Travel Tales by Meris Angioletti

Travel Tales by Meris Angioletti

In spring 2006 the Italian artist Meris Angioletti worked and lived for three months at the Academy of Visual Arts in Maastricht. This residency was part of the European Pépinières program for young artists .

This residency was specially created for artists who are interested in the crossovers between contemporary art and science. Meris Angoletti decided to start a collaboration with several psychiatrists of the Van Gogh institute in Venray, in order to find information about 'dromomania' (or ambulatory automatism), a disease that forces people who suffer of it, to escape from the place they live and start long trips, of which, at the moment of their return, they don't remember at all. The aim is to collect and record these memories, selecting the sentences that refer to a specific spatial description.

Research?s topics Fear, anxiety, estrangement, and their psychological counterparts, anxiety neuroses and phobias, have been intimately linked to the aesthetics of space throughout the modern period. Romanticism, with its delight in the terrifying sublime, saw fear and horror lurking in landscapes, domestic scenes and city streets. Modernism, while displacing many such spatial fears to the domain of psychoanalysis, was nevertheless equally subject to fears newly identified as endemic to the metropolis. A particular mental disease connected to the space is analyzed by Ian Hacking in the book Mad Travelers: Reflections on the Reality of Transient Mental Illnesses, in which he describes the "wired case" of Albert Dada, an employee of the gas company of Bordeaux, that one day suddenly decided to abandon the house, the job and the everyday life in order to begin a long journey starting from Algeria, then to Moscow and finally to Constantinople, in stages of 70 kilometres a the day covered on foot, until the day he was arrested for roaming.

He obsessively travelled, bewildered, without any identity documents and perhaps without even an identity, therefore without knowing who he was and why he was travelling, aware only of the next stage. At the moment of his return he didn?t remember at all where he had been and only when hypnotized he could live again every stage of his travel.

The aim of the project is exactly to enquire into this blurred area between the idea of travel as exploration (also of the self) and of the mental disease, in order to achieve a representation of physical space through memory and the experience of walking in itself. In this way escape can become a tool to explore space from the point of view of experience in contrast with the traditional cartography of places. Starting from the hypothesis that the experienced space can be meaningful for the creation of a physical space, the project will collect witnesses' accounts of escapes and organize them in a sound installation.

In collaboration with doctors, who, through hypnosis or other psychological therapies, will help the patients to remember places where they have been, the project will record these memories (as narrations) and select only the sentences which refer to a specific spatial description (paths, description of buildings, personal measurements). Each experience will become an autonomous track. When, through the patients' descriptions, it will be possible to recognize a real, physical place, another track will be recorded (and then remixed) with the sound of the place itself.

The result

The final installation of the project will be a sound environment, where all the sample-tracks collected will be organized in order to recreate, through sound, the experience of getting lost during the escape. Each track will be recorded in 5+1 (if possible) and played in Dolby system, so that for the spectator it will be impossible to realize where the sound is coming from and he will find himself completely lost in the installation space.

Meris Angioletti, July 2006