Sound offers numerous ways to explore, comprehend, and gain a more profound understanding of the world we inhabit. It extends beyond mere entertainment or cultural expression; it can also provide valuable insights from a broader perspective, whether that's in the realms of ecology, philosophy, or science.
Tuning in with the Ecosystem : Sound and Ecology | Threes Productions
Threes Productions is a creative agency with a primary focus on promoting cultural sustainability. They are disrupting established cultural norms in the realms of sound and ecology. By merging music, art, and innovative concepts, they have established a platform where individuals can engage with both each other and the natural world.
We recently conducted an interview with Ruggero Pietromarchi, the founder of Threes Productions, to gain a more profound insight into the concepts that underpin these experimental initiatives and immersive encounters.
What is your memory of being in nature that inspired you to work with sustainability?
I want to draw attention to our understanding of “nature” and “sustainability” since our connection with nature can manifest in numerous ways. This concept is intertwined with the cultural initiatives we have undertaken and are working on.
To illustrate, one of the initial projects I embarked on with a sustainability-driven perspective is Terraforma, an experimental music festival held at Villa Arconati near Milan. My inspiration for organizing a festival or cultural event was driven by my encounter with another festival called the Labyrinth in Japan. While it’s primarily a music festival without a specific focus on sustainability, it is set amidst a pristine natural forest in the Naeba region of northern Japan. This festival opened my eyes to the profound effect of merging music with the natural environment, creating an opportunity for individuals to recognize their place within an ecosystem. I believe that this comprehension is essential to any sustainable concept, and various forms of art have the potential to evoke such an impact on us; music serves as a universal language in this regard.
Music inspires us to re-establish our connection as human beings, fostering a deeper appreciation of the essence of nature. By employing this approach, we can extend this mindset to all our endeavors concerning sustainability.
Diversity and inclusivity are essential parts of sustainability. How does ‘Threes Productions’ incorporate this aspect into their events?
We are actively engaged in multiple projects centered around the intersection of sound and ecology. One of the core principles of cultural sustainability is embracing diversity. From a practical standpoint, we function as producers, as implied by the name Threes Productions. Our preferred mode of communication is through our projects, ideas, and content. To highlight the significance of diversity, we’re currently involved in an intriguing initiative called Tranceparenti, a collaboration with Fondazione Marcelo Burlon.
Through Tranceparenti, our objective is to provide a platform for underrepresented groups, specifically focusing on LGBTQ+ communities. We are consistently delving into various minority perspectives and cultural issues that warrant attention. Tranceparenti aims to achieve this not solely through music performances but also by organizing a compact, one-day festival. This festival will incorporate photography exhibitions, lectures, and workshops, all designed to offer a voice to these marginalized communities, allowing them to express their culture and ideas.
On a different note, another remarkable performance this year featured Elysia Crampton at “La Planète Comme Festival,” held at La Bourse de Commerce in Paris. Elysia Crampton, an American artist with South American roots, centers her work around extensive research into the experiences of Latinos and LGBTQ+ communities and how they have been influenced by Western civilization. The inclusion of such artists and performances sends a distinct message to me about the potential of music, art, and culture to serve as a platform for addressing contemporary issues.
Terraforma Festival creates ‘a timeless center of gravity for energies’. What is the raw energy of Villa Arconati? How are the restorative measures and story of this historic space in alignment with your vision of the festival?
My aspiration was to create a festival, and what does a festival represent? It can embody diverse meanings. To me, a festival serves as a cultural stage—a realm where artists can articulate their creativity and audiences can absorb this expression. However, it always carries a pronounced social dimension. The straightforward concept of a festival, complete with a campsite, plays a pivotal role: it enables us to transport people to an alternative reality and establish a temporary community. This element is fundamental to festival creation.
My vision wasn’t solely about providing a platform for experimental artists; it was also about giving individuals an opportunity to break free from their everyday routines and immerse themselves not only in sonic experiences but also in completely new surroundings, encompassing both landscapes and social perspectives. By uniting people in such an environment, my intent was to foster a social, cultural, and environmental experiment.
My encounter with Villa Arconati occurred when I was working at a music production company, Ponderosa, which specialized in organizing festivals and concerts throughout Italy. Ponderosa was also responsible for another festival hosted at Villa Arconati. While working at this festival, I couldn’t help but notice that, apart from the small area designated for the event, the rest of the site had been left abandoned, and the magnificent park was languishing, while the villa itself was in a state of disrepair. This situation deeply saddened me because Villa Arconati boasts a rich historical legacy. Dating back to the 17th century, it’s often regarded as a miniature Versailles in the northern part of Italy. It’s an architectural marvel!
Driven by this emotional connection to the site, I decided to contact the owner and propose the concept of Terraforma, along with annual restoration initiatives for the park. Our initial approach to sustainability was rooted in the idea of caring for a place that holds significance for all of us. Villa Arconati had been neglected, and it required rejuvenation through cultural engagement. Originally designed as a “Villa di Delizia,” meaning a place for enjoyment and leisure, we essentially revisited this concept through the festival.
Music is a catalyst for transformation. In contemporary times, when climate grief exists at large, do you think cultural sustainability could be a way to resolve and transform this grief into action-oriented solutions?
Certainly, I believe so. Festivals provide a platform for experimentation, and it’s through experimentation that change is initiated. Thus, I see festivals as encompassing various elements, ranging from the emotional to the technical aspects, where they can serve as arenas for discovering solutions and motivating individuals in diverse ways to drive change.
I firmly believe that culture has this inherent potential and responsibility because it encourages people to contemplate and reflect.
In an era of noise pollution, how do you create a musical or sound-based experience in harmony with nature?
The distinction is quite subtle. For instance, many people inquire about why we haven’t taken Terraforma to the mountains. However, from my perspective, there’s no imperative to move the festival to such locations. Villa Arconati presents an intriguing environment. It boasts a lush natural forest, but fundamentally, it’s a villa’s garden, and it’s only thirty minutes from Milan. Consequently, one shouldn’t regard this space as a fragile ecosystem. In my view, there’s no essential need to force musical experimentation in remote natural areas, especially when it comes to electronic music.
I’ve observed numerous acoustic experiments, and they can be exceptionally captivating. For example, the harmonies of string instruments like guitars and violins interact beautifully with their natural surroundings. However, electronic music represents a distinct scenario.
We’re currently in the process of organizing another festival, known as Nextones. The primary venue for Nextones is Tones Teatro Natura, located in Val D’Ossola. We tend to focus on electronic music in this space, which was originally an abandoned quarry. We’re collaborating on this project with a local foundation called “Tones on the Stones,” led by Maddalena Calderoni. She has been organizing opera music concerts in quarries for many years, having a strong and positive cultural impact.
We acquired an abandoned quarry with the intention of transforming it into a cultural hub. Alongside the festival, we’re also planning various other activities, including workshops, events, and hiking, all of which are designed with great consideration for the ecosystem.
Additionally, we have another project called “Il Pianeta Come Festival,” which emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic. The concept behind this project is to explore the acoustic and sonic environment within urban landscapes. Consequently, we’re organizing a series of soundwalks throughout the city to gain insights into how sound influences us psychologically.
Sound offers numerous ways to explore, comprehend, and gain a more profound understanding of the world we inhabit. It extends beyond mere entertainment or cultural expression; it can also provide valuable insights from a broader perspective, whether that’s in the realms of ecology, philosophy, or science.
Do you believe sustainability and spirituality are interconnected? If yes, does ‘Threes Productions’ create a space in their events for connecting to the world within?
I prefer to discuss consciousness rather than delve into the realm of spirituality, as the latter can often intertwine with religious beliefs. Thus, my belief centers on human consciousness and the consciousness of our world as an interconnected ecosystem. Art and music possess an extraordinary capability to reestablish our connection with this overarching consciousness, and this is a central theme that we emphasize through our work at Three Productions.
In each of our projects, we strive to find a balance between cultural innovation and experimentation while infusing them with emotional depth. It’s crucial to not only capture the audience’s attention but also to touch their hearts.
What sound of nature resonates with you the most, and why? (for example, bird song, wind, water, etc.) What kind of movement are you creating on Earth? Would you say your rhythms are in sync with the rhythms of nature?
It’s water. I love to be in the water. It is quite obvious where we come from; it’s related to birth, the moment where you are safest, in our mother’s belly, and that’s the most beautiful sensation of floating, losing gravity in a way. And the sound of water is so relaxing, I could listen to it forever.
What kind of movement are you creating on Earth? Would you say your rhythms are in sync with the rhythms of nature?
Movement and dance serve as catalysts for fostering new perspectives and insights. They facilitate a reconnection with oneself, with the community, and with the spirit of the ecosystem.
For me, this aspect is absolutely integral to my life. I find profound joy in dancing and immersing myself in music. Techno music, in particular, constructs a unique space. Through their volume and repetitive rhythms, the drums craft an alternate dimension where you can effortlessly glide and delve. It’s a genre of music that doesn’t demand excessive attention; rather, it permeates your being, obviating the need for words. It’s an incredible experience.
Through the successful projects we’ve initiated, it’s been truly heartwarming to witness people recognizing that these endeavors transcend mere concerts, events, or DJ sets. They convey the notion of caring for something greater.