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Negative Volumes: Body Languages
Am I my body or a linguistic virus as it constitutes my identity?

SAT 14 Oct 2017
4PM - 7PM
West Space, Melbourne
1/225 Bourke St
Wheelchair Accessible

FREE

Image: Ceri Hann

Artists:

Camila Marambio, Astrida Neimanis, Karolin Tampere and Sarita Gálvez
Advanced Polygraph versus Ceri Hann
Maysa Abouzeid
Alex Cuffe AKA TT SKTLS

Negative Volumes: Body Languages

All bodies are eloquent and multilingual. In listening to, as well as with, our bodies, we can hear how they receive and produce signals; how they operate as both subject, and object; how they are instrumentalised.

“By psychoacoustic umbilical cords, every individual is continuously related to the group’s body of sound, and the loss of this continuum equals a catastrophe.

It is not for nothing that some ancient cultures inflicted banishment as a form of psychosocial death penalty: To belong together means first of all nothing else than to listen together.” – Peter Sloterdijk

But there are sounds we can’t hear and sounds we don’t hear, and there is a difference.

The sounds we can’t hear are super-high and super-low frequencies; sounds too quiet, small, or distant; and sounds our ageing ears progressively lose to natural decline.

The sounds we don’t hear are more political – the inaudible arguments of dog-whistle politics and their subtle echoes; the voices silenced by the bland soundscape of normativity.

We are over hearing about phenomena, as if the ‘sound in itself’ tells the whole story. We want to try to hear differently; to open our hearing to the unheard and the unsayable. Can we learn to listen politically?

“If I’m talking to you but not really listening or observing your body language and I’m not really empathic with you, I don’t really hear or see you. It’s a multi-level kind of listening – not just to inanimate objects or animals, but to people. You listen with both outer ear and inner ear. This is the spiritual dimension of “la mano zurda,” which combines activism with inner, subjective listening. It’s a different way of being in tune with people and the environment.” —  Gloria Anzaldua

So we could start by adding more levels to our listening and hearing privilege. To do that, we need to try to hear beyond sound itself. Everything a sound touches and everything touched by that sound, the context in which a sound takes place: this is the non-cochlear approach, and it can enable us to place sound and listening socially, in the space of one another.

The voice is coming from the body, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is unified with the body. There are so many ways the one can betray or bluff the other. Depending on who is listening, and how, bodytalk can assume an accent, anatomise agency, neuter normativity, simulate sincerity, or unmute untruths.

You hear yourself speaking – but do you hear yourself listening?

This program encompasses exercises, speech objects and uncommon articulations, in a somatic experiment towards a new grammar of listening.

The Voices / The Bodies

Camila MarambioAstrida Neimanis, Karolin Tampere and Sarita Gálvez present hydro-feminist meditations on listening to your body as a body of water.

‘Australia’s largest and most technologically superior Forensic Polygraph (lie detecting) Agency’ Advanced Polygraph, will demonstrate the machine in action through the reading of body language. The subject will be philosopher / jester Ceri Hann who we’ve invited to speak ‘post-truth’ to the power of the lie detector – while being subjected to its inquisition.

Maysa Abouzeid will present an artist talk and workshop on the role of audio description in a life lived with visual impairment, recounting and challenging the everyday discursive logics and structural practices that centre a normative, able-bodied subject.

Alex Cuffe (aka TT SKTLS) will present a new audio performance that hears the body’s changing voices and the voice’s changing bodies.

Negative Volumes

Negative spaces are never blank. Just as there is no space around objects, only objects in space, there is no gap between sounds, since there is no possibility of silence. Instead what we hear is the noise of the layers, the various shades and feints and foley and interstitial emissions that, stitched together, produce the reassuring throb of frequencies we are schooled to call “background”.

Similarly. A strobe light appears to come on and off, but what we see as light and dark made large, a perfect example of pure black and white, is not in fact discrete. What seems to be simply ‘on’ and ‘off’ is not a dyad. Rather, a strobe is a string, a set, a sequence of pulses giving way to each other: a swelling, an exploding, a fading and then a darkness, until the new swell lights up again. Despite appearances, despite conventional thinking, this is not binary.

In this program, there’s no figure and no ground. There is no negative space. An empty institution is never completely empty. Instead, it becomes a spatial politic for the throwing of light and shade.

In sound, how we structure sonic experience can provide models for how we structure community.

We invite a queering of the spatial politics of the invisible and visible, of the notions of audible and inaudible – a questioning of the question of the one or the other – in order to enter the space opened up by this voluminous negation.

The world is fucked. But, the gallery is empty. What will we do now?

Karolin Tampere is supported by the Office of Contemporary Art Norway to present her work with Ensayos and Liquid Architecture in Australia. 

documentation partners
major supporters

This project is made possible through the generous support of the CITY OF MELBOURNE Arts Grants Program.