20181005

Successfully build a Thomas Henry Trigger-to-Switch unit (fitted it into an Altoids tin). It accepts a 5ms trigger input to control an isolated switch (which can be used to sync Boss pedals that have a tap-tempo functionality). Input trigger should be +5V (but also seems to work with 3,3V). Also added a led to the other relay “port”, so that I can monitor the incoming trigger cycles. The unit is “on” when there is no current – I might have to rework the circuit to reverse this but I’m very happy with it for now.

Noise and Capitalism (2009) ed. Mattin Anthony Iles.  Extract from chapter “Noise Theory” by Csaba Toth, which offers a short history of Noise as an expression. Toth writes about Radu Malfatti’s slow and silent pieces like One man and a Fly (2015).

What version of late capitalism is contested in the rise of Noise-based musics? Noise performance, in our view, exercises a culturally coded and politically specific critique of late capitalism, and offers tools for undoing its seemingly incontestable hegemony. To be sure, Noise performance operates in the shadow of recontainment by the very commodity structures it intends to challenge.  But resistance to such commodification continues to occur, and what cultural critic Russel A. Potter says about hip-hop appears to be true also for Noise music: ‘the recognition that everything is or will soon be commodified has … served as a spur, an incitement to productivity.’

Noise is pre-linguistic and pre-subjective. The noise of heavy machinery and the powerful sonic onslaught of a Macintosh PowerBook are acts that actively foreground their materiality and disrupt meaning: ‘what does this Noise mean?’ Harsh textures of sonic forces break down our identities rather than reinforce them.

The book also has an article “Woman Machines: the Future of Female Noise” by Nina Power.

There’s a scene in Dziga Vertov’s 1929 film Man with a Movie Camera which combines footage of women doing a variety of different activities: sewing, cutting film (with Elizaveta Svilova, Vertov’s wife and the film’s actual editor), counting on an abacus, joyfully making boxes, plugging connections into a telephone switchboard, packing cigarettes, typing, playing the piano, answering the phone, tapping out code, ringing a bell, applying lipstick. The cut-up footage speeds up to such a frenzy that at one point it becomes impossible to tell which activity is done for pleasure, and which for work.

Jump forward almost a century and we encounter Jessica Rylan, a woman who makes her own machines, and performs with them so that the overlap between her voice and her creations loses all sense of separation. This is certainly ‘noise’ of a sort, but of an altogether novel kind. Live, Rylan performs a combination of discomforting personal exposure (in the form of a capella songs played with unstinting directness towards the audience) and machinic communing with self-made analogue synthesisers feeding back to eternity and fusing with ethereal, unholy vocals that haunt like cut-up fairy tales told by a sadistic aunt. Whilst occasional shouts for ‘more noise, more pain!’ might be bellowed at her from the floor at Noise nights, what this desire for noise at any cost doesn’t get is how much more effective Rylan’s performance is at revealing the true power of the machine.

If the subterranean history of the relation between women, machines and noise has finally emerged overground as a new Art of Noise that seeks to destroy the opposition of the natural and the artificial, what performers like Rylan represent is an expansionist take-over of the territory. No longer will the machines dream through women, but will instead be built by them. They will be used not to mimic the impotent howl of aggression in a hostile world, but to reconfigure the very matrix of noise itself.

20180921

A Brief History of Electric Guitar Distortion (2018) Polyphonic. A good overview on how poor sound quality became perceived as rich. It’s interesting think about the link blues has with noise. Blues and jazz were considered noisy in their time but eventually they were perceived as elegant and clean. At some point the instruments were removed and we were left with just noise (amps, mixers and pedals). It’s a pity that grooves and noise were separated.

Luckily I was introduced to Clipping whos earlier work like midcity (2013) re-fuze noise with rap (it can be downloaded for free!). Songs like bullshit (2013) and their later work merge noise with grooves – Which seems like a positively disruptive development (in both ways noise->rap & rap->noise).

20180730

“Loosing privilege feels like oppression”.

A quote form a participant of the On Whiteness: The Reading Group: On Space and Sound session. Baseera Khan who hosted the event, invited us to read Mabel O. Wilson’s Mine Not Yours. The text didn’t refer to sounds directly but the discussions were stimulating. We focused on the topic of ownership and who has the right to make noise. I remembered Soft Coercion, the City and the Recorded Female Voice (2017) Nina Power after the talk. We learned that Seinfeld&Friends were vessels for gentrification (a call for the for white middle-class to return to the inner city) and that the concept nonviolent resistance is a myth.

The event prompted me to read Gezi Park Protests and the Political Soundscapes of Istanbul (2016) E. Sirin Ozgun & Meri Kytö which is a good text detailing how sounds & noises were involved in the Gezi Park protests (2013-14). The text introduces readers to “acoustemology” (the epistemological nature of sound), “earing” (an sound studies & ethnography method of researching heard experiences) and it offers a compact overview of the history of protest which led to the Gezi Park protests/Taksim square events. Importantly silent protests are highlighted.

The Toxic Legacy of Zombie Formalism, Part 1: How an Unhinged Economy Spawned a New World of ‘Debt Aesthetics’ (2018) Chris Wiley

Finance was turning toward various forms of derivatives—collateralized debt obligations, credit default swaps, mortgage backed securities, etc.—which had the benefit of being loosely regulated, complex to the point of opacity, and hugely profitable. To those weaned in this environment, the art market must have looked quite attractive: It, too, is largely unregulated, with chandelier bidding and price fixing at the major auction houses, plus tax evasion and money laundering among collectors.

20180725

Envision Yourself as Fossil in the Future – consultation.

  • First we discuss what noise is. We listen to field recordings,  samples of white or pink noise, the sound of our hands rubbing against each other and talk about what these noises sound & feel like.
    • Example. We try to visualise the shape and texture of our hands through the noises they make when rubbed against each other.
  • We discuss what media is. Information can be stored into different substances. Substances change when information is recorded. What we hear when listening to recorded sounds is how the media changed when information was stored to it.
    • We listen to blank recordings and amplified silence.
  • We try to imagine how traces of this time are transmitted to the far future. Some of our messages will travel so far that they will be considered fossils when they reach their audiences.
    • A FM transmission might get stuck and orbit the sun, to be heard/experienced a millennia from today.
  • We think about noise. How the sound of noise bounces from surfaces it hits and changes. Samples of its grains map out every sound that has existed and demarcate every sound that will exist.
    • We listen to entropy. Let’s try to imagine shape of our hands through the sound of our hands rubbing against each other.
  • When we listen to noise carefully: We can hear sounds of today – The way they will heard in the future.
  • This is how we can discover our fossilised remains in the future.