Notes & anecdotes collected from my "acoustic" paper notebooks, comments from audience and participants.
The first proper text will be worked on at a residency at Das Andere Selbst, Berlin, April 2013.
Here´s an early collection:
You are of course free to ignore this text entirely without any detriment to the core spirit of the acoustic laptops
Just as the tiny fragile objects in my acoustic laptops often break off and flip away to get lost on the floor, parts of the tiny fragile acoustic laptop theory do the same. On this page I will continously type in fragments from handwritten notes, copy in quotes and comments from the internet and social networks, interspersed with related quotes about the boxes from people who have been in contact with them and others who haven´t. This is a dynamic text open to changes and additions. It is written in open source, feel free to add and change.
Down here on street-level all aspects are covered at the same time, the progression and regression appear in unison, the pro and the amateur operate in the same space and time. Flesh becomes word, and function comes before form. To pin down the multitude of responses and words that flesh out the context of what is basically a box of sounds is as hard as to write down an exact musical score of a waterfall or a busy street.
"all the small moments of wonder; sneaking into the merzbau replica at the sprengler with a box under my jacket to play for schwitters A96 who didn't complain | a warm livingroom with fresh homemade pastry and big beautiful ears | watching and listening to audience members play acoustic laptops for me | golden memories of contrast; not a nobody's fingers doing my soundcheck | listening to my fingernail breaking over the most hi-end PA i've ever played | nice places to visit and a nice place to be | kneeling before a seated audience where placido domingo had sung two weeks earlier | seeing sense | cutting up the cut-up | a red thread to be woven into the origamism | from there to anywhere..."
Starting in 1997-1998 I did a lot of concerts and recordings using tiny and fragile objects in my search for microsounds. Eggshells, rice, needles, silver cutlery, my passport, hair. The acoustic laptops appeared as a practical solution on how to easily recreate my previous chaotic tabletop set-ups for later practice and recording. They emerged around 2001-2002 - at the same time I moved out of Norway, and have now evolved into their own beings.
There are two main lines of production >
The personal pc's that include relics, riddles and references, thoroughly designed and each one strictly individual. These boxes have been used in performances and recordings. I have left both physical and emotional marks on them >
Then there are the iFOLKs which are more neutral, to-the-point, more keyboard-like and recognisable in design. They are aimed at sound exploration by people at exhibitions, in workshops and generally anywhere possible. These will be the focus of the travels and exhibitions from 2013 on. >
Close your ears and listen.
"You are looking for what is UNDER the music, and so you have everything to do" - audience comment, Évreux
Interference - please interfere
"active interaction with the random sounds | space defining coordinates set the space | drawn in sound | time is of less interest | interference; the reality glitches | subdrones of passing traffic through the ventilation shaft of the venue interfering with the hi-gained contactmikes on stage | hearing to listening ritual | audience soundbites input | candy wrap crakles | restless bodies | texture-'gainst-texture | lights and pa hum | in this and that room - any room | acoustic laptop imitates and comments" - from the .MO# project notes, 2003
I respect other artist's desire for aesthetical cleansing in their work, demanding us to focus on their territory exclusively, their land, their soundscape. On the other hand I want mine to be open to immigration, interference. My intentions will then interact with the other unfolding events outside my control, and make the work appear less narcisstic.
I have placed microphones outside a venue to import those sound events into the listening space of the audience. I¥ve partly done this to make a point out of my work is about urban folk music. The unavoidable cars passing by - confronting the worst fear of the field recorder, the fragments of conversation between people passing by, the sudden shout, the burst of a car alarm.
All these elements become integrated parts of my composition, like those inside sounds of clinking glasses, the opening and closing of the till, the moving of a chair, a cough. Several of the discreet presentations I've done in shopfront galleries have had an extra dimension added by the opening and closing of the entrance door, effectively editing in and out that very sound palette of the outside. I strive to respond musically to these uncontrollable events, thus playing with the environment itself.
The diverse architecture of venues in which I play my acoustic laptops obviously alters the musical output. The expressed elements are dependent on the properties of the room. In a small space, a normal volume level will make the sounds appear dry, and the lack of resonnance will make them appear more intimate. In a huge concrete gallery the reverberation will make the sounds appear more floating and distant. These factors also become an integrated part of my compositions, which is why I rarely use additional sound effects (like reverb, echo, delay, chorus) when I present the boxes. Most often the room itself becomes my effect rack.
^ eChing (hundred seeds of silence) - first version for John Cage anniversary (2012)
The year of John Cage-celebrations has added a bit more substance in my understanding of the acoustic laptops. Another aspect outlining the obvious. As if it matters, it's all matter now.
"Boe is not unlike John Cage: a man of small sounds, but with the amplification used in rock concerts I am pretty sure this must have sounded massive. Musicboxes, piano bangs and obscured drones make up a great piece that receives a good applaus from the audience. Well deserved." - Frans DeWaard on the Baunoten EP, Vital Weekly 604
"John Cage used to say that not knowing where to begin is the common form of paralysis. Sometimes it is better to ask yourself a stupid question and come up with a challenging and meaningful answers that precedes cultural aspects which stray from being obscure to tell the story of the mainstream media. In the world of exaggeration, omniscience activeness, excess, obesity and overweight - the word of abundance is ritualized by ever-expanding updates of an app. The laptop idea catches a different angle of our attachment to everyday objects. It ritualizes intimacy of our link with things which are unnecessary and of sombre sounding. As opposed to something what is churned out in mass quantities - a DIY idea of a custom made little wooden sanctuary of sound theatre brings back the self-awareness of human-instrument interface. With obvious associations to self-made instruments of microtonal polyrythmic wizardry of Harry Partch and industrial rubble of Einstürzende Neubauten, Boe brought different quality to it by laying it out in the concept of a portable box open to any kind of individual modifications." - Hubert Napiorski (Thaw, Astipalea)
"It takes stamina to try to articulate the obvious." - Art collector, Kinetica Art Fair, London 2012
"Mishmashes of packaging, Dada collages, sampling, remixing, circuit bending, mashups, datamosh, the process of "deconstruction / reassembly" has crossed through the disciplines and over into the 20th Century. Following its transformation upon the emergence of the internet and the general acceleration in the development of computer technology, it gives a glimpse of new avenues, between analogue and digital, a romantic eulogy of the fragmented and the dizziness of infinite open lists." - famous carousel 7 "Destruction and reassembly" festival presentation, Paris, 2011
"On the top is a brass plaque that I remember being blank and thinking that it should have my mother's name, Jacqueline, inscribed on it. One day I thought that I would do a fabulous thing for her - I would inscribe a beautiful letter J on the brass plaque. I could only find a needle and my childish hand didn't manage to scratch the letter very elegantly but I thought that she'd appreciate my efforts nevertheless. I think it was my father that first discovered the box that I had so lovingly engraved and was of course furious at the ugly scratch that I had tried to improve the box with. My mother was not pleased too and never really used the box again after a few years. It has been with me ever since, with me not really knowing what to do to heal this memory. Perhaps this laptop is a solution." - [Conflicted]" by Daniel Belasco Rogers, Berlin workshop 2009
"I came across these at some point in the past week floating around the web and thought the concept was nice enough to share. "Acoustic laptops" here is a play on the idea of a laptop that is used for music being reduced simply to a box of sound. If you were to explain to a child what a laptop musical performance was, you might say just that. This is my box of sounds. I will play with them. They are not sequencers or sound manipulators/processors, but collections of small sound devices meant to be contact mic'd. Box of sounds. You might argue that all of the various processes of laptop production still reduce to those three words. And acoustic because, well, they would make sounds even unmic'd, just very small ones." - Michael Byrne, motherboard.tv, May 2011
an excerpt from upcoming XLt analysis: At Sommercamp, Tore Honoré
Bøe from the Netherlands did a really fun workshop on how to
construct acoustic laptops. In a lighthearted and comical presentation
at the end of the week, he said they were not meant as an "anti-laptop"
statement, as he uses them frequently and also makes music with them
but to highlight the computers' rather narrow interface. And the obvious
screen vortex dilemma ! One of the Xlterrestrials recurring pts. re:
colonizing corporate technologies. Someday soon we should produce
an essay to elaborate further: That seriously Unfunny, efficiency
machine with primarily an architecture for brain to eye-balls to finger-tips,
you know, like a portable office/desk environment as an extension
of your increasingly reduced body/ functions/life, neeeds a Conceptual
+ Concrete OVERHAUL !" - XLt (extra large terrestrians) blog,
(A) "The First" by Nicolas Spitzer, Berlin/Germany - made in three days when Boe was visiting Berlin october 2008. So of course we played together at DIENSTbar. Cut up during workshop in 2009 to become part of a new Halldorophone... The left-over bit was given to Boe, and made a great spectacle in the security check at Schönefeld airport as it went through the scanner over and over again...
(B) "Prismograph" by Nicolas Spitzer, Berlin/Germany (POTDL - graphic and music work/sound installation, action-drawing Billy! - solo project, bass guitar, feedbacks, pre-amping, voice) - " __________ ///Triangles ------------ /Reflecting //Unclear- //Red LightsI Enter ------------ /Reflecting //Clear- //SoundsI Enter"
"I did this workshop because I believe in all kind of materials: physical, digital... It was a pleasure to discover the softness of all those small little objects. Please try and enjoy" - About "Stripes & Other Surprises" by Maria Laura Méndez-Martén, Berlin workshop 2009
... references to other box-makers ... found quotes ... hyperlinks ...
"These alternative music boxes tell a poetic audio-visual story, with tiny sounds, subtle light reflections and a little liberating kitsch or humour as ingredients." - Moniek Darge about her musicboxes
Many many years ago @ the dBUT record shop we sold the records of the Logos Foundation, including Moniek Darge. I knew she'd made some musical boxes, but it was a surprise find her page and see the similarities to my acoustic laptops. I'm indebted even without being aware of it!
"Anyone who misses the negative influences of technological capitalism has on culture is willfully blind... It requires using the tools mindfully and as a conduit, not as a display of trendy features which ends up becoming an ad for X software" - facebook comment, Kim Cascone
"The ears are in the field of the unconcious the only opening that cannot be stopped." - Jacques Lacan
"Sound is a socially open system, it is analysable, reproducible, can be multiplied, saved and recalled. It can be technically and architecturally amplified, multidirectionally distributed, but can also be focussed and controlled." - "Introduction" by Gesiner Pagels & Carsten Stabenow, in "Tuned City - Between Sound And Space Speculation" (Kook Books, Germany, 2008)
"Those works created from solitude and from pure and authentic creative impulses - where the worries of competition, acclaim and social promotion do not interfere - are, because of these very facts, more precious than the productions of professionals." - J. Dubuffet, catalogue 1967