Christoph Collenberg and Jakob Gengenbach – un|sounding the self — a portrait


Gruenrekorder, ISBN-13: 194491607760, English, 120 pages, 2020, Germany

“un|sounding the self — a portrait” is a film portraying two composers, Christopher Shultis and Craig Shepard, whose trajectories are in dialogue. The first person tale of their personal experiences is mixed here with extracts from live performances and natural/urban footage illustrating their approaches. Both composers have adopted long silent walks as a strategy to contemplate and listen. This practice leads to a series of outcomes in their respective compositions, as it involves elements conditioning the classic triad of composing, performing and listening: Performing long walks, in selected parts of the city or in nature while remaining silent; letting one’s ears focus on their surroundings, reaching a quite different awareness and mindset; and starting to consider also one’s own sounds and differences from the other people involved. All of these combined outline a total aural system, unfolding in front of us. Both the composers, predictably, refer to John Cage’s theories and practices for dealing with the presence and absence of sounds. Directed by Christoph Collenberg, the film is accompanied by a small book edited by Bernd Herzogenrath. Here we can find texts and notes by all contributors providing further details and methodological reflections. Among its best quotes we find: “no time with silence is a wasted time”.