“A positive nothing, eternally waiting to bloom into the everything of the universe, a sort of primal spring of being.” — Vladimir Sergeevic Solov'ev
“Un Fiocco Di Neve” (Italian word for snowflake) is one of the possible crystallisations of an ongoing project called Nucleazione (Nucleation), started in 2017 and consisting of the accumulation of over 200 sound files and silences pulled together and randomly overlapped with no control. The five compositions of this album originate from a series of auto-generative methods, which I found brought me to new listening experiences in the process of composing. I trace my steps back to a decentered, limited presence as an author becoming a detached listener. While “Un Fiocco Di Neve” is presented here as a CD release, Nucleazione is exhibited as an online project where listeners can themselves experiment the non-linear creation of unstable, undefined compositions with no predetermined beginning nor end.
In November and December of 2017, I toured Japan, during the peak of autumn colours. Knowing my passion for tea, my friend Makiko invited me to her parents’ house for a tea ceremony held by her mother in an informal tea room filled with tools and objects belonging to the tradition. Among those, I was stunned by a kakejiku (hung scroll) of Japanese calligraphy displaying the kanji 紅 kou (red), 炉 ro (hearth), 一 i (one), 点 ten (point), and 雪 yuki (snow). While apparently illogical, Makiko’s mother explained the poem’s meaning roots in the concept of impermanence: a single fragile snowflake falls until it touches the fire pit and instantly disappears. Since that day, this image of Zen white delicacy, full of Japanese poetry, has never abandoned me and continues to resonate in my mind from time to time.
In May 2019 I visited Zen monk Toryo Ito at Ryosoku-in Temple, where I had performed in 2017 as part of the event Hodokeru Mimi. Between a bowl of matcha and discussions about travel, design, and religion, he laid out his philosophy of objects having their own meaning or energy that spreads toward us. I shared my idea of objects’ solitude as non-living entities and their intrinsic power to take on different meanings. Sound has its own organic flow in the world, which exists regardless of our connection to it. We encounter its complexity, give it a name, store it as a weightless memory, share its inconsistency. While walking back to the Higashiyama area, my thoughts reminded me of a YouTube interview with David Toop when he said, “You could argue that sound doesn’t actually exist: it’s always in a state of emerging or decay, it’s never actually there.” For me, this is an irrefutable truth. Why do we ‘fix’ sounds to precise forms, progressions, starts, and ends? Fused within this indeterminacy, I experience the beauty of listening.
In the mountain, a humble tea house. Snow forms outside. Between these states and the tension of opposites, density vanishes into sparsity, weight defies lightness, shadow intersects light, heat meets cold, in a continuous play of illusory forms generated out of empty spaces.
A snowflake disappears. Memory fades away, sometimes it lasts.
Fabio Perletta is a sound artist and curator living and working in Italy.
His work encompasses recorded compositions, performances, site-specific interventions and installations, appearing worldwide at festivals, art spaces and artistic residencies like A×S Festival (Pasadena, US), Human Resources (Los Angeles, US), VOLUME (Los Angeles, US), EMS Elektronmusikstudion (Stockholm, SE), Pollinaria (Civitella Casanova, IT), BlueProject Foundation (Barcelona, ES), Arts Santa Mònica (Barcelona, ES), Museo De Arte Moderno (Medellín, CO), Musee National des Arts Asiatiques Guimet (Paris, FR), Ftarri (Tokyo, JP), Ochiai Soup (Tokyo, JP), Kid Ailack Art Hall (Tokyo, JP), Ryosokuin Temple (Kyoto, JP), Museum of Modern Art (Wakayama, JP), Café OTO (London, UK), O’ Art Space (Milan, IT), Saturnalia Festival (Milan, IT), TOdays Festival (Turin, IT), Eufònic Festival (Ulldecona/Barcelona, ES), E-fest Cultures Numériques (La Marsa, TN), roBOt Festival (Bologna, IT), Acusmatiq Festival (Ancona, IT), Flussi Festival (Avellino, IT), Krake Festival (Berlin, DE), Auditorium Parco della Musica (Rome, IT), AlbumArte Gallery (Rome, IT) and others.
His solo and collaborative recordings are documented on LINE, Dragon’s Eye Recordings, aufabwegen, Dinzu Artefacts and his own imprint 901 Editions. Founded in 2008, his label has since released more than 30 close-to-silence, immersive and experimental music editions by internationally renowned artists like Akio Suzuki, Asmus Tietchens, Nicolas Bernier, Richard Chartier, Adam Basanta, Yann Novak and many more.
He is part of the curatorial project Lux, whose program includes solo and group exhibitions of artists like William Basinski and James Elaine, Thomas Koner, Arnold Dreyblatt, France Jobin and others.
He is half of the impro-electroacoustic duo Cygni with Pierluigi Scarpantonio.
Perletta is currently a professor of sound design at ISIA University in Pescara, Italy.