When composer and musician Jean-Michel Jarre got a call to make a score at a photo exhibition, he said yes. As challenging as the task would be, the short was to make music for the words of the Amazon for the famous photographer Sebastio Salgado.
Salgado’s latest work. The release of “Amazonia” (currently on display at the Peter Feterman Gallery at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica) is a fun experience, like playing in a photo from Amazon. “A bird sings, the wind blows through the leaves of a tree, men sing and chat, women bathe, storms rise, a plane flies, rain falls on rocks, all these random sounds, unknown about any orchestration or arrangement, yet form A global harmony: the music of the forest, ”says Jare.
Although the 52-minute score may be flowing, it is best experienced as a bilateral version of Salgado’s “Amazonia” as well. The photographer has spent six years traveling the area, capturing forests, rivers, mountains and the people who live there.
Talked to Jerra Diversity About the challenge of making scores and the impact of Salgado’s work.
How did this conversation between you and Sevastio Salgado happen?
I got commissioned by the French museum Philharmoni de Paris, it is a center with a concert hall, exhibition and museum. But Salgado wanted to do something different to bridge music and photography. I thought it would be an interesting challenge because it’s a completely different approach because you can’t guess where someone will be with music and pictures in an art gallery. With movies, you’re working on a movie in a certain order.
Talk a little bit about the words you wanted to capture in your toolbox for “Amazon”.
I thought the sound of the forest was random. They are completely independent of each other. Your raindrops are falling, people are walking or singing, or someone is singing. You are traveling space and time in the forest. I thought about the words that were happening. There were a lot of random elements in my toolbox. There were electronics, vocals, nature and other elements. I made them work on a chess board where every word works with everything else.
Amazon has a unique word, how did you catch it?
I wanted to avoid the kind of noise you want to hear in a potential trap or spa for making ambient music. I wanted to give the score the context that “Amazonia” deserves. So it is to create this distance between it and enter into a poetic manner with it.
I have processed the sound of nature through this electronic process so that it is not the same. It’s like Federico Fellini telling how he loved to recreate the sound of the sea in a studio using real sea. So at the end of the day it was creating this illusion because art is an illusion.
You mentioned with a film, you are making a score in a certain order. How do you compose music in an exhibition, what is the process? Did you create a queue by looking at the photos?
I asked her for some pictures and stayed with them for three weeks while I recorded and wrote the music. It felt like I was in a hypnotic relationship with the images. What I did was related to the mood of the photos. This exhibition is not to educate people about environmental issues. He doesn’t show burning forest. It shows the great side of the jungle and pays homage to this extraordinary region.
If you listen carefully, there are dark moments between night and day to create contrasting feelings and excitement between being in this area. There are voices here too because people are living in the forest. I wanted to make it a spooky environment.
The voices are all from the Amazon forest, and I worked with the Ethnography Museum Geneva to create those words.
Sebasti has also inspired you with his work for so many years, how has he inspired you?
Music adds a very important layer to the way we view visuals. Alfred Hitchcock from Quentin Tarantino, many directors say that music and sound make up 50% of a movie. I think the same is true of art exhibitions. I think we should have more music in the exhibition especially for contemporary art.
Salgado’s work is so fascinating that he doesn’t just take pictures of beauty or pain or make statements. He is first and foremost an artist. It has its own thematic perspective. Everything is sensitive. The interesting thing about this exhibition is that his photography is not in black and white, and black and white in nature. So, he is strengthening his message. He has all these subtleties that make an instant statement when you see a Salgado picture. You don’t see anyone trying to make this beautiful statement. He is always offering you an artist. This exhibition is a window into the forest and very important for this gorgeous landscape, especially after a year and a half of lockdowns and epidemics. I’ve never been there, but he took us on this journey and shared. Amazonia belongs to every human being.