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
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.
Soundscape Composition with Tito Rivas
Fonoteca Nacional, Mexico City.
Listening Strata: Tito Rivas & J Milo Taylor
The proposed work – a collaborative sound piece by Tito Rivas and Dr. J Milo Taylor – will be the fulfilment of a long-held mutual interest in working together. While meeting at a festival of contemporary dance (Oaxaca and Mexico City 2009) and spending time in conversation and experiencing interdisciplinary performances, workshops and discussions, a shared fascination in the possibilities of sounds and listenings was discovered. Both artists have, quite independently, and with their own particular working methods, continued to explore this domain since that time (2009).
Let us for example, accept an idea of sound as a creative practice. Within this practice we find a number of different groupings. An influential one of these, existing since the early publication of Vancouver-based Canadian composer/academic R. Murray Schafer’s The Tuning of the World (1977), is around an ecological and sociological sensitivity to the transformation or eradication of natural and historical sounds by an on-going homogenising modernisation.
A second approach might be described as documentary, or archival. Recent and ongoing work for both artists in archives in their respective cities (Mexico City, London/Cologne) and a shared critical use of phonographic techniques indicates some idea of sound as preservation. Recording and archiving these sounds somehow saves them from extinction.
Freezing time for a future listening.
Recording as testimony.
How you situate your work when you start recording is fundamental.
However nothing is ever neutral.
Another method – the self-named schizophonic – disregards the source of the sound and the notion of location would be entirely irrelevant to a another Schaeffer, the French engineer Pierre Schaeffer. For those following in this tradition, the work focuses upon fixed sound – the sound as presented by media technologies – tape machines, synthesisers, record decks, computers. In this domain sound is autonomous – it refers to nothing.
It simply is.
A sound in, and of, itself.
An object that is a not-quite-an-object.
Something separate from origin, site or location.
Francisco Lopez would propose these works as new realities – in, and of, themselves – new entities.
The use of recorded sound refers somewhat to its origin – it does point to the past. Yet it also exists and moves towards the future. A form of sonic time travel – the poetics of autonomous sound.
Combining these with other ideas, notably Zielinski’s “deep media time”, the artists are confronted by the area of archaeoacoustics, presenting a notion of the object as sonic : thereby durational, spectral, relational, in flux . As sounds appear and disappear, so objects seep through time – moving both from the past and to the future. Entities endue, but eventually decay.
They decay and they sediment – into strata – layers made in time, like the laying down of a lake bed or ocean floor. Igneous forces may metamorphose such entities into entirely other forms – how may sound and listening cultures be said to be affected by such forces, such a geological, metaphorical morphology?
We may, following this, accept an idea of a soundscape as inhabited by both humans and animals, organics and inorganics, the living and the dead. A notion of the poetics of sound always remain close to our practice.
We are proposing an urban sound-based project exploring exploratory ecological theory, social research alongside recycled soundworks to be presented in Mexico City (and London?). We suggest that spaces may be changed through a transplantation of mass sounds – a de-textualisation of one soundscape and the transformation of the other – if only for a short time.
The piece will be a sonic dialogue: between two continents, two cultures, two cities, two artists – sonic beings sharing space in time.
Recent ideas have been moving towards archaeologies of listening . Archaeologists work with objects. If we are interested in cultures of listening, how can we study sounds when they are not properly objects. The hearing act. How can we detect the archaeological strata of listening to discover how listening cultures are made. These are one of the area we would like to explore further and to inform to working methods
We are asking how we compose new things. Yet things new things are not that new.
What do Mexican people listen to and what about Londoners? Why does a culture follow specific sounds? This shows us how we are as societies. In what way? What are the shared structures that make these possible? How can this be articulated more fully, more poetically?
Inherent in the work will be a sounding comparison of listening cultures in London and Mexico City. We will take these sound documents, our recordings, and try to illuminate these. To create hypothesis. antithesis and synthesis.