Landscape Stories: How important was it for your research to foster further cultural and aesthetic imagery through art, cinema or music?
Carlos Casas: Research is for me the essence of achieving a sense of new truth, of creative freedom and creative independence. Art is somehow a new envisioning of truth, a new way of seeing the world, of understanding. A new embodiment of truth. It becomes an object of enlightment, a light to change the way we see the world. For me as you have mention these three forms art-cinema-music forms the triumvirate of disciplines that allow me to arrive to that truth. Only through an extensive and deep research one can understand the bottom of the issue of its own research. Research into oneself and research onto ones context, of our essential history and also about the science surrounding our knowledge, I am interested where all the imaginary comes from, where the seed of any artistically search begins, only when I can see the origin of that spark, which everything becomes evident and then I can start working.
Landscape Stories: Regarding the project 'Cemetery (Archive Works)'... Could you tell us something more about your process of discovery while beginning this body of work?
Carlos Casas: One of the things about 'Cemetery' process is that it open a lot of possibilities for me in my art practice, it allowed me to put everything on the table to show all the process as a creative path and grant it as important as the final product itself. It was like turning the skin upside down, like opening myself definitely. It has been a long research and still the third part is ongoing, while off course working on other projects, but feeling that the rhythm and timing was a different one. I feel I should not hurry this one. Since the beginning of the project, the moment where I decided I would start working on it. It has been a continuous discovery for myself. Somehow like if the cemetery was also my panacea my mythological envisioning. The deeper I went on research the deeper and furthest the cemetery was for me, it was like all the echoes, all the past all my experience and imaginary was kept like a seed somewhere, for me to discover. To unravel.
Landscape Stories: Katharine Payne discovered that elephants make infrasonic calls to one another at a long distance. In which way her research and intuition help your work for the 'Cemetery' soundtrack?
Carlos Casas: The research of Katy Payne came more like a confirmation of my theories around the sensitivity of elephants it was more like if scientific knowledge was supporting a sense of spiritual need I was searching. Her work is fascinating in a sense of opening a door to a still unknown territory of the real function of animals in the evolution on the planet, and its relation to human beings. All this is a mystery, and somehow fascinates me. That it exists another interrelation between the animal kingdom, and us and especially with elephants. In relation to the music it has been an influence to understand the relation of sound and communication, and how the idea of sound is used also in our contemporary communication not only as music, but also as a social tool.
Landscape Stories: What attracted you towards landscape, urban spaces and evanescent and unstable horizons?
Carlos Casas: Landscape is the background for everything, it contains everything, I am very related to the romantic idea of landscape, and also very related to the idea of entropy in the Smithson way, very influenced by that particular period of contemporary art where landscape was primordial. Parallel to that I am also highly influenced by the idea of landscape in the explorer mind, in the discovery of territory, as a metaphor for knowledge for comprehension of the human position in the universe, in this sense I am fascinated by the exploration race era. In the last century when our planet was having few blank spots on the map.
Landscape Stories: How much importance do you attach to the social, economic, or political aspects of what you exhibit? Why the anthropological side of your work is so important?
Carlos Casas: The social context is always the main one but in the sense of us being social animals, of us interwoven by social rules by social exchange. But I feel that anthropologically I am more fascinated to unravel questions that go beyond the present time, or the political, which somehow is the shortest parameter, I believe that I am more interested in long-term issues, I may even say in long distant issues. Or somehow omnipresent.
Landscape Stories: Francisco Lopez 'La Selva', Geir Jenssen 'Cho Oyu 8201', Lionel Marchetti 'Noord Five Atlantica' are sonic adventures in some of the most inaccessible places of the earth. In my opinion these works explore with wonderfully richness and relentless strength our idea of 'limit'. For you the use of Fieldworks in music recalls in some way landscape photography?
Carlos Casas: It is interesting you mention this three works, since all of them are somehow been an influence, for me my concept of fieldwork is very related to the idea of sound field recording, for me the visual it is key, and it forges all the relation with the sonic world, that is why in my fieldwork I am devoting a research on the non visible, like radio frequencies, and other sonic phenomena, which for me are an integral part of the landscape as much as the physical is.
Landscape Stories: Endless distance and the absolute: what is the contemporary sublime for you?
Carlos Casas: Well that is a quite difficult question to answer, since the essence of the sublime is the quite essence and subject matter of art, and in so it changes, somehow the sublime now it is changing into new matters and again a certain kind of sublimity is related to certain new types of terrain vague, of new hollow spaces, or urban detritus landscapes, if we speak about subject matter, but also somehow I found the sublime sometimes in the way old societies become new, and how civilization leaves new patterns and changes in their structural behaviors, and in doing so leave physical traces, I am really interested in architecture in the so called new ruins in modern societies, I am interested at their border of decadence questioning the position of civilization, I am really interested in that, in a modern sense of entropy applied to societies, to culture, and how that culture becomes somehow sublime. In its representations.
Landscape Stories: 'Avalanche' is your project dedicated to Pamir ("The roof of the world" in the Persian language). What about your collaboration with the musician/filmmaker Phil Niblock? ... I really like his experimental films from the late sixties... Do you like his past work?
Carlos Casas: Avalanche is my first collaboration with Niblock, and it came out of a dream and will to pay homage to his work and also to work with his music, which for me was important in relation to the landscape I was going to film. I would like to explain a bit how our collaboration went, since I think it is very pertinent for a magazine like yours called landscapes stories. When I asked Phil to work in the film I was imagining his music being a sort of colant of the film a guiding force in relation to the landscape to the mountains that somehow were the key to understand the place and the people living there, Phil gave one of his new compositions Stosspeng, that somehow for him expressed what we spoke about the landscape and place I was about to film. With this music I filmed all the landscapes shots of the film, so I was traveling with my camera and Phil's music while shooting all the images, and the music was changing the way I was looking at the landscape and also was changing the landscape itself, that is why Avalanche has a 1 hour overture with Phil's music as a way for the spectator to tune to the landscape to the place, and then the film starts, and you fully understand the people. His works has been a key influence on my work, musically and filmic wise. His series 'Movement of people working' is for me one of the most moving examples of the new cinematic experience, and to bring back the term sublime Niblock work is really upbringing a new sublime. And somehow as Phill would put it expanding the intermedia and cross discipline, his work has questioned the cinematic and also the contemporary music experience, and his influence is still to be fully understood.
Landscape Stories: You steers the Von Archives label with Nico Vascellari. Could you tell me something more about this?
Carlos Casas: Von Archives is a label that wants to release visual and sound explorations, we are interested in the new pollination between the visual and sound arts, we are presenting as we called the new visual sound movement, which proudly we believe we have somehow helped to develop and bring value.
Landscape Stories: You are currently working on a film about a cemetery of elephants on the borders between India and Nepal. What about your next projects?
Carlos Casas: In October I presented in London in the Sottovoce festival, my new work, WAR and PEACE, it is again a visual sound work part of my archive works experimental series, is kind of homage to soviet film and music, based on War and Peace the classic Bondarchuk film based on Tolstoy novel, and the DVD release is expected before the end of the year. But I will be presenting it in several festivals and exhibitions during this and next year. I am preparing a new 5.1 mix of the work that promises to be an amazing visual sound experience. In the meantime I am preparing the release of a book with the three-part research on Cemetery, which hopefully will see the light next year. And off course my series of Fieldworks will continue, I am preparing journeys to Turkmenistan, the Philippines and Mali before the end of the year.
Intervista a cura di Andrea Gaio