Animistic texts
When I was younger I rather frequently experienced a phenomenon that connected my body and my perception of sound/silence.
It happened mostly when I was lying in my bed: my body was swelling very rapidly to a gigantic size—it filled not only the room, but rather permeated into the universe. I heard the roaring silence and I was just out there, but everything was also within me, contained in my infinitely large body. Several times I was on the brink of madness.

I saw unbelievable colours today, and an unusual feeling of fatness—yes, bloatedness—surprised me as I lay on the bed for a while. Questionable time. It was not possible to overcome the feeling, not even by a look upon my proportions. I felt thick flesh parts, grey but alive, embracing and quivering on top of each other.

From: «last winter I lived within the snow» 1989.

In 1999 I was attending a performance by a fellow artist which called for the audience to be stretched out on a mountain meadow to watch the stars, accompanied by his music. After a while I had the strong feeling that I was not lying on the ground but that I was rather hanging from the underside of the earth gazing down onto the stars.
Not that I was afraid of falling down or taking off into space, but the sensation was very unexpected and therefore truly fascinating. My body started to disappear or better melt with the globe to which I was still attached, not physically but rather like a bodyless observer.

In DECAYING STUDY 3 the swelling of the sound’s volume and intensity doubles the swelling of the body’s dimensions. Of course this is only a model for any real sensation, since the intensity of the actual situation cannot be artificially generated.
In 1989 I wrote a book called «Die Geometrie des Himmels» [The Geometry of Heaven, whereas the German «Himmel» means both «sky» and «heaven»].
It consists of a monologue in which I was as subjective as possible, as egocentric as possible.
I took notes during or after short trips to a resident area and the forest behind it, taking as triggers all the little events that occurred, i.e. a biker, a plane, wind, light, trees moving, and I constructed somewhat «inner monologue»-passages out of it, which contained in an associative method descriptions of these unimportant and often very little events and my reactions to them, all inside a scheme which was defined by basic psychic dilemmas.
Awkwardly, all of these dilemmas were more or less real. Perception of things in this case, and for many years after, was a process of comparing the outside reality with the inner one, only that the inner one was more dictatorial to the outside one at the time of that book.
[four photographs of circular mushroom growth patterns, in German known as «witch circles»]
Never again so far have I seen the «witch circles» in such quantity like on this occasion, photographed during a mountain walk in 1996.
1996 was a year I spent in company of or surrounded by witches. Staying with one who pretended to be one, wanting to be with another one whom I had ignored the three years I stayed with the first one. In summer I met a third one—a supposedly real witch—, the meeting arranged by the pretending one, for my own «scientific reasons.» This one told me in the end that in the conversation we had she probably learned more from me than I learned from her.
In autumn 1996 I seriously ruined the relations with the first two. I was going on a recovery from that clash, meeting with a fourth witch I had already known years before and who had wanted to return to me when I had freshly begun a relationship with the beforementioned first one. The fourth one gave me drugs which I gratefully took, and I had an out-of-body-experience: my physical body was lying on a sofa, but I hovered just a few centimeters under the ceiling, looking down on myself. However, «witchy» experiences continue affecting my life, and I continue to be attracted by them.
ANIMISTIC [for Donatella] was composed of several field recording arrays I had made in 1999 and earlier, integrating as well the sounds of some tibetan bells and a metal chair. The material was roughly categorized according to the prevailing frequency spectra inherent in the recordings, and then a score was written for the live performances.
When performing ANIMISTIC I always added another piece, DECAYING STUDY 3, allowing myself to intermingle completely the sounds of both works.
When playing the first two concerts I experienced a state of heightened awareness—more than I usually perceive while performing—which even resulted in me hyperventilating towards the end of the piece.
With the distance of several years I decided to analyze the work in its «incomplete» form.
I always disliked live recordings somewhat (they were made at all three concerts), and mostly used them exclusively for documentary purposes or rehearsals. But the necessity to compose a «final», concise studio version of ANIMISTIC was apparent.
The noise of the wind in the trees that occurs in the first part of this composition for me is reminiscent of some details in the films by Andrej Tarkovskij: the mysterious breath of the animated «Zone» in «Stalker», and the sudden gusts of wind in the corn field or the forest clearing which seem like entities passing through, in «The Mirror». They seem to be willful beings, confusing both the characters and the viewer.
In 1999 I seriously got into the habit of walking in the hillsides (which I had only occasionally done since 1991) both north of Frankfurt and along the Italian/Slovenian border with quite some discipline.
Despite of the different effect the wind in the rushing trees had on me, I was trying to imagine some animist understanding—or rather: perception—of the sounds and the landscape as entity (actually the term landscape refuses a notion of an animated natural entity without human intervention and refers more likely to an inhabited portion of land).
In the recordings one hears occasional hums and other noise, the origins of which are not fully clear (the famous «mysterious rest»).
It is—on the one hand—quite unimportant, for what counts in the given context of an animist survey of a late 20th century forest area, interspersed with human settlements and infrastructure, is the sound in itself. My partition of the recordings into basic frequency spectra (Hi/HiMid/MidLo/Lo) and the composition deriving from it reflect this fact.
All other sounds in the first part of the composition originate from animated 20th century nature, whereas parts two and three invoke a rather ritualist conception of music—absolutely manmade, but «spirited» (the question here is: is there music generated by nature, i.e. landscape—maybe in the Cagean sense—without a composer, that is equal to manmade music?). In all three parts, but mostly in the first two, a special emphasis lies on the different frequency spectra, constituting an architecture of sound. Throughout parts two and three well defined structures are evolving out of what, in part one, seems already a distinguished, but more dense, fluctuating array.
DECAYING STUDY 3 is included in this cd to conclude a line of work.
The piece ANIMISTIC is now dedicated to Donatella Ruttar—we have mutually transformed ourselves.
[Marc Behrens, 2003]
Composed and produced 1999/2003 by Marc Behrens in Frankfurt a. M./D and Grimacco (UD)/IT.
Original sound recordings made in Darmstadt/D (1989), Drenchia/IT (1998/99), Hohemark/D (1998/99), Frankfurt a.M./D (1998/99).
Presented live in 1999 in Leipzig/D (Galerie füZeitgenössische Kunst), Berlin/D (Staalplaat Audio Galerie), and Paris/F (Musée de l’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris).
Thanks to Sylvie Astié and Eric Minkinnen at Büro/Paris, Carsten Nicolai, Stephanie Sembill and Jan Winkelmann/Leipzig, Ed Benndorf/Berlin, Francisco López for travelling with me, and for drawing my cartoon, Amy Denio for the interferences in the 8 square meter room in Paris, the old man on the train who told me stories about his ancestor, the King of Corsica, Ulrike Grünewald for borrowing me her metal chair, Ho. Turner for the gift of the tibetan bells, Gregor von Sivers for upsetting the crows with me one evening in 1989, Walter Hartmann for continued language coaching, Elena and Vida, and thanks to Till Kniola for choosing luxury.