“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.

[silence], 2016 (texts/sounds selection)
a 40hrs listening session without structured language

"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

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

Walking together towards the crossroads. We tried to imitate 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.

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

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 without language for 40hrs at Skowhegan, 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]