Aural Transposition, Psychogeography and the Ephemeral World

Katt Hernandez


Aural transposition sits at a crossroads between being a tool for practice and creating work, and being a tool that illuminates aspects of another entity. In day-to-day music practice, transposition can be an age-old tool for learning material, or a multi-layered exploration of an object or place. Transposition can also be a means of recreating places, real or imagined, through the transposition of ghost traces back into sound. And the transposition of spaces onto other spaces is possible through multichannel sound arrays. The territory for re-imagining both sound and place lies in the impossible space between the sounding entity at hand and the instrument that transposes it. Just as in the dérive of psychogeography, the spaces between well-trod paths leads to the world beyond the banal.


This exposition first situates these practices in psychogeography. Psychogeography, as a term, has its origins in the work of Guy Debord and the situationists, but it has come to describe practices that both pre-date that movement, and have gone forward from it. I will also discuss the differences and similarities between psychogeographical practices and those of the soundwalk, as defined by R. Murray Shafer and Pauline Oliveros, and how I take portions of these practices into my own work. Next, after defining how I use terms in my work related to space and place, the exposition analyzes some works by other artists that utilize various transposition, soundwalking or psychogeographical practices. After initial sections outlining these terms and concepts, and the work of other artists whose work has influenced my own, the exposition turns to those aspects of my artistic practices and works–across a spectrum of electroacoustic music, improvised violin work and collaborative composition for an ensemble of mechanical string instruments–that are centered around aural transposition as an act of psychogeography. Finally, the exposition concludes with a discussion of how these practices in my work are both a metaphor of and a means of illuminating the ghosts of memory and imagination that are present in the city-scape as ephemeral, but essential, layers of place.


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Gyllene Salen, Stockholm City Hall. Photo: Katt Hernandez, 2015