The chaotic theories of the quiet

By Giovanni Cervi


Quiet Ensemble are Bernardo Vercelli and Fabio di Salvo. Drawing on their own experience in the manipulation of light, video, sounds and perception, they combine their sensitivity to found the creative duo Quiet Ensemble. They aim to create sensory experiences, especially site-specific ones, in which environment, audio and video are designed to arouse emotions. But that’s not all folks! Chaos is an essential part of their work and it counterbalances the lifeless technology of machines. They often use natural elements as musical instruments (snails, insects, animals, people …) and they have no control on them. The result of the fusion between nature and technology is wonderful and estranging. It’s like you feel some ancestral sounds for the first time which resonate most intimately within yourselves awakening ancient and dormant memories. I have asked them to amplify some key words that came to my mind when looking at their works.

The first key word is “pulse”: Everything that pulses brings life, do you agree with me?
Of course we do… From the heart of a human being to the Earth itself, the pulsation we can perceive is the one that is closest to our vital rhythm. Observing the seemingly non-existent pulse, such as the tree’s or rock’s one, enthrals us.

The second one is “interaction”: apparently you are not afraid of chaos that could arise from the lack of control, are you?
Chaos is an essential part of our work. The almost childish fascination we feel while creating largely derives from the unexpected….Automatically we become spectators of an unknown, chaotic theatre. We rediscover new laws and take them as our cue to delimit the boundaries of our control. We don’t like to force our way into things, to the detriment of their natural energy. Our work is to emphasize the randomness and wonder of events, trying to avoid the anthropocentric instinct typical of human beings.

The third one is “collaboration”: with each other but also with other professionals. How do you manage all those minds? 
Quiet Ensemble is composed of Bernardo and Fabio, we have reached a very natural balance, the process of development and creation now follows from this. By the time we involve other collaborators, the design concept has already been developed and we often need just a particular technical support. Definitely we do have an open mind when working together with other people, we need to be mutually influenced and this is central to our work.

The fourth one is “experimentation”: breaking down the boundaries is a wonderful feeling, it leads to permanent scarring. What is the most difficult experimentation you have faced?
The word “experimentation” is a bit difficult to understand… I don’t think we are aware of it while we are experimenting. We are driven by instinct, and if this very same instinct is also breaking down some boundaries or limits, well, we do not really realize this. Furthermore, we reckon it’s quite pretentious to consider one’s own work as something new or experimental.

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The fifth one is “technology”: machines are a major resource, but don’t you think that they tend to copy the mechanisms of nature more and more often? Do you think the future of technology will be nature-friendly? 
The mechanisms of nature is perfect, imitable, but not replaceable. Undoubtedly pacemakers and artificial limbs are a wonderful and useful replacement. What scares us most, however, is the artificial sea, or the artificial sun. However perfect a fake may be, it will never display that unpredictability that makes any living organism or tree movements in the wind unique.

The sixth is “future”: your projects could become the “pop” music of the future: how do you think the most popular art will be once this moment of involution and surrogates is over?
There is a tendency for arts to unify: static performances naturally merge with works based on time, music combines with image, we’d rather avoid speculating… We are looking forward to finding it out.

The seventh is “relax”: how important is it to you “to take a break”? How do you relax (in case you do it!)?
We are living in a sort of limbo, where everything around us is a source of inspiration. Our breaks are timeouts between a creation and the next one, but at the same time in these moments we develop new projects. We feel very lucky not to be stuck in an office routine.

Can you think of other key words to describe your job?
Colours, life, beast, childhood, earth, water, heat, death, clouds, soul, full, banana, gold, fragility, lightness, instinct, nothing, quiet.

Right, how can we forget “quiet”? Is it perhaps a catharsis to play everything with which you can produce sounds and then bear the name of “quiet”?
By “Quiet” we mean that very moment when you stop and stare and listen, so we suddenly become spectators of a complex and wonderful visual and sound concert. You just need to open your eyes and ears, everything talks to us… and it is when all is quiet that you can perceive the concert of our world, which will always remain unknown if you look at it superficially and without listening.

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