Sound, Image, Text was an exhibition of prints from a 19th century edition of Jean Benjamin de Laborde’s illustrated songbook Choix de Chansons (1773), held in the Australian National University Gallery’s Project Space in August 2023. The exhibition was curated by Poppy Thomson, who used this digital publication to inform her selection of the prints. Audience members could interact with the digital publication via the tablets and accompanying QR codes on the wall texts, contributing to the ongoing network of the Choix de Chansons publication. The exhibition included three walls of prints. The first wall aimed to showcase the print matter from the texts and the second wall the musicology and the contrast between this 19th century reprint and the Chantilly version of Choix de Chansons. Finally, the third and largest wall includes a ‘theme’ from the Chansons in each frame, which was curated using the ‘tags’ function of this digital publication. By reinvigorating Laborde’s songbooks, Sound, Image, Text explores how the production and reception of a work can continue long after its creation.
This wall aimed to showcase some of the print matter from the Choix de Chansons. The top frame shows two portraits – Laborde and the Dauphine – and is a part of the front matter of the book. The left frame is an engraving from a Song Set alongside a printed copy of the Chantilly version. The right frame includes two title pages from two different Song Sets.
The Song Sets
This wall showcased two Song Sets (outer frames) and three engravings alongside the first two pages of their musical notation (centre frame). As Choix de Chansons was printed on both sides of the paper, we scanned, colour matched and printed out copies of the pages on the back side in order to display these two Song Sets in their entirety. We also printed out the Chantilly version of the engravings, and the difference in colour is particularly visible in these two Song Sets when viewed alongside the 19th century copy. Therefore, this wall essentially includes remakes of a remake, as printed versions of a 19th century copy were displayed with the 19th century copy of the 18th century songbook.
The ‘Tagged’ Wall
Featuring singular French words which encompass the theme of each frame, this wall is a series that was curated using the ‘tags’ function of the digital publication. As each Song Set is filed under different tags, such as ‘lovers’ or ‘pastoral’, a viewer can navigate the Sets by clicking on a tag and exploring the numerous Sets filed under that tag. By examining the Choix de Chansons thematically rather than chronologically, we may draw comparisons across the books and consider the sociological implications of these patterns.
Row 1: S.1.04 La dormeuse, S.3.02 La declaration ingénieuse, S.3.10 L’heureuse menace
Row 2: S.1.13 L’heureuse nuit, S.3.05 La leçon, S.2.10 L’enlévement
Row 3: S.1.09 La fille obéissante, S.4.10 Les effets du bonheur, S.1.02 Les amours de Glicere et d’Alexis
Row 1: S.1.06 La fête du Seigneur, S.4.20 Le dernier parti a prendre, S.1.21 La foire de gonésse
Row 2: S.2.08 Le souper, S.1.16 La soirée du village, S.1.25 Les quatre coins
Row 3: S.2.12 Le bal, S.4.03 Les vendanges de Cythere, S.2.14 L’heureux mariage
Row 1: S.2.07 Le clavecin, S.2.22 Le concert, S.4.16 La capricieuse
Row 2: S.2.24 Conseils aux femmes, S.2.25 Regrets de David sur la mort de Betsabée, S.3.07 Le recuëillement
Row 3: S.4.09 Le mort vivant, S.1.12 La sérenade, S.1.08 La toilette
Row 1: S.3.18 La douleur de l’absence, S.3.03 Le reproche mal fondé, S.3.24 Le berger mécontent
Row 2: S.2.03 L’automne, S.3.20 Le retour du berger, S.2.23 Le tombeau
Row 3: S.3.11 L’obscurité desirée, S.3.04 Le retour desiré, S.1.07 Le ruisseau
Row 1: S.1.10 L’ombre d’eglé, S.1.01 Le portrait reconnu, S.3.01 Anaximandre
Row 2: S.4.18 L’amour vain queur de la raison, S.4.01 La chapelle de Vénus, S.2.11 La statue de l’amitie
Row 3: S.2.09 Le prêtre d’esculape, S.3.09 L’avare et la jeune esclave, S.2.18 Le juge intégre