Thursday, 1 March 2012

Research Trip: Berlin & Florence

Thu 23 Feb: Neues Museum
Sore feet tired full of excuses
Head in fog and distanced from what is going on,have these people come to see anything in particular?  We go straight to the cafe to give sustenance to our day.  Then set off to find the gates of paradise, 2nd floor amidst the hushed silence.
They wander echoed halls, through aged corridors fresh from their adaptation to a new space, preserved and at once contained, stopped
Are these really places?
How do we navigate these echoing walls?  Dashing to see one thing, then turning away




Dates: The shifts over the years between casting methods.  What would they have been?

Thu 23 Feb
Sound of people
Taking the sound out onto the streets
Relative gaps to the times we have observed casts
Narrative of gates. Story telling; How can we story tell?
Honest, edgy, discomfort
Language visual nature of the casts
Telling the story through people around
Whisperer, silence of the hallowed space
Strain to hear. Places of quiet, solitude
Hushed adult conversation and adults hushing children

Loud conversations or earphone heard interpretations of the explanation of the gates as part of the guided tour
Language barriers and grasped words sounding similar, known interpretations explained with words used by the guide.

Fri 24 Feb: Packing to leave, hushed sounds of sleep fill my ears.  I am not overwhelmed by the noise, nor the still silence. Room sparse, wardrobe but no safe. Shower big, bathroom clean. Beds together and one large double duvet, Hannah sleeps under the red blanket.  Calm and peaceful, gentle breaths.

Smell of cigarette drifts in through the oval in the window. Evidence of human existence, presumed unhealthy for their chosen way of taking the air.

Food last night so good, should we have had that last glass of wine?

Becoming lost in the mists of the day, Gates of Paradise visit in that fabulous building.  Shame we didn't spend more time there, but what would we have seen if we had had more time.  Surrounded by artefacts, glass cased and secure.  Chosen words tell you little about the objects you can see. Nothing really links them together, puts them in context with the others around them.  Displaced and unconnected they form a representation of lives gone by.
Train station. A long walk from my absentmindedness, getting us off at the wrong u-Bahn stop.  Tired and slightly drained. Can't wait for the warmth of Florence to emerge from my cocoon to the bright sunshine and joviality of the Italian humour.

Fri 24 Feb: Flying to Pisa. As quick as we had arrived we are on our way to Italy.  People pass through the airport space, a non space, we are checked and moved along, guided by following the footsteps of those in front. Shoved and hustled forward to the front where your ticket is finally checked once more and then you are free to board the bus.
Onward to the plane

The background steady hum of engines, soft rustles of wrappers.  Captain speaks to announce the journey route, how fast, how far.  Blinds drawn
Fri 24 Feb: Out on the streets from the Duomo we set off with no plan and absorbed the sounds of the place. Traffic seems to get everywhere, even the pedestrianised spaces have movement. Bin lorries cleaning the space of the mornings activity. Police and ambulance all appear to have the regulation sounds.  No distinction in their voices, no difference in their accelerated speed to move them on faster to their destination.
A walk alongside the river, lifted away from the waters edge, raised to safety from the higher levels that we know it can reach.  Scullers pass silently by making their way along the smooth surface, gliding like swans. A moorhen passes, no sign of a nest nearby but this is their time.

A daughter and Mother walk by holding hands, their affection for each other visible in the interpretation of their connection.  Chattering conversation keeps them busy whilst they walk purposefully on. And I judge that the daughter could be a grandmother herself, their age and physical closeness seems all the more special.

Sat 25 Feb: Wandered early over to the Duomo, Not much open.  Sounds of people walking, talking, bins emptying and the shutters opening.  Walked over to Piazza Pitti . . . Chocolate and blackberry croissant
Bing bong
Sound with no obvious source, walkie talkie of the street sweeper.  Brushes losing their bristles are used to clean away last nights debris.  Signs of enjoyment
A lady walks by struggling in last night's shoes, she wobbles as she takes each step
A lady has her picture taken in front of the gates.  Early birds
They get just themselves in the image with the object
I've been here . . .
I saw this  . . .
and   . . .
I had my photo taken
. . . another one for the archive perhaps never to be seen again, maybe it would find its way onto the Internet, blogged, tumbled, or in some way electronically shared.
Chocolate soup for breakfast

Florence, Piazza del Duomo.  Sun creeps round the corner of the campanile, shifting its light, changing colours, brightening the day.  Bells of bicycle riders tinkle to warn of their approach.  Sirens loud, warning of their need for you to shift your position, or at least be aware.
Brighter light shifts my eyes to squint.
Hawkers run past, they've been spotted and look to find a place easy for them. Hidden in amongst the small crowd at the gates, they shelter, wandering through the people to become the tourist, adrift with their customers.

Sat 25 Feb: Afternoon, off on my own.  A meander over the bridge and along toward Ponte Vecchio, then up to Pitti Palace.  Snack lunch in the warm sunshine.  Birds trying to find crumbs.  A German lady and gentleman chatter at the next table.  I wander off along the streets just enjoying the journey.
No photographs
No sounds specifically
No bells
Imagining Lisa desperately trying to work through ideas for production of a book, wondering what it might be that she is trying to complete and hoping that we can meet her tomorrow.

Sun 26 Feb: ITALIAN:  Here we are in the Piazza del Duomo.  This is one of the largest squares in Florence, dominated by the church of Santa Maria del Fiore.  To the side is the campanile del Giotto, and facing is the baptistery of St John.  This is the first of the three buildings to be completed here, possibly on the footings of a Roman construction.  Most certainly there has been an earlier octagonal Baptistery here in the 5th or 6th century.
The building we see today was finished in the 12th century, built in the Florentine Romanesque style.  One of the most well known aspects of this octagonal building are the sets of large bronze doors which adorn three sides.  The most important are here, the East doors, facing the Duomo.
FRENCH:  These were commissioned by the wool merchant's guild, and made by the master craftsman Lorenzo Ghiberti.  They took 26 years to complete and were finally hung in 1452.
Gold laid over bronze, they gleamed for all the visiting world to see.  The grand tour, the wealthy and powerful travelled to discover its history, to learn more about Florence and the Renaissance.
ENGLISH:  These are a copy, replaced after the terrible floods in 1966.  The originals now stand in the Museo del Duomo at the back of this square.

Mon 27 Feb
Train to Rome.
The nearby phone rings intermittently, loud noise breaks my drifting sleep. Long shadows caress the soft curves of the rolling hills.  Chatter as more conversations start.
Preston: History
Mill owners wanted to educate the masses

Tue 28 Feb
Sat in the hotel lobby, the same place we were last night.  Arrived, tired but our room was in another building so we sat in reception and talked over a bottle of Prosecco and ate the wonderful cheese we had bought in Florence.
Breakfast, my first bacon and eggs of the trip; bacon greasy.

Tue 28 Feb
Plane: Rome to Liverpool
Looking at a copy of the gates, through tracing paper, muslin, fading the image, printing onto these surfaces, taking pictures of people taking pictures of GoP
Copy: positive negative

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