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'There is a presence in what is missing' H.J.


Dis/appear, 2014
a sound played during listening sessions at reverberating spaces
2''



How to listen during politically violent realities?

Dis/appear is a soundwork that attempts to open a space of possibity and critical affect to approach uncertainty and loss. It uses sound's ambiguous nature to invite imagination and personal interpretations that can give a shape-changing identity to an assemblage of sounds that gather progressively and that occupy the space, echoing accordingly through the walls of the different spaces and listeners with whom it resonates. The work gathers the recordings of the answers of the public as all the possible lifes of the sound: sometimes it is heard as a mountain falling, as the formation of a waterfall, as hundreds of police horses, as a wall being torn down, as rocks encountering each other.

Afterwards, the sound's identy is revealed. An assemblage of stepping sounds walking over different grounds and marking different rhythms give presence in the space to 108 people. The physical volume of sound gives a 'temporal body' to each of them, who in 2 minutes progressively gather to walk together. 108 is the average number of people that go missing every 2 weeks in Mexico, a number based on a statistical study that analyzed a decade of cases of unresolved disappearances -not murders or deaths- and regardless it was published in 2015, the realization year of this sound, it remains current.

Listening sessions:
'Helicotrema' Recorded Audio Festival curated by Blauer Hase (Mario Ciaramitaro, Riccardo Giacconi, Daniele Zoico) and independent curator Giulia Morucchio, Palazzo Grassi, Venice, November 2019.

Etnografías sonoras: El mundo resuena y yo lo escucho, seminario por Andrea Ancira, Facultad de Ciencias Políticas, UNAM, Cd. de México, June 2016.

Universität der Künste Berlin, Berlin march 2016.
CCD, Mexico city, July 2015.

SITAC XII Symposium's listening session 'Disposable bodies / Disposable voices' in Mexico city, coordinated and in conversation with Michael Roberson (Ultra Red), Lucía Sanroman, Andrea Ancira and Sofia Olascoaga, organized by Museo Experimental El Eco and Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC), February 2015.

'Concrete' (excerpt)
by Jorge Solís Arenazas, translation by Robin Myers

How can we recover what we interpret as ephemeral, residual, and random in order to problematize what we consider immobile, central, and definitive?

By exploring the acoustic properties of specific sites, Lorena Mal counseled by acoustic physicists and sound engineers, investigates the paths followed by sound matter; the angles it traces as it travels; the ranges of pressure it applies; and the variations it undergoes in response to the shapes of the walls, ceilings, floors, and so forth. Finally, she locates the points where sound density intensifies and grows more concentrated. Analyzing this mass of data allows us to understand the appearance and features of the space in question. At the same time, and even more importantly, it reveals the space’s vulnerable areas, the zones of greatest susceptibility to alteration by sound’s unpredictable path.

Concrete Acoustics doesn’t seek to obtain the space’s auditory narrative, nor does it intend to represent that narrative via particular aesthetic parameters. What it does, rather, is intervene in the space, exacerbating its characteristics so that they may redefine the conception of the architectural site. It obliges the space to take risks, to shatter its traditional hierarchical logic, to de-center its interpretation from materials, functions, and other traditional reference points.

The sculptural aspect of the installation is by no means scenographic; it directly engages in the phenomenon it questions. Not only does it expose the form of the construction; it also works to reformulate its very meaning. At no point does it seek to provide a scaled recreation or to amplify the occurrences produced there. Quite the contrary: it operates on a literal, physical, immediate level, eliminating the distances between the listener/observer and what he or she perceives (a perception, incidentally, that always exists on the borderline).

Concrete Acoustics operates along the borderline of the perceptible, and we must remain in silence in order to listen.

A sound happens at the center a space
It is a mechanical force, it pushes the air
it moves
in all directions

Parts of this force hit a surface and change direction
As fast as 343 meters a second
it's force can be absorbed or resisted by materials
The more solid, the more it rejects
The more porous, the more it absorbs

Humans are porous
The sound goes through us, and a transformation takes place

Walls and concrete do not give in so much, they resist
Sound and architecture are constantly challenging each others borders

What tensions are happening in the space that we don't see?

A sound happens at the center of a space
it spreads
it's reflected once
it's reflected twice

Sound fills the space

If we see it in fragments we can see through
10,000 angles 360 degrees of a 1000Hz sound at 8dB reflecting twice in the space
Standards of a sound that behaves constantly and reflects predictably
To find were does the sound concentrates
Where is it pointing at?
Which bridge of communication is been given by the architecture?

Can we really measure the invisible?

[silence], 2016
a 40hrs listening session without speaking structured language

(sound selection)

"Take a walk at night
Walk so silently
that the bottoms of your feet
become ears"
Pauline Oliveiros, 1977.

"Turn off a light source, even
in a mirrored room, and
abruptly the space becomes
dark.

Turn off a sound source, and
the space continues to speak."
Barry Blesser and Linda-Ruth Salter, 'Spaces Speak: Are you lisening?', MIT, 2007

"Walter Benjamin conveyed
in On Language as such and
on the Language of Man. In
this very particular essay he
reflects on the silent,
magical and material language
of things. Such as the language
of a mountain, of a lamp, of a
stone, of a fox, etc. At a certain
moment Benjamin poses
the question:
"And who is going to translate
them?"

Walter Benjamin, 'On Language/On Language of Man'

What are words worth?
What are words worth? Words

Words in papers, words in books
Words on TV, words for crooks
Words of comfort, words of peace
Words to make the fighting cease
Words to tell you what to do
Words are working hard for you
Eat your words but don't go hungry
Words have always nearly hung me

Ram sam sam, a ram sam sam
Guli guli guli guli guli ram sam sam
Haykayay yipi yaykayé
Ahou ahou a nikichi

What are words worth?
What are words worth? Words

Words of nuance, words of skill
And words of romance are a thrill
Words are stupid, words are fun
Words can put you on the run

Mots pressé, Mots sensé
Mots qui disent la verité
Mots maudits, mots mentis
Mots qui manquent le fruit d'esprit

Ram sam sam, a ram sam sam
Guli guli guli guli guli ram sam sam
Haykayay yipi yaykayé
Ahou ahou a nikichi

What are words worth?
What are words worth? Words

It's a rap race, with a fast pace
Concrete words, abstract words
Crazy words and lying words
Hazy words and dying words
Words of faith and tell me straight
Rare words and swear words
Good words and bad words

Ram sam sam, a ram sam sam
Guli guli guli guli guli ram sam sam
Haykayay yipi yaykayé
Ahou ahou a nikichi

What are words worth?
What are words worth? Words

Ram sam sam, a ram sam sam
Guli guli guli guli guli ram sam sam
Haykayay yipi yaykayé
Ahou ahou a nikichi

What are words worth?
What are words worth? Words

Words can make you pay and pay
Four-letter words I cannot say
Panty, toilet, dirty devil
Words are trouble, words are subtle
Words of anger, words of hate
Words over here, words out there
In the air and everywhere
Words of wisdom, words of strife
Words that write the book I like
Words won't find no right solution
To the planet earth's pollution
Say the right word, make a million
Words are like a certain person
Who can't say what they mean
Don't mean what they say

With a rap rap here and a rap rap there
Here a rap, there a rap
Everywhere a rap rap
Rap it up for the common good

Let us enlist the neighbourhood

It's okay, I've overstood

This is a wordy rappinghood, okay, bye

Ram sam sam, a ram sam sam
Guli guli guli guli guli ram sam sam
Haykayay yipi yaykayé
Ahou ahou a nikichi

Songwriters: Tina Weymouth / Christopher Frantz / Laura Elizabeth Weymouth / Lani C. Weymouth / Steven J.C. Stanley

[9] Jean Fischer, “Refelctions on echo: Sound by women artists in Britain and Ireland during the 1980s”, 1990.
[10] Jean Fischer on O’Kelly’s work Chant Down Greenham, idem.
[11] Unknown source.
[12] Barry Blesser and Linda-Ruth Salter, Spaces Speak: Are you lisening?, MIT, 2007.
[13] Ultra-Red, “Five excercises on organized listening”, 2012.
[14] Barry Blesser and Linda-Ruth Salter, Spaces Speak: Are you lisening?, MIT, 2007.
[15] Berit Fischer, “On the notions and politics of listening”, 2014.
[16] Brandon LaBelle, “Acoustic Territories”, 2010.
[17] Berit Fischer, “On the notions and politics of listening”, 2014.
[18] Voegelin, Salome - Listening to Noise and Silence.

“The Rosetta comet is singing: as the orbiter approaches, the ESA uploads audio of the comet’s warbling magnetic ‘song’", The Independent Newspaper Tuesday 11 November 2014.

The night and clouds on the way to the night walk through the forest organized by artist Chris Carroll.

We walk together towards the crossroads. We tried imitating landscape sounds, sounds of wind, birds, water drops or simply screams and laughs. An echo returned to us from the woods until we arrived to the end of the road were we 'said' goodbye.

A mobile speaker breaks the silence and ends the 40hrs session of [Silence] playing all over different spaces ‘Wordy Rappinhood’ by Tom Tom Club, 'What are words worth?'

Artist book with transcriptions, text selections, and photographic documentation of the session.

PDF Complete printed memory

Sound protocol, a text selection by the artist, and the transcription and narration of the listening session held by 16 artists who were in silence and without language for 40hrs at Skowhegan residency 2016.

One final story: Anne Devlin, 1984, as told by the Irish filmmaker Pat Murphy. Anne agreed to act as ‘housekeeper’ to a group of United Irishmen lead by Robert Emmet who were plotting an uprising at the beginning of the nineteenth century. She was captured, tortured (almost hanged) and kept a prisoner by the British military long after the conspiracy had been crushed because she refused to ‘confess’. As Luke Gibbons points out, Murphy rereads Anne’s silence, not as passivity or absence of meaning but as political act of defiance: ‘Throughout the film, Anne is pre-eminently a messenger, a vehicle or medium of communication between Emmet and his various contacts. Yet Anne is a medium with a difference.’ From a position always oblique to the action, Anne sees, she touches, but above all, she listens. And what she hears is an empty rhetoric that springs from the voices of both Irish romantic idealism and British colonial power. If she refuses to speak it is out of loyalty neither to Emmet nor to the nationalist cause, but because she will not speak in the voice of those others the words they want to hear. She refuses to be an ‘acoustic mirror’ to male narratives of redemption; and in this refusal her silence is to be feared. [9]

“The silent pauses. (…) The duration produces unease, a suspension of breath. I resist the demand to fill absence with the illusory plenitude of words.” [10]

An exercise of sonic power: social or political, autocratic or democratic, supportive or destructive. [11]

The history of human societies can be viewed through the prism of their acoustic arenas and acoustic communities. Like air, water, and land, acoustic arenas are resources to be shared, divided, exploited, regulated, and even polluted, by those with political and social power. Because allocation of acoustic arena resources mirrors the culture’s values, examining them reveals the social dynamics of acoustic communities. [12]

Listening is never natural. It requires and generates literacy. Since it puts subjects into relation with each other and with the world, listening has the potential to contribute significantly to the constitution of collectivity. [13]

Listening, is a means by which we sense the events of life, aurally visualize spatial geometry, propagate cultural symbols, stimulate emotions, communicate aural information, experience the movement of time, build social relationships, and retain a memory of experiences. [14]

Auditory landscapes can also be interpolations between space and time, space and reality, the psycho-social and the geographic, and temporality and memory. The act of listening involves a transitional state between attention and imagination, between sensual experience and understanding or seeking a possible meaning. [15]

Silence and Noise – the imaginary edges to auditory experience; they provide physical as well as phantasmic points against which sounds are measured, fantasized, conveyed; they gather the intensities of auditory experience, locating sound upon a philosophical and ethical scale, making volume a community issue and audition a political process. Silence and noise are an oppositional antagonism, with noise rending the system open and silence allowing all things to find their place. [16]

The use [of vocal gestures] raises fundamental questions about how we speak, how we listen, how trust is produced, and how such technologies of truth turn subjects into objects. In this context, the notion of silence comes into play -not only in a Cagean or a Situationist sense, where silence amplifies the situation and the omnipresence and spatiality of sound-, but also as a form of agency, as refusal and resistance. The act of listening is not about representation or the phenomenological; it is about resonance. What is that resonates when we listen? And ultimately, does the self resonate and with whom? [17]

When there is nothing to hear, so much starts to sound. Silence is not the absence of sound but the beginning of listening. This is listening as a generative process not of noises external to me, but from inside, from the body, where my subjectivity is at the centre of the sound production, audible to myself. Silence reveals to me my own sounds: my head, my stomach, my body becomes their conductor. This is not John Cage’s anechoic chamber, where the vacuum denies external sounds a path to the ear and the sound of blood pumping through the body and the tingling of the nervous system starts to be audible. Instead here the external sounds are so small, embalmed in the white silence of snow that they come to play with my body, close up and intimate. The rumbling of my stomach becomes the gurgling of the water pipes, my breathing relates to the humming of the house, inside and out take on equivalence. The muffled outside soundscape morphs with my inner soundings. I become the soundscape in me and from me. The explosive centrifugality of noise finds a centripetal motion to match -silence occupies their undulation. Silence is possibly the most lucid moment of one’s experiential production of sound. In silence I comprehend, physically, the idea of intersubjective listening: I am in the soundscape through my listening to it and in turn the soundscape is what I listen to, perpetually in the present. Silence confirms the soundscape as a sonic life-world, and clarifies the notion that sound is a relationship not between things but just a relationship, passing through my ears. (...) Silence is everywhere near, and I am in that abundant silence all it sounds. In its hushed nothingness I am the simultaneity of listening and sound making. After the whirlwind fragmentation of noise I am an open sonic subject, ready to reciprocate sound with my fleshly body and to practise myself in that relationship. I am a sensible thing, thinging in the midst of sonic things, thinging with me in silence. [18]

SITAC XII Symposium's listening session 'Disposable bodies / Disposable voices' in Mexico city, coordinated and in conversation with Michael Roberson (Ultra Red), Lucía Sanroman, Andrea Ancira and Sofia Olascoaga, organized by Museo Experimental El Eco and Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC), February 2015.

'There is a presence in what is missing' H.J.


Dis/appear, 2014
a sound played during listening sessions at reverberating spaces.
2''



How to listen during politically violent realities?

Dis/appear is a soundwork that attempts to open a space of possibity and critical affect to approach uncertainty and loss. It uses sound's ambiguous nature to invite imagination and personal interpretations that can give a shape-changing identity to an assemblage of sounds that gather progressively and that occupy the space, echoing accordingly through the walls of the different spaces and listeners with whom it resonates. After the sound is reproduced a question is made to the audience 'what did you hear? what did you see? what did you feel?' The work gathers the recordings of the answers as all the possible lifes of the sound: sometimes it is heard as a mountain falling, as the formation of a waterfall, as hundreds of police horses, as a wall being torn down, as rocks encountering each other.

Afterwards, the sound's identy is revealed. An assemblage of stepping sounds walking over different grounds and marking different rhythms give presence in the space to 108 people. The physical volume of sound gives a 'temporal body' to each of them, who in 2 minutes progressively gather to walk together. 108 is the average number of people that go missing every 2 weeks in Mexico, a number based on a statistical study that analyzed a decade of cases of unresolved disappearances -not murders or deaths- and regardless it was published in 2015, the realization year of this sound, it remains current.

Listening sessions:
'Helicotrema' Recorded Audio Festival curated by Blauer Hase (Mario Ciaramitaro, Riccardo Giacconi, Daniele Zoico) and independent curator Giulia Morucchio, Palazzo Grassi, Venice, November 2019.

Etnografías sonoras: El mundo resuena y yo lo escucho, seminario por Andrea Ancira, Facultad de Ciencias Políticas, UNAM, Cd. de México, June 2016.

Universität der Künste Berlin, Berlin march 2016.
CCD, Mexico city, July 2015.

SITAC XII Symposium's listening session 'Disposable bodies / Disposable voices' in Mexico city, coordinated and in conversation with Michael Roberson (Ultra Red), Lucía Sanroman, Andrea Ancira and Sofia Olascoaga, organized by Museo Experimental El Eco and Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC), February 2015.

Drawing for the insivible, 2015
Listening sessions to draw without vision (selection of drawing and sound situations).

Booklets of Santa Maria la Ribera, Guerrero and Guadalupe Tepeyac (Mexico city) produced with the support and distribution of Fundación Alumnos47.

Conciertos abiertos, 2014
Booklet series for listening to public spaces.


Texts based on the listening experience of people from different neighbourhoods in Mexico city as an invitation to listen at specific hours and specific sites to different 'interpreters' and 'instruments' playing habitually according to their memory.