To find a white bear (2019)
A sonic bike adventure made for Bruges.
AMOK Festival, November 2019
Welcome to the world of bicrophonics. Music made for outside spaces that links to the landscape and changes as you ride a bike along a special route. Not an ordinary bike, but a sonic bike with speakers and musical ingredients on board that your ride pulls into a whole. No more sitting in concert halls!
Made from the invisible machines and people who nourish all those who visit its ancient streets, To find a white bear offers rediscovery. What really lies beyond the glistening facades of this city? Can gliding listening through its neighbourhoods synthesise any freedom from the capital that oozes from its ever present histories?
Weavers, chocolate, waffle, beer, coffee, pancake and lace makers along with a historical guide and the mysterious story of the first resident of Bruges, a white bear have all inspired and provided the sources which Matthews has processed and played with oscillators to create this wild new composition redefining these ancient streets.
With thanks to all at KAAP, historical guide Marjolein Maertens, Lacemaker Germayne, Weaver Adnens, Cafuné coffee, the brewery man, Jan Anseeuw the archivist, Tea Room de Proveries cake and chocolate makers, the birds and sellers at the T’Zand, the tourists of Bruges and The People Speak London.
Bicrophonics to Bruges
I sip coffee in the Market Square beneath the tower where Brendan Gleeson meets his angelic end in In Bruges. I’m glad to have watched this movie before coming as it yes did alter my er Bruges? feeling, no doubt also mixed with memories of elderly women in frilly hats making lace on grey days witnessed aged nine. I am loving the clip clopping of the horses and their resonance reflected in the relative quiet and am amazed at the extent of the medieval architecture but O – aghast at the numbers of chocolate waffle ice-cream beer consuming suitcase rolling selfie clicking upward gazing tourists there are. I’m also subliminally traumatised by the cleanliness and perfect preservation of the city’s history. The lack of noise, dog shit, rubbish, traffic lights, humans of all kinds, no-one visibly begging or homeless creates a surreal effect that is almost frightening. Where’s the real world? What’s really going on behind these polished facades?
I go on a guided bike tour and discover the story of the white bear and the elite men’s drinking club. Later at the Groeninge it’s a Bosch The Last Judgement, portraying the brutal version of the final verdict – the descent of humankind into hell and torture, no-one redeemed except the angels – timely? Then its 90 year old Germaine’s hands whizzing backwards and forwards her bobbins clattering orchestral and Sint Ursula and the 11,000 virgins and Thomas the brewer and the yeast info and the space of the ’T Zand invoking freedom from the control and threat that emerges from the churches and images present in the historical. In grinning sunshine I finally map a varietous route, a score for the sonic bikes that will synthesise the city through a gamut of flavours for all you coming riders. Be prepared for an adventure.