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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Summer is in the air - you can tell it by the booming basses

Last weekend there were two big open air concerts in the city of Groningen. A Dance Party, and a live music show which will be broadcast on television later. Both attracted a lot of listeners, who had great fun. Both attracted quite some officials with Decibel measuring equipment, to check whether the festivals stayed within the official norms. Both led to complaints from people living nearby. Both led to people living nearby fleeing their home for a night - something I would probably want to do.

Party for one, a nightmare for the other - music showing both its faces at once.

Personally, I am not a huge fan of open air concerts. Mostly, when I play a CD or an instrument, I close doors and windows so that the neighbors won't have to listen to me and my music. And I don't like to have to listen to music which is played not by my choice. I have become much calmer about it lately, but still I feel that people who want to have a dance party should have it in a building which is kind of sound-proof. And I can imagine the despair of some of the inner city's inhabitants about the weekly - if not daily - open-air partying going on in summer. I remember living in the city center for some months a couple of years ago, and a "car-free Sunday" was announced. Innocently, I thought that meant the Sunday would be quieter than usual. But of course the opposite was the case: car-free meant care-free meant partying - cars were banned, so that left a lot of space which was used to open as many open air stages as possible, excreting more Decibels than any form of traffic could ever have done.

Of course people tell you: "It's not annoying any more when you visit the partying." I guess; but obligatory partying is kind of a contradiction.

Soon there will again be the concert in the woods nearby. Not too loud; not too crowded; all done because music and nature are both things of beauty, I guess, and therefore make such an excellent match. But I feel pity for the birds and the foxes, having to put up with Beethoven and a civilized jazz quintet where they normally would hear bats and owls. Actually, I prefer bats and owls myself when in the woods, rather than Beethoven and the jazz quintet.

If I feel like consuming the pleasures of nature, then please without the soundtrack.

But I realize the world is not about me; the world is about us. And the thing about living in this world is making the best of living in this crowded world. That counts for you (put that music off!) and for me (put those earplugs in!).

I would like to finish this superficial blog entry with giving you two examples of how visual artists can do what music can do: destroy the chance of enjoying your surroundings.

The lake I live nearby lies next to a motorway. Also, there are those huge electricity masts, towering over the landscape. On the mast closest to the lake, an artist has constructed seven artificial flames on top, which turn in the wind and at night indicate which day it is by some of them being alight. When I first saw it I thought that the artist had done a good job, turning an electricity mast into a work of Art. I rather have no electricity masts at all in view when I am on a lake in a sailing boat, but an Arty one is definitely a nicer option than a non-Arty one.
Groningen zuid - Stadsmarkering A28
Until, of course, I found out that the mast was no electricity mast at all (you notice the wires are missing on the picture above?). It was an Art mast. It was put there so that the artist cold put his flames up, to remind those on the lake that they were not on the lake but rather in the Modern World. If that is something you try to forget for a couple of hours in a sailing boat, you definitely have the feeling that you don't want any Artists coming to remember you of the fact continuously. So you are asked to close your eyes - which takes quite some of the fun out of sailing.

The other example: near my home, there is a little park. It seems there has been a former manor there, and the park has been made so as to allude to this history. Few people visit this park, so there is little waste lying in the grass or amidst the trees. But an Artist had a great idea: why not make bronze sculptures of waste and place it all around this park? So in the middle of the grass lies a bronze derelict chair; a bronze milkshake cup sits besides a bench; a bronze garbage bag is lying somewhere. Et cetera.

I get the idea. While writing it it sounds kind of funny. But seeing Bronze Art Waste every time you visit the park gets on the nerves just as much as seeing ordinary waste, I tell you that.

I wish somebody could come and clean up the park. So that I can sit there and play my 5-string banjo in peace...

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