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.