I am delighted to have contributed two texts to Simon James' project "Electro Smog". "Electro Smog" is based around a series of electro-magnetic field recordings Simon made in the Shenzen electronics markets from which he has been able to generate mesmeric arrays of pulses, rhythms, tones and drones. One text is an interview with Simon about the project, the other a SF story written in response to Simon's work but constituting part of this slow Miasma of Decay project that I have been doing for a while. The hand-bound booklet is bi-lingual English / Chinese and, in keeping with the ecological themes of "Electro Smog," the audio tracks are packaged in recycled USB sticks (that can be customised by accompanying stickers).
You can order the album on bandcamp.
A nice review in The Wire of Cathy Lane and my book Sound arts now. It says a "fantastic book" and other nice things but there are also challenges by writer Brian Morton around such things as: the balance between interviewer and interviewee, a question if analysis is with-held in favour of exposition, whether 'sound arts' is larval, academic or otherwise institutional, how the choices of subject were made and how the reader accesses the art works or compositions discussed, especially when they are not documented in photographs in this uniformbooks publication.
Clouds and Tracks is a platform which takes its name from a phrase of Gertrude Stein's from Tender Buttons: "A transfer, a large transfer, a little transfer, some transfer, clouds and tracks do transfer, a transfer is not neglected." Initiated by John Hughes, Volker Eichelmann and Jenna Collins, the project "collates sound works conceived and realised since the spring of 2020. Contributions chart participants’ thoughts, feelings, driftings and wanderings since the onset of the Covid 19 pandemic, providing a sonic snapshot of the strange and unsettling times we are living through". My post for last year "How are you in these strange times" has reference to other sound pieces made during lockdown. Other participants include: Holly Antrum, Sarah Bennett (with Paul Ramsay), Rachel Cattle, Jenna Collins, Ilsa Colsell, Volker Eichelmann, Mireille Fauchon, SJ Fowler, SL Grange, John Hughes, James Irwin, Sylvia Lim, Lucie McLaughlin, Liz K Miller, Christian Newby (with In a Skull), Alex Pollard & Luke Pendrell, Ben Redhead, Mónica Rivas Velásquez, Daniel Shanken, Andrea Stokes, Anne Tallentire, Mia Taylor, Mandy Ure, and Mark Peter Wright.
"Air Stream: Air" (10.31) is an unprocessed recording from my back garden in which we hear the summer ambience of doors shutting, children's voices, seagulls, wood pigeons, shuffling shoeless feet, a single prop plane droning past and the rustling and crackling of plastic bags from a supermarket delivery drying in the wind on a washing line after having been decontaminated.
"Air Stream: Ether" (5.41) was prompted by another place than the garden that had become important during lockdown: the broadband router and the stability of its connection. Using an 'electro sniffer' I followed the buried cable from my house to the nearest junction box (located from a conversation with an engineer on one of the many occasions when they were sent to fix our connection). Uncharacteristically for me, this track involves some looping and layering of material.
A nice review of Cathy Lane's and my book "Sound arts now" by Greg Thomas in the June issue of Art Monthly. I like the summary that appears in the first paragraph: "A collection of meandering but geographically and socially contextualised discussions - almost like qualitative research materials - takes us from Brighton to Beirut and beyond, in many cases via Skype or Zoom, to establish some of the contemporary geographies, sociologies and economics of sound arts while looking beyond a network of 'white men from the Global North'".
Simon James and I created a live audio stream for Reveil, running for half an hour between 0450 - 0520 until the rain suddenly descended and we had to scramble to recover the mic, recorder and phone. The tide was the highest I'd seen with hardly any break to the waves, a trawler and a few smaller fishing boats left the harbour to the west; we had thought about mixing a hydrophone and geophone with the in-air mics but in the end the water on the shingle was enough. Simon and I are in the middle of a longer term project exploring this short stretch of coast.
A roundtable discussion convened by Leandro Pisano for Soundcamp / Reveil with Alyssa Moxley and David Vélez, all of us having been residents in the Liminaria programme in rural Southern Italy. We were responding to the "Manifesto for Rural Futurism" created by Beatrice Ferrara and Leandro Pisano. I was talking about the film that Chiara Caterina and I made called "Into The Outside".
"Falls Silent. Falls Silent." uses every transcription comment from Svetlana Alexievich's oral history "Chernobyl Prayer". In her book, published in 1997 and translated into English in 2016, the transcription comments are rendered in italics in parentheses and allow the interviewees' words to be read in an emotional context.
The time it takes for all the comments to appear on screen is four minutes and three seconds, which is the interval between Reactor 4 exploding and the fire brigade arriving at the power station, the fire crews fighting to douse the flames without protection. This video was released at 21:23:04 UTC on 25th of April, thirty five years after the explosion whose devastating effects continue.
Text copyright © Svetlana Alexievich, 1997, 2013 Translation copyright © Anna Gunin and Arch Tait, 2016
I used a somewhat similar approach to text on screen was used in one of my films with Chiara Caterina "Il Vertice" and in two films with Rupert Cox, "The Cave Mouth and the Giant Voice" (2015), and "Zawawa" (2018). Some of this approach to captions and subtitles was explored in a 2014 Points of Listening event and had live versions in presentations for the Iklectik launch of Salome Voegelin's "Political Possibility of Sound" (2019) and the OTO night "Animal Sounds" (2019).
This mixed media contribution investigates the multiple modes of inscription possible within a practice-based investigation of the Sonic Anthropocene. Drawing upon critical contexts from Geology, Geography and Anthropology, and the relations between writing, bodies and earthly matters, the authors suggest a re-writing occurs in mediated acts such as field recording (phonography). Microphonic translations from the field not only re-inscribe sites, plural; they
Delighted that "Sound arts now" is published, this is my third collaboration with Cathy Lane is available through uniformbooks. All information here. Cover photo is of Elsa M'bala and was taken by Simone Gilges.