Inge van den Kroonenberg proposed VA AA LR 49 questions that could conduct an interview. The answers were burned, the questions form a trace that could be read as a poem in itself. A written report of the actual performance serves as a counterpoint to the poem.
0.1 Which object would you like to burn?
0.2 Which medium would you choose to record the sound of the burning object?
0.3 Which format would you choose to convert the sound of the burning object to?
0.4 Which setting would you choose to burn the object of your desire?
0.5 What time of day would you choose to burn the object of your desire?
0.6 What would you use to burn the object of your desire?
0.7 How does listening to the sound of the burning object alter your sense of time?
0.8 How does listening to the recorded sound of the burning object alter your sense of time?
0.9 Is it important that the sound of the burning object can be recorded? 10. Is it important for your work as a composer that the sound of the burning object can be recorded?
11. To what extent is it important in your practice as a sound artist to destroy the object by burning it?
12. What would you expect from the recording of the burning object?
13. When would the recording of the burning object have failed?
14. For what reason would you delete the recording of the burning object?
15. Would you consider burning the recording of the burning object?
16. Would you consider to record the burning of the recording of the burning object?
17. How does the burning of the object affect a space?
18. How does the burning of the object affect the acoustic qualities of that space?
19. How does the burning of the object affect a person being present in that space?
20. In what way does the presence of a person affect the status of the burning of the object?
21. In what way does the presence of a person affect the recording of the burning object?
22. How does the presence of an audience affect the status of the burning object?
23. How does the smell of the burning object affect the hearing?
24. To what extent is burning the object an act of control?
25. To what extent is recording the burning object an act of control?
26. To what extent is listening to the burning object an act of surrender?
27. How does the fact that the burning of the object is an irreversible process affect the listening?
28. How does the recording of the burning object affect the drama of this event?
29. How does the irreversibility of the burning object relate to the drama of this event?
30. What aspect of the burning object would you consider as communication?
31. What aspect of the burning object would consider as art?
32. What aspect of the burning object would you consider as spiritual?
33. What aspect of the burning object would you consider as noise?
34. To what extent is burning an object an emotional act?
35. To what extent is listening to the sound of the burning object a physical activity?
36. To what extent is listening to the recording of the burning object on youtube a collective activity?
37. In what way can the burning of the object in public space be perceived as a political statement?
38. In what way can the burning of the object in an art context be perceived as a happening?
39. To what extent is the burning of the object a site-specific work?
40. Can the act of burning the object be repeated?
41. Can the sound of the act of burning the object be repeated?
42. Would you consider that burning the object for its acoustic qualities is a form of aural cinema?
43. What are your intentions as a performer when burning the object as a sound performance?
44. How does the smoke of the burning object affect the hearing?
45. Do you think that the visual effects of burning the object could evoke physical reactions?
46. What effect could the aural aspects of burning the object have on a subconscious level?
47. In what way does the body relate to the burning object as a sound source?
48. To what extent are you performing the burning of the object?
49. To what extent is the burning object performing you?
It’s eleven pm. The spacious courtyard of the Bijloke site is scarcely illuminated. People hang out at the entrance of the building, smoking cigarettes, having a beer. From the rooftop terrace pop music dissolves into the nightly sky. No wind is rustling through the trees. In front of the former hospital with its mediaeval architecture two rows of large wooden boards form a plain, minimalistic decor. Their white, square surfaces make a sharp contrast with the backdrop of gothic arches from the 13th century, as if you stare into the mouth of an old reptile with bleached teeth. In the centre on the stone steps that climb up to the plateau of the garden, a tripod with a microphone in a windshield is pointing at the scene. It’s eleven fifteen. Somebody makes an announcement for the crowd to move up the plateau on the grass. People group together in between the two ancient lime-trees. An audience is formed. Few latecomers make their way through the performers’ area up the steps. Someone bumps against the tripod. The position of the microphone is slightly changed.
A sudden bang instantly followed by an explosion of bright pinkish light evokes a mild shock through the crowd. After some giggling and shuffling attention is regained. The senses are sharpened. In the centre of the scene one performer stands with his arms stretched far from the body, in each hand holding a burning flare. With his gaze fixed firmly to the ground, face half covered in a gasmask and static posture he makes a severe impression. No eye contact, no gestures. Only light penetrating the retina. On the left and right side the other two performers are positioned likewise, wearing gasmasks, looking down. Smoke is filling the scene and the smell of burning chemicals penetrates the nose. When the first series of flares is expired they reload, take another position and ignite the flares again. The hissing sounds of the burning flares is masked and reflected by the wooden boards as the performers move around the scene. A choreography of hissing noises and boys playing with fire.
When a ground flare is ignited few meters in front of the audience some people take a step back. The stroboscopic effect of the flare is too bright to look straight into, so I close my eyes, enjoying the psychedelic cinema on the inside of my eyelid while listening to the pulsating sounds of the flares going in and out of phase. I imagine myself in the middle of the scene being surrounded by this spatial image of hissing sounds, but that position is only granted to the performers. They are in the hotspot of the sounds they perform. Halfway the set the sluggish rumble of a passing airplane blends with the high-pitched noises of the flares, expanding the soundscape of the performance to a wider scale. For the attentive listener there are some fine aural details to be found in this atmosphere of shifting, sizzling textures and the fusion with accidental, environmental noises, yet the performance is quite a visual spectacle considered to be mere a sound act and the thought of aural cinema comes to mind. With Concert for Signal Flares VA AA LR aims to reveal the rich acoustic properties of signalling distress flares as a sonic artefact and by doing so burning the kitsch in order to open the ear.