Hand Signed: lasting gestures on music

Local kermesse is hands deep into contemporary sounds

Michelle Davis
February 15, 2017 - 18:14

Leaving a contemporary mark on Florence can be quite challenging but invisible forces are at work as we speak. In the quaint Oltrarno square of Piazza del Carmine, where Florence is at its most authentic, an unsuspected venue hosts some among the most avant-garde musical acts on the international scene. Part of the Chiesa del Carmine's monastery complex, just a few steps away from the famed Cappella Brancacci, Sala Vanni's frescoed walls reverberate once a month with the visionary and futuristic sounds of Hand Signed's refined calendar of musical pioneers, a calendar that we had the chance to discuss with artistic director Michele Pauli.


Sala Vanni: where all that Hand Signed magic takes place! Sala Vanni: where all that Hand Signed magic takes place!


Michelle Davis: For those who still haven't managed to come to any of your Hand Signed events, tell us a bit about its history and breathtaking location.

Michele Pauli: Hand Signed is a series of experimental music events that is trying to investigate the interpenetration between music languages, technology, instruments/tools, sound generation and environment... the series was originally inspired by Alberto Salvadori, ex director of Florence's Museo Marino Marini,  who asked me to curate an electronic music festival to be featured in the museum's 2016 program. The name was actually inspired by some of Marini's drawings marked on the back with 'hand signed by MM'. I then asked event organising agency Musicus Concentus to join in: their experience and support was (and still is) essential to the project. We all concurred that the Sala Vanni was the perfect location - a historical hall of such caliber functioned as a perfect counterpart to Hand Signed's ultra-contemporary cultural proposal.


MD: You also manage your own record label, Ooh Sounds, that plays an important role in Hand Signed's programming, am I right? Will you be releasing new material soon?

MP: OOH-sounds actually is the core of HS. The label curates all artistic aspects - from concept to line-up, to graphic identity, and stage + light design (of which we are particularly proud) - while Musicus Concentus deals with the actual production and Disco_nnect , one of our most recent partners in consolidating Florence's role in the electronic and contemporary arts, supports us in both communication and promotion. We could say that in a way HS is an aesthetic and external enactment of the sound and quality that the label is pursuing. During this year's edition we will be showcasing our latest release, Voronoi, a very interesting debut focused on exploring the ever changing relationship between sound, structure and space. The whole process is inspired by the eponymous 1800  Russian mathematician and his well-known  diagrams and geometric theories currently used in Wi-Fi wave systems. 


Upcoming Hand Signed act: Valerio Tricoli Upcoming Hand Signed act: Valerio Tricoli


MD: The 2017 edition already features some pretty astounding international experimenters... give our readers the lowdown on the full calendar and upcoming events.

MP: We officially launched the 2017 edition with swedish artist / producer Peder Mannerfelt that delighted the audience with a performance on the verge of techno/experimental... On February 17 experimenter Valerio Tricoli will hit the stage with his physical approach to live electronics  and radical tape manipulations of field recordings on a 70's Revox Reel-to-Reel machine and other analog music machines. His nightmarish soundscapes actually set a new standard for sonic darkness.... I would define it as the most profane 'sacred' music. Heith+Giulio Nocera, the evening's opening act, will be presenting a new form of deconstructed techno... Then HS will continue up to May with high caliber artists the likes of Mark Fell, Andrea Belfi, Rain Text, Sam Kidel and Adam Asnan..



MD: Hand Signed's coordinated image was conceived and created by a young Florentine artist, Jonathan Tegelaars... tell us a bit about this collaboration.

MP: We always try to collaborate with local artists, involve people and share our projects with those who are already active and, naturally, are artistically compatible (Disco_nnect is a relevant example). We asked J. Tegelaars to work on a series of illustrations that focused on 5 keywords that are at the very foundation of HS 2017's main concept and also relate to this year's featured artists: control, disturbance, code, body, work... then everything shifted to an even more abstract level and together we decided to elaborate the illustrations on the phonetic (musical) representations of those words. Thus the "/h{nd saynd/ 2017" series was born.


2017's full calendar of events - graphic design by J. Tegelaars 2017's full calendar of events - graphic design by J. Tegelaars


MD: Florence vs experimental/ electronic music - what kind of potential do you see in this relationship? As a musician, producer, record label founder, artistic director and cultural provocateur - how would you describe our city's current responsiveness and creative output?

MP: Florence is a pretty new scenario for me. I grew up in Milan where numbers and opportunities are/were easier to find and achieve... but there is something very intriguing in working with and for a smaller community as the one we have in Florence. Here you sort of have the impression of knowing everyone and it is common knowledge that satisfying friends is always a bit of a challenge which requires the finest skills, attention and, last but not least, quality and coherence. Zero compromise is the word.



MD: What transformations can you foresee in Hand Signed's near future?

MP: We hope to last long and prosper, to expand to different locations and audiences. Last Fall we presented 2 collaborations in Prato, one with the Pecci Center for Contemporary art, where we featured the performance Reducing The Tempo To Zero by american composer Ben Vida (Read the Florentine's interview here) and one with TAI project (Tuscan Art Industry) with the performance of Healing Force Project inside the amazing (and abandoned) Ex_calamai factory designed by a young Pier Luigi Nervi.


For more information on Hand Signed click here

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