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.
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'".
"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.
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.
It was very enjoyable to be interviewed by Justin Hopper for the "Uncanny Landscapes" podcast. I was mainly talking about the trilogy of books that relate to my on foot explorations of the local area: A Downland Index, Night Blooms and the forthcoming Mirrors. The technical glitches ghosting our Skype conversation seemed to add their own voice to the themes of health, marking life through technology, and the intimacies of distance / the remoteness of the near. The podcast is available on a number of platforms, including podbean, which you can listen to here.
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.
Really pleased to have worked with Makina Books on the publication of "Night Blooms," a combination of photographs of wood and wayside flowers caught in the glare of my head torch and short texts about nocturnal wanderings in the two local woodland. The editing and sequencing of the photographs was in collaboration with Robin Silas Christian and the design was by Patrick Fisher at Frontwards Design. Some of the photographs can be seen here and some of the texts here at Hotel. The publication date was back in May but I forgot to post the news ...