Texts

The Molecular Aesthetic of Sound

 

 'The infinitely small is noumenal.' - Gaston Bachelard


The Unit of Uncertainty

Creative musicians find themselves -as always- between phenomena and noumena, between the immanent and the transcendent, between the cruel real substance of sound and their thoughts on what constitutes artistic development, renewal, failure and realisation. Sound -a polyvalent small animal almost everywhere nowadays- appears recognisable by everyone but equally unknown to anyone.

Working with microsonorities (with machines rather than instruments) as a compositional and aesthetic stance, makes possible for a sound-artist to encounter four interrelated notions that orbit around the idea of observation as a principle of sonic work.

  1. focus on the intrinsic logic of the sound-material

  2. form as organisation immanent to matter

  3. form as sonic dramaturgy

  4. genuine interest on our perceptual and cognitive capacities

Working with non-notateable sonic processes (with machines and instruments) and by focusing on certain types of sounds and perceptual thresholds, inevitably could lead someone to an understanding of sound-material as something immediate, transient, elemental, fragile and at times cruel; a “natural” event that happens somewhere-sometime unconcerned of pre-fixed/empty sounding structures. An aural philosophy of discovery that places the manifold before the formal through constant perceptual and cognitive feedback loops.

It could be easily verifiable to suggest that a joyful(?) uncertainty is contained at the core of the aesthetic experience. It is the dimension which connects the unknown with the clarity of mind and hearing. It is the process of unpacking the sensuality and enigmatic propositions of sound’s tactile aural traces by avoiding pre-packaged and commercialised experiential schemata. Uncertainty as the creative axis of a continuous feedback flow between human mind and sonic-matter, as the possibility of working around ‘mistakes’, as a spine that is built between the mundane and the sublime, as the microscopic parasite that eventually becomes a pearl; real-sounds, synthetic-sounds that attempt to point beyond themselves; beyond glossy aesthetics and stagnated discussions; sonic-matter as pure energy.

In recent years, the vibrating membranes of microphones and loud-speakers have told infinite stories of micro-universes; sounds that dissolve into their molecular parts; sounds as aural molecules; sonic mosaics ambiguous and elusive which nonetheless invite and demand clarity of listening. The ontology of sound is nothing else but the capacity to penetrate our skin/our psyche and create experiential responses to the world around us.

 

 

After all is the whole auditory field, that ‘noise’, which makes sound possible.

 

Envoi

The “wrong” notes of Thelonious Monk, the “unpolished” scores of Mussorgsky, the stochastic chasms of Xenakis, Busoni’s call for infinite gradations of sound, the ppppp of Luigi Nono, the sonic pixies of Radulescu, musical instruments played as advanced synthesizers, the sound of a crackled corral at the bottom of the sea, the dark corners of hard disks, the sound of one’s thoughts, the echo and resonance of an abandoned room, hylozoism, the energized surfaces of volcanic thoughts.

 

[written in August 2009]