A curious set of actions rather than performance. The artwork expects activity in playfulness, patience, inquisition and listening. To know that everything makes a sound, unique to itself, tuning in to its form and resonance is part of a sensitivity to space, toward the objects and materials around us. By building temporal assemblages, sculpture is subject to the fleetingness of time itself, objects are alive and in dialogue, building a environment where listening can be exploratory and a playful curiosity encouraged. Focusing on the slow intensification of process, movement, the sounds that emerge when forces are set in motion.
Questions of absence and presence and their significance? Why do we perform? And why do we attempt to avoid the routines of performance, how we move and be still within a perpetually shifting field of potentialities.
“Space is a little snakelike and uncontainable, yes, but humans have ways of levelling and squaring it” TJ Clark The sight of death – “It would anyway not be bearable, for human subjects, to have the world offer itself every second as a fully material thing, a constant proximity, a presence, a place of mere events, all of them physically infringing on us – part of us, touching us, winding themselves into our very subjectivity.” Bearable or not, with sound, this is where we live, unsquared and in constant proximity.
Perhaps a consideration rather than a performance, a weighing of duration whereby objects come to life as temporary sound events, their shifting placement in the room shifts, expands or tightens up the developing landscape, like that of the cracks in a distressed glass window, jagged routes appear through space time.
The subtle use of amplification emphasises a larger spectrum of sounds otherwise difficult for use to hear. I find this a curious thought, the idea that these object withhold an even deeper array of sound. On the one hand, the idea of amplifying something is to make it larger than it is – yet throughout these last few months especially, I’ve become deeply interested with the small, the insignificant and the overlooked. After all, how often are we in the such intimate proximity to the materials of sound and movement? Passively it surrounds us, yet rarely do we sit and be with the subtleties in slow progression. To me now, this is more a radical political expression of than the loud and abrasiveness of noise. To have an audience sit and listen like this is or even par-tack in the action, is always an intention for the work. So my difficultly with amplification, within this particular context lays here, in a willingness to listen – many of the sound we are making require a closeness to experience there depth. A deeper aspect of this line of thinking, is that really I’d like whatever I am involved with or put out for an audience, that it involves or encourages a different kind of sensitivity to the space around use, I really believe that listening can be a inroad into realising the political context that we as artist often neglect.
I’m reminded of a The Force of Listening by Lucia Farinati & Claudia Firth, which I started reading around a month ago. The book explores the role of listening in the contemporary intersection of art and activism, asking what potential for transformation it might facilitate. In particular, The Force of Listening traces a legacy from feminist theory and consciousness-raising practices and discussions on ethics and politics of listening. In so doing, it inserts a vital component that often gets missed in debates on the sonic and explores how attention and interconnection might exist in the face of current structures of neoliberal governance and the instrumentalized modes of being it fosters.
A chapter that particularly caught my attention Collective listening or listening and collectivity – As Brandon LaBelle put it in his book on sound art, listening is “a form of participation in the sharing of a sound event”. Of course a sound event can be nearly anything, a concert, a noisy protest or even a car crash. It depend on which angle you want to look at it. Taken as a general statement, less specifically about sound art, we can begin to speculate further about sound as a relational phenomenon. Perhaps what LaBelle is not saying clearly in this book (but he does explore in other writings such as Acoustic Territories ) is what kind of forms of participation sound and listening produce within different specific contexts. This is something i feel is little discussed in the field of sonic arts, at least compared to the huge critical debate on participation that has occurred in the visual arts.
It must be noted that the experience of listening together at a concert, or at a religious or political event could be described as a form of passive listening. There are modes of listening in relation to contemporary music and sound art which try to overturn that traditional relationship between audience and musican. From the deep listening of Pauline Oliverios to early experimentation of John Cage, to renewed interest in field recording – listening to sound has been explored not only as a tool for composition but more and more as a participatory practise that involves the active role of the listener. For instance, artist Steve Roden describes his sound installations in terms of active listening, as a way to activate both the listeners perception of space as well as the acoustics of the space itself. However, within the book Lucia Farinati is less concerned with this moment of the listener or the spectator, nor as the exclusive moment of the subject. More in how listening can become active and or act as a catalyst for some kind of collectivity.
Might this be a debate instrumental in a new kind of participation in collectivity? To bring this back to the role of amplification, I see this debate in relation to the trend in nightclub like darkened spaces, the black cube alternative for sound to the white cube dynamic. Though i argue that have little difference at all but rather the black cube is simply an extension of the white cubes shutting out of the outside world. Much like some kind of censorial bubble in which the subject is taken to alter realms of sonic experience, starving all other bodily senses other than the ear is but an extreme, like that of the cinema, you are taken out of reality for an hour or so, where the avatar sky is intense with blue and purples, only when you leave do you realise that actually the sky isn’t quite as intense as that film. My thinking is that what we are doing now doesn’t concern itself with such intensities but rather focuses on the closeness of bodily, movement and the intimacy of listening.