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I am an easily moved kind of person. If I didn’t restraint myself, I would spend my time crying. I don’t mean feeling sad or feeling sorry for myself, that’s not my style. But, it’s just that I am sometimes overwhelmed by the tiniest of emotions. I could start weeping uncontrollably about something so simple but that appears as a sign that I may have been expecting, whether it be a kid on the street, an old person, a word…
A recent example: on a Sunday afternoon, I was in Williamsburg, the trendy suburb of New York city where abound small, independent bars with shows and music gigs. I was hopping from one to the next when two people came on stage from nowhere. An improbable Japanese boy who looked like a leek and a young, plump, extraordinarily and structurally ugly girl. Dull, fat, she was the perfect example of true ugliness.
“What can she be doing on stage?” I asked myself… The boy started strumming his guitar, a relatively linear sound that vaguely interested me. Then, all of a sudden, the young girl shifted on stage taking an even uglier stance, unwillingly turning into an obscene heap. And then, she unfolded and pushed out a sound. It was the sound I had been waiting on almost all of my life.
The ultimate sound. No doubt, this girl was a genius: either she had sold her beauty in exchange for this sound, or she was transcending her ugliness thanks to this sound. Either way, the relation between the two was directly correlated. So absorbed by the sound, I instantly forgot her anecdotic ugliness and burst into tears, projecting teardrops a meter in front of me. My wife was looking at me, probably thinking “Here we are, he’s stepped through the looking glass.” But I couldn’t stop myself.
I had already met with such a sound about forty years ago, in India. The sound of a shepherd, a beggar who sat with a little, guttural trumpet blessing the surrounding shops in exchange for small offerings. The sound from that little trumpet was also close to what I consider the ultimate sound.
Sound is fundamental, as fundamental as the hemoglobin, blood platelets and atoms that make up my water, my flesh, my bones… I live in sound. Before music, there is noise, and before noise, there is sound. Sometimes even a certain quality of vibration about to become a sound can interest me. That being said, having few vibration creating machines at my disposal and rarely encountering noises that interest me, I end up - like everyone else - living in the sound of music. I live in music as much as I breath to live.
It is a commodity that has become vital to me. I listen to all forms of music. There are extraordinary sounds in everything, in pop, rock, punk, and in so-called classical music.
For each action I undertake, I always have a permanent production of music in my head; like a composing machine of which I am the conductor.
I think I understand why we listen to the radio. A song is a reassuring place of sound where we feel good. It is a virtual home. We like songs even more when they create a feeling of comfort and safety. Sound is like a protective egg, that is why it is still an incredible vector: a song can move us deeply, move us to our inner core, a place that we wish we had never left. And because I, myself am slightly schizophrenic, autistic and clearly solitary, I believe that this virtual, sound shell is actually my real shell.
I have come to consider music like a specialized space, even as a tool: for certain projects, I musically create the place perfectly fitted to the purposes I mentally prefigure. I use specific kinds of music based on the project and the level of concentration it requires. It also works with locations: for certain projects, I go to certain places.
For routine business, I have to be in the vibrations of the city, which I don’t like. To work seriously, I go to the South-West of France – an isolated place yet accessible to encounters. For an even higher level of concentration, I go to Venice – where I still can have some contact with my fishermen-neighbors. Then follows the island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, where isolation is absolute. The best of the best is a hotel room, nowhere, in an unremarkable typical location, for instance – with no offense – Germany. I am about to stay eleven days in a hotel room in Überlingen, nor pretty nor ugly, nor poor nor luxurious, simply a no-thing. I will push the vice even further by fasting. Then, I may be myself at last.
Because at such a level, we start to get rid of the waste. We begin to perceive the possibility of a reconnection with oneself, provided that we had lost it. The immersion in music is the virtual part of the immersion in these places. All of which contributes to the highest concentration, in order to reach higher control over our own intuitions. It is the set up and operation of an intuitive machine. It is always the same quest: to only be spirit. In a room, nowhere, with no food, in some way, we reach the negation of the body.
An extract from the book "Impression d'Ailleurs" by Philippe Starck with Gilles Vanderpooten
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