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 ...
A couple of live readings. One was for Reveil - the 24 hour broadcast organised by Soundcamp - and involved me giving an audio commentary while running before reading a section of "Night Blooms" that had originally been written in place where I was retracing my steps (an area of scrub- and woodland close to my home). The other was the launch event for "Night Blooms," this time a more sedentary affair on Instagram Live where I read other sections from the book as dusk crows settled to roost above me.
Three poems and four photographs from the forthcoming Makina Books publication "Night Blooms" published in Hotel, "a magazine for new approaches to fiction, non fiction & poetry ... which provides the space for experimental reflection on literature’s status as art & cultural mediator". More here.
"Atom Place The Site" is a constrained text for "Atomic", the third edition of Im-Pressed, designed and edited by Tim Hutchinson Design and Alex Cooper. The text takes 63 words from Aristotle's expression of an 'atomist' position he attributes to Leucippus and Democritus and subjects it to a series of manipulations. The following explanation comes from the text's preamble:
"my first constraint involved reconstructing an orthodox timeline of atomic science, then expanding it beyond Leucippus and Democritus and the more modern usual suspects to include contributions from sub-Saharan African, from Maghrebi and Vedic thought. Each node on the timeline was associated with the most proximate written language (Marathi for Sanskrit, for example) and Aristotle’s rebuff was then translated into that language through an automatic translation engine and then back again to impromptu English. This process proceeded in twelve steps from the most recent script to the most ancient, the meaning of subsequent transpositions of the original mutating ever unpredictably. With each iteration, a second constraint came into operation, this time determining the erasure of a single word from the resulting text, emulating Democritus’ parable of the stone cut once, then cut again, smaller and smaller and smaller, as much as it does the radioactive decay of the half-life (albeit without a strictly exponential quasi trajectory). A third (soft) constraint governed the grammaticality of the transformed texts; a fourth and a fifth constraint (and potentially a sixth) remain undisclosed, once more'."
"Before Eternal Silence" was a text commissioned for the LP version of Jani Ruscica's work "Felt The Moonlight on my Feet." In the work, a "tap dancer is presented with poetry chosen by Ruscica for reasons including their political and social censorship during the course of their existence. Each poem has been translated into Morse Code, itself further translated and interpreted by the tap dancer into a dance piece". Inspired by the ambitions behind Ruscica's work and by my previous research into sonic codes, the resulting text involves the most complicated (and least legible) constraints that I've used.
After the original A Crossing Bell at the Estuary Festival in 2016 and a later iteration at the "What Has To Be Done" exhibition for the Beijing Today Art Museum in 2017, another adaptation of the project was developed as a contribution to one aspect of Tomoko Hojo's "Unfinished Descriptions" exhibition at the Hundred Years Gallery. Tomoko invited scores to respond to the undocumented material catalogued under "O14" for Yoko Ono's 1966 show at Indica. I thought a gentle version of "A Crossing Bell" could work here, shown in first two images with some shots of Tomoko's own work for context.
"THINGS" is a show produced by Tamara Projects which involves writers and artists responding to an object chosen for them by the curators; their response has to be formatted in the style of an eBay listing, conforming to that site's rules but otherwise open to approach. I chose to connect my object, an oil lamp, to my ongoing research into Krakatoa through an overwrought and hand-wringing account of a writer's rejections:
To hear Dalby’s voice on that winter’s London afternoon, to be lured into his tale, raised the hairs on the back of my neck, setting off a shiver that has only just subsided nine months later, sending me on a trail to discover more about Krakatoa, to understand the eruption not from today’s remote vantage but through a lens fashioned nearer his own time, hence the props: this lamp to light the books that piled the desk in the garden shed, the tight blue jacket with its missing button and rough material that rubbed a rash into my neck, the coils of rope on which I rested my feet, the tin of coal tar creosote I would open to suffuse the shed with scent, the music hall songs and shanties I played at first, later substituted by a sound effects score I composed to honour the sonority of Dalby’s memories, to honour the “weird groans and whistles …the loud rumblings [that] got louder, they seemed all round us, the gusts increased to such a hurricane as no man aboard had ever experienced … the winds seemed a solid mass, pushing everything before it and roaring like a huge steam engine, shrieking through the rigging like demons in torment.”