(self release 2013)
Review by Maria Papadomanolaki
Before starting to write this review, I opted from reading the additional information that Rui Chaves has sent me by email. I restrained my listening experience and knowledge to this limited edition book and its contents. The journey begins with a bold statement adorning the front cover: “The recordings are inside”, prompting me to start exploring, reading in search of the sounds inside. Since page one, a recurring suggestion from the part of the artist attempts to subvert my reading and listening position. Can I read and listen? Can I read this book in order to listen? The suggestion builds up and as I turn the pages I risk to turn it into an instruction. I should let my thoughts speak as loud as possible in conversation with the work and with the artist. Therefore, to me, it sounds like that I perform the work, I perform in this conversation as I follow the lines and turn the pages. I interact with the frictions of an object, a metaphor of the artist’s intent. The book becomes the nexus in which my understanding of the work exists in conversation with Chaves’ thinking mind. This is “field-recording” but one that allows to vulnerabilities, imperfections and subjectivities of both the artist and the reader/listener to playfully assume a significant role in the process.
Chaves shares his memories of his visit to Paraty both as texts and as recordings that are bound to coexist, compliment and at times contrast each other. The acoustic scenery (textual or sonic) is however destabilised by Chaves’ recurring suggestions and instructions to the reader/listener. Can I remember while I read and listen? The book’s structure introduces me to different times and locations of Chaves’ stay in Paraty such as the arrival, the Vasco da Gama celebrations, the town center, the mercado, the harbour and in each section words are interwoven with suggestions, instructions and complemented by a series of sounds contained in plain white, hand-numbered CDs. There is no ambition to present this work as a complete recounting of the experience. It is obvious that Chaves is interested in the fragmented nature of moments that finely balance between the fictitious and the lived and that altogether resound his experience of Paraty. It is rather, to me at least, more about providing a journey through an environment that consists of minute sparks of experience. And within it Chaves asks me to take part, to transpose it to my own locality and stand with him amidst busy markets and open windows, blurry dog clutter, donkeys, mechanical boiling fluids and serendipitous explosions.
But more than anything else, Chaves’ work demonstrates one possible way of listening and engaging with our surroundings and of essentially practicing “field recording”. He wants us to take this journey through Paraty and use it as a map to all possible destinations, a map for unlocking and, why not, recording what matters to us and what marks our memory. In the final section of the book, I find a folded map that rather than dissecting the landscape it opens it up, it blurs, empties and confuses it so that it can take any form and shape I want it to. And so it is Sound 5 containing the recording of the harbour; I am encouraged to imagine and perform the sounds, I can breathe my voice into the text and fill in the gaps of this multifaceted journey of “sonic materialities and place-being interactions”, echoing Chaves’ penultimate thoughts about his last moments in Brazil:
“This is not one moment.
These are several moments. Condensed.
All of these recordings are.”
Paraty is available at the Queen’s University Belfast library.