[-empyre-] fragile identities / taboo of destroying property

Marie Thompson marie.thompson at newcastle.ac.uk
Tue Feb 21 08:43:00 EST 2012

Apologies for my sudden quietness - i've been away and seem to have missed the boat a little. Anyhow, some quick thoughts/responses.

'As I was reading you on female voice and interfering women/noise, I immediately made some connection to concerts I had experienced a while back (Diamanda Galas, and also at that very same time reading Adèle Olivia Gladwell on "Catamania" (The Dissonance of Female Pleasure and Dissent.  London: Creation Books, 1995), and my attempts then to look at voice studies or discussions on voice and noise, anarchy and disruption. Surprisingly often the discursive ground seemed predictable (hysteria & excess & rupture, positively validated) or at least it appeared to move into feminist/lesbian terrain that had been carefully laid out by that generation of feminist theorists and activists in the 70s and 80s, and thus perhaps there was a noise debate that took place in feminist performance studies, later followed by a noise discussion within the sonic arts field revitalized by the Japanese and the larger international cracked media and electronia scene.  The academy is on to it, scholars are very keen on noise now, e.g.  Verstraete, Pieter, The Frequency of Imagination: Auditory Distress and Aurality in Contemporary Music Theatre, Theater Instituut Nederland, 2008; Birdsall, Carolyne and Enns, Anthony, eds.  Sonic Mediations: Body, Sound, Technology, Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2008. Kendrick, Lynne  and Roesner, David, eds., Theater Noise. The Sound of Performance, Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011; Rodgers, Tara, Pink Noises: Women and Electronic Music & Sound,  Durham: Duke UP, 2010, and now Schwartz, Hillel  Making Noise: From Babel to the Big Bang & Beyond,  New York: Zone Books, 2012.'

 agree, noise has become a prominent field in itself, although there seems to be a tendency to talk about noise without talking about what noise actually is/does. There isn't one unified definition of noise that runs through these works/texts and while I actually like the messiness of the field, it can at times be frustrating trying to work out what is particular about noise; whats included and whats not, whats excluded and whats included.  Moreover, this often leads to a slippage between noise and noise art, without clarifying what changes in/about those noises, if anything. As you note, the discursive ground can at times seem predictable, even if what it refers to is unclear - noise as the sublime, excess, jouissance, the real, non-meaning, negativity, transgression, a splattering of Deleuze, a dash of Bataille, a nod to Derrida (I include myself in being guilty of this predictability at times)....I do find that these more recent works in sound art/music/sound studies are missing the link between feminist discourses/notions of femininity and noise. And I think part of this is to do with the 'plotting' of noise music/noise art histories along the axis of Cage/futurism. (Tara Roberts makes a similar argument in Pink Noises, which isn't explicitly about noise but I think raises some really important arguments on how the exclusions of women/feminism/femininity on numerous levels; both metaphorical and practical).  I have been concerned, moreover, that these aggrandising definitions and rhetoric are perhaps drowning out the ubiquity and banality of noise; how, to my ears, everyday noise is.  Which brings me on to....

'What exactly is noise incompatible with, if it in fact is an everyday life experience for all of us continuously and perennially negotiated? And possibly analyzed by Henri Lefebvre in his "rhytmanalysis" as an elementary "rhythm" of and in our lives?  What then does noise resist, or how does it rupture particular medium specificity or particular reception situations in high or low or mass cultures and high or low academias  (how come one never talks about low academia?).'

I actually think the language of incompatibility is perhaps inaccurate for noise, for something that is simultaneously common and elusive; that can function as the sublime, the loss of self, the loss of meaning etc. but can also be a minor, forgettable encounter. Or perhaps it is that the notion of incompatibility has also been subject to a similar aggrandising rhetoric, blown out of all recognition  While I think that noise is always bound to the politics, in the sense that it remains bound to contestations and interruptions of space, struggles and expressions of power, and so on,  I'm not sure I am comfortable making the argument that noise can be easily equated with resistance. I would never suggest that damaging PA, or even using noise in art can 'smash patriarchy', or whatever - if I seemed to imply that it is definitely not what I meant. I don't find appeals to 'smash! shock! rebel!' particularly convincing. My feelings about the political action of noise are very tentative and while I would speculate about a connection between artistic manifestations of noise/resistance (if that connection can be made beyond rhetorical insistence) and broader social resistance I am not clear what the connection/relationship(s) is between these two (interrelated) spheres. I would maintain, however,  that before we can think of an emancipatory politics of noise, we need a greater consideration of who it is that often has been subject to noise abatement/silencing - who is it that is making the claims for noise and silence and who is included in the process? How do issues of race and gender, amongst others (related, but irreducible to class) feed into these configurations of noise (and also silence/improv and notions of 'misuse')? While there is so much I admire about the Noise and Capitalism publication, it is the absence of such issues (the notable exception being the aforementioned Power chapter on the Future of Female Noise) that makes me so cynical about claims for an emancipatory politics of noise: different terms, same exclusions.

On 19 Feb 2012, at 11:58, magnus lawrie wrote:

> On Sat, Feb 18, 2012 at 06:56:42PM +0000, Johannes Birringer wrote:
>> dear soft_skinned listeners
>> thanks Magnus for expanding, i found it very helpful, and also wish to reflect, perhaps,
>> later on Menotti's responses, the current debate largely responding to Marie's posts
>> and her performance.  Before going on to discuss, may I ask whether some of you here
>> were involved in or have more information regarding some of the references (I am
>> thinking of "Noise and Capitalism" - a publication I was not aware of until now) and
>> how you understand the a r t o . a r t i a n [musika txikien katalogoa / catálogo de musicas mínimas]
>> http://www.artoartian.org/?p=1141
>> project...... apparent re-released or published online in english (edited?, translated?) by Mattin and
>> Anthony Iles,   and as i tried to track and then  read this interesting manifesto, i saw a further reference
>> to this  (is is what Magnus also describes, a different even or same?)
> I don't have any particular or direct involvement. In the past I have
> attended events that have some tangential connection - things from the
> london particular and other groups which feature in Mute (Anthony Iles
> et al). Thinking about the premises for this month's discussion and
> Johannes' information from the Funeral & Zombification at DAI event
> - I hazard a quess that this a variation on a theme and possibly
>  similar to the performance I've described - I located the following
> quote from London-based writer Howard Slater:
> "Dematerialization of the art object can only presage a 'void'
> if the passing of the art object is mourned. The mourning itself, in
> substituting a mimetic trace for the lost object, is, in the case of
> conceptualism's adherents, refashioned many times over from this
> mimetic trace to become fixated on, for instance, the 'pictorialism of
> a text based practice'or in the populist adventurism of indexing
> creative activity that has escaped the art institution. "
> "THE ART OF GOVERNANCE - on The Artist Placement Group 1966-1989"
> http://www.infopool.org.uk/APG.htm
>> Noise & Capitalism: Funeral & Zombification at D.A.I.
>> January 4th, 2012 by mattin
>> ‘Noise & Capitalism: Funeral & Zombification’
> With Mattin and Anthony Iles
>> 12 January, 20.00h
> Dutch Art Institute
> Kortestraat 27, Arnhem
> 20hours
>> This evening will inaugurate the first of a series of workshops that will reflect on and ‘dig the grave’ for Noise & Capitalism (2009) a publication edited by Mattin and Anthony Iles. More than two years after it’s publication, what is the relevance for the book’s attempt to understand the practices of noise and improvisation in relation to capitalism? So many world-changing events have taken place in the intervening years, how has capitalism and the struggles within it changed and how does this reorient us critically to the object of this book? The editors propose an open process of reflection for the publication in joined effort to rework, rethink and identify its problems. This process will be guided by a performance that will introduce the book content and pave the way for ‘collective study’ between the authors and the audience; a proposed collaborative exercise against the grain of self promotion often found in the ‘book launch’ form. Furthermore, this evening aims to blur the boundaries
>> between ‘author’ and ‘audience’, to block the valorisation of either authoritative or distinguished subjectivities, and to experiment and put into question how we may invalidate such subjects’ accumulated ‘capital’ by releasing unquantifiable and non-exchangeable ‘product’.
>> Noise & Capitalism’ is a collection of essays by various musicians, academics, activists which reflects on the artist-audience binary, specifically how “noise,” “improvised” or “free” music offers resistance and tensions that may, at worst, provide instruments for capitalism but also, at best, point to modes of ‘subjectlessness’.>.
> subjectlessness, different from objectivity/subjectivity ?
>> what is meant by Mattin and Iles when they speak of digging the grave for "Noise & Capitalism"?
>> And, fascinating as it is, how did (Menotti's curating?) Marie's posts on noise shift our debate to sound performance (from initial focus on in/compatible research)?  What exactly is noise incompatible with, if it in fact is an everyday life experience for all of us continuously and perennially negotiated? And possibly analyzed by Henri Lefebvre in his "rhytmanalysis" as an elementary "rhythm" of and in our lives?  What then does noise resist, or how does it rupture particular medium specificity or particular reception situations in high or low or mass cultures and high or low academias  (how come one never talks about low academia?).
>> This may all be obvious to you, and perhaps reading in starts and stops is not good on my part, in a durational debate where continuity (apart from contingencies that Marie validates in her writing) is perhaps of some importance, but I am really interested in whether claims (on behalf of noise in sonic arts/performance) of noise are here also claims on behalf of "sharing" and the participatory pathos in much contemporary art discussions (I see that the "Funeral and Zombification" event thinks that participatory noise or silence is also a tool to struggle against property and ownership/intellectual property?
>> is noise then conflated with open source initiatives or "resistance"  (yes, Baruch, I sensed your impatience), aesthetic and political, which perhaps (if we remember the issues raised my Marc and others here, regarding research and scholarship and practices-as-research accreditations) links the noise in the system or authorization to unacceptable knowledge or badly written up ideas?   quite apart from the broken loudspeakers.
> Mention of open source brings to mind virality, with its association
> to noise and overload (just think of viral marketing). And now, I can
> see a reason free and open source software advocates could be unhappy
> with the description of the GNU license as a viral license.
> (for some other perspectives, see  "GPL: Viral Infection or Just Your
> Imagination?" http://www.linuxinsider.com/story/33968.html
> and "The GPL is not viral"
> http://metastatic.org/text/the-gpl-is-not-viral.html)
> Best wishes,
> Magnus
>> with regards
>> Johannes Birringer
>> dap-lab
>> PS  "Noise and Capitalism" proposes that improvisation and noise contain or can produce emancipatory moments ...   these practices point towards social relations which can extend these moments.
>> It might be good to talk further about these social relations and what is meant by them,  and also define more closely in what sense improvisation emancipates. From what? from order or adhered structure, from
>> rules, and precise choreographies?
>> - - - -
>> Magnus schreibt:
>>> In response to Marie, Magnus mentions that he felt "lucky to participate
>>> in a performance 'going fragile', involving Mattin and other contributors
>>> to Noise and Capitalism. This was part of Arika's 'Kill Your Timid Notion'
>>> festival in Dundee in February 2010. It seemed as if people ('audience')
>>> couldn't bear the silence and the absolutely (radically) open structure of
>>> this collaboration. The performace and the notion of 'going fragile' made
>>> a real impression on me."  This was picked up by others, but i am not so
>>> sure (Cage's 4':33"  and his ideas on silence go back to the 50s) what
>>> surprised audiences, what made anything un-bearable, or why an open
>>> structure (an indeterminate structure?) would be considered radical?
>> To explain the performance......
>> ..[clip]
>> hope it is clear from what I've described that a drama unfolded, through a
>> kind of direct improvisation (just dealing with the immediate moment,
>> without much expectation or intent) and from this point the public really
>> entered the frame and were faced with some options, for example to accept
>> the premise of the performance or retain a critical detachment, to speak
>> up or remain silent, to recognize the choice before them to become an
>> actor and director and to do something about that, or to not respond. What
>> I observed and heard after the performance had ended, was that some people
>> felt very challenged by this situation - intimidated or offended, bemused
>> or wondering, overwhelmed or affirmed, as well as having many
>> contradictory thoughts and emotions.
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