Sounding sofa couch
350 x 90 x 80 cm
110 x 220 cm
50 x 23 cm
When art is industrialized, it can lose its essence but not its function. For Satie, it was necessary to create an industrial product to save his personal vision of art. His manifesto declared the need of a “music destined to decorate the ambience for the ear, just as the portrait furnishes ambience for the eye.”
I realized my idea of Musique d’Ameublement by using two armchairs, a sofa couch, a lamp, a flowers bouquet. I returned to some useless object a different function, making them resonant and sufficient to create ambience. For the couch and the armchair, I removed all the buttons and replaced them with mini loudspeakers, connecting them in turn to an amplifier whiched transformed—in one sits upon them—sound and vibration into the entire artwork. For the lamp, I removed the lighting and inserted speakers of fifteen-centimeter diameters. I also used an amplifier to achieve the same aim in this work. I repeat the same operation for the flower bouquet, though using a different loudspeaker size.
Satie was the pioneer of ambient music, of which Brian Eno remains the most important exponent nowadays. Yet the story which gave birth to this musical genre has its roots in an underlying auditory discomfort.
It all began when Jean Cocteau, a faithful friend of Satie, wrote in Le Coq et L’arlequin: “Enough with the clouds, waves, aquariums and the night smells; enough with the music listened to with the head in the hands”.
Here Cocteau referred to a painting of Lionello Balestrieri entitled “Beethoven,” especially to the auditor present in that painting, a man who listens to the violin played with his head in his hands, in full catharsis, in a so serious a way and with such compunction, exactly in that particular way which the middleclass celebrated their apotheosis during the most important show of the time, the concert.
The same audience is always the interlocutor of Satie: “the people believe their behavior is worthy of praise, listening to the wrong things considered beautiful, or finding entirely convenient having the air of appreciating certain thing when in fact they have their heads in the clouds. The idea of a music which remains near to the listener, without asking him to maintain a constant attention. We should compose a sort of music of furnishings, able to combine all the noises of the room in which it is diffused, reflecting all of the above.
It should fill the silences, so heavy sometimes, among the fellow diners, and it should replace that usual exchange of banalities, an overtly utilitarian music, an industrial product, Art is another thing.
It is in this way that the Musique d’Ameublement came to be created by Satie 1917.