Magneto Mori: Brussels


Magneto Mori: Brussels is a process-based sound work that investigates the collective memory of Brussels residents, intertwining them with the environmental sounds of the city to weave new and unexpected narratives. It is an exploration of tape recording as a form of memory storage – and the deliberate distressing, eroding and deterioration of present day sounds to disrupt their chronology; historicising the present and fast-forwarding the effects of time. Contrasting and combining these sounds with higher fidelity recordings draws attention to the different substrata of time that are an intrinsic (though largely unacknowledged) part of any non-realtime sound production.

The intention here was to create a ‘memory tape’ that acts as an audio portrait of the city and its inhabitants. This involved asking people to recall their earliest or most vivid memories and recording them direct to open reel tape. On the other side of the tape everyday sounds of the city were captured.

Through a series of processes that mirror the complexity and frailty of human memory this ‘memory tape’ was then fragmented, muddled, corroded, partially erased with magnets, buried in the ground for 10 days and finally excavated and reconstituted. During this process sounds and memories are literally erased and the remains are spliced back together in a random sequence. The end result is a cut-up collage of fragmented voices and distorted field recordings. In some instances I chose to ‘re-construct’ parts of the missing memories using copies made of the original recordings.

In counterpoint, a semi-autobiographical text by Elodie A. Roy reflecting on her parents memories of Brussels is interspersed throughout the piece appearing as a series of answerphone messages.

Produced during a one-month residency at Q-O2, Brussels in August, 2022.

Commissioned by Kunstradio for Ö1 ORF, Austria. First broadcast at 22.05 CET, 21st May, 2023.

Narration written, performed and recorded by Elodie A. Roy.

All other recordings by Mark Vernon.

Composed by Mark Vernon.

Featuring the voices of Henry Andersen, Diana Duta, Julia Eckhardt, Nika Breithaupt, Stuart McGregor, Amber Meulenijzer, Pauline Mikó, Caroline Profanter and Mark Vernon.

Thank you to the participants, everyone at Q-O2, Elisabeth Zimmerman, Elodie A. Roy, Barry Burns and Manja Ristić.