I have selected twenty photographs from my journey to the Philippines and Japan, and have related them to twenty songs that always come along with me when I travel. My brother Pablo mixed all these songs: he’s my constant travel companion even though he isn’t physically with me. A kaleidoscope of songs, people, past and present moments, captured through photography. Listening to these songs is like being at home; looking at these photographs, a place to return to.
Travel, photography and music. What you wish to transmit here is something not only aesthetic, but also sensory. How did you get to the idea of ASIAVIVA? Was it conceived before, during, or after the journey?
The idea of relating music and photography came several months after the journey, but it was something that I’ve always wanted to do.
Even before photography -and travel-, music was my first passion. Until the age of twelve, my sources were the vinyl collection in my home and RN3 (Spanish national radio station). In those first moments, my parents, my aunt and presenters such as José María Rey, Juan de Pablos or A. Manrique, were my guides on this path of constant discoveries. After all this, my brother Pablo entered the scene. What´s more, he was the one who mixed the session which I hope you are listening to in this moment. Days spent at home watching how he learned to mix: concerts, sessions and festivals, all together… I can remember discussions about Power Punk at the age of sixteen; theorizing about the bass in Techno at twenty; commenting on the sessions of the DJs in Electrogaia or listening to his own sessions on 451ºF.
This collection of photographs also connects, through music, with the people who have accompanied me until this moment.
Actually, it’s really a journey that is both sensory and emotional.
By giving it a soundtrack, what you’re doing in the end is establishing a fixed time of 50 minutes for viewing this project. Each song marks a photograph associated with a memory of that day or when you heard that melody for the first time. Is the project a “performance” or would you define it in another way?
I actually didn’t realize that, before reading your question. For me, music doesn’t have a specific duration because when I love something, I tend to listen to it on a loop. When I was a teenager, the auto-reverse option on my walkman partially broke, because I had rewound tapes too much. At the end of one side, it would automatically turn backwards but the head would not change position, so I ended up hearing the same side again, only backwards. Wow, it was incredible! I listened to Rage Against the Machine in both directions infinite times!
Actually, the chosen songs have something to do with the memory of that day, while at the same time they are related to a moment from the past. It is a puzzle made of both memories and present moments. Thanks to this I have managed to fix these images in my consciousness in a deeper way. I hope to repeat the experience.
Looking at and listening to your photographs I’ve perceived a difference between what you tell about Manila and what you tell about Tokyo. In the first part, it seemed to me that you spoke of youth and childhood. Tokyo, on the contrary, seemed to be a tale of old age and solitude. What is your opinion on this?
The Philippines are exuberant, overflowing with youth. A place in process of construction, a place undergoing a process of growth.
On the day of our arrival, Rodrigo Duterte, the current president, who governs on the basis of populism and unjust laws, had just won the general election. The situation is dramatic, as murder is being permitted with impunity. World Press Photo awarded a prize to the Daniel Berehulak project on this situation: https://www.worldpressphoto.org/collection/photo/2017/general-news/daniel-berehulak
On the other side, Japan is a wise country, with a fascinating mixture of tradition and technology. A rich and very developed society: I do get the feeling that, there, people have lost their sense of proportion, and that individualism has paved the way for solitude. Face to face contact barely exists, basically they communicate through screens. I am afraid that we are heading in the same direction, although I prefer to think that a Mediterranean society like ours will never reach that extreme point.
There’s a limitless stupidity in every one of us and, the truth is, that it can be mixed with the most wonderful qualities we have, arbitrarily. The thing that makes us exceptional is also our greatest defect. Japan exemplifies this. That one seems to me a society which is both admirable and sick at the same time.
I know that you keep on traveling constantly. What have you learned on your journey that you didn’t know before leaving?
I hardly understood all that stands behind each new step I took before I left. Each present moment is the consequence of many others lived previously.
I am much more aware of my present now and, on occasions like this one, I treat myself to enjoying my past. I think that after this journey I have learned to love much more the person that I have been.
Where are you right now? And how long are you going to stay?
At the moment I am filming in Portugal with UNHCR, and till now, it’s an incredible journey. Portugal is a wonderful country, very musical. You can hear a fado in the most unexpected places and remember Grândola Vila Morena in the appropriate place. The melody of this song can be heard in the words of any Portuguese when they speak about their country. Highly recommendable: one of the most exciting songs I know:
This journey is also leading me to Syria, Iraq, Palestine, to the refugee camps of Macedonia, Greece, Lebanon…The stories that I hear have a melody far less hope-inspiring than the signal of the beginning of the Carnation Revolution. The melody of the refugees is that of the survivors. Even so, life goes on. Once again, the best and the worst of the human being represented in ourselves.
An Ending. Brian Eno.
The end of one journey is the beginning of another. Manila only a few steps away.
We discovered Brian Eno with Trainspotting. Satie y Debussy began to sound different.
Fish Beach. Michael Nyman.
20.000.000 inhabitants, 43.000 people per square km, 897 barangays (neighbourhoods)… Truly, Drowning by the numbers.
Manila with its ins and outs, its nooks and crannies and people within this tangle. All new for me. Just as is listening to Autechre, with Juan.
Ingenue. Atom for Peace.
My first jeep, with its fascinating rules and codes. Like Tom York and all that he touches.
Boring Angel. Onethrix point never.
Among all that chaos, that face of novel serenity. The latest novelty: Onethrix with Cristina and Pablo.
Even Spring. Plaid.
Children and music always manage to infect you with joy. In October of 2014, Plaid, immersed me in his music.
9th June. Boards of Canada.
9th June in El Nido, Boards of Canada, always. Like Pablo.
Horses in my Dreams. PJ Harvey.
It started to play in Carabanchel and never stopped because it is a state of mind. It was raining that day. Everything was grey, blue and brilliant.
Spring 01. Max Ritcher.
I heard this piece live, with Diana, Tesi and Ramón. at moment was the beginning of this journey.
God Yu Tekem Laef Blong Mi. Gavin Greenaway.
That day, after breakfast, I learned that De la Quadra Salcedo had passed away. I felt glad that I was following on the path which I began along with him.
No me acostumbro. El último de la la.
We return to Manila before flying to Tokyo.
I go back to the swimming pool with Hugo and Alex, to play with Curro, to stroke Tito, to the Vermouths with my parents.
Playing in our car. Macaya, Sergio and Laura. From a 451F to Al’Laboratorio. Coloured lights in Manila too.
Wonderful life. Carl Craig.
We arrive in Japan, and life is wonderful.
Just like a barbecue day with Jessie, Gabriella, Mateo and Cesar.
Actium. Aphex Twin.
Aphex and Tokyo, they are bound to recognise each other.
You Lot. Orbital.
I saw Orbital after REM in my first electronic music concert. This song takes on meaning losing myself in this city.
Casa. Jeff Mills.
With Beltrán, Naiara, Pablo or Pichón.
In Macumba, Electrogaia, or Arena, that day in the Contact with Diana.
9 hours into the future. Surgeon.
Living a future that is clean, silent and solitary.
Blood Witness. Regis.
Each day you become increasingly small. Tokyo absorbs you, it’s very techno.