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Looking for ST,OR-IE;S through audio T(OU;C*H
there was a (human) body with a (plant-like) growing interest in the sounds/vibrations/frequencies of her fingers and hands touching plants; breaking up these experiences into singular sounds and words. There was a lot of experimentation, which was undertaken mostly in a house, in the bathroom and in the basement. These experimentations were recorded and edited in pitch, delay and eq until they were no longer recognizable as their original sounds, nor as words, but became wider, deeper, and longer sounds and, in some cases, shrill and rhythmic. How these sounds were arrived at can be seen and heard in Chapter *, button at the bottom. How these sounds were brought to the gallery space of OT301 in Amsterdam, along with some edited videos, during an improvisation alongside the research of two other students, can be seen and heard in Chapter ((. The complete video documentation is in this last chapter, at the end of the story, or in the middle, depending on how you look at and hear it.
On ce up on a t i me
In working towards a possibly live-stream performance for this submission, I begin by narrowing down the infinite possibilities, platforms and programs which are slowly becoming visible to me, in order to focus on sound. For the "Cutting Through" live-stream performance I did in February, I used OBS to switch in between recorded videos, live webcam, DSLR images, and written text. Throughout I used a wireless microphone to record my voice speaking, which was on throughout the performance. This time, I decided to begin with recording sounds and my speaking voice, editing and adding effects to them, before considering the visual elements. Some relevant questions I asked myself were:
1. How could I make touch audible? Using selected plants from my ongoing inventory, how could I create sound by touching them, what possibilities of touch/pressure/contact are there, and what sounds emerge when leaf touches leaf, skin touches leaf, skin touches skin?
2. Considering that frequencies are sound waves that resonate specific body parts and organs, how could I alter the sounds and voice recordings I'd gathered to resonate/vibrate/touch the listener (me and audience)? What scores could I compose that touche on the parasympathetic nervous system?
3. How could I join both recorded sounds and multi-tracks with live, spoken text in a live performance, yet keep it relatively simple? How much can I do alone as operator/performer, and at what point (and for what exactly) would a technician be necessary?
How to create sounds relating to my research of re/enmeshing plant and human bodies? I'm discovering the possibilities of re/enmeshing, or rather the moment of its happening, amplified; the sound of touch. Taking plants from my inventory, I played with condensor, dynamic microphones, and a wireless microphone intended for voice, put them in the bathroom and in the basement, and explored crinkling leaves, stroking moss, rubbing bark with my hands and my fingernails. I also explored making sounds with my own body, skin to skin, scratching, sliding, brushing. Such quiet sounds were difficult to capture and sometimes the sounds of the room were caught as well, which made it more difficult to add effects in post-production. I also experimented with my voice, letting the air brush against my vocal cords, and the words touch my mouth in speaking them.
Below are very raw, unedited sounds of body (skin, voice) and plant (leaf bark) touchings. To be listened to randomly, incompletely, and preferably with headphones...
00:00 / 01:30
00:00 / 01:34
00:00 / 01:03
00:00 / 03:12
00:00 / 03:21
ac;tu.al-ly, rig/ht n'o,w
00:00 / 01:00
00:00 / 01:46
00:00 / 01:34
Space in sound, space created through sound. Speaking softly close to the microphone and speaking softly far away from it, playing both tracks over each other should allow me to hear the room and possibly give my voice(s) texture. But I don't turn up the recording level high enough when I'm far away from the microphone, so very little of the room sounds are recorded. If the voice in both tracks needs to be at similar volumes, and I speak in similar volumes both close to and away from the microphone, then the recording level of the far-away voice needs to be turned way up. The amount of energy I use while speaking is the same, but the surface area against which the sounds touches is much different. If I measure in meters how far away I am from the microphone, can I figure out how high the recording level needs to be? Always double?
In looking for words to string together, and text to speak both live and in the recordings, I relied on the audio descriptions and phenomenological encounters I had had with selected plants from the inventory. I also brought elements of Karen Barad's writings on quantum field theory and trans*materialities, and Michael Marder's philosophies of plant-thinking. Both speak about touch on a particle level. Barad's viewpoint stems from the electron's inseparability with the vacuum and its ability to intra-act with itself - a kind of self-touching, while also touching the infinities and alterities of the vacuum or void. "Every level of touch, then, is itself touched by all possible others" ( Barad, 399). Marder argues that the act of photosynthesis requires all surfaces of the plant to open themselves up to the sun's light/heat/radiation; a kind of touching all other elements which it then transforms into matter. He states that plants have no interior, they are in constant, radical openness to their surroundings through their visible, tangible parts as well as inaudibly through frequencies humans cannot hear. These frequencies intrigue me, voice-less and silent to humans.
I begin to write about the interior that I, as a non-plant have, as well as my voice that has possibly co-evolved with the interior, with the sole purpose of exposing that interiority - what differentiates me from the plant.
a n in(te'ri(or a nd a vo,i*ce
Exploring if sounds produced in space begin to tell stories. How to acoustically produce space?
I play with mixing two recordings with dried blackberry leaves using a condensor microphone - 1) crinkling the leaves with my fingers directly in front of and moving closely around the microphone, and 2) touching the leaves about 2m away from the microphone.
Nr 1. is panned to the left, Nr 2. is panned to the right.
What story does this tell?
pulling wet skin
If I break up words into letters, sounds, vowels, consonants, breath; I start and stop myself, I attempt to break the rhythm of the word by stopping and starting my breath. In focusing on the stuttering rhythm as a way to start and stop myself from speaking the whole word, the sounds of the words become prominent. The attempt becomes about the fragments. If I were to extend the space in between the fragmented words, what would it sound like? How long could it last? How high would I need to turn up the volume, or what happens if it's turned off?
(plant / human parts)
where can I scream?
can I scream without being angry or emotional?
what does my body do to produce that sound: pulling in air, pressing stomach inwards, widening mouth, pushing through my vocal cords. Screaming is air and the vibration of my vocal cords; I must make space in my lungs, mouth, and head to produce it; I need to make space in me to amplify my sound. I need to expand my body to become a LOUDSPEAKER.
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