Saturday, October 22, 2005

ten questions for a listener

"The purpose of this exercise is to facilitate a discovery of new meanings in sounds that are normally taken for granted.

1. Find a location - indoors or out, public or private - with an interesting array of sounds. Sit down in this location on your own and listen for 30 minutes or more.

2. When you begin listening, try to gather and give attention to all of the sounds occurring around you - no matter how familiar or mundane.

3. Try to collect and remember in your mind as many of these sounds as you can. After a few minutes, focus your concentration on just one of the sounds. Try to select a sound that you think will be frequently heard.

4. For the remainder of the listening session your concentration will be directed primarily to this one sound.

5. Once you have selected your sound, you can begin responding to the sequence of questions that follow. Devote a minimum of 90 seconds to every question... Dedicate more time to questions that relate more appropriately to your sound.

Ten Questions

1. Off the top of your head, what would you say to describe your sound? What is its most distinguishing characteristic?

2. During what time of the day or week would your normally hear your sound in this location?

3. Since you arrived in this location, how frequently have you heard your sound? Would you measure its frequency by the minute, second, or milli-second? Does its regularity follow a recognisable pattern?

4. How does your sound complement (or detract from) the other sounds in your environment?

5. What objects in your environment does your sound directly or indirectly identify? Are there objects and surfaces in your environment that your sound helps to illuminate or hide?

6. What social, geographical, or physical features of your environment could your sound symbolically represent?

7. Are you likely to encounter your sound in other environments? How identical are these environments to the one you are currently in?

8. Can your sound be associated with any memories from your past?

9. How has your sound changed since the time you first arrived?

10. Overall, what does your sound contribute to your experience of this environment? Does it have an influence on the mood or character of things around you?"

[quoted verbatim from an article by Darren Copeland in the Journal of the Communautè èlectroacoustique Canadienne]

Friday, October 21, 2005



"Skelm is a Johannesburg based paranoiac with an unhealthy interest in electronically mangled sound. There are many reasons for this paranoia, but most have been systemically erased through a sustained scorched-earth attack on Skelm’s memory facilities. Inevitably, some formative influences, typically those associated with childhood trauma and those awful attacks on the public transport system, escaped unscathed. Plagued by these lingering fragments of mal-consciousness, and determined to erase those neurological circuits which (mis)lead the brain into constructing a simulacrum of a coherent world, when what in fact exists are random and meaningless events, objects and interactions, Skelm stumbled on the idea of using sound to induce a gap in consciousness. Fortuitously, there is a neurological precedent for this endeavour. A scotoma (darkness/ shadow) is a disconnection or hiatus in perception, or a gap in consciousness. Previously considered to be an affliction, bleeding edge theory now sees scotoma as the logical next step in biogenetic engineering- the potential to eradicate those parts of the subconscious which cause undesirable traits or behaviour. If this experiment in sound-induced scotoma works, you will have no recollection of reading this page, listening to this music, or ever having used Reaktor. However, you will live the rest of your life with a vague sense of discombobulation and an uncontrollable desire to commit frottage with strangers on buses."

Monday, October 10, 2005


"Nobody sees a flower, really – it is so small – we haven't time, and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time."

Georgia O'Keeffe

Sunday, October 02, 2005


I shouldn't be writing to you as you have stopped all contact with me.

But you are the 1st letter of this letter, and given that I feel separated from my reason to be, presently paranoid to the possibility of all-seeing agencies, and mad at myself for not accepting responsibility on so many fronts, I would like to ask you this: do you miss the day we met?

Perhaps it was the way you explained our attraction in terms of valence bonds, and love in terms of symmetry which you defined as “the invariance of a configuration of elements under a group of automorphic transformations”. Perhaps it was the red glow of the exit sign above the entrance to the underground Roman bath-house-turned-bar where we first danced. Perhaps it was the painful company of your absence during my reading of Balzac’s harlot high and low. Perhaps it was the memory of that night when I brought you an ashtray so you could keep me on ice until my body returned. Perhaps it was the laughter heard with you and the silent fear of what was to come. Perhaps it was the emergence of the possible end of the relationship as an idea in my mind. Perhaps it was the proximity of air-conditioned sounds to our bed. Perhaps it was your morning mood swings and temper tantrums suggesting you had a more variable body bubble than most. Perhaps it was that I liked thinking about you or liked myself thinking about you. Perhaps it was your unbearable tendency to say 'perhaps'.

You were so effortlessly intuitive - 'a simpler interface is a more perfect interface'.

And all your analytical judgements – nothing next to your smile.