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.
With Mark Peter Wright, I presented our "Decoys" project as part of CRiSAP's contribution to the "Into The Wild" event. It was great to revisit this work and get a sense that there is so much more still to explore. I'd completely forgotten this description of the project that captures succinctly what we were excited by:
We wanted to create a work that would somehow propel the immediate and futurological aspects of life on a damaged planet. There is a sense of environmental toxicity, debris, heat and movements of the human or more-than-human.
A track played on Luke Fowler's "Everything Is Permissible" show on Clyde Built Radio. Listen back here. The track was a recording of plastic bags drying on a washing line, a sound I'd come to associate with lockdown heard in a place I'd come to associate with lockdown, our back yard. Different COVID-related sounds mentioned in a post from last year.
My chapter "Dropping Down Low: Online Soundmaps, Critique, Genealogies, Alternatives" has been published in the Bloomsbury Handbook of Sonic Methodologies, edited by Michael Bull and Marcel Cobussen. Here are the concluding paragraphs:
Less homogenous is the genealogy of the soundmap, a family history in which scientific culture’s noise maps and audiospectrograms form one branch, textual ear witnessing another, diverse diagrammatic innovations a third, and the various alternative approaches a fourth. The three alternative approaches I provided could each have been deepened to draw in more exemplars, just as they could have been broadened to incorporate other cartophonic categories: the transmission works of Dawn Scarfe or Jiyeon Kim suggest the possibility of a live soundmap, the reverberation of interior or external spaces in projects by artists as different as Viv Corringham and Davide Tidoni imply a performative soundmap, and a potential classification of storied soundmaps arises out of the separate creative research endeavours of Isobel Anderson and Ultra-Red.
A while ago, I was interviewed for the "Listening Across Disciplines II" project that is funded by the AHRC and has Dr. Salomé Voegelin, Professor of Sound (UAL) as its the principal investigator and Dr. Anna Barney, Professor in Biomedical Acoustic Engineering (University of Southampton) as a co-investigator. The interview was conducted by Mark Peter Wright and edited with other interviewees, Syma Tariq, Matt Parker and Ximena Alarcon. The interview took place in a challenging acoustic environment and, as with the "Uncanny Landscapes" podcast, this seemed to connect to what was being discussed. I spent a while talking about what was for a long time my favourite recording "NR_CROW.aiff."
When asked by the Outposted Project to respond to the OS map for Brighton and Hove, there was only one place this invitation would take me: my favourite dew pond on the ridge of the South Downs near Ditchling Beacon. I carried some microphones and a camera the five miles from my home to a relative sheltered spot between some gorse bushes in what was one of the windiest days of the year. Originally, I thought I would just record the sound and make an ambient portrait of the hawthorn and the pool of water with its reflection, but things took a different shape: deciding first to write a text and then finding that the process of writing and listening back took me very far away from the runners and dog walkers on the Downs. You can read the text and watch the short film here.
Uncharacteristic of me to respond to something unfolding in the historical present like the COVID pandemic and the responses to it but I found myself: using my phone to record the fluttering of security tape in a supermarket car park repurposed as a distant queuing area; hanging microphones out of the first floor window for the first and last NHS Claps in my suburban street; holding an induction coil against a Playstation 4 to document the shifts in electro-magnetic flux as I booted up a game to play (gaming being a surprise activity I found myself turning to in Lockdown). Three of these were on Kate Carr's Interiorities show on RTM radio (episodes 1, 3 and 8), one was on the Parallel State podcast and one on Gabriele de Seta's Noise Reduction, a "multi-sited field study". I also submitted a potential contribution to Drew Daniel's crowd-sourced "Quarantine Supercut" but this wasn't used (!).
"Dew Pond #1" was a talk and listening session that was part of "Acoustic Ecologies: Hildegard Westerkamp and Environmental Listening" at the Attenborough Centre of Sussex University on January 31st, 2020. The sheets of paper I am holding in the first image and the participants have in subsequent photographs were letter-pressed by Alex Cooper and used to respond to the listening environment of the dew pond, marked with chalk to create soundmaps, scores, listening diaries.
Photographs: Tunde Alabi-Hundeyin
Dusk brings a shift of the senses, a change to how the world is known. A similar recalibration can happen when we choose to settle down somewhere and map what our perceptions find there.
Pictures of Alex Cooper's letter-pressed Dew Pond sheets and examples of what participants did with them.