckett himself might have warmed to.
Crackers in Site of Sound: Of Architecture and the Ear NEW ARTS EXAMINER November 1999, review by Mark Schwartz
[…] Of all the sonic projects offered [in Site of Sound: Of Architecture and the Ear], none echoes Artaud’s sentiments about snake charming more than Christof Migone’s Crackers #4. Via radio ads and newspaper classified, Migone invited the citizens of Ottawa, Canada, to a sound studio where he recorded them cracking their knuckles, necks, jaws, etc. The resulting “portrait of a city” makes for fascinating if gruesome listening. You definitely hear this recording with more than just your ears.
vex CD THE WIRE March 1999 Issue 181 review by Andy Hamilton
“If you enjoy being vexated, you will not want to miss the grindings and gratings ot Vex,” promises this electroacoustic disc Christof Migone is assisted by Michel F. Côté, Louis Ouellet and Gregory Whitehead. The disc is divided into three zones, designated Satie, Antonin Artaud and Gilles Deleuze respectively, with 2O minutes of short tracks in each. Satie was known for Vexations of his own, of course, and his zone is the most colourful, concluding with a splintering one minute “Satie Hardcore”. Artaud inspires more melancholic reflections with mournful sax prominent on some tracks. But there’s a minute attention to detail throughout this quirky release.
vex CD LE STEREOPHILE #13, review by Fred Landier
VEX est un disque qui se compose de trois zones. Des zones de remixes concrets autour de trois héros contemporains: Satie, Artaud et Deleuze. Humour et musique concrète, électronicité et jeux de mots rogilos, ce sont Christof Migone qui s’occupe avec Michel F. Côté du cas Satie, avec Gregory Whitehead qui calme Artaud et avec louis Ouellet qui ressuscite Deleuze. Les titres sont assez éloquents pour ne pas se perdre à essayer de raconter la musique : comme un rossignol qui autrait mal aux dents, satie hardcore, les amateurs professionnels, channel surf morpion, pour en finir avec la fin, défenestrer, parler sale, je fuis ce que je suis É excellent sur toute la ligne.
vex CD ALL-MUSIC GUIDE, review by François Couture
Vex, Christof Migone’s second CD, is a cycle of three works, three 20-minute suites each inspired by a “shadow” (the composer’s word) and created with the help of a friend. “Marche Arrière” (“Reverse”) is inhabited by the ghost of French composer Erik Satie and features percussionist Michel F. Côté. “Cris-Cris” was inspired by French writer Antonin Artaud and created with the help of Gregory Whitehead. “Corps dans le Vide” (“Bodies in Emptiness”), a collaboration with Louis Ouellet, is impregnated with the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze. Each suite is divided into short interlocking segments (nothing over four minutes), a technique Migone displayed on his previous album Hole in the Head. The sound collages mostly use voices, as well as electro-acoustic and electronic sounds, alternating in the form of a cut-and-paste. The composer’s fascination with speech puts a new dress on: instead of accidental speech, he now uses excerpts from the featured ghost’s body of works to weave enigmatic strings of meaning into his piece. “Marche Arrière” is the more lighthearted of the three, while “Corps dans le Vide” gets very close to aural claustrophobia. All three have a more abstract construction, a less visceral delivery than Hole in the Head, but they feature a wider palette of sounds and techniques. It should be noted that the collaborators’ input did not leave a remarkable stamp: Migone’s touch remains the strongest one everywhere on this album.
vex CD VITAL WEEKLY 14 Dec 1998, review by Frans de Waard
From the active new music sources from Canada, a new CD by composer Christof Migone, who is helped by the voices of Gregory Whitehead, Michel F. Côté and Louis Ouellet. There are three zones, or themes if you want: Erik Satie, Gilles Deleuze and Antonin Artaud. “Vex is a series of accidents, problematic strategie, absurd tactics and misunderstood languages”. Like with schizophrenia, the music limps on many ideas. Some strong, and some weak. Much sampling of sounds, instruments, voices, short and witty at times, even rhythmic at times, but sometimes boring. A strange CD, not easy to capture in it’s intent. Closed like an asylum. If you are into improvisation, sampling and a strong concept: this is it.
with Kim Dawn PARACHUTE octobre-novembre-décembre 1998, review by Johanne Lamoureux
[…] Au terme de l’exposition, sont inscrit deux projects plus près des préoccupations inter-esthétiques des conservateurs. Womens’ Rites: Sifting de tarin chaplin et Separate de Kim Dawn et Christof Migone délaissent la problématique du regard et de l’interaction au profit de mises en situation du corps dans sa plus troublante organicité: le corps consommable (le corps enfariné chez chaplin, corps-pâte, corps-pain) et le corps consommant dans la prestation de Dawn et Migone annoncée, dès le haut de l’escalier, par un odorama de miel, de fruits germentés et de lait suri. Les performers y transgressent, dans une espèce d’autisme jubilatoire et oppressant, un des grands interdits de l’enfance : jouer avec la nourriture. […]
with Kim Dawn MIX Vol. 24 No.2 Fall 1998, review by Valérie Lamontagne
[…] Visitors returning from a final back room are warning me, ” Don’t go in there, it’s disgusting.” I determinedly move on towards the room’s gleaming lights and enter a psychedelic picnic where my olfactory senses are immediately assaulted. Two raccoon-eyed humans are crouched on the floor in a debauched display of consumption. They are breaking every table manner and rule of etiquette – playing with their food, eating with their mouths open and spitting it out again. Their menu consists of chocolate bars, fruit, milk, and a large bucket of honey that one of the performers occasionally dunks his head in. Kim Dawn and Christof Migone’s Separate embraces the fissure between animal and human, food and feces, where the body’s exterior and interior boundaries spiral into one.[…]
with Kim Dawn FUSE Vol. 21 No. 4 Fall 1998, review by Stephen Horne
[…] Last in my trajectory, but by no means least, was the fabulously viscous performance of Kim Dawn and Christof Migone. Those feelings of revulsion that so mark our fears of becoming fluid are given a very precise embodiment in this provocative and rigorous work. Presented in a small dark room into which electric light intermittently flickered from an almost dysfunctional single overhead bulb, Separate could disturb Kristeva herself with its evocation of dangerous fluidity, of flows, pollution and loss of stability. while one participant immersed himself headfirst into a bucket of slime which could only have been honey, the hooded co-performer sat mutely, slowly carving round and round a book-shaped piece of material with a large knife. equally obsessive, this same performer peeled fruit, perhaps plums, sucking and drooling the viscous body of the fruits. In slow time, this performance entirely permeated the space and the bodies of anyone watching. Separation was impossible; the persistence with which it oozed through pores, under my/our skin was an entirely captivating argument for ‘intersubjectivity’ as a way of understanding the reciprocity of relations between maker and made, of self and other. In fact, McFarlane’s and Dawn/Migone’s works manifested what I take to be the primary relevance of the ‘Counterposes’ event, that is, to open a reconsideration of the banishment of performance because of its emphasis on artistic presence, on the body as subjectivity. […]
with Kim Dawn LOLA No.3 Winter 1998, review by Jack Stanley
[…] One of the more enigmatic works came from Kim Dawn and Christof Migone. Separate was a surreal ritual-like performance where the artists engaged in infantile activities, like sucking, chewing, spitting, and smearing food all over their bodies. They sat on a blanket in the center of a darkened room with honey, molasses, milk, and fruit spread out around them. Both wore white hooded costumes and black makeup around their eyes, which gave them a toy animal appearance. Even though they didn’t interact with the audience or with one another, there was an acute sense of intimacy between the two –an embodied sense of companionship. There was also something extremely sensuous about their gentle and deliberate action, which appeared both repulsive and comforting all at once. Adding to this sensory experience was the smell of rotting food that permeated the room, making me palpably aware of the inevitability of impermanence and change. […]
Recipes for Disaster THE WIRE Issue 168 February 1998, review by Phil England
[…] it was down to the artists to deliver the more interesting presentations. These included Quebecois radio interventionist Christof Migone, whose intelligent musings on wireless issues were conducted from a table illuminated by a single lamp and covered with a small number of props, which set the late night radio mood. […] 1997
Hole in the Head CD CMJ September 28 1997, review by Robin Edgerton
A 1991-1996 retrospective of Migone’s sporadic but enticing sound/language pieces, Hole In The Head is made up of familiar sounds far out of their context. In these 61 fragments, mostly arranged into longer suites, buzzes, clicks and static nervously dart around voices of various kinds. The vocal components are texts and noises, mostly, but a lot of frightened, filtered snatches of conversation, like the kind Scanner picks up, or quick inhalations and sleep-sounds. Drier than sound-poetry contemporaries like Paul Dutton and Anna Homler, Migone works with (and tries to approximate) the language of the insane– repetition, dissociation, non-verbal words. verbal non-words – arranged in a purposeful, composed, arty way (many of these pieces were made for art contexts).
Hole in the Head CD MONTREAL MIRROR November 13 1997, review by Chris Yurkiw
Students of psycholinguistics and sympathizers with Bertol Brecht’s ideas on interactive radio should recall Christof Migone’s sound breaking show on CKUT-FM, Danger In Paradise, whence a goodly chunk of this “schizophonic art’ is culled. Mics are misused, CD players skip, syllables are snipped and recognized languages lapse into what Allen S. Weiss calls in the liner notes “Migone’s oral and aural contortions, ruins, lacerations, abrasions and ruptures.” Great fodder for your answering machine.
Hole in the Head CD RUBBERNECK No.26 December 1997 Chris Atton
Christof Migone presents 61 tracks of close-miked vocal explorations in as many minutes, The shortest clocks in at four seconds, recalling Zorn’s hardcore excesses applied to the voice, though Migone offers much greater subtlety, variety and humour. An obvious comparison would be Henri Chopin, but whereas he prefers large-scale structures for his compositions, Migone’s strength is clearly as a miniaturist, focusing briefly but intently on particular vocal phenomena and semantics. It appears he does this on Canadian radio, too. Precisely why, he doesn’t say. You don’t need to be there, either.
Hole in the Head CD ND No. 20 Summer 1997, review by J.F.
Migone exploits the technological possibilities of sound poetry with much emphasis on simple, linear editing over sound processing.. This, and the almost strictly verbal character of Migone’s sound poetry (word meanings are often unimportant) make me think of him as the polar opposite of Henry Chopin, another tech-dependent sound poet. Like Chopin’s work, Migone’s exhibits a kind of restraint that keeps the primary focus from being obscured by indulgent effects and clutter. In feeling. ‘Hole in the Head’ seems akin to sound artists like IOS Smolders and Ryoji Ikeda, whose work expresses a technological attitude that is post-heroic and which belongs to the blasé mood of the communication age. Quite intriguing and recommended.
Hole in the Head CD EXCLAIM! September 1997 Richard Moule [also includes reviews of Radio Folie Culture, Rappel and Jocelyn Robert’s La Théorie des Nerfs Creux]
That Quebec has always had a strong tradition in electronic and electro-acoustic music is a given; what continues to surprise is the wealth, depth and scope of the work being created. The Quebec label OHM/Avatar seems interested in exploring sound sources and found sounds. At its core, OHM/Avatar seems to be following the esteemed traditions of people like John Cage, Pierre Schaeffer, Brion Gysin, and more recently Robin Rimbaud’s project, Scanner and Panasonic, in creating musique concrete and sound collages. Radio Folie/Culture uses samples from field recordings of nature, radio or random conversations and matches them with industrial noises that are carefully constructed to form sound pieces. If Radio Folie Culture‘s pieces serve as aural snapshots of fleeting real world moments, making the ordinary seem extraordinary, Rappel is about the art of voyeurism. Produced in collaboration with Radio Canada’s ‘Chants Magnetiques,’ Rappel is a collection of recordings from a little Bell branch office, and from answering machines. Sound experimenters have dropped in on people’s phone conversations, capturing their innocent exchanges with one another. The effect is at once banal and disturbing, catching these transmissions and monitoring them much the same way someone would from security services. In a world of instant communications and yet unprecedented surveillance, Rappel tackles issues of privacy and appropriation, and the lines that are drawn between the private and public self when you try to reach out and touch someone. Jocelyn Robert’s La Theorie Des Nerfs Creux is no less manipulative, but its intentions are more in creating waves and frequency-based glitches, similar in style to the German duo, Oval. Robert’s sound collages appear to come more from the electro-acoustic side of musical experimentation. Christof Migone’s Hole In The Head is a little more ambitious. Migone’s audio inventions are centered around the human voice, in particular the inner voice and how it haunts our thought and speech. Through piercing acoustics, Migone exposes the vocal accidents of speech: moans, screams, sighs, cries, chokes, slurps, wheezes, stutters and other imperfections. This is abrasive and at the same time humbling stuff. We often like to think of ourselves as sophisticated and enlightening conversationalists. But at base have we progressed as far as we think? Are we not, in the end just apes with haircuts? The mind reels.
Rappel CD ND No. 20 Summer 1997, review by J.F.
Compilation of telephone related sound works by Christof Migone, Daniel Leduc, Sylvia Wang, Algojo)(Algojo, Pierre-André Arcand, Chantal Dumas, Kathy Kennedy, Jean Routhier, Gregory Whitehead and Doyon/Demers. There’s a lot of French speak here, making me ill equipped to understand or judge these pieces, but I’ll mention that they tend to remind me of the works by some of these same artists on Nonsequitur’s Radius compilations. Here they dwell on the sounds and mysteries of the telephone world rather than the possibilities of radio art (lots of beeps, busy signals, answering machine messages, etc.) to pretty interesting effect.
Solar Plexus on Radius #3 CD GAJOOB March 1997, review by Mike Bowman
In the words of Monty Python, “And now for something completely different.” The Radius #3 CD compilation features the work of audio artists, and when I say artists I mean the fine arts Andy Warhol type, not the recording artist Michael Jackson type. Kathy Kennedy constructs an audio essay on gang culture and the pursuit of victims using a sonic collage of footsteps in the subway, victim’s verbal recollections and other associated sounds. Christof Migone’s “Solar Plexus” focusses on the minute, insignificant sounds of the world: people humming to themselves, clanking dishes in the kitchen, etc… According to the liner notes, the goal of these artists is to have their works broadcast. If you like the work of hometapers like Scott Davies and the band Inca, you’ll enjoy this departure from the world of rock.
Live radio, CKUT-FM Montréal 1987-1994 PHANTASMIC RADIO Duke University Press, 1995 by Allen S. Weiss
[…] Villier’s antitheater, Artaud’s theater of cruelty, Cage’s imaginary landscapes, Novarina’s theater for the ears, Wolfson’s radio solipsism, Whitehead’s forensic theater, Migone’s radio contortionism: can the heterotopia of radically experimental radiophony lead to a linguistic utopia, or are its results necessarily dystopic? I wish to end this study with one further selection from [Migone’s] Describe Yourself, which might serve as a coda, perhaps even an allegory, and certainly a warning: CALLER 7: The wires. Hello Host: Yes, What is your shape? C7: The wires. The wires for the electricity. It’s the power. The wires. You know what I mean? H: Yeah. C7: When I stand near the wires and the tower of the powers. H: What does that have to do with you? C7: Interesting things. Short circuit feedback. Here, loss of self paradoxically entails the most weighty presence of selfhood and self-consciousness. Indeed the precondition of the “wireless” apparatus is precisely the wires, the dynamo, the power, the institution -reason enough to be paranoid. Is this an expression of anxiety or fear? Or is rather the case, as Migone suggests that radiophony “is a pleasure grounded in the insecurity of its grounds, a certain danger in the paradise of unbalanced inputs and dizzy spells.”
Le transistor transpirant Galerie Articule, November 4 1992 INTER No. 55/56, review by Sonia Pelletier
Dans Le transistor transpirant, Christof MIGONE ressuscite les correspondants d’écrivains célèbres et impose une traduction signalétique par un micro-montage de leurs lettres (littéralement l-e-t-t-r-e-s) sur bande magnétique. La présentation de chaque t-r-a-d-u-c-t-i-o-n revêt celle d’une conférence classique dans un salon somptueux où certains invités iront apostropher les passant, rue Mont-Royal, puis dans l’obscurité du bureau nouvellement aménagé, interpréter des circonférences de grincements envirevoltant sur une chaise.
Open Your Mouth and Let the Air Out for Radio Rethink INTER No. 54, review by Jocelyn Robert
Un travail questionnant les relations qui s’établissent entre l’auditoire et l’animateur radio, cet étranger admis partout mais dont on ne connaît pourtant que la voix.
Open Your Mouth and Let the Air Out
for Radio Rethink ART RESEARCH CENTER IN BUDAPEST, review by çgnes Ivacs
[…] In his work écrit bruts, Christof Migone translated writings by the insane into a subjective aural reading. Speech fallen apart, sounds cut off from the words, stammers, silences and cries evoked the fragmented and disembodied sounds of Radio Thanatos. The utopia of identity either personal or that of the community broke off in this Artaudian schizophrenic theatre – where the voice strives against the body to get free – and radio manifested itself as technological presence. An installation by Migone presented as a part of Radio Rethink project was centered around the same topic. “The radio booth resembles an inanimate brain rather than a great communicator”, he says. “And radio stripped off its hardware, without a transmitter is like a confessional.” He installed a “confessional” feigning a radio booth in which a computer was talking to the audience. The sequence of questions and answers did not make up a conversation and the words spoken did not reach anybody but immediately disseminated as there was no transmitter. The person interviewed did not understand his position: he did not know where he was – in the ether or at an exhibition – and to whom he was talking. These fragments of “conversation” that lacked a context belong to the theatre of the absurd and join in the parody of communication.
Squeaky Clean HIGH PERFORMANCE Winter 1992, review by Josh Hartley
Migone and Toy have created a playful and hilarious experimental soap opera that they describe as a “romp through the apparatus of the popular culture product”. The concept for this collaborative CD originated from a series broadcast on Canadian Radio. Sampling from the dialogue in soap operas, it sticks to no one narrative, mixing voices and plots into a complexly layered, wonderfully ridiculous and ironic package of entertainment.
Horror Radia Vacui SITE SOUND May/June 1991, review by Sandra MacPherson
Gregory Whitehead and Christof Migone explored the disembodiment of the radio voice. Whitehead attempted to re-enter his “dead” or pre-recorded voice. Christof Migone, who delivered the second annual report of the CRTC (Center for Radio Telecommunication Contortions), managed to get all the voices in the gallery to enter the same body – a body which believed that “learning to speak well is an important and fruitful task.”