Afternoon Dust

In defence of percepts: a response to Seth Kim-Cohen's 'Non-Cochlear Sound Art'

Seth Kim-Cohen’s In the Blink of an Ear: Towards a Non-Cochlear Sound Art (2009) is an odd book. On the one hand, the author lays on a relentless attack against what he calls “sound-in-itself”, or rather against those artists and theorists that would seek to reify such an imaginary sonic essence in order to posit it as the transcendent origin of the sound art they favour. At the same time, he articulates a version of Seventies Conceptualism that comes to replace the phenomenal sonic object as the underwriter and validator of what is now the sonic ‘text’. In the place of perception, he advocates an approach that understands sound art as a blank surface upon which the inscriptions of context — “sociality, gender, class, race, politics, and power” — can be read, going as far as to suggest that some sound works, such as Alvin Lucier’s seminal I am sitting in a room (1969), are better apprehended without listening to them.

Polderthink / New Fluid Radio design

An article I wrote in 2012 about polders, nature, and experimental ambient music has just been published over at the newly re-designed Fluid Radio. I think what I was trying to say was that Nature appears in the interactions between at least two (other) objects — a tree and a camera lens, for example, or a bird and a tree branch. Have a read, see what you think.

While you’re there, you can take a look at some of my recent music reviews and interviews.

Enjoy!

Documenting the Possible: Field Recording as a Site of Desire

There’s an interesting discussion going on over at Caleb Kelly’s Sound Thoughts blog about the nature of field recording to which I’d like to draw attention. To summarise: the discussion centres around Chris Watson’s Ynys-hir Dawn Chorus recording, in which the morning calls of various birds and animals can be heard. Kelly argues that an edit Watson makes in order to cut out the sound of a passing military jet results in a less authentic field recording, because while it seeks to remove traces of human intervention in a natural soundscape, the edit is in fact itself a human intervention, altering the record of what is found.

Arboretum

Arboretum is a short film made with leaves and twigs from the Forest of Blean, a study for a forthcoming larger project on tree dieback. Enjoy!


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Art Book Readers' Survey results

A little while ago I conducted an online survey into how and why people read art books. 14 people took the survey, which isn’t a huge sample size, but for those who are interested, the results can be downloaded here. For those who are interested, but not interested enough to trawl through an Excel sheet full of statistics and charts, here is a summary of the results:

Score for Dance and Sound

You will need 1 or more of each of the following: performer, contact microphone, omnidirectional microphone, mic stand.

You will also need a computer running a real-time audio processing environment such as Supercollider or PureData, and some way of outputting sounds from the computer (inbuilt or external speakers, a PA system, etc.).

Cheriton Lights

The month of February is marked by the pagan festival of Imbolc and the Christian feast of Candlemas; both events are traditionally celebrated with candlelit processions, the light of the candles symbolising the returning warmth as winter wanes. Unfortunately a bitterly cold and snow-filled wind managed to blow away any rumours of spring throughout the weekend of the inaugural Cheriton Light Festival in East Kent, so it was good to see hundreds of people still brave the elements to enjoy two days of light-related art installations, a lantern parade, and a sculptural bonfire.

130210.1644 (flute)

First attempt to make a piece of music using sounds from a flute. I even made a short video to go with it, though panning on my cheap tripod wasn’t exactly smooth!

Here’s the full-length piece:

This download contains a high-quality FLAC file, SuperCollider source code and required audio:

Download archive

Gerard Byrne: A State of Neutral Pleasure

The first time I came across the work of Gerard Byrne was while I was working on the 2010 Whitstable Biennale. We were showing his 2004 film Homme à femmes (Michel Debrane), in which the eponymous actor plays the role of Jean-Paul Sartre in a reconstruction of an interview with the philosopher regarding his relationships with women. Every morning I went to the gallery to switch the projector on, returning to switch it off at the end of the day. My viewing of the film thus consisted of a number of fragments built up over the course of a fortnight, some repeated several times; presumably there were also parts I did not see.