QuadroFonia#1 | Beatrice all'Inferno

Installazione, Vizi, Astratto geometrico, Paesaggio, Materiali vari, 210x80x6cm
Modular multichannel generative soundscape (2013)

Beatrice all’Inferno is Andrea Santini’s first study in a series called QuadroFonia, where he explores the potential of modular multichannel arrangements based on various sizes and types of ‘framed’ loudspeakers. The term QuadroFonia plays with the Italian ‘quadro’ (picture/painting) as well as with the idea of Quadraphonic sound, one of the earlier solutions for surround sound. The works explore sound spatiality and movement as dramaturgical elements within flat, two & three-dimensional immersive arrangements. A theatre of sounds where attention is drawn on each individual frame as a character, a presence, an embodiment or an ‘opening’ onto a world of sound.

In QuadroFonia #1: Beatrice all’Inferno a generative soundscape created from readings of Dante Alighieri’s Inferno performed by the award winning actress Francesca Sarah Toich is used as audio material. The spoken voice (which may also be captured live during an opening performance) is progressively transformed into a morphing soundscape. The transformation processes are either determined by a generative computer program or manually controlled during an extemporaneous performance, captured and relayed as a loop which then remains as a permanent installation. Spatial attributes and sound placements are affected by the generative process so that the installation swings between two primary statuses: one emphasizes the wavering ‘stillness’ of hard-assigned sounds that remain stationary within their frames, the other involves most sound layers revolving across the various frames along more or less regular trajectories. Both these spatial statuses have their counterparts in (and have been inspired by) Dante’s own words as he speaks of restless souls forced into their damnations and of infernal circles.

The fact that in QuadroFonia #1: Beatrice all’Inferno loudspeakers are literally ‘chained’ to their frames may be seen as yet another metaphor of the lost souls Dante encounters upon his journey into hell. The audience is invited here to wander about and explore an acoustic ‘dark forest’ (selva oscura, Inf. I) built with their cries. Beatrice, metaphorically thrown into Hell as a female voice, guides us towards the boundary where semantic, phonetic and musical elements derived from the same source material blur, to a state where poetry becomes music, a morphing patchwork of fragments, echoes and messages enabling a re-discovery of one of the masterpieces of Italian literature while providing a stimulus to reflect on older and contemporary notions of hells and their real manifestations.

The installation is produced by UBIKteatro (www.ubikteatro.com) and was first exhibited at the AplusA gallery, Venice, in the context of the group exhibition ‘ThisAge’, 14-28 January 2013. Concept, programming and realization by Andrea Santini. Readings by Francesca Sarah Toich.

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