Tonči Bakotin & Ratko Ilijić / Festival
Readings of Festival may and must be manifold. Similar to listening, intimate, shielded by headphones, individual, distanced from view or in tune with it.
Call to the Festival of most notable Croatian music artists, a choice coordinated vertically by eroticism, and horizontally by nationalism, call to listening to hit pop songs in Salon Galić, an inviting gesture in form of hook-shaped index finger pointed from the back of Prokurative, is a subversive provocation, lovely and clever trick, perceptive labyrinth and social experiment.
Tonči Bakotin, artistic selector and producer of the Festival, alongside composer Ruzina Frankulin and video art author Ratko Ilijić, is exhibiting in the gallery audio and video works made in a process immanent to the production of electronic music dating back to Herbert Eimert and the Köln studio[i], however, their understanding of the phenomenon is closer to the Group for Musical Research,[ii] which preceded concrete music and John Cage; ever since, we understand sound as a subject of research and medium of music, and technology as a possibility to penetrate inner life of sound. By taking fragments, short, random samples varying in length from 10 000 to 60 000 sound parts (one second in 48k/24bit system has 48 000 such pieces) or RGB details from video clips, no longer than 10 seconds, Bakotin and Ilijić, in separate processes, in 24 hours period (figuratively speaking) containing full three 8-hours studio appointments (!), almost immediately create music and images of new meaning. Not a single fragment of sound, not one pixel exists outside of its original. To whom does this new music belong actually?
It is almost as if the artistic directors of the Festival loudly reply instead of its composer Frankulin: none of it belongs to us, it is all theirs and practically taken from them. No one believes them, though, because they completely transform the original. How can one determine, formally, in terms of law, original authorship of Bakotin’s conceptual-musical variations? He is throwing down the glove to the face of chaos caused by simultaneous non regulation and overregulation in the field of authors’ rights. Fragment of one second of recorded sound is carefully viewed, enlarged, repeated, turned over, stretched, condensed and expanded, manipulated in terms of frequency, dynamic and time, structured into new continuum, into a variant of musical expression different from the one originally realised on lists featuring local hit songs and placed into new aesthetical context. By reducing these hits to shreds that shaped local musical taste at the turn of millennium and reducing production capacities of music making to the edge of unsatisfactory, Bakotin & Ilijić seem to taunt the elite production of commercial machineries with modesty, using less to make more, i.e. something more complex than what is formatted for the taste of wide audiences. Therefore, their gesture could functionally be understood as an ‘undo’ button, a realisation of ‘reduced listening’,[iii] defined by Michael Chion[iv] as listening whose purpose is focusing on the qualities of sound itself, such as pitch or timbre, independently of its origin or meaning. In this sense, the festive ‘undo’ may be interpreted as a pioneer action of acoustic ecology in our land, a political operation in the aesthetic field.
Causing ambivalence by appropriating commonplaces of mass taste, through fragments randomly chosen from semantic voids of mainstream music patterns that frequently seem as genuine noise, in a radical try to redefine acoustic context by relocating away from stadia, sport or concert halls into art gallery spaces, now with new interpretative key, authors seem to try to point to concealed quality of these, one-dimensional samples in terms of their meaning. Like a blinded and merciful man, they search for beauty even when there is none to be found, treating template as a musical artefact, proceeding to peel layer by layer, thus revealing one spin after another. However, spin is not one of the tools this work of art offers to us in a wish to focus our attention towards content and construction elements of auditory and visual structure around us, their originals and sources, semantic ambiguity of sound, contemporary music sound vocabulary, sound art, even video art or general media production. Bakotin and Ilijić plead with independent and critically thinking listeners (and observers) united in wavy brotherhood, open towards and trained to notice samples of quality as an important part of our semantic context.
[i] ‘For example, repetitive technicism of mechanic devices, machines or electric circuits, composing electronic music for me means describing what is audible in dimensions of mechanics and electro-acoustics’. Karlheinz Stockhausen, Electronic And Instrumental Music, NY 2005.
[ii] Groupe de Recherches Musicales, GRM, founded by Pierre Schaeffer in 1958 within French National Radio RTF
[iii] Schaeffer’s definition of reduced listening repositions the listener from familiar interpretative and cultural pattern to phenomenal nature of music
[iv] Brandon LaBelle, Beckground Noise, Sounds And Points of Origin; continuum 2006
Tonči Bakotin was born in 1973 in Split, where he completed his primary and secondary education. He obtained his diploma degree from the School of Audio Engineering in Rotterdam and undergraduate degree from Academy of Art in Split (Film and Video). He taught Music and Sound Technology for several years (Rotterdam, Singapore, Bangkok, Ljubljana). Also, he composed music for theatre and performances by Zidar Betonsky and Fraktal Falus Teatar collectives. He published electro music in the United States and France under the alias Ruzina Frankulin.
Ratko Ilijić was born in 1984 in Split.
In 2011, he completed Bachelor’s degree in Film and Video from the Academy of Art in Split. In 2015 he graduated in Film, Media Arts and Animation from the Academy of Art in Split.He is the author of several short films, videos and experimental films. He worked on two feature movies as a sound supervisor (Mrak, 2011) and director of photography (Vlog, 2014).