Henri Chopin

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Henri Chopin, LES FILTRES DE L’ALPHABET ET DE L’€ OU LA PUISSANCE DE L’UTOPIE

 

Born in 1922 in Paris, Chopin is one of the key figures of the international neo-avantgarde. His career goes back to the fifties, and he was one of the founders of sound poetry. During World War II he was obliged to do forced labour in 1942, and a year later, the Germans deported him to Olomuk in Czechoslovakia. Between 1944 and 1945 he found himself on the ‘death march’ towards Russia. The terrible conditions during the war were a source of inspiration for his works, but 1955 saw a turning point in his poetical interests. On the island of Ré, where the poet was working as an educator for maladjusted children, at the Saint-Martin-de-Ré market, site of the famous citadel designed for the Sun King by Vauban in the fifteenth century, Chopin met a street vendor who gave him her portable tape recorder. The discovery of this device opened up new perspectives for the artist’s poetry thanks to its ability to conserve the human voice, outward sign of an inner act. A key figure in the French avant-garde, Chopin joined a circle of lettrist poets, and he attended lectures by Isidore Isou. Other members include Dufrêne, Wolman, Brau, Paul De Vree, Gysin, and Bernard Heidsieck. He found himself particularly on the same wavelength as François Dufrêne, the voice of Isou’s traité. In the late fifties (1957), he became the leader of the ultra-lettrists, a splinter group of Isou’s movement, inspired by the scream poetry of Artaud and animated by Dufrêne. For the ultra-lettrists, the voice represents the internal energy needed to power the network of relationships with the world: in other words, vocal energy represents life itself. In 1959 he founded “OU”, the first magazine dedicated to the theory and poetics of sound that would showcase authors like Dufrêne, Bernard Heidsieck, William Burroughs, Ladislav Novak, Mimmo Rotella and other important avant-garde figures from round the world. It presented text, images and sound materials on vinyl. Chopin, always ahead of his time, did not merely cultivate the creative sphere of sound and verbal poetry. Chopin was a key figure in the French avant-garde, and gained international renown: he was also a visual and graphic artist, typographer, performer, director, publisher and independent art promoter, and he made many appearances in Italy. He performed in many festivals and took part in several exhibitions as a concrete poet. He also joined the international editing team of an international poetry magazine, “Taverna di Auerbach”, dedicated to intermedial poetics. It was founded in 1987 and ran until 1990 under the direction of Giovanni Fontana. At that time he began working on an ambitious project, a monumental multimedia autobiography for the Archivio Conz, a corpus of audio recordings and around 4,000 pages of text, photographs, and scores, for which Chopin wished to directly enlist those whom he called his “accomplices” in poetics. His interests, beyond verbal, sound and concrete poetry and film, extend to theoretical writing (such as aux Musiciens Aphines in issue no. 33 in OU, the magazine he directed), theatre and even pamphleteering. The latter must be understood in the light of his personal circumstances, experiencing as he had at first hand the events of World War II. The convictions expressed in his pamphlets would remain unchanged throughout his life (Stelio M. Martini, introduction to the text of H. Chopin, L’ultimo romanzo del mondo (1961), Edizioni Morra, Naples, 1984). In the early eighties, he came into contact with Giuseppe Morra, founder of Studio Morra, now Fondazione Morra, one of the most important historical sites for contemporary art in the city of Naples. Their partnership immediately spawned numerous new works, including publications and audio media such as the dattilopoemi, compositions performed on a typewriter where the visual side offers a variety of multiple readings verging on the impossible, visual scores where the image is lostin sound, both of which are understood as physical objects. His experiments with words and vision are perfectly epitomised in the dattilopoemi. They create a textual corporality through the visual tension caused by the superimposition of different texts and patterns formed from letters, crafting an architectural skeleton to reveal the pure form of the word. Chopin remains an important point of reference for generations of artists, both in terms of sound and image poetry. In his works, the visual is abandoned in favour of sound, and both are the result of their sheer physicality. Henri Chopin died in 2008 in Dereham, UK.

 

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Henri Chopin, The Chaines

 

Why I Am The Autor of Sound Poetry and Free Poetry

Henri Chopin, 1967

It is impossible, one cannot continue with the allpowerful Word, the Word that reigns over all. One cannot continue to admit it to every house, and listen to it everywhere describe us and describe events, tell us how to vote, and whom we should obey.
I, personally, would perfer the chaos and disorder which each of us would strive to master, in terms of his own ingenuousness, to the order imposed by the Word which everybody uses indiscriminately, always for the benefit of a capitol, of a church, of a socialism, etc….
No one has ever tried to establish chaos as a system, or to let it come. Perhaps there would be more dead among the weak constitutions, but certainly there could be fewer than there are in that order which defends the Word, from the socialisms to the capitalisms. Undoubtedly there would be more alive beings and fewer dead beings, such as employees, bureaucrats, business and government executives, who are all dead and who forget the essential thing: to be alive.
The Word has created profit, it has justified work, it has made obligatory the confusion of occupation (to be doing something), it has permitted life to lie. The Word has become incarnate in the Vatican, on the rostrums of Peking, at the Elysee, and even if, often, it creates the inaccurate SIGNIFICATION, which signifies differently for each of us unless one accepts and obeys, if, often, it imposes multiple points of view which never adhere to the life of a single person and which one accepts by default, in what way can it be useful to us? I answer: in no way.Because it is not useful that anyone should understand me, it is not useful that anyone should be able to order me to do this or that thing. It is not useful to have a cult that all can understand and that is there for all, it is not necessary that I should know myself to be imposed upon in my life by an all-powerful Word which was created for past epochs that will never return: that adequate to tribes, to small nations, to small ethnic groups which were disseminated around the globe into places whose origins escape us.The Word today serves no one except to say to the grocer: give me a pound of lentils.The Word is useful no more; it even becomes an enemy when a single man uses it as a divine word to speak of a problematic god or of a problematic dictator. The Word becomes the cancer of humanity when it vulgarizes itself to the point of impoverishment trying to make words for all, promises for all, which will not be kept, descriptions of life which will be either scholarly or literary which will take centuries to elaborate upon with no time left for life.The Word is responsbile for the phallic death because it dominates the senses and the phallus which are submissive to it; it is responsible for the birth of the exasperated who serve verbose principles.It is responsible for the general incomprehension of beings who succumb to murders, racisms, concentrations, the laws, etc.In short, the Word is responsible because instead of making it a way of life we’ve made it an end. Prisoner of the Word is the child, and so he will be all his adult life.

 

But, without falling into anecdote, one can mention the names of some who insisted upon breaking the bonds imposed by the Word. If timid essays by Aristophanes showed that sound was indispensable- the sound imitative of an element or an animal then -that does not mean that it was sought after for its own sake. In that case, the sound uttered by the mouth was cut off, since it only came from an imagined and subordinated usage, when in fact it is the major element.

It will not be investigated for its importance in the sixteenth century either since it must be molded by musical polyphony. It will not be liberated by the Expressionists since they needed the support of syllables and letters as did the Futurists, Dadaists and Lettristes.

The buccal sound, the human sound, in fact, will come to meet us only around 1953, with Wolmann, Brau, Dufrene, and somewhat later with my audiopoems.

But why want these a-significant human sounds, without alphabet, without reference to an explicative clarity? Simply, I have implied it, the Word is incomprehensible and abusive, because it is in all the hands, rather in all the mouths, which are being given orders by a few mostly unauthorized voices.

The mimetic sound of man, the human sound, does not explain, it transmits emotions, it suggests exchanges, affective communications; it does not state precisely, it is precise. And I would say well that the act of love of a couple is precise, is voluntary, if it does not explain! What then is the function of the Word, which has the pretension to affirm that such and such a thing is clear? I defy that Word.

I accused it and I still accuse it as an impediment to living, it makes us lose the meager decades of our existence explaining ourselves to a so-called spiritual, political, social, or religious court. Through it we must render accounts to the entire world; we are dependent upon the mediocrities Sartre, Mauriac, De Gaulle. They own us in every area; we are slaves of rhetoric, prisoners of explanation that explains nothing. Nothing is yet explainable.

That is why a suggestive art which leaves the body, that resonator and that receptacle, animated, breathed and acted, that + and-, that is why a suggestive art was made; it had to come, and nourish, and in no way affirm. You will like this art, or you will not like it, that is of no importance! In spite of yourself it will embrace you, it will circulate in you. That is its role. It must open our effectors to our own biological, physical and mental potentialities beyond all intellect; art must be valued like a vegetable, it feeds us differently, that is all. And when it gets into you, it makes you want to embrace it. That way the Word is reduced to its proper role subordinate to life; it serves only to propose intelligible usages, elementary exchanges, but never will it canal the admirable powers of life, because this meager canaling, as I have implied, finally provokes usury in us through the absence of real life.

Let us not lose 4/5ths of intense life without Word to the benefit of the small l/5th of verbiage. Let us be frank and just. Let us know that the day is of oxygen, that the night eliminates our poisons, that the entire body breathes and that it is a wholeness, without the vanity of a Word that can reduce us.

I prefer the sun, I’m fond of the night, I’m fond of my noises and of my sounds, I admire the immense complex factory of a body, I’m fond of my glances that touch, of my ears that see, of my eyes that receive…. But I do not have to have the benediction of the written idea. I do not have to have my life derived from the intelligible. I do not want to bc subject to the true word which is forever misleading or Iying, I can stand no longer to be destroyed by the Lord, that lie that abolishes itself on paper.

 

DESIGNED BY HENRI CHOPIN | REVUE DE POÉSIE EVOLUTIVE

 

France

Mary Ellen Solt

From Concrete Poetry: A World View (1968, Indiana University Press)

In France the new movement of experimental poetry follows in the wake of Dada experiments with the sound poem and Lettrisme, which explains, perhaps, why French concrete poetry is characterized by advanced methods of experimentation. It was launched in 1962 by Pierre Garnier’s “Manifesto for a New Poetry Visual and Phonic,” which appeared in LES LETTRES No. 29. Garnier named the new movement Spatialisme, for he sensed that man’s new awareness of himself as a cosmic being in the age of space required a revision of language to express itself:

Once we lived safely beneath our stratum of air. Now we are waves spouting in the cosmos. How can we expect our words to remain wrapped up in the atmosphere of the sentence?
Let them be reunited, like ourselves, to cosmic space–word constellations on the white page.

Every word is an abstract picture.

A surface. A volume.

A surface on the page. A volume when spoken.

Garnier emphasized the necessity for a break with the old rhythms:

The rhythms of poetry have succeeded in deadening the reader’s mind.We listen to the purring of Racine but do not understand it. In poetry we become aware of the universe–for it to be based upon the enumeration of feet is an absurdity.

It makes no difference whether FER or AVION have one or two syllables. What counts is their meaning, the space which the words themselves occupy upon the printed page,

the vibrations they set up in fact the volume which they enclose-immense and horizontal in the case of FER, infinite but with a note of disquiet for AVION

The structure of the sentence would also have to go:

The structure of the sentence has caused the same damage as the rhythms of poetry. What a difference there is between: “The tiger is coming to drink at the river bank” and the single name: TIGER!
The poet is left with words stripped of all worn out structural trappings:

Words are as hard and as scintillating as diamonds.

The word is an element.

The word is a material.

The word is an object.

For those who know how to look at them, some words possess a remarkable topography.

TRANSATLANTIQUE, for instance, rocks and seas, peaks and abysses–why, even the moon cannot be any richer in craters and parched valleys, in rhythms and beauties.

Words are the visible aspects of ideas just as the trunk and the foliage are the visible aspects of a tree.

Underneath are the roots, the ideas.

We must grind our well-worn language to dust–in other words, make the individual words scintillate.

We must do away with imprecise terms, adjectives, for example–or again use them as nouns, as substance, that is to say, as material.

But the word cannot be set on the page unless it is in harmony with the atmosphere of the poem.

What is more, the value of each word is modified by the fact that the poem belongs no longer to a flux but to a static system.

(The list poem “JANVIER,’ should be read in relation to the above remarks.)

In general Garnier’s statements apply to both visual and phonic poetry, but certain distinctions need to be made. The visual poem should not be ‘read.’ It should be allowed to ‘make an impression,’ first through the general shape of the poem and then through each word perceived out of the whole at random.

The word “perceived” points up most clearly the new way of experiencing the poem, which is to replace reading, for:

A word which is read only grazes, the reader’s mind: but a word that is perceived, or accepted, starts off a chain of reactions there.
This means that the experience of the poem will not be the same for all who look at it. The reactions to the poem will be “stronger and more profound in direct portion to the richness and sensitivity of the mind” that perceives the poem object.

Garnier defines the phonic poem “not as a complete entity” but as a “preliminary,” for it can be “spoken by one or more voices according to choice,” and “while following the same rhythm and the same chain of images the speaker can add and improvise as he thinks fit.”

A “Second Manifesto for a Visual Poetry” dated 31 December 1962 appeared in LES LETTRES 30. Here Garnier speaks of the new visual poetry as a “return to the solar play of surfaces” after the “submarine adventure” of exploring the unconscious–the “glory” of our century–but in the last analysis unconvincing, for “no work of any painter, no poem of any poet convinces [him] fully that it was born of the unconscious.”

Where the word is concerned Garnier speaks of “the world of objectivation . . . being born” in which the word is coming to be known as “free object.” It is the task of poets to make the word “holy again” like the “one or two sacred phrases of the Torah . . . more important than a whole century of poetry, . . the word is more expressive than the discourse.” Its holiness resides in its materiality: “There is in all material a dignity not yet put to the proof.”

 

 

This unmasking of the spirituality in that which we so far have called material is one of the great occurrences of our epoch. We have seen gold give way to zinc, to tin, to light metals. Man was bewildered to see coming toward him the spirit of lower beings. Distracted by thousands of years of arbitrary separation, he was not expecting it.He had simply forgotten that the mind of which he is the depository is not his own but that of the universe.

Man today is no longer determined by his environment, his nationality, his social class, but by the images he receives, by the objects which surround him, by the universe.

If the material is spirit, we must let it work, the work of the painter and the poet will consist in making it objectively present.

The spiritual in the material can be made “objectively present” in the visual poem, which like 2 painting can now take its place among the objects which surround us:
Man has to be able to “see” the poem and think of something else. We live among objects, among beings, often we contemplate them without thinking of them; and they in turn contemplate us.

Insensibly they modify us–the best pedagogues are the silent presences….

Only the objects are stable: they are the islands and we are the sea…. We must therefore first discover them with our deep and innocent eyes. Then we will find that our glance alone has the power to make words, colors and sounds displace themselves. After that, due to their initial unsettling, the sounds, the colors and the words organize themselves….

The visual poem must be like these objects. It accompanies man without touching him.

Becoming object the visual poem “must overflow the page . . . the poem so far stays nicely in balance on the page. The visual poem, on the other hand, tends increasingly to scatter its words. See, they arrive freely even to the margin, they try to rejoin the universe, they vibrate, they are going to lose themselves in space.” Freed of the necessity to limit itself to the paper, “which, because of its banality, platitudinousness, and neutrality is a poor carrier,” the poem can now be inscribed “on walls, on stones, on windows, on firm sand, on wrapping paper, on old sacks.”

Garnier sees the “road to an objective poetry” as “heading toward that ideal point where the word creates itself. Autonomy of language…. Language is no longer committed to man as man is no longer committed to language.”

In the “world of objectivation” the artist is:
a universe in action within the universe in action. Suddenly he finds himself in this world without pope, without king, without religion and without recourse like the trees and the birds, the dancers and the boats, the waves. And he himself is tree and bird and dancer and boat and wave–free, now that all the masks have fallen.

In 1963 Garnier drafted a manifesto in which he attempted to unite the experimental poets working throughout the world. Since Spatialisme is concerned with space in both its visual and sound dimensions, it would seem to be able to accommodate most if not all types of experimental poetry presently being created. A draft of the manifesto was sent to the poets for their signatures and approval, and it appeared in final form as: POSITION I DU MOUVEMENT INTERNATIONAL (dated 10 October 1963) in LES LETTRES, No. 32. It is a most clarifying document, for it defines all types of experimental poetry, reserving the name “concrete” for “poetry working with language–material, creating structures with it, transmitting primarily esthetic information.” Several of the poets in this selection signed it.

In many respects POSITION I is a re-statement of the two preceding manifestoes, but Garnier enlarges the concept of the “objective poem” as “the liberation of an energy, the sharing of esthetic information, the objectivation of language.” The new poem should be thought of less as “art” and more as ”transmitted energy.”

In his most recent work Garnier, in collaboration with his wife Ilse, has been experimenting with the poeme mechanique. In the typewriter poem, Pierre and Ilse Garnier find that the “linguistic elements” are joined to one another in such a way that “the action of a force–that of a word, of a group of letters, of psychic energy–acting upon one of them, can be transmitted to the others and oppose itself to the staticness of the poem.” These are “driving” forces which express themselves as “speed.” The realized poem amounts to “a transformation of work” to workactivity of the linguistic materials. The typewriter is particularly suited to this kind of poem because “it allows for objectivation, the introduction of speed to the concept of poetry, superposition, the progression of spaces, etc.”

Machine poetry (that made on the typewriter, tape recorder, etc.) is a recent development accruing from the same “liberation of language” that has made other types of experimental poetry possible:

Objectivation, disappearance of the primacy of semantics pulverization of words, language-matter able to produce energy or change into energy.

Ilse and Pierre Garnier have made typewriter poems employing both whole words and single letters. In “texte pour une architecture” making use of energy in typing (accenting the word “cinema” as it is pronounced in French) and of the space bar to move the entire line to the right one space per line, atomizing the word, they have been able to capture the play of black and white in the light projected onto the movie screen. The flat, windowless wall of a theatre might well undergo metamorphosis into a textural poem made of the word “cinema.”

Although Garnier is considered the spokesman for the international poetry movement in France, the names of the other French poets presented here do not appear among the list of signers of POSITION I. Some of them may not have been working in the new way at that time; others were probably not known to Garnier. Henri Chopin, however, found himself in the position of being in sympathy with POSITION I DU MOUVEMENT INTERNATIONAL but unable to sign it. His letter stating his reasons was appended to the signatures. Essentially these were his objections:

. . . “position” tells us where we stand. The movement of which we are a priori “members” does not exist. I am not a member of a movement but I am “with” movement. I am movement. International? There again I balk. What does it mean? Does it mean beyond nations or with all nations? Possibly. But why not rather with life, with the moving force, combustion. From then on international need not be mentioned….
It is no longer a stop that the little poem constitutes–the privileged moment of the poet of yesterday. It even goes beyond the poet who has become a professional man. It goes beyond professions. It goes “with” movement. It is a movement suddenly crystallized. Left behind by the author. The contemporary author is no longer author. He is a man who leaves in his tracks some precisions. And that is better than to have an impenetrable museum of movements that one beautiful day stopped.

Chopin refuses to be bound by anything, above all by le Verbe (the Word); for it is “an impediment to living, it makes us lose the meager decades of our existence explaining ourselves to a so-called spiritual, political, social or religious court. Through it we must render accounts to the entire world….” Consequently he has found more freedom and integrity of expression in the sound poem made of “a-significant human sounds, without alphabet, without reference to an explicative clarity.” For “the mimetic sound of man, the human sound . . . the vocal sound . . . does not explain, it transmits emotions, it suggests exchanges, affective communications; it does not state precisely, it is precise.”

Chopin’s audio (sound) poems must, of course, be heard. Our page from “sol air” (“earth air”) is part of the notation of a poem for tape recorder. “sol air” is realized exclusively by the voice of the author on magnetic tape. Various speeds and volumes of the tape recorder are employed, also superpositions. The linguistic materials of this poem are: the vowels and consonants of the words “sol air,” certain noises produced by the mouth, such as the clacking together of the lips, and breathing. The result resembles electronic music.

Garnier, as we have seen, spoke of the sound poem as “preliminary,” open to various possibilities, rather than as a “complete entity.” At the Biennale in Paris in 1965, Laura Sheleen and Francoise Saint-Thibault interpreted “sol air” (composed 1964) as a “ballet of spaces.” One is struck by the impression of space hearing it.

Chopin also makes visual poems (with or without words), which convey their message with graphic force and a minimum of language. Like Augusto de Campos and Pignatari, he has used the visual poem as an effective weapon for attacking society and its institutions. Taking one of man’s monuments to his military “greatness,” L’ Arc de Triomphe, he makes it of the word “saoul” (“drunk”) and places it upon earth that is “feu” (“fire”). But if there is nothing admirable left in man who makes war for the poet to glorify, he can still find a subject for pity and fear in the naked, unknown soldier who burns alone in his commemorative flame.

The new mechanical sound poem accomplishes a union between the age of technology and the oral tradition of poetry. Bernard Heidsieck has created another kind of oral poem which is also a descendent of the various kinds of dramatic poetry: the PoemPartition, meant to be performed as a simultaneity of rapidly-spoken sentences punctuated by human or non-human sounds and noises, some of them accidental. That is to say, in “La Penetration”, a double-talk discourse on man’s nuclear and sexual problems, the two halves of the page would be performed at the same time, as events occur simultaneously in life. The Poem-Partitiorz belongs to a species of experimental poetry which, because it incorporates actual “living” material into the poem, is called Póesie Actuelle or Poesie-Action.

Action Poetry, according to Heidsieck, is one manifestation of the poem’s return “to the world,” of its desire to exert itself toward the reintegration of society. “Places of ‘actions’ or of auditions take the place of the written page: stage, street, listening room, studio.” The Action Poem is made from “anything that the poem authorizes itself to take . . . the voice, the cry, the gesture, the act, the noise, the sound, the silence, everything and anything.” And it uses the phonograph, the tape recorder, the juke-box or any mechanical help it needs as its “new supports and vehicles.”

Speaking particularly about Action Poetry which makes use of the tape recorder, Heidsieck sees it as a new approach to the poem from a “certain angle more exact, perhaps, of reality, which the machine authorizes ” For it permits the poet “to arouse, to awaken other layers of sensibility, to reach or lay bare other horizons or dimensions of consciousness. Individual or collective.” This is made possible by: “manipulation of the speeds, cuttings, volumes, superpositions, couplings.” The resulting tape represents “a photograph, a tracing, more faithful to the movements, magic, interlacings, rhythms, softenings, shortenings, interferences of thought,” according to Heidsieck.

It is contemporary man’s “desire for the trace,” his “desperateness to seize reality by that bias” which “undoubtedly results from the mad thickness of uncertainty which attaches itself to our collective future, taking account of the apocalyptic possibilities or probabilities” that brings the Action Poem into being, Heidsieck goes on to say:

Moreover the Absolute is despairingly searched for even at the heart of the relative or of its appearance, even the flesh of this quotidian having become the only certain element to which it is still permissible to cling…. The rage to find there or to rouse the miracle-stone…. From whence its [the poem’s] desire . . . to exorcise the banal. To incorporate it within itself. To stigmatize it. To burn it. In order to extract from it the quintessence of events or to kill it. To return life to it or to make it give back its soul.

The Action-Poem, then, is a “certain ritual, ceremonial, or event . . . lying in wait for the participation of others,” that arouses it, or provokes it “during the course of Offices or of ‘moments’ which attempt to become sacred” more by responsibly searching and questioning human existence than by celebrating it, for:

We must begin at the beginning. To question our daily gestures, and words and cries. To appropriate them or dynamite them. To make them meaningful and to put our names to them. At best. It’s a question of recovering their energy potential or of eliminating the slag from them. Of recapturing the mystery and the breath. Of events. At their roots. In order that our mechanical and technocratic age may be animated by them, imbued with them from the point of their unmoorings.

Julien Blaine follows a course closer to traditional concepts of the poem. In “3 + 3” a high degree of Iyricism is achieved with the concrete method of formula and repetition. The effectiveness of the poem results from the play of subjective tone and musical quality against a “mathematical” pattern. In “X” the precise mathematical sign for the unknown becomes the predominating letter in “voiX” (“voice”). The poet’s voice speaks to us in terms of a fantastic riddle. In the world of signs, though, the meaning of X is perfectly clear.

Jean François Bory’s poem “femme” (“woman”) establishes a kinship between a contemporary method of picture writing made possible by the camera and the ancient calligraphic character. In “S” he uses the letter as the “sign of signs” of the times, typing within the letter form words and phrases beginning with “s,” which taken all together make a scathing comment, belying the beauty of the visual sign of the poem. Bory and Blaine are associated with the magazine APPROCHES.

Jean-Marie le Sidaner also makes a despairing comment on the world using the technique of the layout to suggest a full-page advertisement of the world. An advertisement is some kind of invitation. We are offered fragments: phrases, sentences, single words, visual images, which suggest symbols (some not completely recognizable) and the ancient character for “fire” as the Han mark of the poet. LeSidaner is committed to Spatialisme as: “the greatest artistic movement since surrealism.”

 

 

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In December 1958, Chopin published his first “audio-poème” in a new magazine that provided a forum for traditional and experimental poetry side by side, Cinquième Saison. By the time the next issue appeared in March 1959, Chopin had replaced the magazine’s founder, Raymond Syte, as sole editor, and from 1959 to 19 64 he published another sixteen issues of Cinquième Saison before changing its title to OU in 1964. The change signaled a radical change in approach. Devoted exclusively to experimental visual and sound poetry and performance, OU continued to appear as a tour de force under Chopin’s direction for an entire decade, the last issue being published in 1974.

Issue of OU featured concrete, visual, and typewriter poems, and most also including a vinyl record showcasing accoustic performances by Chopin, Raoul Hausmann, Gil J. Wolman, Francois Dufrêne, Bernhard Heidsieck, Paul Devree, Ladislav Novak, Bryon Gysing, Bob Cobbing, William Burroughs, and others who appeared in Chopin’s 1979 survey, Poésie sonore internationale (“International Sound Poetry”). Images, screenprints, multiples, and original works of art were circulated in a limited run of the deluxe edition, of which Beinecke holds the personal copy owned by Jean Radcliffe, Chopin’s wife. The journal brought together international contemporary writers and artists such as Jiří Kolář, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Tom Phillips, Gysin, Burroughs, and many others, including representatives of Lettrism and Fluxus. Chopin also re-introduced the work of earlier generations, including pieces by Raoul Hausmann, a founder of Berlin Dada, whom Chopin met shortly before he died.

 

 

 

 

Henri Chopin’s Sound Poetry on UbuWeb Sound

 

Resources:

“A Void: Henri Chopin, Guy de Cointet, Channa Horwitz,” Kunsthalle Dusseldorf, May 16-June 30, 2013, exhibition review in e-flux.
Henri Chopin biography and exhibition history,Supportico Lopez Gallery, Berlin.
“Henri Chopin at Supportico Lopez, Berlin” exhibition review, May 2, 2013.
Interview with Henri Chopin, April 3, 1972 (audio recording, in English).
“Henri Chopin: Poésie Sonore at Andreas Huber,”Contemporary Art Daily review, December 20, 2010.
“Obituary: Henri Chopin: avant-garde pioneer of sound poetry,” Frédéric Acquaviva, The Guardian, February 4, 2008.

 

Selection of sound recordings by Henri Chopin:

Cantata for Two Farts & Co.

Les Mirifiques Tundras & Co.

Les Chuitantes Respirent

Throat Power

Vertigo Du Vertige

La Digestion

Les Pirouettes Vocales Pour Les Pirouettements Vocaux

Les Souffles Des Tempêtes

La civilisation du papier (1975)

Extrême Tension (1974)

Définition des Lettres Suivantes (1975)

 

Audio-poèmes, including:

“Rouge” (1956)

“Pêche de Nuit” (1957)

“Sol Air” (1961-64)

“Indicatif 1” (1962)

“Vibrespace” (1963)

“La Fusée Interplanétaire” (1963)

“La Fusée Interplanétaire” (1963)

“L’énergie du sommeil” (1965)

“Le Corps: Déchirure de l’air” (1966)

“Le Corps: Brisure du Corps” (1966)

“Le Corps: Chant du Corps” (1966)

“2500, les Grenouilles d’Aristophane” (1967)

“Lè Ventre de Bertini” (1967)

“Mes Bronches” (1968)

“Le Rire est Debout” (1969)

“Double Extension” (1970), voice: Chopin; electronic composition: Sten Hanson)

“Hoppa Bock” (1970)

“Les Mandibules du Déjeuner sur l’Herbe” (1971)

“Tête á Tête” (1971-73), Sten Hanson and Chopin

“Le Soleil est mécanique” (1972), voice: Denis Chopin, audio: Chopin

“Dynamisme intégral” (1973)

“French Lesson” (1974)

“L’Agrippe des Droits” (1980)

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