Alessandro Ciccarelli – “The physical experience is a fundamental component for me, in an organicistic, fluid conception”

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I see trumpets and pieces of trumpets (oil, mouthpieces, mutes…) more or less everywhere. I’ve recently interviewed Greg Kelley of Nmperign, I don’t know if you know him, by the way I told him about the choice of playing that instrument, that is actually also the only one I more or less play. It demands a lot of efforts to be learned, but is also very ‘physical’, providing strong sensations related to your body. I also see Tibetan bells…

Yes, I am a trumpet player. The choice of the trumpet was quite unconscious in truth: I was little more than a teenager and at that time I mostly listened to jazz. I chose the trumpet because it had only three keys, so I naively thought it was easier than the sax or other instruments. An absolutely wrong thought of course!
Anyway, I agree with you, it is a tool that requires total physical involvement and also a considerable body-mind balance. The fascinating thing, however, is that in the end it is nothing more than an empty metal tube that amplifies the lips’ vibrations!
Regarding the Tibetan bells, in the last few years I was focused on the electronic music, sound synthesis, field recordings, etc. There is, in my opinion, a common thread that unites this type of traditional instruments with some results deriving from electronic music, it is a land that is then explored by many composers.
It is interesting for me the production of continuous sound, drones, with acoustic instruments and cross the border between acoustic and electronic several times and vice versa… the Tibetan bells then have also incredible resonances, you can feel the vibrations that spread from the hand to the body.

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Talking about the body, I see also climbing stuff. You’re not the only musician I know that is fund of this sport (see Enrico Coniglio, for instance). Can you tell me about it?

I have always been attracted to the wilderness, the untamed nature alien to the man laws. In the remote ages the mountain was considered hostile, dangerous, populated by evil spirits at least until the 18th century, when exploratory mountaineering era begins.
Still today, although the exploratory era ended, the severity of the mountain environment leads necessarily to a deep introspection, an exploration of the self. For me the transition from hiking to mountaineering has been very natural and fluid, climbing is first and foremost an inner exploration, similar to taiji or yoga, only secondly a sport. I would say that it is part of my research activities.

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It’s very interesting as in both answers you mention the ‘physicality’ of experience, that is a relevant topic for me. Actually this whole (nonphysical) blog is born on the intent of somehow celebrate the physicality of at-risk-of-extinction objects, the musical records. So you underline how the trumpet and the Tibetan bells vibrations are central in your creativity, as well as your research activities and climbing. How do you think you express this through your music, that – in my perception, for instance listening to Elnath Project – is rather ‘cerebral’?

Certainly, as you said, the physical experience is a fundamental component for me, not in a dualistic Aristotelian mind/matter – body/soul conception, but in an organicistic, fluid conception, where through the physical experience it’s possible to undertake a search for the self and, vice versa, by this research the body perceives, the body explores.
“Elnath Project” follows this fluid idea, even if in terms of composing it is very far from a certain type of common perception related to pop music, like writing a song with a guitar on the shore of a lake inspired by the sunset!
In this case we are talking about tracks realized mostly with Pure Data, the creation of sounds through complex patches can take up to several days: it is definitely a cerebral operation!
By the way, even the feedback of those who listen to my live-set is usually expressed to me with words that recall a physical sensory experiences: an experience in the water, an experience in the wild nature and even an imaginary experience in the outer space.

I could consider this an achieved goal, let the listeners go through a territory of elsewhere, a place of thought.

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I see an LP in one of the photos, where the cover is a black and white photo of a forest. What is this? This connects me to your work as photographer, that I find really valuable, in particular the works related to social topics, such as “Torpignattara 00:00”, Terra Di Concordia, This is my land – Palestine, The women and the memory and Ordinary Restrictions – Palestine. Which role and impact you think photography may still have nowadays in social and political awareness?

I think you’re referring to the Eliane Radigue record “Jouet electronique / Elemental I”. The cover image is incredible, a photo taken by the sculptor and artist Arman, at that time Radigue’s husband. The music of Radigue is always very dense and full of meanings, in this case it’s about compositions for feedback of natural sounds on magnetic tape, made in ’67-’68, when Radigue was Piere Henry’s assistant in Paris.
In general the whole work of Radigue is a guiding light for me.
Speaking of photography, all the series you mentioned are actually made several years ago, in that macro period I was mostly interested in documentary photography. Nowadays my photographic work focuses more on the relationship between experience and perception, so all my latest series are in one way or another related to this theme.
About your question of the impact of photography in society, I don’t think it’s easy to give a detailed answer in just a few words. Certainly a step backwards should be taken to expand the reflection on the ambiguous relationship between photography and reality.
About this issue Flusser, Berger, Sontag, Krauss and many other intellectuals have written pages full of reflections and ideas.
Ontologically the photographic frame is extraneous to the real-true relationship, canceling the coordinate Time (there is no before, no after), not considering the coordinate Space (something is inside the frame, but above all the frame excludes all the surrounding, the context), even though some images of historical tragedies, for example, have been decisive for political interventions, social mobilizations, etc.
Nowadays the issue becomes even more complex if we broaden the reflection to the relationship between the true, its perception and the communication with its devices: we see daily the faint boundary between the true, the redesigned, moved, manipulated real for political, commercial ends, etc… The true is attributed to the false and the mass reiteration of the false increasingly rises to the truth.

Alessandro Ciccarelli is an author that moves between music and photography.
As a musician he played in several bands between several genres.
This year Focused Silence label released his solo album with the moniker Elnath Project, a collection of drone and electronic compositions.
Nowadays as a photographer he mainly works on the perception/experience relationship and he exhibited his works in various festivals.
His latest photo series “Erehwon, CaMg(CO₃)₂/CaCO₃” is published as a posterzine by Monkeyphoto, a fanzine label he leads. | |

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