Saturnine Orbit


“Mark Vernon revisits the life and work spaces of an isolated and meditative Morandi, making the debris of everyday life reverberate through spectral soundscapes and eerie tones: an exercise in modern hauntology.”

Commissioned by Xing, ‘Saturnine Orbit’ was a new sound installation, radio series and live performance made for the Casa Museo Giorgio Morandi and in the spaces of the Campiaro barns (a favourite subject of the Bolognese painter during his holiday periods in the Bolognese Apennines in Grizzana Morandi). The work was produced as part of the ART CITY Bologna 2024 festival in association with XING, MAMbo Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna and NEU Radio.

Both the 6-channel installation and the live performance were composed entirely from the sounds of Morandi’s summer house, his studio, replicas of the objects used in his still lifes and sounds recorded on the mountain trails he would often walk, starting behind the Casa Morandi.

Alongside field recordings collected on site during the production residency, Vernon employed Morandi’s objects as sound instruments, using the negative space of bottles, pots, jugs and vases from the Casa Morandi studio as small resonant chambers, while the environmental field recordings of the surrounding countryside were played from inside these objects using tiny speakers amplified by microphones. Through this process the outside becomes the inside: the world in a bottle. In addition, by recording sounds directly to open reel tape Vernon created a linear tape collage of sounds with an instant narrative of its own. The tape acts as a chronological sound diary, verbally annotated with the location, time of day and the weather conditions. The piece also features excerpts from the only extant recording of the Bolognese artist’s voice.

Sound installation at the Casa Museo Giorgio Morandi –
Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th February, 2024.

Live sound performance at the Fienili del Campiaro (also streaming live on NEU Radio) –
Sunday 4th February, 2024.

All photographs by Luca Ghedini, courtesy of Xing.