In his book, The Strange, Familiar and Forgotten (1992) neuroscientist Israel Rosenfield writes: ‘We understand the present through the past, an understanding that revises, alters and reworks the very nature of the past in an on-going, dynamic process.’ This concept of memory as dynamic rather than fixed, underpins this essay’s exploration of the relationship between water, memory and listening. Informed by neuropsychology and the wet reverie of literary oceans, ice and rainfall, from the ‘frozen words’ of Rabelais to the meditative sea of Melville’s, Moby Dick, the essay examines the ‘substantial nothingness’ (Bachelard) of water, sound and remembering. As a sound artist, the essay draws on practice-based research, specifically, the site-specific sound installation rain choir (2013) and the performed microphone-less field-recording, Silence Lost (2015-),commemorating the loss inherent in the act of recording. This essay is adapted from a performed conference paper originally presented at The Sound of Memory Symposium, Goldsmiths, London, 2017.
This text is about the listening that can get lost in the translation of recorded sound to text in the process of knowledge or cultural production. It considers this as a way of highlighting ways we do or don’t listen, and the politics of listening as viewed through the construction and use of sound archives. The material has its origins in research on and within the British Library sound archive, as well as new interviews. Continue reading “Freya Johnson Ross ‘Are you an expert in everything?’”
I stand in the centre surrounded by a cylindrical drone of rotating air con – a solid wall. From time to time a glitch punctures the wall and my ears strain into the vacuum outside, like a string drawn out from inside, spanning into blackness.
Below a carpet of static pulses and further off (below) I can sense the heavy belly of a metal body rising from some hidden depths.
The bones of this text were originally written and performed as a lecture at the end of 2018 for 101 Henderson Row, a small contemporary art space in Edinburgh. It blends part of a year’s worth of research with a personal narrative as well as elements of fiction writing to create an alternative reflection on processing ideas and experience that are normally on the outskirts of a sculptural practice. There was a slideshow of images that accompanied the lecture, which are referenced here as side notes or descriptions.
I wrote a song recently called “Lucette Stranded on the Island”, inspired by a character in a short story by Colette called “Chance Acquaintances”. Lucette is a side character in the story, but a devastating one. She is brought to sea by a lover she doesn’t know well, and he attacks her, steals her emeralds, and leaves her stranded on an island. Later on, she dies of blood-poisoning from the wound he inflicted upon her. The brutal scenario seemed so relevant—all the violence and greed of the world—a timeless classic subject, sadly. Continue reading “Julia Holter ‘Lucette Stranded on the Island’”
Each of the constituent pieces in my series things to do (2014) uses a set of instructions in different categories (such as noises, pitches, devices and processes) which are spoken by players and other participants during the performance and which govern the actions made by the players. In a performance, the players respond to instructions they can hear by realising the defined actions as soon as possible after they are spoken. They may use any instruments, sound-producing objects, devices or sound processing equipment (digital, analogue, or acoustic), and performances are characterised by the wide range of personal choices brought together as a group. Continue reading “James Saunders ‘Things To Do’”
One of the works of sound art that years ago sharpened my awareness of the sonic realm beyond the audible, is the Concert for a Frozen Lake by Rolf Julius. At the time, in the early 2000’s, I was struggling with the demands to write long articles for a music magazine in Italy, and in this specific instance the struggle was caused by having experienced Julius’ work only through a series of CD’s—bought in one of many highly anticipated visits to the Gelbe Musik shop in Berlin—through the Small Music (Grau) monograph published in 1995 by Kehrer Verlag, and through a low quality VHS copy of a video, documenting an installation at the Hamburger Bahnhof. In other words: I’d never actually experienced a work by Julius on site. Imagine the difficulty in trying to put all of those representations together, to somehow elicit, evoke, make-believe the experience of a place through sound—which I felt was the core of Julius’ work and at the same time the missing element in my knowledge of it. I had to find another way into those sounds and this way came through reading. I had to find a site for those sounds, and this turned out to be the actual site of my imagined listening, the historical site of my presence. Continue reading “Daniela Cascella ‘Lakes, Sounds, Sculptures, Really’”
Seated in a circle around a solo performer, a small audience listens intently to sound played through a quad surround-sound system. Here I cannot help but wonder about representation. Continue reading “Caleb Kelly ‘Thoughts on the Representation of Sound’”
The final essay in About Looking, a collection of John Berger’s writings published in 1980, is a short and generally overlooked text called ‘Field’. Although first written in 1971, in this context one is tempted to read the essay in conjunction with the others that surround it. Such a reading places the essay within Berger’s prolific writing practice and in relation to his inquiries into a broader art historical context. More specifically, when encountered in proximity to Berger’s critique of painters such as Jean François Millet and Seker Ahmet, ‘Field’ can also be understood in relation to landscape painting. Continue reading “Sarah Hughes ‘The Continuum of the Field’”