Monday, 3 December 2012


Spiritual telegraph, hauntological research project.

Some reflections as theoretical background to recording sessions at Amateur Theatre in Solleftea, Sweden, a place brought to attention of a parapsychological society by its reputation of being haunted.

Mike Kelley, planning a hauntological project he accounts for in his essay An Academic Cut-Up, said that he was tired of phenomenological gaze, intending to bring representation and signification back to sonic experience, tying together myth, history and sound. The project was about recordings at historical places in Paris which could potentially be containers of inscribed energies. According to Stone Tape Theory the whole environment is a recording medium and ghosts are nothing but a result of an activated playback. From other hauntological projects he refers to (Fredrich Jurgenson's and Konstantin Raudive's tapes), we know that the path can lead to strictly materialist results- it is the tape hiss, white noise, that becomes the main meaning bearing component. Sonic flux is composed of two dimensions: a virtual dimension that I term ‘noise’ and an actual dimension that consists of contractions of this virtual continuum: for example, music and speech (Christoph Cox, Sound Art and the sonic Unconscious)

As Friedrich Kittler points out " the phonograph does not hear as do ears that have been trained immediately to filter voices, words, and sounds out of noise; it registers acoustic events as such. Articulateness becomes a second-order exception in a spectrum of noise." The process of recording on tape where an electronic device is applied instead of a medium for communication with the other side, is a physical process, contracting the flows of matter across the barriers of space and time, and through a disembodied experience it provides, inspiring a thought of being able to surpass the ultimate barrier between life and death. What we perceive as voices of the dead may be some electroacoustic phenomena we interpret symbolically, but taking the sounds as they are involves an interpretation on a different, non-linguistic level, the way Nietzsche uses the word- he extends it to cover all natural processes, and probably thinking of forces that move them, make them explode, not so much of what the voices say ( this one was from Deleuze).

Sound resists discourse. Not because it is too abstract, but because it is too concrete. For many sound artists it is a material substance external to signification.The quality that made Schopenhauer commit his Kantian mistake of placing music in the metaphysical domain, the world of will or noumena or things in themselves as opposed to the world of apperances or phenomena. The intelligibiltiy of sound is suggestive of a transcendental quality (in Deleuzian understanding of it as an aspect of virtuality), as the listener gets transported into another realm, oblivious of the passage of time, and actually it is the result of being immersed in the flux of forces or experience of duration- of sounds not as distinct events, but as a continuum, a field, what Bergson describes as the soul being lulled into self- forgetfulness and Nietzsche as dissolution of the boundaries of the individual and fusion with the Dionysian, the plane of immanence of nature itself. That is where Nietzsche corrects Shopenhauer's mistake of putting music outside and says that it is immanent in nature, present as the flow of forces and intensities. His name for that flux is will to power manifesting in ceaseless becoming and dissolution to a pre-existent state. To interprete sound from the inside seems the only option as sound as a medium is direct, not requiring a distance of a gaze as image or text, and thus going beyond the dualism of subject/object relations- to the world of "this will to power and nothing besides!", a creative force of nature. Sound being external to the actual is placed in the virtual, as intensities that give rise to empirical forces- conditions for possibility for the appearances, but not cognitive or conceptual . ( Somehow it makes me think of cymatics with its biblical implications of "in the beginning was the sound"). The artist is the one that coalesces with the flux according to Nietzsche or as Deleuze expresses it " a musician is someone who appropriates something from this flow".

And finally a quote from Christoph Cox "Beyond Representation and Signification: Toward a Sonic Materialism" : Sound is not a world apart, a unique domain of non-signification and non-representation. Rather, sound and the sonic arts are firmly rooted in the material world and the powers, forces, intensities, and becomings of which it is composed. If we proceed from sound, we will be less inclined to think in terms of representation and signification, and to draw distinctions between culture and nature, human and nonhuman, mind and matter, the symbolic and the real, the textual and the physical, the meaningful and the meaningless. Instead, we might begin to treat artistic productions not as complexes of signs or representations but complexes of forces materially inflected by other forces and force-complexes.

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