Dance of ideas for a woman with a blue guitar

Is this BLOG an experiment? I doubt it. It’s not a reasonable, predictable space. Words can be heavy. Stones, they were called. How to love them?

A place of pleasure, that’s my goal. Encounters and exchanges about art and life. A selected group of people will come and play the thinking game. They will send their thoughts by e-mail. We might be read by the global village. Let’s give them pleasure! Let’s learn to be light. Fleeting and temporary, at least for one year. Personal, fearless, bringing out uncertainties, pauses and hesitations, conflicts and doubts. Most of the artworks reveal idiosyncratic states of mind that are not allowed to writers: no smoking in the toilette during the flight! Unless they are poets.

I was an Eighteenth-century philosophy scholar who turned into a journalist and a maker of hand-sewn books. So my hands give the books a body as the secluded princesses of the old tales, making their lovers’ body with flour and water. None of them have a beating heart. Lack of love makes me sick. Lack of confidence, same effect. Plaintive commentaries about climate and institutional collapse are a black mask on my eyes. Reality is painted black. But The Arts keep me alive. Meredith Monk sings without words, only voice and feelings. I wish we could write like she sings.

No yes, no, I like, dislike, no evaluations. Intelligent kindness. No aggression nor rivalry. Reading, writing, “an exchange of desire becomes possible, of an enjoyment that was not foreseen. Games are not done, let’s play.” (Roland Barthes) Wind and earthquakes shake our landscape. Los Angeles is luminous in the middle of April. We can wear the on-line dress, all the possible colors and shapes, because ideas have colors, if someone cares. The kite needs hands holding the thread as well as the winds and the sky; it needs tension, inside and outside.

“I play them on a blue guitar / And then things are not as they are. / The shape of the instrument  / Distorts the shape of what I meant, / Which takes shape by accident. / Yet what I mean I always say. / The accident is how I play./  I still intend things as they are. / The greenish quaverings of day /  Quiver upon the blue guitar. (Wallace Stevens)


Déjeuner sur l’herbe – Garden Lunch  
February 28, 2016

Los Angeles, 3632 Grand View Boulevard, LA 90066

Lucie Fontaine’s employees hosted the thanksgiving lunch of Laurel Doody, Fiona Connor’s non-profit art space that has been active in Los Angeles for about a year. March 2015-March 2016.








FIONA CONNOR, plates   Photos: Fredrik Nilsen

The gallery was also Fiona Connor’s small apartment. Often she moved her bed downstair during the day and brought it back for the night. The exhibition space was rigourously empty. The table for the ritual dinner at each exhibition was improvised and built at the moment. Laurel Doody was not only a whimsical initiative of a single person. Values were at stake. Exhibition by exhibition, it became an offering to the art makers, and their friends. By choice, not a commercial experience. Cooking and eating were parts of the ritual. A little like the Maori who offer hot soup to the stars, sitting on the seashore. Curators, writers, gallerists, designers, photographers, filmakers, performers were part of the collaborative group.

Many people in Los Angeles can say they were there, In Laurel Doody’s space, experiencing sincerity, honesty, passion for art and joyful time. Fiona Connor is an artist who likes displacements of objects and of their common meanings. She brought from her apartment to the Garden Lunch materials for the table: a small cupboard and two doors. The table setting was displayed on the doors. The artist set the table with ceramic plates made by her and with old white and blue Ginori 1900.




Photos: Peter Kirby

As Claude Lévi-Strauss  would say, “The same mind which has abandoned itself to the experience becomes the theater of mental operations which, without suppressing the experience, nevertheless transform it into a model to release further mental operations. In the last analysis, the logical coherence of these mental operations is based on the sincerity and honesty of the person who can say, like the explorer bird of the fable, ‘I was there; such and such happened to me; you will believe were you there yourself,’ and who in fact succeeds in communicating that conviction.”

Fiona’s plates are made by pressing clay on architectural surfaces and the ground, then peeling them off and letting them dry over moulds. They were fired at Laurel Doody. At the end of the garden lunch, the friends of the project received their plate as a present.


EDGAR PISANI: REBEL and MASTER in the art of politics

        C’est beau la politique! There is beauty in politics!

  in memoriam                by Rosanna Albertini


Twelve years ago. The old man has flown back to France. Los Angeles was the Pacific edge of his life, one more seashore after his native dunes in Tunis and after the Atlantic, flinging its rage against Normandie and Bretagne. I still see his silhouette on the sidewalk, his legs walking steady and brisk. Arms and shoulders don’t move, a walking statue. Even the long sleeves of his shirt look dignified. I don’t know if history or simply age, made him exiled from decades of active political life, among other things serving France as a minister for two presidents, Charles De Gaulle and Francois Mitterand. He knows what he was and still is: first of all, “serviteur de l’Etat.” The two leaders, in his words, became political artists (plasticiens): De Gaulle like a Rodin “travaillant le marbre a grand coups de ciseaux,” working the marble with strong strikes of chisel, and Mitterrand “caressant indéfiniment la glaise,” endlessely fondling the clay.*

His eyes barely contain the urging of thoughts and the pressure of projects he needs to achieve before his feet are pointed to the sky, I hope without socks. So far his eighty seven years move on his feet back and forth through a Los Angeles sculpture garden, populated by a number of bronzes by Auguste Rodin and some by Bourdelle. There he feels at home. Not so much among contemporary geometries or textures emptied of figures, or Mel Bochner’s interrupted lines: language is not transparent. Far from me the idea of guiding his mind through LACMA’s meanders, we both know too well that art and politics can speak only to unpredictable motions of a personal sensitivity. He connects instantly to Gerhard Richter’s abstractions, though: a tormented embrace of greens and reds, as if the canvas had absorbed an informal density, completely earthly. The viewer could wonder whether the sky had ever existed, not to mention the humans.

Outside, in the garden, a full size bronze emerges from the bushes, the legs are hidden. Look at that figure, “It’s enough to look at,” says the old man, “this is solitude.” My eyes follow his feeling. Yes, life is heavy on that man’s sculpted shoulders, it is a dress he/we wear every day, it gets heavier and heavier, and yet the person is the core, the kernel of the story: instead of being put down, the person keeps light, and resilient. I turn myself, staring at the face of the old man: the statue is his mirror, that’s him. “Poor Bourdelle!” — he says — “Il a la même énergie, pas le même génie.” Rodin comes first.

The old man runs the clock backward repeating thoughts he does not want to forget, writing in the air the wisdom he has distilled from the vapors of power. Democracy, he truly cares about it. Food for everybody, he cares even more. We walk for almost an hour and he doesn’t look tired. If I suggest to take the bus, “Don’t treat me like an old,” he replies promptly, dropping a smile into his throat. He likes to talk sitting on the benches by the ocean.

What are you doing here?” he asks me for no reason. “I keep myself Italian, and partially French: here everything I’ve learned makes more sense.” As a matter of fact, in a couple of months the old man has turned on in me strings I had kept silent during a decade spent adapting to American life, trying to. Observing his struggle to keep his life active and interesting, for the first time I look at my own aging, still an odd thing, hard to believe that everything will stop, and one day, a day that I will not be able to see, I will not be here or there, where?

So far, my heart is pumping well: it sends me to see friends and grandchildren, other people older than I, animated by a ridiculous energy like a sonata by Ludwig Van Beethoven. I wear a red shirt from my husband’s collection and look at myself in the mirror: It fits me well, I burst out laughing! although they had told me when I was eleven or twelve that red was not a good color for my complexion. I suspect they had in mind the untold idea that red is too appealing, maybe suggests illicit sex, but then, what about Santa Claus? I was five when I learned that Garibaldi’s shirt was red. Garibaldi Giuseppe, of course, like most of my family members bearing the same name, on his feet in an oval frame. This was the way children learned history: Romolo and Remo, Nero, Napoleon, Garibaldi, pictures of famous humans in an oval frame.

We were sure they were truly dead like all the people looking at us from the gravestones in pictures with the same kind of oval. Mysterious that the twins were represented as babies nursed by a mother wolf, as if they had never grown up. A short sentence about each of them…. done, we knew that ancestors had prepared the life we are in. Garibaldi was l’eroe dei due mondi, the two worlds hero: meaning Europe and South America, or the deeply parted Northern and Southern Italy. The red shirts invaded Sicily. They killed, robbed, raped, only one hundred and fifty years ago. Why should Sicilians feel proud of being Italians. Of course they don’t. I wish I could grow my legs in a Munchausenian fanfaronnade and put one foot in Naples, and the other in Los Angeles, which is as far from being a truly American city as Naples from being an Italian one. Displacement is my favorite habit. Will I be a displaced ghost in the afterlife? I wonder. Will I stop dreaming?


A NOTE on POLITICS, by Edgar Pisani

Politics is the refusal to be resigned to fate and fatalism, but also brings a wish to fight, build, and negotiate. A luxury for the affluent, politics is a necessity for everybody else. Giving rise to free examination, politics gives meaning to what appears to be inevitable.” (Translation R.A.)

As it is human, politics does not only obey laws of ‘reasoning reason” and it is not only subject to the rhythm of the moments. It sanctions the importance of a “sentient reason,” and of duration. It is based on a philosophy of the world and the species, it tries to be prophetic by bridging the present that is known and the future that is negotiable; it is a poetics, for it sings the human adventure out of dramas and catastrophes; it is an ethics, for it identifies the rules that make it possible and good to live together; it is a pedagogy, for it help us to read and understand; it teaches us curiosity and method; it also teaches us responsibility. Politics is an ethics, for it teaches mutual respect and encourages learning. It helps us to understand that liberty can only exist if linked to responsibility. It is wisdom and courage for, when it has to confront forces and passions, it does not claim to stop them through decisions, but to tame them by mediation.

Photographs by Peter Kirby

Edgar Pisani, A Personal View of the World, Utopia as Method, New York, Ottawa, Toronto, LEGAS, 2005 Translated and edited by Paul Perron
*This quotes were reported in Patrick Roger, Mort d’Edgar Pisani, résistant et ancient ministre de De Gaulle et de Mitterrand. LE MONDE 21.06.2016


THE CONCERT: April 21, 1961

THE CITY OF FOG, SNOW, SMOG: from  war to  reconstruction

Text and photographes by ALBERTO ALBERTINI, Milano 2016




Milan after the bombs in 1943










Milan in the early 60s

It was the time when we used to go to Rome by train in the sleeping car, and the trip lasted the entire night. If one really wanted to fly, DC4s were available. The Constellations were only transcontinental. It was also the early time of TV advertisements. Having the RAI [Radio Audizioni Italiane, a public institution] opened the door to the Caroselli*. Production companies pushed up like mushrooms in Milan, and the producers from Rome used to come to Milan (by sleeping car) to show short movies to advertising companies and customers.

The productive part of the country was in Northern Italy, that’s well know. Customers and advertising agencies used to invite Roman producers of advertising movies to Milano. And yet an incredible quantity of work was enabled in Milan because of the RAI decision to introduce an advertising program: of course they were movies, although short. In a city where movie-making was slow and only focused on some parts of the movies produced in Rome, it didn’t take much time to put in sound stages, recording and dubbing studios, development and printing. Sound technicians, boom operators, directors of photography, electricians, were suddenly called to work.


It happened that an agency of film processing, printing and sound mixing, born in the immediate after war, realizing the equipment was inadequate, signed an agreement with FONO ROMA for the management of the audio department in Milan. It was a necessary decision to improve the sound quality. At stake was the cost of broadcasting Caroselli, so high that bad sound quality wasn’t acceptable.
After seven years of tough training at the FONO ROMA in Rome, I appeared to be suitable for leading the Roman management of the Milanese studio. That’s a fact from which a very long story could arise not quite influential about Thelonious Monk concert in Milan.


It was the very first concert by Thelonious Monk in Italy, April 21 1961, at Teatro Lirico in Milan, a memorable event in history of jazz music.

My recording of this concert was due to two coincidences: the meeting with an American person, Blesser I believe, who wanted to sell an audio recorder, an AMPEX 350, before he went back to the U.S., and a different meeting, with Mario Fattori. Mario Fattori was a director and the head of one of most prestigious Milanese companies producing advertising movies. He was also a passionate supporter of jazz.
FONO ROMA purchased the AMPEX 350 portable recorder with three tracks, and a mixer with twelve inputs and four outputs -of course everything was tube- plus twelve SCHOEPS CM54 condenser microphones.
Mario Fattori was a FONO ROMA customer and the producer of the CONCERT. He asked me to record the exceptional event bringing to the Teatro Lirico the AMPEX in suitcases. It must be told that, at the time, magnetic recording on tape had already reached high quality levels, as in the CINEMASCOPE films of the early 50s. Nevertheless, to use a recorder with three tracks on half-inch tape, and portable, was a big advantage.

Such advantage forced me actually to face a conflict between two schools: the American and the European. In Rome, the capital of movie making in Italy, where I fed my professional skills, the American school prevailed, based on the CINEMASCOPE stereophonic structure: left, center and right, represented by three speaker behind the screen, hence the recording was on three tracks. In Milan instead, where the record companies prevailed, stereophony was on two tracks.

How to reconcile the conflict? It would have been inevitable to use only two tracks, implying only two microphones positioned for the “concert.” That was impossible due to the way the musicians were positioned, the lack of a boom and the need to have sounds in the foreground: the microphones in front of the instruments. How did I distribute the instruments on the tracks? Frankly, I don’t remember. Much more important is what happened in the second part of the concert. I don’t know what kind of agreement was there between musicians and producer, yet I clearly remember that the musicians, men of a certain stature and not only in a musical sense, were going round between the stage and the room where I had placed the equipment. They were very, very suspicious. So suspicious that, after the break, at the beginning of the second half of the concert with the curtains open, they moved the microphones before they started playing, rotating the stands in such a way that the sound could only be randomly grabbed I thought. Evidently, they knew what they were doing. Before I delivered the tape, I made a stereo-copy for my personal memory, that I never used. After such a long time, it could still contain something to tell us.









*Caroselli: every night at 9 pm, advertisements were a small theater with very short episodes. They were funny and well made. I grew up watching them before I was sent to sleep. I still remember the opening music.  RA


Per Francesco e Diego

Erano i tempi in cui per andare a Roma si prendeva il vagone letto e si viaggiava tutta la notte. Se proprio si voleva usare l’aereo, c’erano i DC4. I Constellations erano solo transcontinentali. Erano i primi tempi della pubblicità televisiva. Avendo la RAI aperto ai Caroselli, le case di produzione erano sorte come funghi, a Milano, e le produzioni romane venivano a Milano ( in vagone letto ) per visionare i film alle agenzie di pubblicità e ai committenti.


Siccome la parte produttiva del paese gravitava sul settentrione, i committenti e le agenzie pubblicitarie invitavano a Milano i produttori di film pubblicitari romani. Ma è incredibile la quantità di lavoro messa in movimento a Milano da questa decisione della RAI nel settore cinema s’intende, perché di film, brevi, si trattava. Nella città dove il cinema languiva e si girava solo una parte dei film prodotti a Roma, rapidamente si rimisero in moto teatri di posa, studi di registrazione doppiaggio, sviluppo stampa. Fonici, microfonisti, direttori della fotografia, elettricisti ecc. erano improvvisamente messi al lavoro.

Un’azienda di sviluppo stampa e sonorizzazione films, sorta nell’immediato dopoguerra, si trovò con apparecchiature inadeguate e stipulò un accordo con la FONO ROMA per la gestione del reparto audio. Questo si rendeva necessario per migliorare la qualità delle colonne sonore, lo richiedeva la posta in gioco, nel senso che il costo della messa in onda dei Caroselli non poteva giustificare una cattiva qualità del suono. Io, dopo sette anni di duro tirocinio alla FONO ROMA a Roma, fui ritenuto idoneo a condurre la gestione romana dello studio milanese. Da questo fatto deriverebbe una storia molto lunga ma ininfluente ai fini del concerto di Thelonius Monk.

Era il primo concerto di Thelonius Monk in Italia, il 21 aprile 1961
al teatro Lirico di Milano, un avvenimento memorabile nella storia della musica jazz.


La registrazione di questo concerto fu dovuta a due coincidenze: l’incontro con un americano, credo certo Blesser, che prima di rientrare in USA voleva vendere un registratore AMPEX 350, e l’incontro con Mario Fattori. Mario Fattori, era un regista e titolare di una delle più prestigiose case di produzione milanesi di film pubblicitari, e grande appassionato della musica Jazz.
La FONOROMA rilevò il registratore AMPEX 350 a tre tracce in versione portatile e un mixer a 12 ingressi quattro uscite, ovviamente tutto valvolare, più dodici microfoni a condensatore SCHOEPS CM54.
Mario Fattori era cliente della FONOROMA e produttore del CONCERTO. Mi propose di registrare questo evento eccezionale portando le valige dell’AMPEX al teatro Lirico. A quel tempo la registrazione magnetica su nastro aveva già raggiunto livelli di qualità elevata, basta pensare ai film CINEMASCOPE a pista magnetica usciti nei primi anni cinquanta. Tuttavia, disporre di un registratore a tre tracce su nastro da mezzo pollice per giunta portatile, era un grande vantaggio.

Questo vantaggio in realtà mi pose di fronte ad un conflitto: le due scuole di pensiero, quella americana e quella europea. A Roma, capitale del cinema, dove mi sono fatto le ossa, prevaleva la scuola americana che faceva riferimento alla stereofonia del CINEMASCOPE ovvero: sinistra, centro e destra, rappresentati da tre diffusori suono dietro lo schermo, da qui la registrazione su tre tracce. A Milano, dove prevalevano le case discografiche, la stereofonia era a due tracce.

Come conciliare questo conflitto? Sarebbe stato inevitabile usare solo due tracce ma questo avrebbe comportato una disposizione di solo due microfoni in posizione “concerto,” cosa impossibile per la disposizione dei musicisti, per la mancanza di una giraffa e per la necessità di avere suoni in primo piano, cioè i microfoni davanti agli strumenti. Come divisi gli strumenti sulle tre tracce? Impossibile, non me lo ricordo. Molto più importante quello che accadde nella seconda parte del concerto. Non so quali fossero gli accordi tra i musicisti e il produttore, ma ricordo bene che i musicisti, uomini di una certa statura non solo in senso musicale, si aggiravano tra il palcoscenico e la stanza dove avevo disposto le apparecchiature ed erano molto, molto sospettosi. Così sospettosi che dopo l’intervallo, nella seconda parte del concerto, a sipario aperto, prima di iniziare spostarono i microfoni ruotando le aste in modo che il suono fosse preso solo a caso. Evidentemente sapevano come fare. Prima di consegnare il nastro mi feci una copia stereo per mio ricordo personale e che mai utilizzai. Dopo moltissimo tempo, forse contiene ancora qualcosa da raccontarci.



Text by Rosanna Albertini


EILEEN COWIN, From the series Mad Love, Courtesy of the artist

EILEEN COWIN, Untitled from the Mad Love series,  2014    5.5″ x 8.2″                  
Courtesy of the artist

I lost my mother!
The young man sits at my left side on the bus, dirty nails ―in Italy we say che porta il lutto al gatto, that he is mourning the cat. At least mentally, he could cling to the window but he doesn’t. Medium long, greasy hair covers half of his face. His head and face are nothing noticeable except for the voice, a harsh sound like a badly played violin cord. The traffic from Westwood to Wilshire Boulevard makes the bus an island on wheels shaken between dry waves. The exhaust stinks whatever the brand. I can barely think, the inside air is cooled down and stays dirty, perspiration mixed with fragrances sent off from shoes, Mexican cooked beans’ flavor hidden in plastic bags and the stale breath of sleepers.
The young man decided for me that I shouldn’t get lost in my own thoughts, the brain lulled by dreams of clean air. And the story began as if he were the girl and I the pasha, in the thousand and one days of Los Angeles. Once upon a time there was a boy from the midwest. He now works at the Trader Joe’s.

Why did you come to Los Angeles?
My boy friend lives here.
And your mother?
She just died.

It was like to lie across a bare road erased from the map. Right, mother left us here to float in finitudes. Why my brain insists on thinking? Drawing parallels and circles? Adam and Eve lost the Paradise, so we keep falling, far from happiness and perfection. The young man didn’t look distressed. His hands, though, were agitated in a continuous finger torture, his nails could break.

She died and was cremated and I brought the ashes to Los Angeles.
And I went to a restroom. It was this morning. And somebody robbed my backpack, I had put it on the sink. I tried to grab it back, I was not strong enough. Mother was in the back pack. I lost her.

Feelings brushed against me like branches of biancospino, a prickly spring bush so full of white, tender flowers that thorns disappear covered by petals. Good to look at, without touching. I couldn’t avoid sympathy for my traveling companion. Keeping visible my  understanding, payed attention not to mingle with the personal spines surrounding his hands like a crown. Besides, my own spines started to fill my talking throat: whatever one says, go to the beach, take it easy, sounds so hypocritical, a screeching noise.

       If it wasn’t for the ashes transported in it, the backpack would have disappeared from his memory like the semi-transparent and light bags we bring home from the market filled with salad and carrots. Empty, they would fly far away, toward the faded circle of the moon still visible in the morning, a white ghost on the blue of the sky. They would be like moon lovers lost in her distance. The young man’s love for his mother, maybe, was no different. Dead, converted into ashes, she is so close to him he doesn’t know what to do with her. To know her wasn’t the point when she was standing on earth, for love had nothing to do with knowing and that was normal. But when it comes to death, he cannot get rid of something that looks like awareness, and it is not. It’s only the violent storm of all things never known about mother, an enormous empty ghost of memories that had been missed, or maybe, never existed.

Sitting next to him, I was daydreaming a chain of absurdities:  breakfast with ashes on the table, bus with ashes on the shoulders, ashes at Trader Joes underneath the check out counter, than home again. Mother’s ghost glued to his back. I was not really surprised, since I carried my mother inside my body for months, after she passed away. Almost an unspeakable feeling. The lost backpack made me smile.

Vladimir Nabokov:
“Hullo, person! Doesn’t hear me.
Perhaps if the future existed, concretely and individually, as something that could be discerned buy a better brain, the past would not be so seductive: its demands would be balanced by those of the future. […]
But the future has no such reality (as the pictured past and the perceived present possess); the future is but a figure of speech, a specter of thought.
Hullo person! What’s the matter, don’t pull me. I’m not bothering him. Oh, all right. Hullo, person . . . (last time, in a very small voice.)
When we concentrate on a material object, whatever its situation, the very act of attention may lead to our involuntarily sinking into the history of that object. Novices must learn to skim over matter if they want matter to stay at the exact level of the moment. Transparent things, through which the past shines!”*


EILEEN COWIN, From the series Mad Love, Courtesy of the artist

EILEEN COWIN, Untitled from the  Mad Love series, 2014   5.5″ x 8.2″
Courtesy of the artist

*VLADIMIR NABOKOV, Transparent Things, @ 1972, New York, Vintage Books, First Vintage International Edition, 1989

ROMA and FONO ROMA 2 – early 1950s again


The Lollobrigida case, how dubbing in Italy changed forever, and how Alberto reacted to a not very exciting job with inventive resources, becoming an inventor within the film industry.

ALBERTO ALBERTINI, Coordinare - Coordinating


Dubbing was introduced by the American film industry wanting to sell  movies abroad. The FONO ROMA had a fortuitous birth: an American producer meeting a former singer, I believe Mister Persichetti, to open dubbing studios in Italy.

Dubbing consists of repeating in Italian the foreign actors’ voice and combining the new voice with the other film sounds and music. Italian movies did not need dubbing because actors were recorded live during filming.

But, lack of money after the war and the use of non-professional actors led to the practice of dubbing the Italian movies as well, either because the live recording was expensive or because the actors were not able to speak a correct Italian. Later live recording was imposed by law, in order to protect the workers in the audio department, but the employment of non-professional actors continued. Hence the practice of audio recording to be used only as a guide for the dubbers in the final editing. Sound recording, when it is GOOD, brings additional costs not only for people and tools, but also for control of surrounding conditions such as silence in the room. Also the audio recording had to be good. Now direct recording is easier, having cheaper, and technologically more advanced devices.

O R G A N I Z Z A R E – O R G A N I Z I N G













What I’m saying is that, before I became a mixer, I happened to record dubbing sessions for both, Italian and foreign movies.

Allora?  Three fundamental episodes came out of all that:

The job was boring. Between the testing of a loop and the recording I often fell asleep, especially during the summer at two in the afternoon. There was a day in which somebody from the recording room (I was in the mixing booth) asked me: is it OK? Yes. OK or not? You don’t sound very convinced. I got it, the answer was important. Since then I always answered Yes!!! an experience that became precious later on.

Some of the actresses refused to be dubbed and required us to let them dub themselves: The Gina Lollobrigida case. Beyond the poor quality of her acting, she had an awful voice ending in a dead sound at the end of each word. I used to raise all the final syllables to make her words comprehensible. The point is that Guglielmo Morandi, the dubbing director, wanted to extract blood from a turnip and she, at a certain moment, wasn’t able to give what the director wanted. We were stuck. From the mixing booth using the intercom I said: let’s stop for a little while, so she can rest and then we restart… Furious, Morandi shouted at me: how did I dare to interfere with the director etcetera, etcetera. The fight was long enough to allow her a rest as I had suggested and the dubbing continued. The poor girl never knew what a favor I did for her!

(She is alive, same age as I. Although I did not appreciate her as an actress, I can say she was very pretty.) Talking of which, director Luigi Zampa, while we were dubbing La Romana, told me that la Lollo was incredibly greedy: she used to remake herself the soles of her shoes to save money! That I could appreciate)

Most dubbing was operated by the CDC movie dubbers cooperative: dubbers of various origins: opera singers, former actors or deceived actors who had not had a big success or simply found this work profitable and safe. The CDC dubbers, differently from other small cooperatives of the time, had a large range of voices. It was easy to distinguish one actor from the other. Their acting though was just standard, and quite often affected by an unbearable birignao (sing song voice). It happened that the producers of of some dubbing companies (Commander De Leonardis,* as many others coming from the Navy) decided to stop the routine and gave precise instructions to the dubbing director (Giulio Panicali, who was also a dubber). Putting on the first reel of “Ne touches pas aux grisby,” Panicali spent a whole hour in the studio explaining the new requirements, and asking them to rehearse the roles, bringing the acting back to the essence of what the context implied. It means that actors did speak as if the scene were humanly true. Dubbing, since then, changed forever.

*The main helper and director of photography of De Leonardis was Mario Bernardo, former chief partisan in Friuli.


I N V E N T A R E – I N V E N T I N G

015 – moviola – editing table –


A dubbing editor had asked me to build it. It allowed him to vary the film speed according to the dialogue translator’s advice. The significant innovation was a solid state amplifier (transistor) in which the cell sensitive to light, able to read the sound track, was a transistor without varnish. That is to say the semiconductors are light sensitive and I had eliminated the varnish to change them into photodiodes. The results was a sound never heard before in the editing tables.

016 – registratore – recorder –


Prototype to demonstrate a new style of mechanical design. One can see the difference of style in the recorder that follows.

018  018bis – Registrazione copie – reproducing recorder –



Stereophonic cinemascope did not have an optical sound track that could be printed along with images. It had instead four magnetic sound columns; we had to align the magnetic tracks for each copy and record them. Recording was done at FONO ROMA two copies as a time as one can see in the picture. The small screen was useful to verify the synch between sound and images because sometimes the negative image was cut, but not the magnetic sound master.

019 – Containers

Containers for cinemascope films.

020 021 022 – Surround Sound Patent –



Working on the reproducing recorder, the one presented above, gave me the sparkle of an idea. While I was seeing the image on the small screen, I was listening to the sounds from speakers hung on the walls. I thought it could be very exciting if also in a movie theater one could listen to a shot, for instance, coming from off screen. Cinemascope had already made a provision for sounds in the theater, but diffused ambient sounds. I had in mind dialogue, shots, specific noises of events out of the visual field. I thought of utilizing half of the optical sound track (the only space that remained on the film itself) to move an off screen sound to the left or the right, or even to use in parallel all the speakers on the left , separately from those on the right, to obtain a bigger sound intensity.
Image 020 shows a cinemascope film with marks for space for the command track (50% column in the photo); 021 shows the relationships between tracks and speakers behind the screen.

023 – It’s a candy, a fragment of TODD AO film. Which is a scene of Oklahoma on 70 mm. film and six sound tracks. Because Mike Todd, one of Elizabeth Taylor’s husbands, died in an airplane accident, everything died there.




Il doppiaggio nacque dall’esigenza dell’industria americana di vendere all’astero la produzione cinematografica diventata sonora. La FONO ROMA nacque fortunosamente dall’incontro della produzione americana con un ex cantante (mi pare) tale Persichetti.La produzione cercava la combinazione per aprire gli studi di doppiaggio in Italia.

Il doppiaggio consiste nel ripetere in italiano la recitazione degli attori stranieri e sovrapporre la nuova recitazione agli altri suoni del film, musica, rumori. Per i film italiani non serviva doppiaggio perché gli attori recitavano in italiano ed erano ripresi audio e video direttamente: in presa diretta.

Le carenze di mezzi a causa della guerra e l’uso di attori non professionisti determinarono la consuetudine di doppiare anche i film italiani, sia perché non c’erano soldi per la presa diretta, sia perché gli attori non sapevano recitare o parlare correttamente. Successivamente la legge impose la presa diretta per tutelare il lavoro del settore audio ma, il procrastinarsi dell’uso di attori non esattamente professionisti suggeri di registrare l’audio da utilizzare semplicemente come guida nella lavorazione di editing finale, cioè come guida per i doppiatori. La presa diretta del suono, BUONA, comporta costi additivi, non solo di persone e mezzi ma anche accorgimenti collaterali, il silenzio in teatro o i disturbi in esterni e una maggiore cura nella ripresa perché essa doveva essere buona anche come audio. Ora siamo tornati alla presa diretta buona anche perché i mezzi di registrazione sono più economici e tecnologicamente avanzati.

Tutto questo per dire che, prima di passare al mixaggio, io mi trovavo a registrare sia i doppiaggi di film stranieri che italiani.
Allora? Allora ne escono tre episodi pilastro:

1       Il lavoro era noioso e tra la prova di un anello e la registrazione spesso dormivo, specialmente d’estate alle 14. Successe che una volta, di là, in sala (ero in regia) mi chiesero: va bene? si. Va bene o no? Mi sembra in si poco convinto! No no, va bene. Capii l’importanza della risposta, Risposi sempre: SI!!! Esperienza di cui feci tesori anche in seguito.
2       Qualche attrice non intendeva essere doppiata e imponeva di doppiarsi da se medesima. Il caso Lollobrigida. Oltre a non saper recitare aveva ( ha ) una pessima voce sfiatata con le finali morte. Io alzavo tutte le finali altrimenti non si sarebbe capito niente. Il punto è che il direttore di doppiaggio, tale Guglielmo Morandi, voleva estrarre il sangue dalla rapa e a un certo punto lei non riusciva a dare quello che il regista voleva e la cosa si stava arenando. Io dalla regia (con l’interfonico) dissi: facciamo una piccola pausa, così si riposa e poi riprendiamo… il Morandi furibondo inveì contro di me: come mi permetto di interferire col direttore ecc, ecc. La lite durò abbastanza per consentire il riposo che avevo suggerito e il doppiaggio proseguì! La tapina non saprà mai il lavoro che le ho fatto! (è viva a ha la mia età e per quanto l’avessi disprezzata come attrice, posso dire che era molto carina). Ah, Luigi Zampa (regista) durante il doppiaggio de “La romana” mi disse che la Lollo era una tirchia terribile: si risuolava le scarpe da sola per risparmiare! (Però, che brava!)

3      La maggior parte del doppiaggio era cosa della CDC cooperativa doppiatori cinematografici, doppiatori di varia origine, cantanti d’opera, ex attori o attori che non avevano sfondato o semplicemente che trovavano questo lavoro redditizio e sicuro. A differenza di altre piccole cooperative di allora, i doppiatori CDC avevano voci assai differenziate che consentivano di identificare gli attori con facilità, per contro avevano una recitazione standard e in diversi casi con insopportabile birignao. Accadde che un gestore della produzione di alcune case ( il comandante De Leonardis,* provenivano tutti dalla marina) decise di dare un taglio alla routine e diede precise istruzione al direttore del doppiaggio (certo Giulio Panicali che era anche doppiatore). Il Panicali, una volta in studio fece girare il primo anello del film “ne touchez pas aux grisby” per un’ora, spiegando e facendo provare le parti in modo da ricondurre la recitazione alla pura essenza del significato necessario al contesto. Cioè gli attori parlavano come se la scena fosse umanamente vera. Da allora il doppiaggio non fu più lo stesso.

*L’aiutante e e direttore della fotografia delle produzioni di De Leonardis era Mario Bernardo, ex capo partigiano in Friuli.


015 moviola. La moviola mi era stata commissionata da un editore di doppiaggi e consentiva di variare la velocità di scorrimento del film a giudizio del traduttore dei dialoghi. La grossa innovazione era un amplificatore allo stato solido (transistor) in cui anche la cellula sensibile alla luce per la lettura della colonna sonora era un transistor sverniciato. I semiconduttori sono sensibili alla luce e io avevo tolto la vernice per farlo diventare un fotodiodo, il suono era come mai sentito nelle moviole.

016 registratore. Prototipo per dimostrare nuovo stile nel design meccanico. Se lo confronti con le macchine in 018 ingrandimento, puoi notare la differenza di stile.

018 registrazione copie. Il cinemascope stereofonico non usava la colonna sonora ottica, stampabile insieme all’immagine, ma quattro colonne sonore magnetiche. Quindi su ogni copia bisognava stendere le piste magnetiche e registrarle. La registrazione era fatta in FONO ROMA a due copie per volta come risulta dalla foto. Il piccolo schermo tipo moviola, serviva per verificare che il suono fosse sempre in sincrono con l’immagine perché qualche volta tagliavano il negativo immagine ma non il master magnetico del suono.

019 contenitori pellicole cinemascope.

020 021 022. brevetto surround. Il lavoro che facevo sulle macchine 018 mi fece scattare la scintilla. Io vedevo l’immagine sul piccolo schermo ma udivo il suono su altoparlanti che stavano alle pareti: idea, se anche al cinema si potesse udire, per esempio uno sparo, fuori dallo schermo, sarebbe molto emozionante. Già il cinemascope prevedeva suoni in sala ma suoni di ambiente diffusi, io pensavo a dialoghi, spari, rumori precisi di eventi fuori campo. L’idea era di utilizzare metà della colonna sonora ottica (unico spazio rimasto sulla pellicola) per comandare la commutazione di un suono fuori campo a sinistra o a destra o addirittura mettere in parallelo tutti gli altoparlanti di sinistra e separatamente quelli di destra per ottenere una potenza di suono maggiore. La 020 mostra una pellicola cinemascope con le indicazioni anche dello spazio per la traccia di comando ( 50% colonna fot. ).la 021 relazione tra le piste e gli altoparlanti dietro lo schermo.

023 è una chicca, un pezzo di pellicola TODD AO. Ovvero una scena di Oklahoma su film di 70mm e sei piste sonore. Il Todd, uno dei mariti della Taylor, morì in un incidente aereo e la cosa fini lì.

ROMA and FONO ROMA – Early 1950s


Photographs by Alberto Albertini



In the Rome of 1952 there was no trace of the recently ended war, as if the war had never existed. Quirky, sly, indolent, chattering, Roma lived her lives. Shopkeepers, small artisans, the caste of public employees and filmmakers often in symbiosis with intellectuals, writers, painters, or simply people meeting in Piazza del Popolo or in Via Veneto to work out projects that sometimes took a real form. A fascist city? Sure, but also a socialist and communist city, especially in show business. And antisemitic. Although the ghetto was part of Rome, Roman people used to mention the “Jews” as foreigners, as a separate, alien group. The Vatican state had been recently separated from Rome. Maybe the Vatican had lost Rome, but won the whole of Italy.

Activities were swarming, each in its own rhythm. Yet they had in common the tendency to deny the watch as the king of time. There was always time to extend a discussion, if possible while eating, sitting at the table. Enjoying modest, daily pleasures, wishing a mediocre and safe position, organizing small trades to add money to the salary, we had (we have?) the impression to survive. Glorious emperors, popes, barbarians had passed, leaving some traces. But the Roman population was still there, indifferent to so much history that hadn’t brought anything better than a plate of sheep cheese and fave beans and a glass of wine from the hills around the city.





Once the CineServiceFilm experience dropped out of my life, desperate I left Milan for Rome, looking for jobs. Luckily I had a letter introducing me to Fono Roma. The friends I had helped on their way to Switzerland had connections within the Fono Roma, which was the major Italian studio for dubbing films. The company belonged to Salvatore Persichetti, married into the Petacci family. Despite his links to fascism, during the war mister Persichetti had given hospitality to Jewish people with no hesitation. A typically Italian story. There was, in that moment, a vacant job I was accepted to do: to record the dubbing: I became a “recordista.”

The impact was traumatic: although the studios had five rooms, the recording machines were placed in only one room, and the recordings were simultaneously monitored through different speakers, inducing a remarkable stress that I learned to endure over time. We worked 12-16 hours a day, waiting for overtime during the night and on Sunday. Without overtime work we wouldn’t have survived. The environment nevertheless was pleasant. When we finished early we used to meet on a small balcony and chat.



Maria Pia Dimeo, who became a quite famous dubber on the small balcony

Under the Roman sun life was restrained, somehow soft and slow: destiny looking like what one deserved, pointless to protest. To chat with colleagues and actors on the small balcony at Fono Roma was likely the right reward. And dreams of improbable success looked simply like dreams, smoothed by the sun. Actors, directors, screen writers, editors passed by, emerged, went down, spreading their lives between Fono Roma, Il bolognese (a restaurant in Piazza del Popolo) and De Paolis studios. They were a fauna intruding into the city and the city had become accustomed to them: public employees, artisans, small shops, stalls of cucumbers in the middle of the night at the end of work; empty squares and our tired eyes, derelict, under the Roman nights.

I felt wasted, I could do better! Negligent in my work, I was rude writing my reports to the point that I realized I could be forced to withdraw, and it was a risk I couldn’t afford. During such critical time the smart intuition came to me that I could do what the honest workers were already doing: to work seriously in an accurate way, whatever the job, one must do it well. From there I started to go back up again. From recordista I became sound mixer, the person who is responsible for recording voices, still being, of course, a pain in the neck. In the meantime, I had become the sound mixer of trust for Roberto Rossellini’s editor, Jolanda Benvenuti.


I had proposed to change the way recorders were used in the studios (Ampex audio-recorders, a new technology at the time) in order to avoid the motors stopping , overheated from being on constantly. The motor could be turned on only at the recording moment. The chief technician refused the idea, but the son of the owner, a freshly graduated engeneer, approved it.
I had also found a solution for creatinge stereophonic effects of the waters falling from one to another level in the Vietnamese paddy fields for Lost Continent, the documentary film by Mario Craveri and Folco Quilici, 1955. It was the very first cinemascope movie in Italy, bringing up many expectations. Some of the scenes showed the Thailand paddy fields, an endless panorama of small terraces, with water flowing down from terrace to terrace, soaking the rice. The purpose was to place the sound of the streams in a movable space. The super technical chief’s solution was to send the same signal to the three speakers behind the screen: the left, the central, the right. The result was deceiving, for the sound seemed to come only from the center. My proposal instead was to read the same sound on three different machines, so that it could arrive at the three speakers at different times. Astonishing result: a sound scene appeared in a space in which one could perceive thousands of gurgling streams, from the left and the right side.
I was clearly a pain in the neck, so they sent me home, which became my good fortune. Back to Milan to direct the new Fono Roma branch.






ROMA e FONO ROMA primi anni ’50

Nel 1952 a Roma non c’era traccia della guerra appena finita, anzi non sembrava che ci fosse stata. Bislacca, sorniona, indolente e ciarliera, Roma viveva le sue vite. Bottegai, piccoli artigiani, la casta degli statali e i cinematografari la cui elite viveva in simbiosi con gli intellettuali, scrittori, pittori o comunque gente che si ritrovava in piazza del Popolo o in via Veneto per elaborare i progetti che spesso hanno visto davvero la luce.
Città fascista Roma? Certamente, anche, ma anche socialista e comunista, specie nello spettacolo. Antisemita. A Roma c’era ancora il ghetto ma lo straordinario era che i romani parlavano dei “giudei” come degli estranei, una casta a sé, tollerata si, ma altri. In fondo lo stato pontificio era caduto da poco e a questo riferimento che si poteva attribuire questo atteggiamento, non alle leggi razziali. ( in altra occasione dicevo che il Vaticano aveva perso Roma ma preso l’Italia ).

Brulichio di attività, ciascuna con un ritmo diverso ma tutte inclini a negare che il tempo fosse sotto il controllo dell’orologio e che quindi c’era sempre il tempo per estendere una discussione, possibilmente a tavola. Il godere la vita nei piaceri modesti, quotidiani, l’aspirare ad una posizione mediocre ma sicura, l’instaurare piccoli traffici per arrotondare, davano, (danno?) l’impressione di sopravvivenza: erano passati i gloriosi imperatori, i papi, i barbari, ciascuno aveva lasciato le proprie tracce ma il popolo romano era ancora lì, indifferente a tanta storia che non gli aveva portato niente più di un piatto di fave col pecorino e un bicchiere di vino dei castelli


Conclusa l’esperienza CineServiceFilm, disperato sono partito per Roma in cerca di lavoro. Fortunatamente avevo una lettera di presentazione alla Fono Roma. Gli amici che avevo guidato in Svizzera avevano amici dentro la Fono Roma. La FonoRoma era di Salvatore Persichetti strettamente imparentato con i Petacci. Nonostante i legami col fascismo,il Persichetti non aveva esitato a ospitare ebrei durante la guerra. Una storia tipicamente italiana. In quel momento c’era un posto vacante che ho potuto ottenere: addetto alle macchine di registrazione dei doppiaggi, ovvero recordista.

Un impatto traumatico, la Fono Roma era il principale studio di doppiaggio italiano con cinque studi. La macchine di registrazione erano però in un unico locale e le registrazioni erano monitorate da altoparlanti diversi contemporaneamente con un notevole stress che poi ho imparato a sopportare. Si lavorava 12-16 ore al giorno e si attendeva il pieno del lavoro per lavorare anche la notte e la domenica, perché tutto era basato sul lavoro straordinario, senza straordinari non si campava! C’era però l’ambiente, quando si finiva in anticipo ci si trovava sul balconcino a chiacchierare.

Sotto il sole di Roma la vita è diversa, temperata, impigrita, così che il destino ti appare quello che ti spettava e non alzi troppe proteste. Chiacchierare con i colleghi, con gli attori sul balconcino della Fono Roma poteva essere il giusto compenso. Sogni di improbabili successi nel lavoro o extra lavoro, soltanto sogni, temperati dal sole. Attori, registi, sceneggiatori, montatori passavano, emergevano, scendevano, vivevano tra la Fono Roma, Il bolognese (ristorante in Piazza del Popolo) cinecittà e gli studi De Paolis. Era una fauna intrusa nella città alla quale la città aveva fatto l’abitudine: statali, artigiani, negozietti, bancarelle di cocomeri in piena notte a fine lavoro, le piazze deserte e noi derelitti con gli occhi stanchi, sotto le notti di Roma.

Mi sentivo sprecato, valevo molto di più! Conducevo il lavoro con negligenza, scrivevo i bollettini in modo scortese finché non mi resi conto che rischiavo di retrocedere, un rischio che non potevo permettermi. In questa crisi ebbi la geniale intuizione di fare quello che già facevano gli onesti lavoratori: lavorare seriamente con scrupolo, ovvero qualsiasi lavoro si faccia, bisogna farlo bene. Così ricominciò la mia risalita. Da recordista divenni fonico, quello che sta in cabina a registrare, responsabile delle voci registrate e rompiscatole. A Roma, per esempio, ero diventato il fonico di fiducia della montatrice di Roberto Rossellini: Jolanda Benvenuti.

Avevo proposto una modifica all’uso dei registratori (audio registratori Ampex, a nastro, all’epoca una nuova tecnologia) per evitare che i motori grippassero essendo accesi tutto il giorno. Proposi di far partire il motore solo all’atto della registrazione. L’idea fu rifiutata dal capotecnico ma approvata dal figlio del padrone che nel frattempo si era laureato.
Avevo anche indicato come ottenere l’effetto stereofonico delle acque degradanti dalle risaie vietnamite in “Continente Perduto” di Craveri e Folco Quilici. Era il primo film in cinemascope italiano e si contava molto sul prestigio che ne avrebbe avuto. Alcune scene ritraevano le risaie tailandesi, un panorama sconfinato di piccole terrazze a degradare in cui l’acqua scendeva di terrazza in terrazza, irrorando il riso. L’intento era di dare una sensazione di spazio al rumore dei ruscelli che riempivano lo schermo e per fare questo il supercapotecnico non trovò di meglio che inviare lo stesso segnale sui tre altoparlanti dietro lo schermo: sinistro, centrale, destro. Risultato deludente, il suono sembrava provenire solo dal centro.
Avanzai la proposta di leggere lo stesso suono su tre macchine diverse in modo che giungesse ai tre altoparlanti in tempi diversi: il risultato fu sbalorditivo: si aprì una scena sonora spaziale in cui si percepivano migliaia di ruscelli gorgheggianti, da sinistra a destra.
Evidentemente ero un rompiballe da rispedire a casa, cosa che fu la mia fortuna.
Fui rispedito a Milano a reggere la nuova filiale della Fono Roma.


by Rosanna Albertini


a film by JUDY FISKIN, 2016

It’s a film because images move, but after months of simmering this art piece in my mind, now I see it as visual music, very much as John Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes: simple as dripping water, unassuming textures of reverence for a life we cover as a mysterious distance.

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How not to be elusive about death? How to be personal and elusive, personal and intuitive, wearing a dress of courtesy, some hints of humor. Judy’s film is a visual score. Lines of people moving horizontally and of cars rolling on the freeway. Notes are replaced by stories in a natural flow from which rough edges are smoothed out.
One funeral at the beginning, two funerals in the end, and stories of physical care in the middle: the statues’ maintenance.

That’s Fiskin’s quite unique art: to keep courtesy in the face of death. To clean the artwork of most intellectual rules, making art like a veil lifted from life, tied around her face often laughing at modernist obsessions, maybe at any kind of mental constructions. How long do they last? Is there knowing or believing?

Time is the body of films and music. Images and sounds are surfers in a pond of time, they exist as a savor, a perfume. We can only “integrate that savor into the fabric of our own identity.” George Steiner*

Once we have arrived to a certain life degree, by experiencing and understanding other humans, every relationship, even with our wisest or lovely friends, is only valuable in the atmosphere soaking them completely; and conversations, profound as they can be, have lost the power to give us intellectual happiness; they rather work in us like musical melodies.” Arthur Schnitzler**


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In the film, the sculptures by Isamu Noguchi, Henry Moore, Arturo Martini and others artists of the modern era (only with the exception of Charlie Ray), scattered in the gardens of the Getty Center, are washed and dried as if the Getty Museum conservators’ hands engaged in a caress because they must. There is no love, just periodic maintenance. The sculptures are rigid and heavy forms from day one, corpses. Don’t be mistaken. Judy Fiskin presents them as a trickster would: shiny, perfect, wonderful images that vanish through time. Death is the cord that ties them all, one more string of the music. I remember Homer: shoulders and muscles described as the pride of the living hero, seen at once like future shadows, lifeless, as if Achilles and the other warriors were already dead. This was then, in the ancient times, but now? Art history is a strange museum by itself, calling for veneration, offering exceptional and surprising specimens… do we really care?


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In the countryside house where I was born there was a bronze, the head of Jesus sculpted by a local artist, maybe Celeste was his name but I’m not sure. Jesus was sad. When grandfather died, I was seven, the family put a pillow embroidered by me under his head and the bronze on his grave. It is still my favorite sculpture. Facing death, Jesus was hiding his deep feelings, had a quiet expression. I can still see that face as I think, my eyes open. Grandfather used to say that life is so marvelous, something must continue after the threshold is passed. It was faith in a non religious artist.

Judy Fiskin lights a dim lamp at her window. People and words and images are a simple parade of acts and speeches we modulate without thinking in our daily journey. Common senses, platitudes. I’m not the first naming the aesthetic of courtesy, George Steiner is the master, but as far as I know very few artists of our time place this secret, inner feeling at the core of their work as Judy does. I love it because it’s not only about her, it unravels with grace the way she addresses the viewers, all of us. We are in her she can be in us. Platitude is not flatness, it is life as it is, true and fake, modest and grandiose, a little scary, mostly impossible to fish by words. Not without values.
Civility, courtesy and kindness in these days more reliable than truth.

JUDY FISKIN,Three Funerals and Some Acts of Preservation, Film, 2016 (excerpt)

*George Steiner, Real Presences, The University of Chicago Press, 1989
** Arthur Schnitzler, Relations et Solitudes, Aphorisms (Original title: Beziehungen und Einsamkeiten, 1967) Editions Rivages, translation from German by Pierre Deshusses, Paris,1988. Translation from French of this quote by R.A.