Exploration of the sounds of silence @ Agosto Foundation, Prague sound art | RESIDENCY

Agosto Foundation Residency Program

 

Artist: beepblip
Duration of remote residency*: 1 November to 30 December 2020
Production Manager: Michal Kindernay
Executive Director: Dana Recmanová

Residency Diary

Themes
psychoacoustics, silence, anxiety, isolation, atmospheric sound, sound pollution, hearing impairment, deafness, automatic composition, anechoic chamber, focus (chan meditation)

My first emotional experience of Prague was through Milan Kundera’s novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being. In the novel, the two protagonists find themselves captured/isolated in their apartment as the outside political tension of the Spring of 1968 movement banishes them from the public sphere into the private realm. For different reasons, yet no less traumatic and anxious, we are now yet again isolated and expelled from the public sphere in the time of covid. If I would translate his “lightness” to sound, I would call it “silence” for they both announce an absence that proves to be more present than an ampleness of sound or the heaviness of being. In 1951 John Cage entered an anechoic chamber. He expected to hear silence; what he heard has now become a legendary anecdote about this experience: an impossibility of silence. The year 2020 started for me in winter silence on the brink of ancient forest near Kočevska Reka. And then the capitalist machine stopped for a tiny insignificant primitive virus. And all of us field-recordists were in bliss. Finally, the world sounded to us as it should. Should we continue or stop in silence forever? For me, from my human perspective, silence in an urban space means an abundance of the presence of non-animal persons. I am interested if this contrast with the silence as presence or as absence will bring any resolution to my question. What do I wish for: repopulation of the Earth with animals and slow depopulation of humans. During the residency, I will search for such places and attempt at recording them.

My understanding of automatic composition is not based solely on the idea of algorithmic composition in which music is gendered with techniques that run without ongoing human intervention. Rather, I connect it to the surrealist games of automatic drawings whereby the next person drawing sees only the tip of the line on a folded piece of paper. In the case of sound drawing the next person composing would hear only the last few seconds of a composition and continue from there. One possible way of making a composition in this way is in a non-individualistic approach to beautiful-corpses music making by collaborating with a local artist. The other possible way is to make a beautiful-corpse from one’s own mind in an anechoic chamber in which “proverbially” the unconscious part of the brain plays an acoustic trick on the conscious mind. For tracking the process in the anechoic chamber I take inspiration from some tools of composing like Brian Eno & Peter Schmidt’s Oblique Strategies or Cornelius Cardew’s Treatise.

Method

  • Sound-walks: Recording city “silence” at the city places of refuge: city parks, river bank, botanic gardens, towers etc…
  • Automatic-composition: Several visits to the anechoic chamber at the Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Ljubljana, during which I would attempt at drawing automatic compositions by measuring time and listening to the silence.
  • Theory: Theoretic research of the proposed themes.
  • Digital sound source: Daily rehearsals of algorave coding in SuperCollider.
  • Composition: Composing the field-recordings according to the drawings made in the anechoic chamber. For the psychological dimension of the composition. A layer of sounds from SuperCollider.

Anticipated results

  • Sound composition
  • Series of drawings
  • Optional: online performance
  • Optional: composing an automatic composition with a local Prague artist

Sound sources
Field recording, SuperCollider

Digital audio workstation
Logic Pro, RX Elements

Live performance
Logic Pro, SuperCollider, Arthuria Keys MIDI controller

* Initially, the residency was planned to take place in December 2020 in Prague. For reasons connected to the restriction of travel to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the residency is taking place remotely in Ljubljana with the same method and concept of working.