Phaerentz: Dictionary of Methods
The Dictionary of Methods is, above all, an extensive author’s publication of Jiri Kolar, a significant Czech poet and artist who is known, among others, by his experimenting and extending the technique of collage. The acousmatic composition “The Dictionary of Methods” by Petr Ferenc may be therefore seen as a transcription into sound of processes suggested by Kolar – an interpretation of his methods. The composition has been also introduced at an exhibition called “You Fool! for Jiri Kolar”, organized for the occasion of a 100th birthday of this significant Czech artist who has not lived to see it, at the big gallery of a manor in Hradec nad Moravici, and in galleries Cella and Hovorny in Opava.
More about the composition in Petr Ferenc’ own words:
Kolar’s Dictionary of Methods, or actually Kolar’s collages in general, have always made me feel as though they were graphic scores or, perhaps, works which are latently charged with music. Kolar himself allegedly came to the composition after he found out, as a poet, that he “ran out of words.” In the Dictionary of Methods he frequently uses terms such as composition and composition piece.
At the 100th anniversary I could not resist.
Kolar’s collage is not entirely devoid of narration; in comparison to the whole majority of collage makers from Teige to e.g. Steven Stapleton, it is markedly structural, and decidedly does not generate surrealist meetings of an umbrella and a sewing-machine upon an operation table. Instead these collages attempt to preserve, in formal and declarative musters, that which the author has laid upon them – as it is in the case of reproductions of works of art – or, in short, life – in the case of using newspapers, razor blades, stones, stamps, bank notes, blankets… Even I have composed on a surface, that is on the surface of DAW (digital audio Workstation), and I have lined up the individual sounds (whether found or recorded for the purpose) one next to another into a well-arranged structure, using especially the methods of “prollage”, “rollage” (a well-known approach by Kolar, which consists of “cutting up into pieces” several pictures or several copies of one, and then to line them up and shift them in “phases.”)
For his works of art, Kolar chose architectural elements he was familiar with, most often reproductions of famous works of art. That is the reason I decided to work with “reproductions of sound” that are commonly accessible – that is, recordings of musical composition on LP and CD. The composition which is used most frequently is Dvorak’s Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104 which I had at my disposal in several versions. Various solo artists = various footages. Dvorak’s melodiousness is very well discernible in the resulting composition, although the B minor of this concert was complemented by B minors of Stamic and Brahms.
The method of “crumplage” was used for another B minor. By means of crumpling, Kolar distorted the reproductions so that he could let his own self-portrait culminate the series; I was crumpling up the score of one of Dvora’s Slovak Dances in the arrangement for violin and piano. The notes that were still seen on the surface of the paper ball were marked in colours, others were replaced by pauses, and I converted the score into a MIDI format.
Dvorak’s op. 104 was also used in applying the method of a gramophone poem – a scratched LP that keeps on coming round to the beginning (for it did not lie exactly in the pivot of the gramophone but was leaning against its axis instead, sticking up) was complemented by the loop of a compact disc.
One of Kolar’s most amazing and most frequently applied inventions – chiasmage i.e. monolithic surfaces made of e.g. torn up newspapers and other printed texts – was acoustically imitated by cutting up and a random lining up of a certain audiobook.
To top it off, other sounds were regularly set up as well, chiefly in accordance with the method of auditory poems: sounds of drinking coffee, reading books, cutting papers, wrapping up a present. That snapping sounds, that’s me trimming my fingernails.
The method of amputation was used for the dense, recipes-wise rather slavishly concoction, and that in two ways: I have cut myself off from Kolar and started to compose “with my own ears.” And accordingly to Kolar’s method I erased and cut off piece by piece until the result was cleared up, luminous and brightened, which started to breathe and make sense only after the radical and thorough cleanse.
P.S. There are no gradual, let alone deflected or bulging fades in the composition; everything is in Kolar’s way finely cut, either horizontally or vertically, with a sharp razor blade – you know, sharp razor blade.