A Futurist's Cookbook “A Futurist’s Cookbook” is a sound and photography work developed from a series of materials collected by Melbourne-based sound artist Philip Samartzis and Italian photographer Daniela D’Arielli during a one-week residency both undertook at Pollinaria, a sprawling farm located at the base of Gran Sasso National Park in Abruzzo region, Italy.
As emerges from the accompanying text written by Samartzis, the residency coincided with the summer harvest providing an opportunity for a variety of sound recordings of agricultural infrastructure, including complex machinery used to transform unrefined crops into processed foods. “During our field trips Daniela would photograph the places, objects and people we encountered. Often embedded in the landscape, hidden from view, shooting from a distance with a macro lens. The images accompanying the composition are designed to reveal the richly textured environments in which we worked.”
The title A Futurist’s Cookbook is a reference to the manifesto “The Futurist Cookbook” written by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti around 1932. While the Futurists often privileged the urban as the bastion of technology, disruption and noise, the rural offers an equally complex soundscape of natural, geophysical and industrial sound. “A Futurist’s Cookbook” is a charming tribute to the regional traditions of Abruzzo, and the futurist farmers working to preserve them. “After all”, writes Samartzis, “only a futurist meal can lift spirits.”
Note from the artist This project emerges from a one-week residency I undertook at Pollinaria, a sprawling farm located at the base of Gran Sasso National Park in Abruzzo. The residency coincided with the summer harvest providing an opportunity for a variety of sound recordings of agricultural infrastructure, including complex machinery used to transform unrefined crops into processed foods. Most of the fieldwork was undertaken in the company of Daniela d’Arielli who navigated the winding and undulating topography while I searched for sounds residing in the dry pastoral landscape. During our field trips Daniela would photograph the places, objects and people we encountered. Often embedded in the landscape, hidden from view, shooting from a distance with a macro lens. The images accompanying the composition are designed to reveal the richly textured environments in which we worked.
The title A Futurist’s Cookbook is a reference to the provocative manifesto The Futurist Cookbook written by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, circa 1932 – a treatise that drew on food as a raw material for art and cultural commentary. Marinetti’s clever use of the cookbook format to advance collective artistic consciousness appeals to my sense of the absurd. In spite of the misogynist sentiments, perverse speculations and nationalist impulses, Marinetti’s musings provide shrewd observations of contemporary life. While the Futurists often privileged the urban as the bastion of technology, disruption and noise, the rural offers an equally complex soundscape of natural, geophysical and industrial sound. A Futurist’s Cookbook is an expression of the exuberant noise and dynamism permeating throughout the countryside. One as thrilling and sensual as anything the discordant city can utter. It is also an affectionate tribute to the regional traditions of Abruzzo, and the futurist farmers working to preserve them. After all only a futurist meal can lift spirits. [Philip Samartzis]
Download the essay A Futurist’s Cookbook.
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Phillip Samartzis is a Melbourne based sound artist and academic. He has numerous releases on labels like Room40 and his own Microphonics label, the majority containing field recordings. In the accompanying essay to a Futurists Cookbook Samartzis explains: “A Futurist’s Cookbook is an expression of the exuberant noise and dynamism permeating throughout the countryside. One as thrilling and sensual as anything the discordant city can utter.” And there’s no denying Samartzis’ exuberance about this sonic world. It’s so lovingly recorded, with great care given to the depth of focus, textures, movement and even the range of sounds across the frequency spectrum. The sounds were generated from a one-week residency he undertook at Pollinaria, a farm located at the base of Gran Sasso National Park in Abruzzo Italy. Luckily for Samartzis, the residency coincided with the summer harvest, which offered the opportunity to collect recordings of agricultural infrastructure, including factory machinery used to transform the unrefined crops into processed foods. Samartzis paints an audio picture, gathering sonic details much like one would use photographs to chart their experience with intricate close ups existing alongside broad panoramic vistas. It’s all incredibly vivid, with a fully articulated sense of space, and expert use of the stereo field. His exuberance is contagious as he captures this richly textured environment, revealing not just hidden details but uncelebrated combinations of details. This is particularly highlighted on the piece The Harvest where wind and farm machinery interact in some strange and beautiful dance, sensuously swaying in between and each other, erupting into a crescendo of movement, before slowly dipping away. It’s amazing, yet no doubt you would be standing there watching these episodes unfold thinking it was all nothing out of the ordinary. To some extent this highlights the beauty of the project, by removing the visual we’re more open to finding new meaning, new beauty, new understanding within the sonic world. He does it repeatedly, the cracking thunder across the stereo field alongside the patter of rain hitting the ground is sublime, grains are crushed, water drips, bells on cows jangle in gorgeous Gamelan like patterns, as he continues to find the beauty. There’s no obscuring here, with titles like Factory, Mountains, Harvest, Mill, and Night. It’s a process driven work, that stems from a curiosity about a sense of place, about the place where food comes from. It’s quite romantic, even idyllic, further heightened by the presence of still photographic essay from Daniela d’Arielli who charts not only the locations but also Samartzis within them.
I'd always greatly enjoyed Samartzis' music since first hearing him, if I recall correctly, on the duo recording with Sachiko M, 'Artefact', released in 2002. But I was only able to meet him and hear his work live (that is, on tape) several years ago in Paris at IRCAM. My experiences with the French academic electro-acoustic world wasn't so great--the programs and synthesized sounds tended to resemble a musical version of Photoshop as far as I was concerned, projecting a kind of sheen over almost all compositions that I found unappetizing. At the event in question, however, two pieces stood out: those of Giuseppe Ielasi and Samartzis, which featured sounds that were very alive, very sharp and full of grain. This recording is very much in that lineage. It was recorded during a residency in Abruzzi, Italy, Samartzis accompanied to various locations by d'Arielli, who contributes 24 photographs that arrive with the download, in addition to an essay by Samartzis on Futurism, Marinetti and the dynamism of the sounds heard in the countryside and urban settings. Seven tracks, the title of each indicating either a place or condition (each prefaced and occasionally interrupted by a female voice, presumably d'Arielli's, offering a one-word description on Italian). As with the work I heard at IRCAM, which involved sounds recorded on a ship near Antarctica, Samartzis seems to allow the sounds to speak for themselves: cowbells, wheat fields in the wind, threshing machines, grain processing, insects, water dripping, pasta being formed and cut, planes in the night, etc. (most of these documented in the photos). But I'm reasonably sure that all this hyper-verisimilitude was arrived at via ultra-subtle and careful manipulation of his initial recordings. That they appear so enveloping and of the place, unladen with any over-obvious irony or or other artifice is fine testimony to Samartzis' vision and abilities. How an Italian meal arrives at the table Excellent, discreetly imaginative and engaging work. [Brian Olewnick]
Beautiful in its full embrace of complete sonic freedom, Philip Samartzis & Daniela d’Arielli amplify the world around them with “A Futurist’s Cookbook”. The great love for their surroundings becomes apparently quite quickly, for the album works on an experimental textural approach. Elements of the industrial and natural world flow into the proceedings for it all has a familiar quality to it. The deeply insight they provide shows how even the natural world, the pastoral, still has the undeniable touch of humanity upon it. For things that ought to be purely natural there is still the sound of a harvest that feels industrial in nature. Glistening tones open the album up with the reflective “Mountains”. One of the quieter pieces of the album, there is a contemplative element to the sound. Shockingly noisy is the powerful “Harvest”. Rather than opt for a field recording of nature, they go for what really happens: industrial churn which collects all of that produce. Even harsher still the pure noise of “Mill” goes for a full-on assault on the senses. Finally giving a bit of a relief of sorts, “Weather” proves that there remain elements of the landscape that will forever be outside of humanity’s control. The quieter approach continues on the equally gentle “Vineyard”. Interestingly “Factory” combines both approaches: both the noise of the machinery alongside quieter moments of rest. Cycling back to the introduction “Night” feels quite calming, a true palette cleanser. With “A Futurist’s Cookbook” Philip Samartzis & Daniela d’Arielli prove to have a good ear for sound and a surprisingly sharp attention to narrative.
Noodles, noodles, such wonderful noodles! I am getting hungry just looking at Daniela d’Arielli‘s photos, which cover the adventure from field to factory. And these noodles are not even cooked yet! There’s a purity in the process when seen from the beginning to the end, rather than the reverse (a box, a list of ingredients). At the Pollinaria farm of Abruzzo (Central Italy), it’s a way of life. The album title is taken from Filippo Tomasso’s 1932 manifesto ~ a provocative piece from which Philip Samartzis extracts the wheat while throwing away the chaff. Writes Samartzis, “A Futurist’s Cookbook is an expression of the exuberant noise and dynamism permeating throughout the countryside.” It’s a celebration of sounds that might in other contexts be considered noise: the machinery of harvest and processing, blended with the natural sounds of the province. The field recordings work together in perfect harmony. There’s a sense of balance between the organic and inorganic, especially apparent in “Mountains,” a chorus of sheep bells with only occasional bleats. The piece seems like nature, even though we know the sheep didn’t make their own bells. And in the middle of the field stands the ebullient Samartzis, happy to have found such a beautiful noise. When the wind arrives along with threshing equipment, it seems less an intrusion than a welcome friend. The weather has much to do with the harvest. It’s a slight surprise then to find that the sound of the mill imitates a downpour (grains acting as pebbles of hail) and vice versa. The overall effect is a yin and yang of sound, an dual expression of respect. The workers are grateful for nature’s bounty, and use these resources without exploiting them; nature (although fickle) seems to respond in return. In the appreciation of fertile fields, one can glean echoes of ancient cultures and ancient goddesses, in particular Ceres, from whose name we get cereal. The factory is one of the cleanest we’ve ever seen. d’Arielli’s photos restore our faith in our food, and remind us of the good feeling that arrives when we connect the things we eat with people rather than with corporations. Thanks to Samartzis and d’Arielli, we’ve encountered the sights and sounds behind our next meal. As for me, I can’t wait to boil some pasta ~ as I wait for the pot to boil, I give thanks for all the people who made it happen, especially for those at the Pollinaria farm. [Richard Allen] https://acloserlisten.com/2018/04/13/philip-samartzis-daniela-darielli-a-futurists-cookbook/