BEIJING

ISLAND VILLAGE

CHAPLETON

HAMBURG

17.10.2016 Michel E. Veal, professor for ethnomusicology at Yale University, is currently working on a book in which he attempts to describe the music of John Coltrane using the terms and methods of the digital architecture of Peter Eisenman. This structural comparison is of particular interest to us because we are attempting a comparison of the looped architecture of Rem Koolhaas’ CCTV tower in Beijing and Jamaican DUB music. In two interviews with Michael Veal, he told us about some of the many observations and propositions from his book about DUB music, which was published in the early 2000s. What stands out especially here is how he describes the Jamaican DUB musician’s ability to create a non-linear historic narrative. A narrative that found it’s way first into the popular culture of Jamaica and then international pop culture, through Western devices.

17.10.2016, Hamburg

ROTTERDAM

03.10.2016 Interview with Rem Koolhaas at the OMA office in Rotterdam.

NORTH RHINE-WESTPHALIA, GERMANY

26.10.2016 The CCTV Tower and its (future) neighbouring buildings are the emblem of metropolitan Beijing, and you can spend countless hours simply orbiting past these gigantic buildings on a circular road. The tower is no longer accessible to unauthorised personnel, even though the architect Rem Koolhas dearly hoped to integrate a looping walkway for visitors into the building. After driving in circles around the tower for four days, our guide eventually confirmed that the CCTV Tower wasn’t even a proper loop; maybe it was a twisted one at best. We also found out by accident that our guide’s agency had been constantly monitoring our concentric movements via GPS and repeatedly demanded that our guide justify our course over the phone. We spent the last three afternoons in Beijing’s old Drum Tower. Until 1924, the tower was used to keep track of Beijing Time, informing the city’s inhabitants several times daily with the help of more than 25 large drums. In recent years, this tradition has been resumed.

24.10.2016 Ten days in Beijing were enough to get an impression of the metropole’s October weather: from the deepest smog blanketing the whole city in a cloud of grey to clear blue skies with enough sunshine to leave our faces slightly burned. Beijing ’s tallest building was under construction at the time in the immediate neighbourhood of the CCTV tower, next to at least five other skyscrapers. As a result, there were only a few places in the city where you could get an unobstructed view of the CCTV Tower – a building of enormous dimensions. Apart from a chew choice angles, only taller buildings allowed for an unobstructed view of the tower. When walking or driving through the city, the CCTV Tower would always make a sudden and short lived appearance between other buildings. Each of these perspectives offered entirely different impressions of the building such that its whole image could only be assembled from fragments – unless you had a helicopter. Due to the structure of the tower, every perspective seemed entirely different. From some positions it actually resembled a loop, from others it was more like an overhanging rock. There were thus various difficulties in producing an image of the CCTV Tower. On one hand there were only a few two to three-storey houses remaining in the area, overshadowed by the CCTV tower. On the other, in addition to the other skyscrapers in the immediate vicinity, there were also countless others spread throughout city, making it impossible to combine them all with the CCTV Tower in a single shot.

22.10.2016 Unlike in Germany, where car horns are mostly used to remind other drivers of what’s right or wrong, on the curvy, often one or two-laned streets of Jamaica, horns are used to signal to potentially oncoming cars that you’re about to round the bend. Despite the 6 million licensed private automobiles in Beijing, you rarely hear the familiar concert of horns, giving the impression that all the dense traffic still flows like water, however slowly. These broad, densely trafficked streets usher you past gigantic buildings for minutes at a time. If you make the effort to call upon one of the remaining traditional neighbourhoods, you may find a place to recover from the noise of the traffic and the fumes. These quarters, surrounded by large streets, are structured like chess boards with narrow alleys that only allow one car at a time to roll through at walking pace. Throughout these single-storey neighbourhoods, there are small stores that only ply the most necessary everyday commodities. It seemed strange to us that there should be only one strain of apple in Beijing, but we missed out on investigating this further. In one of these quarters, we came across a small Buddhist temple that happened to be one of the few surviving Ming dynasty temples in Beijing. At this secluded temple, the monks perform instrumental music in quintets twice daily and with the utmost concentration. The songs have been passed down unchanged from each generation of monks to the next, and at the time this genealogy had already spanned 27 generations.

19.10.2016 During the first part of our stay in Jamaica, our path led us to what is known as the Island Village. The Island Village is equipped with a pier for cruise ships and is located at an artificial beach in Ochos Rios in the north of the island. It was designed and built to fulfil a particular function. The restaurants and shops might be open daily but the place only comes alive when a cruise ship anchors. These then each anchor for one day and deliver their human cargo to the village. The mostly Western tourists then encounter a decent ensemble of Caribbean architecture put together by the architect Ann Hodges. She surveyed and researched current and historic Jamaican and Caribbean architected for the construction of Island Village. That’s why Island Village resembles an essay on the endemic architecture and was built with traditional materials and techniques. We became aware of Island Village thanks to sociologist Elizabeth Pigou-Dennis, whose brilliant indexical work on Jamaican architecture should be emphasised at this point. In an interview, the professor for architecture at the University for Technology in Kingston told us, among other things, about her observations on the to date unappreciated architecture of the Rastafarians, which through certain traits always indicates a mystical, absent place.

18.10.2016 In the Jamaican town of Chapelton and its surroundings, we searched for a couple of houses that were built in the 18th century and are among the earliest examples of the “Jamaican architectural style”. These houses were built by “mechanics”, who had a lot of experience with and knowledge of both the colonial and the indigenous way of construction. Over time, these mechanics were increasingly able to merge the two architectural styles into a synthesis and in addition to become increasingly independent of their building contractors. We were able to find about five of the houses, which all were in different stages of decay. We were interested above all in the achievements of the engineers, whose talent for adopting techniques and turning them into to their own synthesis reminds us of the group of sound engineers of early DUB music. These adopted western mixing boards and other devices and transferred them to Jamaican music.

15.07.2016 First stop of our research journey for The Art of Memory: Dub Music and the CCTV Tower: Katzensprung Festival, North Rhine-Westphalia. Dub Club Area. The gig of legendary Mad Professor is on, Sunday night, prime time. Fog is rising. People are thumping their feet to the beat of a past of different places and realities; echoes and reverbs in the German province. More people are dancing on the techno stage, its sound faintly audible when the beat of the Dub-soundsystem suspends. With only few people really knowing who is Mad Professor, we have a chance to experience this brilliant pioneer and engineer of Dub music up close. Unfortunately, we had to witness two festival guests interrupting his performance to take a picture with him. We preferred observing a child equipped with noise-cancelling headphones who stopped in front of the stage asking Mad Professor repeatedly for his name. Mad Professor answered whilst jamming verbally over a beat. Question: “What is your name?” Answer: “Six Million, Six Million…” Wait a minute – wasn’t that a short Mad Professor sample dug up by some DJ from Cologne, which we heard from the direction of the techno stage?