Study as Commoning: Noise as Border

Notes from collective writings, e-mail exchanges, internal and public discussions.

(This section has been previously published in Spaces of Commoning: Artistic Research and the Utopia of the Everyday on pp. 186-187).



The Australian composer and poet Chris Mann once said to me that a new meaning could be generated when all words collapse. This proposition takes one’s distrust of language as its point of departure. Can one distrust a language that one does not understand? What kind of meaning could emerge out of communication between linguistic barriers?


As the only non-German researcher in the Spaces of Commoning research group, I am acutely aware of those moments where a unanimous switch from English to German happens. Suddenly, or continuously, a language I don’t understand fills up the room, whereby more than one mode of study comes to reveal themselves. Who do I study with at the time? What do I share ‘in common’ with those foreign tongues at the moment? Does it matter, if there is no subject of study? Inclusion is always built on exclusion.


At the threshold of those moments, there is a choice to become less an outsider who is excluded from the ‘linguistically composed meaning,’ and instead an outsider who composes various meanings out of linguistic noise. Noise, in this sense, is a cacophony of sonic information that emanates in order for the listener to compose her or his own attention. That’s up to the listener’s interpretation. The listener is therefore not excluded nor included. And this listener is someone without which that something would not have happened. 


Voice from a member of the Spaces of Commoning research group.