21 Things to do in collemacchia

In September 2021, I arrived at Collemacchia, Molise, Italy, for an art residency at The Museum of Loss and Renewal. Collemacchia is a tiny village, in a network of tiny villages in a mountainous region spearheaded by the town Filignano, and further, Venafro. Each village is reachable via a vast network of ancient paths, all built onto the mountain sides.

I was part of the Taking Time/Prendendo Tempo residency, and I began to walk on a daily basis, often at a very early time of 6.30am. I would record the vast outdoors on my walks, by taking a handheld and homemade contraption for a stereo mic setup. In these moments, I would listen with a heightened attention on sounds around me, the sounds of ‘wild things’. This gave me a wrapped sense of focus, through an increased confusion of direction and distance. However, this gave me the precious ability to tune out and tune in, much like the ability to do so while playing the cello.

Through this, I began to sketch along the various paths that I walked, in places that I would pause at. Both heightened sounds and mountain scenes gave way to a fun number of site-specific improvised sound-sketches. I wanted to create visual work based on a very free and visceral gesture, a quality of stroke inherent in my cello work. In addition, I wanted to further explore my sound sketches as graphic scores.

An idea was born to write compositions based on instructional text, combined with these graphic scores which would highlight the sense of place I experienced around Collemacchia.

Recording at the Quarry near Monte Pantano 2021

The compositions are open visual/sound/play spaces for anyone to step into, regardless of where one is. The central essence is to awaken/provoke an inner sense of being wherever you are. As you play, you might begin to notice other performers taking part. Once you step into the piece, it lasts as long as your desire to play. However, the piece began before you arrived, and will continue to play long after you depart.

But, while you are in it, you are its central point, and so, wherever you move, the visual/sound/play world will move with you, envelope you, and re-shape itself around you.

At the residency, I handmade a prototype pocket book called, “21 Things to do in Collemacchia”. It is a book to put in your pocket while you walk. And when you find a place to sit, take out the book, a pen or a pencil, and begin to draw on its pages.

Prototype Publication: 21 Things to do in Collemacchia by Semay Wu