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“To us, the value of a work lies in its newness: the invention of new forms, or a novel combination of old forms, the discovery of unknown worlds or the exploration of unfamiliar areas in worlds already discovered – revelations, surprises.” (Octavio Paz)

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This work is intended as a digital ecology, a designed underlay of synthetic life beneath the everyday environment of the garden. Although some of the sounds emitting from the loudspeakers are derived from the natural world and several recordings have been used in this final implementation, the majority of the sounds you can hear are synthetic. The physical causes of sounds existing in nature (water, frogs, wind, cicadas and so on) have been explored, analysed and modelled in open-source software.

For example, the water-like textures (water being the focus of the recent World Listening Day) are generated according to the implementation of algorithms expressing the phenomenon of turbulence and its modification by factors including imagined depth, speed of flow, impedance and fluid viscosity. By way of a second example, sounds derived from insect life include pure tones, high pitched whistles and frictional sounds of tiny hairs and body parts rubbing together – a phenomenon called stridulation – a diversity of such sonic processes have accordingly also been modelled.

Practico-Aesthetic Context 1

“Procedural audio is sound qua process, as opposed to sound qua product. Behind this statement lies a veritable adventure into semiotics, mathematics, computer science, signal processing and music. Procedural audio is non-linear, often synthetic sound, created in real time according to a set of programmatic rules and live input.” (Andy Farnell)

Sound, in a general sense, always involves an element of change – the most simple oscillation, and hence most sound creation, depends upon a dynamic change between one state and another. A further observation is that sound creation also implies some form of behaviour – be this intentionally communicative as in the case of many biotic sound forms (mating calls, territorial warnings, orientation signals, human speech and song etc.) or simply indicative of system states in the case of non-biotic forms (large-scale behaviour, water flow, wind speed etc.). The piece is then a primitive attempt to model, and thereby understand, the complexities of biotic and non-biotic sound interactions as found in our soundscapes.

The encounter of the title, in the first place, refers to these complex interactions.

“Biophony describes the acoustic bandwidth partitioning process that occurs in still-wild biomes by which non-human organisms adjust their vocalizations by frequency and time-shifting to compensate for vocal territory occupied by other vocal creatures. Thus each species evolves to establish and maintain its own acoustic bandwidth so that its voice is not masked. For instance, notable examples of clear partitioning and species discrimination can be found in the spectrograms derived from the biophonic recordings made in most uncompromised tropical and subtropical rain forests.“ (Bernie Krause)

Secondarily, the encounter also describes the meeting between technology and ecology. The work was initially based upon sound recordings of a river ecology in North Western Scotland, a place with profound personal meaning and overflowing with memories. As work on the piece developed it became clear that a more procedural methodology (as described above) would not only support a more nuanced understanding of the behavioural sound interactions in this environment but also remove unnecessary (outmoded?) emotional content and enable a more nuanced and dynamic digital installation.

Theoretical Context 1: Bergson: Time and Duration

“The pure present is an ungraspable advance of the past devouring the future. In truth all sensation is already memory.”

“To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.” (Henri Bergson)

The primary means by which this is implemented is through the introduction of time into the piece. While sound recordings invariably point towards the past, the procedural method implemented here occurs wholly in the present. Various behaviours occur at particular moments throughout the day and sonic events are programmed to occur at the level of seconds, minutes and hours. We might also begin to imagine further variations in sonic behaviour at the grain of weeks, months, years and so on. Consider, for example, how the sound environment of this garden has changed over the last 30 years? How might we be able to track such change? Are these changes for the better or the worse? How also does your own behaviour alter this, and other environments?

“The idea of the future, pregnant with an infinity of possibilities, is thus more fruitful than the future itself, and this is why we find more charm in hope than in possession, in dreams than in reality.” (ibid.)

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As you move around the garden, as we certainly hope you do, you will also encounter small solar powered sonic circuits created by local participants in the supporting workshop. These elements are, like the sounds coming from the loudspeakers, also intended to evoke primitive “life-like” sonic entities. They are fully autonomous, drawing their energy solely from the sun. Their behaviours, as designed by their makers, are variable and each displays its own idiosyncrasies as determined by their individual internal resistances, capacities, their location in the garden and the contingencies of the daily climatic conditions. The various elements of the work then (solar circuits, and the various sounds diffused from loudspeakers), all attempt to exist as fully as possible in the present, though are derived from past activity and are, like us, facing an uncertain future.

Thesis 1

1. Technological progress is carrying us to inevitable disaster.
2. Only the collapse of modern technological civilization can avert disaster.
3. The political left is technological society’s first line of defence against revolution.
4. What is needed is a new revolutionary movement, dedicated to the elimination of technological society. (Theodore Kaczynski)

The third, and perhaps most vital area referred to by Electronic Encounter is this individual and collective participation in and impact upon our sonic environments and our broader lifeworld.

Theoretical Context 2: Dark Ecology

“Ecological writing keeps insisting that we are “embedded” in nature. Nature is a surrounding medium that sustains our being. Due to the properties of the rhetoric that evokes the idea of a surrounding medium, ecological writing can never properly establish that this is nature and thus provide a compelling and consistent aesthetic basis for the new worldview that is meant to change society. It is a small operation, like tipping over a domino…Putting something called Nature on a pedestal and admiring it from afar does for the environment what patriarchy does for the figure of Woman. It is a paradoxical act of sadistic admiration.”  (Timothy  Morton)

This piece is, finally, “an ecology without nature”: an exploration and implementation of artificial entities, in whose company we found ourselves, here and elsewhere. Any sentiment towards the exterior world has been absenced – though a form of affect may yet still remain.

It is hoped that the work is enjoyed and that some of these issues are of interest and of relevance to you here in this moment that we encounter each other. It is proposed that contemporary society requires “renewable thought” – concepts being here considered as a resource in the broader ecology of human life. It seems clear that my own society, the so-called “United Kingdom” is in dire need of tenable concepts with which to survive the future, its economic malaise a dark mirror of its moral and social bankruptcy. It is a further wish that this electronic encounter can participate in meaningful exchange and that an ecology of health and hope can be encouraged in both our troubled nations.

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https://soundscapesexhibition.wordpress.com/

https://lauraplanagracia.wordpress.com/

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We are pleased to invite you to join the Rocket Artists and contributors to the celebration launch of the book ‘Inclusive Arts Practice and Research: A Critical Manifesto’ by Dr Alice Fox and Dr Hannah MacPherson.

The event is free and will take place on Monday 1 June 2015 in the East Room (6th floor)

Inclusive Arts Practice and Research interrogates an exciting and newly emergent field: the creative collaborations between learning-disabled and non-learning-disabled artists which are increasingly taking place in performance and the visual arts.

In Inclusive Arts Practice Alice Fox and Hannah Macpherson interview artists, curators and key practitioners in the UK and US. The authors introduce and articulate this new practice, and situate it in relation to associated approaches. Fox and Macpherson candidly describe the tensions and difficulties involved too, and explore how the work sits within contemporary art and critical theory.

The book inhabits the philosophy of Inclusive Arts practice: with Jo Offer, Alice Fox and Kelvin Burke making up the design team behind the striking look of the book. The book also includes essays and illustrated statements, and has over 100 full-colour images. Inclusive Arts Practice represents a landmark publication in an emerging field of creative practice across all the arts. It presents a radical call for collaboration on equal terms and will be an invaluable resource for anyone studying, researching or already working within this dynamic new territory.

Exhibition: 29 May – 3 June 2015
Symposium: Sound and the Urban Environment, Tuesday 2 June 6 – 8pm

Sonic, Digital, Public Spaces: NetPark
Dr Frauke Behrendt discusses how sound and the digital occupy public spaces, drawing form her work developing the digital sculpture park NetPark, she highlights some of the issues of community and collective experience within a digital age.

Speaker: Dr Frauke Behrendt, University of Brighton
www.metalculture.com/projects/netpark/

The Nexus of Soundscape, Art, and Social Action
‘We must hear the acoustic environment as a musical composition and own responsibility for its composition.’ (R Murray Schafer, The Soundscape and the Tuning of the World)

Speakers: Lisa Lavia , Managing Director, Noise Abatement Society
Dr Harry Witchel Discipline Leader in Physiology, Brighton and Sussex Medical School
Urban Acoustic Cartography: Sound mapping as a tool for participatory urban analysis and pedagogy.

Mapping Sound Maps
Sound mapping practices and projects have proliferated around the world in recent years. They offer a critical alternative to the emphasis on noise and noise pollution in current policy, scholarship and practice. Their multivalent character suggests new insights across disciplines: the study of urban sound; practices of (collaborative) sound art; sound in architectural and urban design practice; urban pedagogy and urban data and policy work.

Speaker: Conor McCafferty is a researcher based in Belfast. He is currently pursuing a PhD titled The Acoustic Mapping of Cities, with the Recomposing the City research group at Queen’s University Belfast led by Dr. Sarah Lappin and Dr. Gascia Ouzounian. Prior to commencing his PhD, Conor worked for six years with PLACE, a not for-profit architecture centre based in Belfast. https://twitter.com/comccaff

The Socialisation of Sound
Looking to place sound within an urban social context, framing and contextualising it as an important part of research on space, place and spatial practices. The study of audio cultures, noise cultures, and the soundscape are explored in very different fields of research with very little overlap: ethnomusicology, communications, history and the physical sciences. These all explore sound within society but in very different ways. The result is that while there is a large field of research into sound, there is often a separation between sound as a physical and scientific object and the social meaning of sound. This talk examines a project, which mapped the soundscape of The Smithfield area of Dublin city (an urban regenerated space) over four years with 84 teenagers, 5 older adults and through a series of auto-ethnographic walks. It presents some key findings from this study.

Speaker: Dr Linda O Keeffe, Lecturer in Sound Studies, Lancaster Institute of Contemporary Art Lancaster University Editor of the Interference Journal, Vice president of the Irish Sound, Science and Technology Association

Zone of Tranquil Access
Discusses city planning and soundscape that orientates patterns of life, rather than the fabric of buildings. The Zones of Tranquility are discussed in relation to the sonic environment around the river Taff on its journey through Cardiff, where the project is currently being developed. Civic engagement is at three levels: participants, local
inhabitants, and the public. The participants become custodians of stretches of river. Their initial activity is to map the “zone of tranquil access” along the river, to which pedestrian access extends, and within which their minds are able to listen attentively without being crowded out by too much sound. They plot the zone’s properties onto a device called a “listening wheel” and onto a river map. The participants then shift their focus of listening to conversations with locals about the zone, its value to them, the sonic habitats that give rise to it, and their ecological health. The wheel and map, scaled up to fill a hall and mounted on tables, allow participants and locals to share their findings with one another. They become iconic features around which participants can engage the public about ideas for change.

Glenn Davidson, Artstation
Mike Fedeski, Welsh School of Architecture

Listening Times
1200 1500 Melissa Deerson (Australia) Dawn Chorus: Notes from a Stationary Expedition 7’08” Stereo
1207 1507 Eduardo Brantes (Portugal) Two in Transit 7’
1214 1514 Danny Bright (UK) Ghosting Ruin 18’ 6 channel
1233 1533 Kevin Logan (UK) De Zwaan 14’31”
1247 1547 Joseph Young (UK) 6 Families of Noise 18’
1304 1604 bunú (Northern Ireland, Aidan Deery and Matilde Meireles) Correspondence (Transition #2) 13’32”
1317 1617 Gleeson/ Taylor (Ireland/ UK) up flow of air 6 channel 8’00”
1325 1625 Jesse Doyle & Leo Marcus (UK) Sound, or the Lack Thereof
1335 1635 Leona Jones (UK) On Edge 5’04” stereo
1340 1640 Johannah Hallsten (Sweden) The Onlookers Doubt 6 channel audio, 9’08”
1349 1649 Sindhu Thirumalaisamy (India) Composition for Temple Speakers
1404 1704 Christopher DeLaurenti (USA) Mardi Gras 3’00” stereo
1407 1707 Paula Garcia Stone (Spain) Nunhead: From Dusk to Dawn 12’
1419 1719 Laura Cooper (UK) A Hunt 5‘
1424 1724 Linda O’Keefe (Ireland) Mays song 7’00” & Sara’s song 6’30” stereo
1438 1738 Ingrid Plum (Denmark / UK) The Lightship 3’33” stereo
1442 1742 Mari Ohno (Japan) Floating Sounds 9’05”
1452 1752 Mari Ohno (Japan) Speaking Clock 8’20”

OA#1: LISTENING AND MAPPING THE SONIC.
PLURALITY AND WAYFARING: WRITING THE OPENSOUND PROJECT

J. Milo Taylor, Carlos Alves, Xabier Erkizia, Julien Ottavi, Wajid Yaseen

OA1

http://journal.sonicstudies.org/

This issue of the Journal is focused upon the emerging epistemologies, methodologies and ontologies of sound studies.

Contributors: Holger Schulze, Barry Truax, Katharine Norman, J Milo Taylor, Marinos Koutsomichalis, Axel Volmar, Florian Hollerweger, Michelle Lewis-King, Maarten Walraven, Walter Gershon, and Justin Patch.

A Film by Dan Linn-Pearl, Marianna Roe & Andi Spowart

“Learning to Listen is a documentary film crossing the dividing lines of experimental music and Sound Art. It is a series of accounts from established artists discussing their work in relation to shifting movements in creative thought and process. The sonic sense is explored through performance, improvisation, technology and sound art. Learning to Listen intends to inform a new audience of work beyond the confines of commercial and traditional sound making. Discourse takes place across the cities of London, Berlin and Amsterdam.”

on Vimeo from Deaf Pictures

Featured in the film: Ed Baxter, Clive Bell, Kevin Chan, Viv Corringham, Peter Cusack, Paul Freeman, Sylvia Hallett, Ig Henneman, Derek Holzer, Christina Kubisch, Willem de Ridder, Carsten Seiffarth, Jasper Stadhouders, J Milo Taylor, David Toop.

learning-to-listen.info

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Article

with Dirk Specht and George Brock-Nannestad