“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.)


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.






with Dirk Specht and George Brock-Nannestad

J. Milo Taylor, George Brock-Nannestad, Dirk Specht
Kunsthochschule für Medien Köln

This paper approaches noise from a media anarcheological paradigm closely informed by Siegfried Zielinski’s notion of “deep media time”. The observation that noise is not absolute, but is variable is somewhat banal; yet if the temporal, methodological and aesthetic scope is extended beyond the conventional discourses around noise what implications for practice may be drawn?

The origins of the paper derive from a research fellowship undertaken at the Kunsthochschule für Medien Köln which dealt with sound, noise and listening as practice-based research methodologies. A selection of discarded shellac records (cultural noise) forms the material basis of this study. This media detritus contains program material created during a problematic yet arbitrary period of Cologne’s past (1929-62 – this period defined simply by the contingent array of shellacs found). These discs also offer today’s listeners traces and scars of the damage and decay these traumatised objects have experienced in their lifetime.
These material artefacts are noiseful in many regards: a conventional approach to archiving or preserving these might involve media migration into the digital domain after which processes of “noise-cleaning” may be undertaken. Such cleaning may aim to remove “noise” from “signal”. Yet how is such difference established? There are plentiful examples of problematic media cleansing – and a central issue explored in this paper is this distinction between what the authors frame as “primary” and “secondary” information.

Hence, issues around the context and techniques used during the original recording (e.g. frequency transfer functions), the means by which this recording is produced as a capitalist object (e.g. post-emphasis curves), and the subsequent unintended inscriptions upon the media surface in the course of the objects’ biography (e.g. careless handling) provide a deep media perspective upon the noisy media object.

Opensound Project. With Audiolab (ES) and Apo33, Nantes, France.

Motion in Place Platform: Project Website

The Motion in Place Platform brings together a cross-disciplinary group to develop new technologies allowing researchers to move out of the studio,to map and measure the human experience and response when moving through places.

The MiPP team uses motion capture (mocap) systems to record different forms of movement data on site. A first system developed in collaboration with Brighton-based motion-capture company Animazoo, adapted their IGS-190m, currently the most advanced inertial motion capture system on the market, for use outside a studio. Using gyroscopic sensors attached to flexible suits, this system allows the collection of high-resolution, full-body data from two people in a fixed area over limited time periods, recording, for example, the movements needed to collect water from a well.

Year: 2010
Location: Quare Gallery, London
Worktype: Sound Installation
Materials: found speakers, 5.1 amplifier, squalor, dirt, voices, granulation, resonance, darkness.

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Live performance commission based around the concept of ‘source-code’ which became an econo sound installation exploring some of the theoretical writing about sound proposed by Salomé Voegelin in her Listening to Noise and Silence: toward a Philosophy of Sound Arts, Continuum Press, NY, ISBN: 9781441162076

Exhibition documentation including video piece “Observer-Observing (Ears, Eyes, Ears & Mouth)” (2010) following Takahiko Iimura, Observer/Observed/Observer, chapter Camera 1/2 – Monitor 1/2

Quare Gallery, London

A lab hosted by Mariella Greil & Werner Moebius at Prisma Mexico 2009

Maybe manifesto
Maybe we move into the space between yes and no
Maybe we perform the spectacular spectator or performer
Maybe we overcome virtuosity and redefinition
Maybe we question the brute somatic nature of the body and make-believe transformations
Maybe we are all stars and invest in generosity
Maybe we share the in-between
Maybe we look for respect, hospitality and friendship
Maybe we become hybrid
Maybe we distort and recycle our style
Maybe we enjoy cunning concepts and teasing procedures and their strictures
Maybe we move beyond camp, eccentric, heroic and their opposites
Maybe we inverse the structure of the sublime
Maybe we decide for sensitive ambiguity
(response to Yvonne Rainer’s NO Manifesto and Mette Ingvartsen’s YES Manifesto)

Die Kunstpraxis als Werkform.

The lab creates space and framework for exploring emerging practices. “Who’s afraid of the in-between” contributes to a critical discourse on knowledge production in collaborative research and work modes both rehearsed and performed beyond closed categories.

writings from the in-between. emily sweeney, july 2009, mexico

the in-between is inherent. it is rich with experience, preserving a space where memory trails into possibility. it is not a state to be achieved, only recognized, and delicately. to focus on the in-between will cause it to shift. the instant we acknowledge a state as being in-between, we have arrived.

in order to find ourselves in-between, we engage with concrete structures. a vacuum is not in-between: it is nowhere.

where are the two poles that we would find ourselves between?
knowledge and ignorance
technique and pedestrianism
planning and sensation
consciousness and unconsciousness
self-consciousness and abandon
isolation and interaction
movement and sound
proprioception and desire
beginning and end

where would we find ourselves that we should feel in-between?
perhaps we will try to find sensitive ambiguity together.

once, in the laboratory, we exchanged rules. each of us wrote a rule on a small slip of paper and put it into a hat. then, we all selected rules that we were bound to follow for the duration of an open improvisation. i selected the rule to NEVER BEGIN!!! i could not predict how this would unfold. i could not conceive of never beginning.

i stationed myself against a white wall at one end of the space. there, i could feel the wind on my body from outside through an open door and i could see the shadows of trees shifting at the corners of my eyes. i had an easy view of the entire improvised event occurring in the space. NEVER BEGIN. i could not move but to breathe. my hair was moving in the wind; i could not move my head. my eyes searched round and round, roving the space; i could not move my head.

sounds, movements, sensations, interactions shifted before me. but i could not move. i stood still. i began (shit!) to feel an immeasurable pressure in my thighs and feet. my hands trembled; my legs trembled; my face contorted; i began to cry. i breathed; i focused; i stopped crying, and began crying again. i arrived in a space between proprioception and desire. i was present between every decision and every action; i filled the space with longing. the space filled with my longing. every actor’s action was infected with my desire.

is it possible to invite another person into my in-between? can i have company there?

is it possible to be alone in the in-between? do i depend upon the presence of company there?

where were we, that we should feel in-between there and someplace else?

where are we going?

does the in-between imply movement, instability, journeying? is it possible to arrive at the in-between?

are we comfortable in the in-between? is it possible to be comfortable in the in-between? do we want to be comfortable in the in-between?

“…if entire systems of representation, of meaning, had been extinguished inside him, entirely new systems had been brought into being.” Oliver Sacks, An Anthropologist on Mars

the in-between is a constant negotiation. the in-between is dependent upon binaries. the in-between denies binaries. the in-between rejects binaries.

i know only that i am in-between. i do not know why, or how. why do i strive for articulation? if i articulate this, will it disappear?

i am an artist who was raised in the united states. i find myself in mexico. all the time (walking, seeing, hearing, speaking) i have a heightened sense of myself living between my individual beliefs, hopes, and sensations, and those of the country i inevitably represent. can i shed this in-between? do i want to shed this in-between? why am i so uncomfortable in this space between myself and my perceived geopolitical identity?

i am a movement artist who was raised by a family of musicians. all the time (moving, listening, sounding) i have a heightened sense of myself living between my senses. do i want to focus on this in-between? will i damage my in-between by concentrating on it?

where is the space generated by this laboratory of in-between?

i am not afraid of the in-between. i fear its obliteration through description; articulation; location.

emily sweeney, july 2009, mexico