The Infrequency of Christof Migone
"Foursome" by Christof Migone
A podcast series about perspectives, descriptions, and how even if you show the same scene to different people, they will still give different interpretations of what they saw. In fact, I think Alfred Hitchcock commented on that peculiar way of analysis. This also accounts what people include and exclude in their interpretations.
If he intended to prove this point, artist Christof Migone succeeded when he created an unusual adaptation of Samuel Beckett's Quad. In each podcast that he divides up into "Episodes", Migone takes monologues, sound effects, and ambient noise that he creates into multiple sound collages. I am not surprised he would use a Beckett play for this sort of thing. One episode has him layering multiple narrators over each other, similar to how Beckett created a play with people talking at the same time.
The narrators used describes the movements of people and the colors of the clothes the performers wore. Repetition of description created in a cycle. Possibly made to throw you off.
Finally, I never saw Beckett's play before I listened to this series (and wrote my notes down), so I went in completely new to both the playwright's work and Migone's interpretation.
The first podcast starts with a disjointed, choppy narration while someone else hits something hollow. Then it blooms into multiple voices from possibly one person. Then different accents such as a General American accent and a Spanish accent (I think) describes figures in such a way that reminded me of a horror film. It felt so unnerving, I almost expected the narrator(s) to die at the end of the podcast. While the American narrator described the movement of the actors, she emits sounds that is not simply humming, but a sound of a more ethereal quality.
Another narrator creates unreal sound effects that made me think of aliens scuttling around. She uses more descriptions of shapes such as "square", "triangle", and "circle" and mathematical terms such as "grid" and "acute". She also uses choreography terms such as "pivot". She describes the clothing of the actors as “cultish” to obviously connect them to rituals. Some of the talking came off as unintelligible.
Other aural encounters involved sound effects that felt strange and weird. Practically a soundtrack to a sci-fi movie. I heard scratching, ripping, rummaging, and even skittering. I think I even heard sounds of agony. It could make someone unhinged. It did have music that I could best describe as "Carnival Soundtrack Waltz". I also heard someone playing a bass.
I found this version a little on the cold side. After the aural collage, Mignone ends with a discussion of the descriptions.
An empty space by Samuel Beckett
More play-by-play of the dance done by the performers. Sometimes the narration gets mixed up due to rapid fire editing.
Another American narrator, but mostly women. Also shows emotion in the narration such as frustration, lets loose swear words, laughs, repeats words, and gives an air of uncertainty. Another American narrator lets you know that she felt disturbed by the show and tries to comprehend the scene before her. Narrators has trouble differentiating between colors and express confusion. Another narrator with an indeterminate accent describes the scene while the dull sound of an alarm goes off. The descriptions sound more poetic, but not as talkative. One mentioned a map and people dancing around a center.
Descriptions of people wearing a diverse array of bright colors. We can hear the sounds from the dancers themselves.
The dancers have no other distinguishing characteristics other than colors.
More ambient sound of machinery, plus traditional electronic music that reminded me of dubstep.
Quad: a worthless piece by Samuel Beckett
I think Migone wants me to consider the use of language and vocabulary crossed with sound effects. The sounds here consist of high piercing noises, bells, and synthesizer tinkling similar to wind chimes. The narrator names people and repeats what others narrators do with high pitched music and "oooo" noises
New voice and but not as talkative as others. I do wonder why narrators sometimes make "oooo" sounds
There's another narrator with a French accent and maybe the same person that I originally thought as having a Spanish accent.
Listening to her felt more artistic and poetic and she relies on memory. Then other voices occur while she speaks. On sound effects, I heard shuffling and a manipulation of sound, which gives an impression of what the editor allows you to hear at certain times. On this, Mignone creates a puzzle of sound, what with the hearing of people narrating and moving about.
Original recording by Migone himself featuring glitch sounds, the familiar ooo, eees, and other sound effects. The film of the performance was silent. This left me with more questions over artistic choices by Migone. It feels clearer but not as imaginative compared to the earlier narrators. It also came off as a test by Migone in preparation before releasing it to the public.
And now, Samuel Beckett's "Quad 1+2"
My thoughts on "Quad"
Now that I have finally seen an adaptation of Beckett's play, let me give my thoughts. Quad 1 comes off as bright and colorful, full of manic energy that's strengthened by the percussion that gives the cloaked people momentum as they walk briskly with an odd grace on the outside of the square lines and jerkily stop themselves from going into the inner square that reminds me of birds hitting windows. Keeping their heads down, they awkwardly prevent themselves from bumping into each other.
Quad 2 has the same structure, only slower, no variety, without music, and the footsteps drag along the floor that, in the process, creates a rhythm that's almost a sloppy version of a military march.
Interestingly, I did more research into Migone's piece, and I later learned that the people he hired to narrate were choreographers. As someone who has come up with choreographies, I'd like to think I'm continuing the tradition.
Link to the podcast
- Intermedia Art: Foursome | Tate
Where you can listen and learn how it came to be.
Migone's Official Website
© 2017 Catherine