Continuum: The Australian Journal of Media & Culture
Vol. 6, No. 1, 1992
Radio - Sound
Edited by Niall Lucy

Three works from memory: de-memorize, like the unconscious

Martin Harrison


This is the text of a talk given at the Australian Electronic Media Arts Conference, held in Sydney, November 2 and 3,1990. The three works principally referred to are an episode from the movie Solaris, a picture by the Sydney-based artist, Ruark Lewis, and a sound-sculpture by the video artist, Joan Brassil. This version tries not to lose some of the flexibility of the speaking as opposed to the written voice and retains certain repetitions and interruptively placed references.


I 'De-memorize, like the unconscious' (Lyotard)

But it is impossible to do so: the memory, however constituted, however tattered with temporal gaps and lapses, cannot be erased by acts of will. Volition can, perhaps, suppress the memory, hold it back, channel it and accustom it to new habits. But the image of that planetary surface recurs, as does a sense of the texture of the thing depicted: the half-substance of the world which we are flying over. Consider the film Solaris. Early in the film, the astronaut, Burton, shows a silent film of the surface of the planet Solaris to a congress of Solaris experts. The film, shot from the window of a spacecraft, has no sound. In the context of the movie Solaris, however, it is a complex moment of meta-film. 'We' see the film when, years later, it is re-shown (from a clip taken of the whole conference) at the house of the father of Chris, an astronaut about to depart for Solaris. The camera angle framing the people watching at the house merges into (re-frames) the film shot at the conference which merges into (re-frames) the 'silent', ie. without soundtrack, movie shot from the spacecraft. During these moments, the soundtrack of the movie Solaris disappears, leaving 'us' (the actual cinema audience) with the experience of watching a so-called 'silent' film.

Or rather the degree of:

distance allowed us in the silent image, and the way the image is frame: the completeness, the fullness of the mysterious object we are currently witnessing. We? Not 'we', for it is an eye who is witnessing it, it is 'I' who now draw the line between now and then: between now and that 'last moment', that involuntary breakthrough from the acted level of film into the real-time acoustic of the room in which we, as listeners, experience the stillness of the acoustic space in which we find ourselves. For we are flying across this mysterious planet, the camera is flying across it - the record of a mission which ended in a certain sort of death: a light-projection here, now, in front of an audience (hearers).

A stillness. A quietness, or a 'stillness'? Whatever the case, a non-silence: a moment in which there is a collapse of the cinema's style of auditory projection into a directly theatrical sense of the visual image. Now the film occurs momentarily in the real-time acoustic of the real-time room. The intersection between the real-time (reel-time) of the shot, the eye-shot to the planetary surface, with the real-time passing in the room becomes poignant in a way that the sound track + image film, immersed in its further fictive projections, can rarely be. You could say for a moment, a minute, the sound of the system (the hiss of the sound-system, the noise of the projector etc.) are re-calibrated directly in the sense of hearing-ourselves-here, in this space: at least now, perhaps only in intention rather than in demonstrable fact, the noise of the reproduction-system is given less weight than the noise around you - or possibly than any other interruptive noise occurring in the room. A door banging in another part of the building, someone coughing, a plane flying overhead, a noiseless yacht seen through the window as it sinks in the harbour. As the images pass by, there is a commutation, an interchange of sounds, in which the construction of an impossibly open-ended, open-valued sound-even might come into existence: to bring this about, any sound will do, any noise will now fix upon the image, associate with the image as the way in which (in deed, in occurrence) the silent planet is 'seen'. Here, an imaginary audience-member flies across the uninhabitable land, retaining an acoustic trajectory which starts with the room-space where we are. But this open-valued non-silence is going to land as soon as the film makes its audience once again touch down on the sound-strip with the uncomfortable re-stabilisation of being talked to, of having time to respond. For a few moments, this impossible structure suggests the passage of merely contingent things in relation to the image's projection, ie. the planet we are now passing over. Such sounds as have taken place only accompany the image, wandering in another line, a remembered line, linking this with our acoustic experiences here and now. We could also imagine a co-instance of such linearities in the combinatory sequence of phonemes (extraordinarily shaken out as a sounding 'text' or meaning-laden recitation - which constitute the first 48 lines of this talk as it was first written out. This (what you hear) is only a version, or performance, which has been given this time. This text, no less than the 'silent' images, is a visual sequence which can be for whatever reasons counted as part of a sound-'event'. Like Rilke's coronal suture, then, can we not consider any series of visual images as first and foremost auditory invocations ie. as the visually imprecise, merely contingent, products of what we hear?

II

This somewhat hermetic opening to a talk you hear today must, it seems, be accompanied by a series of film-images for it to express even minimal pertinence - a pertinence perhaps best understood in the context of earlier, largely forgotten debates about the nature of so-called 'silent' movies. Yet the argument here is not to do with film but with sound-theory: it is an argument against those types of sound-theory which, coupled with the ocular practices of art-forms based on electronic systems of representation, take on board discourses derived exclusively from such communicational and technological systems of representation. This is also the fascination of J-F Lyotard's recommendation that we acknowledge the peculiarly ambivalent status of sound at a psycho-acoustic level: Lyotard asks us to pose the problematic of expression and suppression, of objectification and the rigidity of a supposedly necessary codification, within those practices which manipulate sound as such, eg. music, television, telecommunication and recording. His recommendation, couched as a contribution to music theory, is that we somehow 'de-memorize', that is, allow sounds to oscillate, self-forgettingly, in and out of consciousness, free from the deathly imposition of structure. This is precisely what those technically-based theories of sound will not permit. For it appears that when technique is raised to the power of theory we are condemned in all these discourses to speak of sounds as 'objects', to search for a framework of object-values within acoustic experience. So, for instance, we encounter the 'sonorous object' located within electronic music theory. Or, as will shortly become clear, sound-theorists posit highly-specialised kinds of transactional and theatrical object within speech, meaning-production and poiesis. Structure, selectivity, demarcation - all of which are signs of sonic repression are here the order of the day. It is as if out of the unfolding of sonic experience sound-objects can be excised, made palpable and held up to the light. First and foremost, they are to be measured within technical grids (wave-form, pitch-pattern, peaks, duration, timbral densities etc.), and they come thereby to achieve a peculiar solidity: they come, in short, to possess a certain quantifiable 'reversibility'. 'The musical signal, like the symbol, is conceived as having a direction of flow; it is in step with the universe. But the mapping of time into space makes time share space's reversibility: A recording is reversible, that is, it may be read in a direction inverse to that in which the composer imagined it' (Moles 108 ff).

According to this 'reversibility', the object-values of independent sounds are said to be recognisable only as soon as there is available a reproduction system in which, quite literally as texts, sounds can be played backwards - namely, when they can be re-played independently as graphic forms within the recording system. Codified as part of an informatic system, they are 'objects' because they can be turned 'upside down' by say, being cut out from the tape and played in recut, re-shaped and reversed sizes. A sound is thus tied into and fragmented by the technological system in which it is stored and reproduced (the track, the sample, the centimetre long piece of tape, the geometrical projection of moving sound-waves the order of digitally sorted logarithms etc.). Clearly, here sound becomes 'a' sound in a very specialised grammatical sense: more importantly, sound is fixed and stabilised as a specific, unchanging yet manipulable, sub-set within a given order of language and expressivity - as, for instance, a performance, a soundscape, an authentic document or a type of musical note. One is not talking here only of vocal sounds, for such object-reversibility is true also of wind-noise, a buzzing sound or a heart-beat.

As a conceptual moment, however, a further modulatory sea-change has occurred. For, when treated as 'objects', sounds also start to be conceived as somehow representative of themselves, as if they can, in detective mode, be questioned for a potential loss or displacement which has seemingly happened between their supposed origin and their 'real-time' acoustic experience. This is the formation of a principle by which sound-objects become subject to a certain order of performative semiotics, whilst never being able to bear the direct weight of their newly-found status as signs. Sounds, it appears, do not set up the kinds of symmetrical relations with meaning necessary for an interpretive semiotics. Such displacement is, for instance, currently linked in with many propositions about the nature of so-called virtual space within media systems, a virtual space in which mediatised representations (i.e. 'sounds' in the sense just referred to) are said to float like ectoplasmic auras: here, for example, sounds-as-objects are conceived as quasi-representational events who status is that of 'dead bodies', voluminous traces drifting about in stereophonic listening-dimensions or in imaginary lapses of time down a telephone wire. Ghosts housed within a technological cemetery, these sounds still speak to us, resurrecting themselves within fixed possibilities of repetition and temporal gap (Whitehead).

These problems of codification, rigidification and suppression within a given prior 'fix' or structuring intensify when addressed within the more overtly transactional and theatrical domains of psychoanalysis. These issues are also extremely complex, caught up as they are in further questions about the way in which symbolic and symptomatic meanings are expressed and revealed through that patently sonic activity of talking and listening. As a way of simplifying some of these problems, however, we could start by following Freud's well-known usage of the telephone as an image for the transactional relationship between analyst and analysand (Freud). Of all things, it is the telephone, a system for the technological representation and transfer of sound, which Freud invokes to define the way in which ordinary duration-filled speech allows a kind of communication between the two unconsciousnesses at work in analysis, i.e. that of the patient and the analyst. Once again, we encounter an already technological set of object-values being attributed to the flexible and transitory nature of, in this case, speech-sounds. Both Freud, and later Roland Barthes, extend this technically-based sound-object in a more plainly psycho-acoustic direction, for according to both it is not just the analyst who is sitting there at the end of his (telephonic) line. Rather, what picks up the receiver is a truly Freudian capacity (Lacan will speak of this too) for a suspended, and discontinuously selective, type of 'hovering listening', an analytic and intersubjective listening. In a sense, no-one speaks to 'no-one' in this sonic system. 'The originality of psychoanalytic listening is to be found in that oscillating movement which links neutrality and commitment, suspension of orientation and theory'. And: '... today (listening) is granted the power of playing over unknown spaces'. It is the listening which, if we recall Barthes' formulation, can speak: it is an activated and non-committal kind of listening which must, as listening, figure within the technical code as a feature of signification itself. A technically-imposed, hyper-present sound-sensitivity (a hearing of our hearing), we must respond to it if, for example, we are to make sense of an everyday activity like talking down the phone. This says nothing, too, of the further symbolic order of sound (both its presence and its absence) which is then extended as a more generalised and instrumental form of intersubjective communication in Barthes and Freud. For the idea of sound as an object-value, derived as it is from technique, has here been thoroughly subsumed: 'sound' enters onto the intersubjective stage-spaces as the performative medium which, having first constituted itself, can then work, or be worked, as an intangible membrane through which one can reach to multiplicity of symptomatic meanings, transfers and points of recognition. In this pseudo-theatrical sound-world, the unconscious plays a star role: the unconscious is like the devious, honest but half-shaven hero whose gestures can be scrutinised because the whole movie sound track can be stopped and reversed at any moment in pursuit of hidden linkages. In order to understand, we must constantly re-position the sounded level of speech against the mysterious voice of a silence actively listening. Thus, having analytically determined these new linkages which have little to do with the avowed grammar of utterances, sounds are no longer phenomenal occurrences but have already become pre-scored events. Either way, whether conceived as displaced 'sonorous objects' or as performative, psychoanalytic 'events', such theories present technically-based limits to the notion of sound, situating sonic moments within an already given representational pre-set. The notion of 'object' refers them to their location within the tape-sequence or digitally-inscribed process, while performative interpretation refers them to a no less scriptive, transactional role between subject and subject, between self and other. Both take for granted the already mediatised status of sound.

III

But what of the non-silence, that other 'other' (the one, for instance, which has just occurred) in which sounds metamorphose and, more, prioritise sound phenomena as things demanding attention this side of the auditive mark of recognition, situating themselves along a memorable wandering line? 'This side', that is, because we do not question these sounds for something back of, or symbolically framed within, their occurrence as phenomena. Earlier, for instance, we started to recognise a kind of metamorphosis of resonances in relation to a silent film-image: here we could deal with sounds as imaginary, open-ended moments. If these moments are to be counted as object-values, as 'sounds' in other words, then at the very least they are active, flowing, tidal: they are up-front auditory events drawn into the wake of an imaginary traverse. As this traverse sketches itself, it leaves no trace of acoustic nostalgia. These sounds are not dying, nor are they held representationally within any kind of permanently fixed lapsus: they are not, in short, historical. If they have 'died' from a certain psychological or temporal vantage-point, then it is also true to say that they have arrived, and keep on arriving. Perhaps, indeed, such a formulation (which can never be fully theoretical) has to be put into a peculiar sort of historical present tense: for these sounds die and arrive. Dying, they have arrived/are arriving. Less poetically phrased, one could suggest, in fact, a further kind of 'reversibility' by which sounds are durational in, as it were, more than one direction: this would be a kind of non-geometrical and asymmetrical reversibility, in which sensitivity to sound (listening) never completely determines the temporary 'space' in which a sound may be said to have occurred. In short, if there is structuring, then it is always a structure-in-the-making - an active principle of recognising, and then losing, the object of acoustic attention. Here, sounds do not fill conceptual and technically-framed spaces (they are not 'written') and cannot be turned 'upside down': they can be cut, maybe, but only in the sense that a hand may be said to part the water which it passes through. It is by that action, the psyche's gestural line, that a sonic unit may be defined (i.e. given semantic boundaries), but both the wandering line and its momentary sustaining-point will at once re-compose themselves. Similarly, a principle of active structuring of this kind never builds a logically requisite 'place': happily so, because this means that they never have to become ghosts or neighbourly representations of themselves. Heard in some sort of invisible, see-through structure-in-the-making, they are neither housed, nor unhoused. In being heard, they are never the same thing, they are no-thing within conventional logical schemas.

To pursue this discussion further, we must go back to that initial recommendation of Lyotard's, recognising in it both a paradox and a command. The paradox is that Lyotard requires that conscious activities (thinking, speech, analysis, sound-composition etc.) should unknowingly be directed to work unconsciously ('like the unconscious'). The reverse may be possible, or so psychoanalysis would like us to believe. But this kind of 'de-memorising' which Lyotard enjoins on us is surely either impossible or impossible to take stock of and evaluate. We could not know when, or if, we were de-memorising. But the recommendation's deliberate conceptual cul-de-sac should not obscure the nature of the advice: we are enjoined to an activity, a doing, in which what will be lost is the experience of limit and containment. It is an insistence, too, or not any but a particular kind of action, an activity which must, in psycho-acoustic terms, be constituted as a present, unmemorable moment - or perhaps a sequence of them. Proposing a hypothetical auditory world, Strawson's discussion bears upon this point. Strawson perceives great difficulties in establishing object-definitions and spatial co-ordinates in such a world. He draws many interesting arguments in favour of seeing an auditory world as necessarily a solipsistic one as well. Indeed, at risk of arriving at some very odd formulations, it is as if what is being suggested is that we project only a sound's imaginary occurrence ('as is'/now) and its present-time tendency towards both past and future occurring. Perhaps we should, then, break off here to sing and dance - provided, that is, that we can continue to make sounds (of what kind?) and gestural marks which create only a laterally related systematicity through which the processes where sounds have a part can occur. These could, for example, be 'silent' songs and 'invisible' dances. These manifestly absurd events (silent songs, invisible dances) would, at the very least, be ways of releasing unknown and immeasurable quantities of sounds into the world. Besides, given that we will never heard the song or see the dance (nor can they be defined), we can be assured that we have not simply imported another rigidifying, deathly objectification upon sounds now allowed their full phenomenal occurrence.

No-one would deny that such a proposal represents a situation of extreme logical impasse: a cul-de-sac which not only leads, but starts, nowhere. These, for instance, would not be sounds in any ordinary acoustic or auditory sense. Consider, however, the following graphic image. It is a framed picture, about 4" by 21/2". The surface is deep blue field, striated with the remnants of alphabetical letters, blotched with leakages of orange, glinting here and there with patches of white surf or something which suggests the fracturing of broken water. The obscured, partly worn-away or submerged alphabetical letters are arranged like a conventional text across the picture surface, inviting a reading or sounding-out of what they might be discovered to say. At moments, it looks as if it is their tracking across the paper which has caused a kind of turbulence in the still blue field, allowing those previously mentioned marks of range and white to splash through. What is depicted, in short, is a kind of language which urges the viewer to form acoustic impression 'this side' of the acoustic impulse (textual and poetic) which initiated the ground-text on which the picturing is based. (Ruark Lewis's picture, Portrait with Images of Hunting: M.H. was exhibited at Syme Dodson Gallery, Sydney, 1989. Its background text is Martin Harrison's poem, "Self-Portrait with Images of Hunting" Age Monthly Review 12/89.) The whole picture, which both explores and defeats acoustic expectations, is like a model for sound-energy transiting, distorting as it changes both shape and place from the back of the precisely visible (the heard impulse delivered by the originary poetic ground-text) towards a beyond of the heard moment which the viewer now composes. There was, and in a sense there still is, a message here, but it is a message enriched by what can no longer be heard (the given content) as it transforms itself into what might be hearable. The graphic symbol now substitutes for its own temporary liaison with specified linguistic sounds: in this way, the graphic marks float free from sounds but at the same time reveal their permanent bearing upon the construction of soundable units. For in this picture's non-silence, sounds must transform themselves and surrender any claim upon an order of stability and conservation - even though the picture represents, almost as a kind of palaeography, the durability of ancient sounded texts. The viewer, in short, is witnessing a specific moment of graphicised entropy, a carrying-further which is both loss and acquisition: in this image, it is the silent provocations of the inscribed pictorial surface which provide an increase (a kind of informatic 'noise' perhaps) through which a real-time hearing can resonate. For any viewer of the picture, these sounds occur here, now, during the moment of viewing - in this room, accompanied by these sounds and so on. Watching this picture one might, for instance, be reminded of that comment of Michel Serres: 'The thick wall which exists between us is constructed of shouts and cacophony . .. hearing, the thing which comes to us, to our endlessly open receptivity, is unbearable to us'.

So two works, a series of film-images and a picture, are constituted according to another kind of wandering line, a disorderly textual filament of talking and writing. Like thrown-away cassette tape sometimes seen in a city street - how did it get there? - this filament may be textual, but it links up sites and sources in a way which talking makes possible but which is perhaps scarcely proper, scarcely prolonged enough to do more than touch on sonic impressions of a wax-cylinder's score-marks, a fictional planet, a telephone, a psychoanalyst, a picture, a cybernetician and so on.

A sound, however, cannot be placed, even if it can be oriented as coming from 'over there' or 'over here'. Thinking about this, one arrives at improbable propositions. It is not known, for instance, whether a mouth labialises grunts, waves or merely images which form decodable psychic impulses from unconscious to unconscious. Neither are these the mouth's own grunts and impulses, no matter how closely we cinematically lip-sync them to the object: the mouth may, at this point, be speaking its foot ('I put my foot in my mouth') or possibly we are listeners who have arms growing out of our ears ('I grasp what you are saying'). There is, as it were, an inevitable prosthesis here, which requires that we rely on something other than the specific sonic modality in order to understand sounds. Consciousness must in some way extend its capacity beyond the ordinary reach of self-reflective action, in order to capture the transfer of these messages: we might, for example, set up a mantric system or we might digitalise the sounds which we hear. Both of these examples offer an additional territory of 'marking' or 'textualising' which allows for a temporary translation of sound into a relatively stable and locatable space. But they are not the sounds themselves, nor are they an adequate account of our hearing here-and-now Instead, if one may put it technically, they are imaginable sub-sets of 'sound-as-cause' made out of laterally related marks which increase a human capacity to transcend (literally, to cross over) a behaviour which is unstable within both the lapse of time and spatial mobility and distance. As marks, however, they are no more than codified signs of presence and absence: the digital system is particularly revealing in this regard, expressing as it does no more than the mathematical values of 0 and 1. Besides, these very same prosthetic systems (like all forms of performance) are necessitated in practical terms by the construction of other kinds of object: a video image, for example, or a satellite communication system. Or indeed by the activity of talking. In these contexts, one might be permitted to ask a further set of almost anti-philosophical questions, such as: what are the sounds of shooting the image of a fountain? Is it the sounds of the water, or of the wind and atmosphere, or of the camera and microphone? In order to make a particular sort of rasping sound followed by a short, quick flare of exploding fire, must we inevitably strike a match? To hear meanings, must there be speech? These questions, however, have a curiously, and perhaps worryingly, other-worldly air about them, which only humour will guarantee. There is a sense in which our wandering line has led us into a phenomenal world where things in announcing what they are - and doing so by the most subtle and unexpected uses of non-silence - instantly move on, capable of amazing shifts within their techno-representative systems. These objects (which are not sounds but fountains, words and matches) 'speak' long before they are spoken to. It is like trying to walk without making any noise.

It becomes doubly hard, then, to imagine the kind of openness necessary to work this non-material of sound. So many bodies will have to be put on, so many ways of addressing will have to be found, for the listener - the role of the listener - to be adequately subsumed. One thing is clear, though: that we do not 'face' anything recognisable as a medium, a plasticity which can be melded, unless we heedlessly import into this non-materiality a set of cultural forms which do that repressive 'binding' of which Lyotard speaks. Sound will have to be re-cast into performative forms which accrete according to quite different sorts of energies, in disregard of our own disappearing non-object. For sound itself, there is simply the record of an unerasable trace of 'things moving' (cars, trees, radios, voices from Baghdad, computers), a memory which is, in libidinal terms, neither memorised nor de-memorised. Here, there is no doubt another improbable way of speaking - a way which might be exclusively addressed to video-makers. This talk is one where the speaker merely chants the names of sounds, as if they are the plot of highly-processed TV mini-series: the sounds of the domestic next door, the sound of coffee-cups clinking when put on the boardroom table, the ambulance arriving in a suburban street, and so on. Piled on top of each other like boxes of audio-tape sound-effects (SFXs), these names are chanted, however, with a certain irony about what is blocked, omitted and suppressed in the microphonic camera-angle. To work with sound, it seems that there is a way in which it is essential (essence) and inevitable (the plane overhead 'disturbed' the outdoors on-location shoot) not to know where sounds come from nor what they are.

Quite different, the line that could be drawn here is of shallow curves. One of many, it is part of a grouping of physical objects built together as an installation. (Joan Brassil's installation, Randomly - Now and Then, was exhibited at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, 1990.) As a path, a curving track which lets the viewer walk among them, it constitutes the indicator of someone else's momentary acoustic upspring, or sense of convergence: it resonates from there to the notion of passage, the notion of a walk in the desert perhaps, or a walk through changeable states of mind. In fact, the line might well be none of these things, despite the litter of stones, banks of them, which mark out the path. These are piles of small stone-shards, forming a surface-texture of highly chromatic sounds, heaped up under dwarf-like acoustic trees. Certainly tree-shapes, they may, for instance, be fossilised remnants of a previous millennium's rain-forest, or (since they are, just as evidently, microphone stands) we could describe them as a cross-over between a microphone and a crane loaded with a strange proboscis-like or phallic hanging-stone. Semantically, i.e. re-imagined as symbols, to speak of them thus is one of the several ways in which they enter more fully a sonic dimension - that is, as a kind of visual language provoking a visualist rhetoric. They are images of transport, of transfer from one place to another: they possess, however, a remarkable stillness and immovability. This stillness is immediately felt, and judged, in relation to the sound of our own footsteps and our own mental events: proposing themselves as minimal and meditational objects, they make the listener aware of how a particular kind of listening is going on here. For the whole instrument - it is a computer-driven instrument made out of the viewer/listener, the proboscis-like stones hanging on their cranes, the peaks and troughs of the quivering pebbles sings, or rather hums back into the viewer's 'listening'. Each of the stones suspended from the microphone stands has been tuned to play its specific pitch, converting itself from solid sound within a digitally-controlled probability system: at base, what the viewer hears is a kind of mathematical metamorphosis of concepts transferred from stone to air.

There is, in other words, a resonance occurring in Randomly Now and Then in a purely molecular sense: the line runs through an unstable site for particular energies on their way out and on. Nonetheless, wherever the listener turns, these sounds mingle disguising (but also no less clearly revealing) that they have no specific source where the ear is concerned, no matter how much the eye searches for one. They are sounds unsourced both as real-time locations in room-space and as conceptual entities within the production-system. Allowed to blend, they create phasal and reverberative 'problems'. In short, to listen now becomes something akin to the cybernetically required 'cell' to which both sound and noise, i.e. a 'message' re-defined by informatic viewpoint, obtain: what they give must be returned. The certainties which they momentarily establish will be displaced by temporal change, or by the viewer's change of position. Admittedly, a 'system' can also be defined here, not least as a set-up within the space's temporary enclosure: thus one might talk of a 'sound-sculpture' in terms of these sounds' status as public objects, or a viewer/listener might be content to speak of these sounds as 'aesthetic experience', thereby relating them to an individuated, biographical suture. In a theoretical discourse such as Lyotard's, a discourse in which the 'death drive is simply the fact that energy does not have an ear for unity', hence marking an evacuated space with intensities which exit from regularising composition, the listener could well be yet again located here within the play of prepared and resolved repressions. This listener should, in short, have been hearing some sort of confabulation of sonorous objects, albeit partly decomposing into a form of randomness. If, however, that Thanatic discourse applied, Joan Brassil's tuned stones would merely be crying out to the viewer, demanding a technical presence unsustainable in the present moment. Here, their trick (their wandering way) is to have avoided placement, to have been at best a vehicle.

Works Cited

Arnheim, R. Film as Art. Berkeley: U of California P, 1971.

Barthes, R. The Responsibility of Forms: Critical Essays. Trans. Richard Howard. New York: Hill and Wang, 1985.

Freud, S. "Recommendations for Physicians on the Psycho-analytic Method of Treatment." In Collected Papers, Vol.2. Trans. Alix Strachey. London: Hogarth Press, 192-1950. 366.

Lyotard, J-F. Driftworks. Trans. Joseph Maier. Ed. Roger McKeon. New York: Semiotext(e), 1984.

Moles, M. Information Theory and Aesthetic Perception. Trans. Joel E. Cohen. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1966.

Rilke, R.M. Primal Sound - Where Silence Reigns: Selected Prose by Rainer Mana Rilke. Trans. G.C. Houston. New York: New Directions, 1978.

Serres, M. Le Parasite. Paris: Editions Grasset, 1980.

Strawson, P.F. Individuals: An Essay in Descriptive Metaphysics. London: Methuen, 1964.

Whitehead, G. "Principia Schizophonica: On Noise, Gas and the Broadcast Disembody." Art & Text 37 (1990): 60-62.


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