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Globe and Mail, November 7, 2009, R12, pdf, “Many ways to become airborne”, review of Fall Out and Fall In, 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.
awashawave, Musicworks, Winter 2009 #105, exhibition review 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
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.”
Curatorial essay for the solo Fixation exhibition at CCS Bard, “Revealing the everyday” 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.
Sculpture, 28.3 review of Disco Sec, Mercer Union, 2007, by William V. Ganis
CCP (cahiers critiques de poésie), review of Tue, Le Quartanier, 2007, 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, pp.148-149, “Shared Belonging and Neighbourly Works,” by Nathalie de Blois
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, Diane 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.
Inter, no. 101 hiver 2008-2009, p.86, review of Tue (2007), 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.
Mercer Union brochure, essay “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.”
Voir (Montreal), 31 janvier 2008, “Stop ou encore?”, review of the Stop exhibition, 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).
Esse, No. 60, pp. 50-53, feature article on Trou, “Trou : une esthétique du corps ?” 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.
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 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.
The WIRE, March 2007, p. 69, review of Trou book/DVD 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.
Curatorial essay for the solo Trou mid-career retrospective exhibition, “Parallèles” (pp. 41-49) and “Parallels” (pp. 51-59), PDF (full catalogue), by Nicole Gingras
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.
[…] 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.[…]
Artforum, December 2005, p. 77, on Sound Voice Perform 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.
Musicworks, Fall 2005 #93, on Sound Voice Perform book/CD 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.
Queen’s University The Journal Tuesday, Sept. 20, Issue 7, Vol. 133 review of Disquiet at Modern Fuel Gallery.
Ubuweb, feature (with mp3s, essays, texts).
Vital Weekly, No. 472 week 17, review of Sound Voice Perform book/CD 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.
The Wire, June 2005 Issue 256, review of Sound Voice Perform book/CD 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.
Le Devoir 19 septembre 2004-F4, review of La première phrase et le dernier mot 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.
Globe & Mail July 29 2004 R5, review of Escape Songs CD 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.
Discorder CITR magazine June 2004, review of Escape Songs CD 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.
Sands-zine 13-12-2004, review (in Italian) of Escape Songs CD 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.
rep.no.sapo.pt, review of (in Portuguese) South Winds CD 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.
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
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.
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.
The Wire, March Issue 217, feature by 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.”
Parachute, No. 107, review of Writing Aloud: The Sonics of Language, eds. Brandon LaBelle and Christof Migone, 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.
The Tentacle, Summer 2001 pp. 30-31, review of Writing Aloud: The Sonics of Language, 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’s 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.
Art Action 1958 – 1998, ed. Richard Martel, Édition Intervention, 2001, 302-304. Review of Separate, performance by kim dawn and Christof Migone, in “Three Modes of Canadian Performance in the Nineties” 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 Bataille, Inner Experience, New York: SUNY Press, 1994.
La Voce del Popolo, Winter2001-2002 #2, pdf, profile of squint fucker press including interview with Christof Migone and Alexandre St-Onge, by crys cole
Lola, Fall 2001 #10, review of Disclosure
All-Music-Guide, review of Crackers CD 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.
Vital Weekly, Week 40, No. 293, review of Crackers CD 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?
The Wire, Issue 209 July 2001, review of Quieting CD 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.
Musicworks, No. 83, review of Quieting CD 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!
New York Press, March 1-7, 2000, Vol. 13 No. 9, review of Crackers installation at Studio 5 Beekman and of performance at Apex Art, 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 Wire, September 2000, Issue 199, review of The Death of Analogies CD and 1st undo CD, 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.