Massimo Colombo
Listening is a foundation for my relationship with nature

Interview with curator Anne-Laure Chamboissier on the occasion of the group exhibition Encounter in resonance.

ALC: What is your background? Was sound practice something you were used to before? What has this postgraduate program brought to the development of your artistic work?

MC: Before studying at EPAS I had a diploma in electronic music at the Conservatory of Como, Italy, and was working as a freelance sound designer and electroacoustic composer. Since EPAS, I’ve become more confident with my artistic research and, very importantly, I’ve developed new listening skills. When I work now, I constantly try to shape a possible experience for the listener.

ALC: As you know, this exhibition is focused on the question of listening. What is your personal definition of listening?

MC: Listening is a foundation for my relationship with nature.

ALC: How did you conceive of the installation Hashi? In creating these five pieces, you mention that they were not composed from musical strategies or effects. How did you proceed then, by establishing a protocol of correspondences: one form = one type of sound, or one color = one type of sound?

MC: Hashi is an audiovisual installation that integrates analogue recording techniques (both audio and video) with subsequent digital elaborations. Developed between February and September 2021, Hashi is made up of seven chapters and the title means “bridges” in Japanese.

Yosa Buson, a famous poet of the haiku genre, used the bridge as a symbol of temporal suspension with reference to a spatial horizon. The idea behind Hashi is that of building sound works that stimulate immersive listening and suspend the viewer in the time and space of listening—an invitation to free meditative listening, in which thinking can be suspended. Samples from vinyl and tapes, field recordings, electric guitars, saxophones, organs, synthesizers, and traditional acoustic instruments are all enriched by continuous digital and analogic reworkings to create illusory harmonies and effects. The idea of creating imaginary soundscapes blends with the traditional compositional techniques of electroacoustic music.

ALC: Videos are associated with these sound compositions. What is the nature of these images? Are they illustrations of the sound? And if not, what status does the image have in relation to the sound?

MC: The visual language has been elaborated without ever interacting directly with the sound, developing on an autonomous level but sharing the poetics created by the sound of each chapter. A fundamental feature, in addition to a tendency toward the monochrome, is the slowness of the movement that pushes the viewer towards something like hypnosis. The videoclips I’ve used come from personal footage and found VHS footage. They were transformed (Zoom time-stretch) and then re-recorded on an analog tape recorder, then I blended and added new colors on a color corrector machine from the 1980s.

ALC: What kind of listening experience do you invite the audience to?

MC: If the listener/viewer, rather than remembering any sound, structure, or image, experiences something personal through the composition I will present, I can consider that a success.