“An experiential approach to soundscape proposes a return to the subjectivities of medieval maps'. I am here in the tuna factory, Favignana. Are there monsters here?”
(Research diary entry made while listening to Stefano Zorzanello's presentation Inverse Exploration: The Removal of Map Detail on Favignana, 8th December 2011)
In OA#1, sound is not presented as a text to be read, but as an uncanny ambience existing somewhere between phenomenal and noumenal realms. Rather than closing down possible interpretations by annotating these sounds with textual data, let us reiterate our invitation to you to listen and to ask you the following questions:
- How much information are you able to derive from these recordings?
- Do you know, only by listening, where it was recorded? Favignana island or the city of Palermo?
- When were these recordings made? Which day of the week? What time of day?
- What occurred during these recordings? What actors participated in the action?
This exercise forms an important part of an emerging sonic methodology and forms part of our efforts to render sonic media artefacts as learning resources. One of the Opensound partners, Audiolab has been especially active in the development of such methods, and a separate exercise from which the above is derived can be found here on the Opensound website.
At its most basic level, a sonic methodology requires an attitude of, aptitude for, and attention to, listening. What eludes the hard disk recorder is, however, perhaps of more interest. OA#1 asks the question “To what are we listening, and by what means do we hear?”
Rather than supporting a view of sonic documentation as a mapping or capture we are asking what such activity precludes for the recordist. We are also, in this particular instance, exploring an alternative focus for sonic research based in interiorities. The implication is a radical empiricism embracing the experience of bare life where subjective experience and sounding content are the most important aspects.
Our efforts have been directed towards creating a tension between one's experience of place and the media artefacts derived from this. OA#1 is thus a diagrammatic means to a relational end. Dependency upon the dependability of the word/text/diagram as the basis for legitimate knowledge is prevalent throughout Western society. This very text is proof enough of the problematic relationship of sound to conventional academic practice and we express our gratitude to the editors for this opportunity to present our work. Our aim is clear however - to attract listening, indeed to provoke it.
After all, the best way to travel is to feel.
To feel everything in every way.
To feel everything excessively
Because all things are, in truth, excessive
And all reality is an excess, a violence,
An extremely vivid hallucination
That we all live in common with the fury of the souls,
The centre to which tend the strange centrifugal forces
That are human psyches in their harmony of senses.
(Álvaro de Campos)