The image above was made whilst listening to the sound of rainfall in earphones. Rainfall is considered to be a natural source of white noise. The adjective ‘white’ is used to describe this type of noise because of the way that white light works. White light is made of all the different colours (frequencies) of light combined. White noise is all of the frequencies of sound combined.
I was attempting to break down the gap between ‘reception’ and ‘transmission’ by transcribing as neutrally as possible the rhythm of rainfall into a sort of graph. The words ‘graph’ and ‘graphite’ come from the word ‘graphein’ which means ‘to write or draw’. The resulting image is like a visual form of white noise: a screen of static.
This is from a text about the sound artist Francisco Lopez’s ‘Sound Voyage Through the World’s Waters':
‘The sound of water is a prototypical example of broadband sound, that is, a sound that contains many different and simultaneous audible frequencies. In a sense, is a kind of sound material that contains, as a possibility, all the imaginable tones and harmonies.’ http://www.mediateletipos.net/archives/7711
I have always been interested in breaking down the ‘figure/ground’ relation. In order to ‘focus’, the ‘signal’ – that is to say the thing that is considered important or meaningful – is isolated from the ‘noise’ of what is considered unimportant, superfluous, insignificant, undesirable, excessive. Clarity of focus demands no blurring or grey area. Grey area is an ill-defined situation or area of activity not readily conforming to a category or set of rules. It is an uncomfortable state where sense and non-sense are ambiguous. It is not a state conducive to ease of functioning.
I like to think of the staggeringly immense amount of data being generated by something like the Cern project, where the stream must be attended to in order to find possibly meaningful pattern in the chaos – but without clear criteria for what is ‘meaningful’ and without any clear idea of what they’re even looking for.
The following is an excerpt from a very interesting book ‘Reverberations: The Philosophy, Aesthetics and Politics of Noise’ (eds. Goddard/ Halligan/ Heggarty Continuum 2012)
‘We might think of noise as ground and meaning as figure rising from the ground, but caught within it’s field in order to function. More basically, what any system necessarily excludes as noise are all levels of organization above and below it that include its own conditions of possibility, hence the informational account of noise as a lack of organization being a state of fundamental distortion. Noise is indeed static or interference but not that of an unorganized chaos so much as patterns of organization alien to the norms of a specific system – that which Serres refers to as ‘the parasite’.’
In cinema the screen of static has been used as a portal for intrusions from the ‘beyond’. For example, in the 1982 film ‘Poltergeist’, the analogue TV screen, when not tuned in to a particular channel, would form a conduit for dark whispers in the static… and the trope continues even after digital technology pursues the grail of perfect clarity of signal. The twilight has always been the half way state where forms drift and blur, where dream, fantasies and imaginings can disorientate and take hold.
There is now the digital technology to help you recreate with greater subtlety and nuance the ‘noise’ of celluloid.
Here is the artist Tacita Dean on the subject:
“Analogue, it seems, is a description – a description, in fact, of all things I hold dear. (…) the film image is different from the digital image: it is not only emulsion versus pixels, or light versus electronics, but something deeper—something to do with poetry. . . . I should not eschew the digital world… but for me, it just does not have the means to create poetry; it neither breathes nor wobbles, but tidies up our society, correcting it and then leaves no trace.” (“Analogue”, exhibition catalogue, Schaulager Basel 2006)
Questions of tuning in, tuning out, retuning, broadband attention, creating the conditions for many voices, interruptions, disruptions, continuities, discontinuities seem to recur in Mirrorcity. For example, Aura Satz speaks of drone, the ‘underlying hum of the city and the tuning in and out of human speech:
‘The dial tone plays when the telephone is off-hook, indicating that the system is live and a telephone number can be dialled, a sustained signal of ‘lines open’, awaiting transmission and connectivity. The composition suggests an experience of tuning in and tuning out, amplifying the multitude of voices in the ether, the meaningful and meaningless messages in a state of constant transmission.’
and Susan Hiller is described as
‘ (being) interested in the areas of our cultural collective experience that are concerned with devalued or irrational experiences: the subconscious, the supernatural, the surreal, the mystical and the paranormal. She engages with these experiences and phenomena that defy logical or rational explanation through the rational scientific techniques of taxonomy, collection, organization, description and comparison. She does not, however, apply systems of judgment to the work, refraining from ever categorising the experiences as ‘true’ or ‘false’, ‘fact’ or ‘fiction’.
While I worked on Choral Fields over the Summer there were some amazing storms. I listened to the rain while I worked on clouds of static. Here is a short video of the sight and sound from the studio:
Today’s post from Seth Guy is his Deeper River (v2)
‘Drone made from treating a prepared microphone recording with effects. Headphones recommended. Original recording made at a nature reserve below the A13 bridge near Canning Town, opposite City Island.’