I Never Dream Otherwise Than Awake, 2006

Limited edition 1/1 + 1 artist’s proof
12 audio files on CD-Rom, 8 structures with 12 loudspeakers, 30 lengths of silver electric cords, 21 fluorescent small rulers with blue tubes, various audiovisual equipments.
Gift of the Société des Amis du Mus

Excerpts from the interview conducted by Bénédicte Ramade, published in Emmanuel Lagarrigue, In Other worlds we would have been in love, Sémiose éditions, Paris, 2007


Bénédicte Ramade: In I never dream otherwise than awake, did the colour give quite a different shift to the work?

Emmanuel Lagarrigue: It was almost the opposite since the blue worked as an absolute horizon. The colour came out of fluorescent tubes placed 5cm from the floor which encompassed all the space in which we were moving. The lighting – and the sound – worked like a perpetual line of horizon. If you looked at one of the structures hanging from the ceiling, it was impossible to disregard the whole. The structures were very insubstantial visually, and so the blue went through them and disturbed them, a luminous horizon in the background. In I never dream otherwise than awake, the sound works a bit like in This isn't just in your mind. The musical part gives a general colouring and comes from everywhere in the space. But it “penetrates” the voices more, musically and physically.

B.R.: Does the sound shape the space?

E.L.: I see it more and more as a form of sculpture. The sound models the space, in the sense of modelling in sculpture. You can see it more strongly in the latest pieces because they work on larger scales. it was the sound which vibrated this life also has this quality for me. There's a difference compared with some other pieces, which are very light and crystal-like, on the level of the sound itself, it's very light, almost imperceptible. I also want to use the power of sound differently from now on.

B.R.: In I never dream otherwise than awake, the working process was very different because you didn't use prefabricated or film sources – did you start off with specific prerequisites?

E.L.: I really wanted and needed to reincorporate human exchanges in the construction of a piece. I wanted to approach differently all the questions I ask myself about the intimate, about the construction of relations with the other, I needed to reincorporate a more direct dimension. I asked people around me if they'd let me record them while they were humming songs of their choice. The material was confided to me – the word 'confidence' is really the word here – with the freedom to do what I wanted with it. For each song, I cut up what had been hummed into several pieces and then rearranged them. Next I composed little bits of melody for each one, with no relation to the hummed songs, as if they had been cut up too.

B.R.: Did you make sure the songs couldn't be identified?

E.L.: I wanted to avoid the karaoke aspect, even if you can of course sometimes recognise a song …

B.R.: …like with the extracts of films?

E.L.: Yes, but very fleetingly. As soon as it became too recognisable, I managed to cut it so that you couldn't sing along. The fragments of voices and music are blended into the space with the soundtrack heard on the edges. It was important that the soundtrack should come from everywhere, like the blue light, thanks to a system that prevents you from identifying its source. We generally listen to music or sounds from one or two fixed points at the most, the TV or speakers. We have perceptive habits that are well rooted and hardly conscious. In many pieces and installations that I've done, I've worked on different ways to play them, from the floor or the ceiling, grouped together or otherwise, highly localised or otherwise. The way we perceive and react to sound is very different depending on our physical perception, which is quite logical. And that can be used to help the subject and the ambition of a particular piece.