Media and Affective Cartographies: Sonic Traditions/Translations
According to Alessandro Ludovico, South American artists involved in hybrid practices between art and hybrid new media practices, notably net artists, reveal a background of isolation, of solitude even within the online universe: “they seem to act almost like aliens, connected to each other but dispersed over a vast continent” (Ludovico 2005). Net art pioneer and sound artist Brian Mackern, based in Uruguay, is a key example. As one of the protagonists of a disseminated and decentralized scene, he experimented exclusively within the digital space at the beginning of the nineties. Over the years, this scene has developed increasingly cohesive connections, creating real micro-communities across the South American continent. Sound artists who use new technologies within contemporary art practices are particularly evident in this group. Their practices benefit from a decentralized model that optimizes local networks and resources within a fluid, globalizing context. Artists – “fractalized on this continent, as […] usually happens to other things here” – have in any case “a kind of 'own voice'” (Ludovico 2005). In so many of these projects scattered across the continent’s vastness, an inseparable bond emerges with the territory. At times they assume the contours of a re-semantization of ancient local symbols, beyond stereotyping, as in Mackern’s counter-definition of noise data in 34s56w.org. Based on the Santa Rosa of Lima religious ceremony in the Rio della Plata region (forming part of the border between Argentina and Uruguay), this sound work consists of a series of electrical interference or radio frequency recordings caused by the Santa Rosa storm’s presence or proximity. At the end of August, when the saint is commemorated, a nearly ubiquitous storm occurs in the area; therefore, the ceremony is associated with rain, atmospheric disturbances, and the electrical activity that follows.