LIVE at AD & A Gallery, OSAKA 22.10 – 07.30 pm

Link: http://adanda.jp/workshop/maxmsp/2008/09/elextra-sound-art-from-norway-concert.html

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LIVE at Superdeluxe, Tokyo 24.10 – 08.00 pm

Link: http://www.super-deluxe.com/#Norwegian%20Music

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The tour is supported by The Royal Norwegian Embassy, Tokyo and MIC/UD.

Booked and organized by Tetsuro Yasunaga.

Tags: alog

26August2008 Autumn Dates

In a couple of weeks (all dates below) Espen Sommer Eide (Phonophani, Alog) will appear for a special project at the "Tabularasa" room of the Manifesta Exhibition in Bolzano, Italy. At the table I will "refurbish" and "reconstruct" old italian vinyl records to become instruments. A picture of a prototype can be seen below - And in the end there will be a mini-concert with the newly built instruments. If you are in the area at the time please bring your old records to be transformed (you even get to bring the finished instrument back home with you)!

The big ALOG project for the autumn is our first tour of Japan in October. Having done only large scale shows the past year with 3-6 people on stage and a ton of custom made instruments to carry around it will be interesting to go back to doing some intimate duo-shows again. In Japan we team up with Alexander Rishaug/Marius Watz and Jana Winderen. The exact dates and venues are not set yet, but we expect to visit Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo. Also we will visit London for a special concert in the woods together with the Owlproject (www.owlproject.com).

Here are all the dates, and hope to see you there!

12. Sep. 08 Phonophani, Manifesta, Bolzano, Italy
2. Oct. 08 Alog, Concrete and Glass, London
14. Oct. 08 Alog Stimul Festival, Prague
22. Oct. 08 Alog, (tba) Japan
23. Oct. 08 Alog, (tba) Japan
24. Oct. 08 Alog, (tba) Japan
25. Oct. 08 Alog, (tba) Japan
8. Nov. 08 Phonophani, Toulouse, France
11. Nov. 08 Phonophani, Perpignan, France
6. Dec. 08 Alog, Urbaines Festival, Lausanne, Switzerland

26August2008 BERRY ISLAND


Outdoor Toilet, Nitsijärvi

Moonshine Cabin, Bjørnevatn

Food Storage, Mustala

14May2008 Downloading Alog and Phonophani MP3s

Tip of the day: If you´d like to download our songs instead of ordering them in physical formats from our webshop, we suggest you use Musiconline, an online store in Norway. They might be a bit more expensive than iTunes, but you get the tracks DRM-free in MP3 format. Links here to their alog and phonophani catalogue.

14May2008 Phonophani live at Krypten

Photo by KAO

Tags: phonophani


The magical properties of an archive

Dismembering the semiotic, communicative from the phonetic, lexical aspect of language opens up a possibility for magical correspondences. The onomatopoetic, the alphabetic, the mimetic. The mysterious shapes of individual letters, the picture puzzle of the word. Language becomes an archive of non-sensuous similarities ready for the reader that connects the dots. The reader then becomes a bearer, a medium for the magical aspect of a shadow language.



Language and time

The beginning of the Skolt Saami Language Memory Project speeds up history, that is, the inevitable entropy of a endangered language. The end of the project slows it down again to the point of exhibiting a frozen distribution of a language in time.

Usually one considers language to be distributed in space, by its agents in their geographical area. One can also consider the history of a language - its development and transformation. But seldom, if ever, do one witness a language distributed in time. One word at a time – throughout the months, or years – the installation in the East Sámi Museum will parse through the dictionary depending on the amount of visitors passing by.

(One side effect of this distribution will be the disassociation of the language from the normal identity discourse of indigenous people. Legally, to be counted as Saami you have to document that your parents, grandparents or great-grandparents spoke a Saami language. Language is the principal marker of your identity, which may increase cultural isolation. In this case the language will be given to all – putting into question this identity marker).


(image credit: Valentin Laube)


A destructive perspective.

Today: the first tests of the recording and archiving system. Everything has to work perfectly before we take it into the field in a couple of months. The informants will be filmed in their home surroundings looking into the camera. The words of the dictionary will appear on the screen before them and they will read them aloud one by one. Each word will be stored as a separate video file on the computer.

A dictionary is in essence artificial. Only some rare kinds of poetry can bring life into a list of words starting with the same letter, and even then it is seldom systematically alphabetical in its construction. The alphabet and written language in general has a stench of death about it.

The choice of the dictionary as the image of language is the complete opposite of language-as-life. If languages are organic and alive by nature then the Language Memory Project would seem to spell out a death sentence for the Skolt Saami language.

To make matters even worse I am asking 30 representatives of the language in question to become dictionary robots reading aloud only the individual words – the atoms of their living language – in a room with no listeners. On the Finish side this will involve about 10% of the Skolt Saami community – on the Russian side it will involve 100%. In effect they will be atomizing their own language into a list of dead, alphabetized items.

All the while I will be there silently filming the spectacle – this burning funeral pyre of a self-destructing language.

30April2008 Alog dates

Here are some dates for the summer:

31.May.08 Landmark Bergen, Norway
06.Jul.08 Expo Zaragoza, Spain
19.Jul.08 Jazzjuice Aarhus, Denmark

Hope to see you there!

Tags: alog


Phonetic alchemy

The metaphor of dying and living languages is based on a dated romantic conception about languages being organic in structure. Thus there is a need to revisit the dialectic of the death and life of languages to view the language-image from a fresh angle. The philosopher Walter Benjamin writes in the introduction to his essay on Goethe’s Elective Affinities:

– The history of works prepares for their critique, and thus historical distance increases their power. If, to use a simile, one views the growing work as a burning funeral pyre, then the commentator stands before it like a chemist, the critic like an alchemist. Whereas, for the former, wood and ash remain the sole objects of his analysis, for the latter only the flame itself preserves an enigma: that of what is alive. Thus, the critic inquires into the truth, whose living flame continues to burn over the heavy logs of what is past and the light ashes of what has been experienced.

Replacing the concept of “work” with “language” in this quote one can perhaps glimpse a more complex dialectic at play. According to Benjamin’s idea of a critique and the work of the critic it would follow that the critic does the exact same historic and linguistic analysis as the history scientist, or “commentator”. But still their aim and result is vastly different. The critic use the detailed analysis as a means to destroy and dismember the wholeness of the work. This is made more potent by the history that has gone before. The more obscure and forgotten the work, the better suited it is for a philosophical and artistic critique. The resulting destruction-through-analysis is comparable to an archive of language: a dictionary or database of language samples, each analysed into every last miniscule phoneme. The archive kills the living language in order to preserve it, but at the same moment creates its potential alchemical transformation into new life.



– The amount of words in Skolt (as in all other living languages) is infinite, explains Michael Riessler, head of the Kola Saami Documentation Project in our first email conversation.

– And besides this every speaker of Skolt has its own stock of words in her or his mind. If you restrict to the word stock found in the existing dictionaries of Skolt (and ignoring that not all words found in the dictionaries are representative of all the single speakers' Skolt Saami language) you end up with approx. 10000 recorded words multiplied to more then 30 letters of the alphabet. Every linguist will envy you for such a collection of recorded words!

The facts are not very uplifting: There are 4 Saami languages spoken in the Kola Region (including northern Finland): Skolt, Akkala, Kildin, and Ter. Akkala is now extinct. The last speaker of Akkala passed away in 2003. Ter Saami in the Murmansk region has about 30 speakers, all age 50 and above. The Kildin Saami has about 300 active speakers. Likewise the Skolt Saami has around 300 speakers on the Finish side of the border and only a handful of old people left on the Russian side (speaking the special Russian dialect of Skolt).

But Michaels comments make me rethink my melancholic impression of Skolt Saami as a dying language. Infinity is a powerful concept to bring into any reflection. If every speakers vocabulary is potentially infinite or to be regarded as a “part” of infinity (that in itself would be infinite), then a dying language is not ceasing to exist by slowly shrinking in size as one would expect (due to forgetfulness, language shift or some other kind of deterioration of the collective memory). It is still present and alive in its vibrant infinity even with only one speaker left on earth (or maybe two? Does not a language need a listener? Or maybe it is sufficient with only one subject speaking to him- or herself? I guess that would be the perfect communication: The last speaker of a dead language muttering to himself).